Happy Sunday all!

I wasn’t planning on sharing this. But I thought y’all deserved a bit more from me since things have been sparse as of late! When I’m short on time, I tend to write things that I hope will be inspirational to readers in some way. Because if I can’t give tutorials for cosplay or writing or traveling in Japan, at the very least, I can give words of hope and encouragement. ^^;

As such, like I said before, I wasn’t planning on sharing this here. This is actually the text from a talk I gave at church at the end of May on the subject of the scripture Mosiah 4:30. I believe this scripture speaks to the nature of why we are admonished to ‘be good’, but also of the grace, forgiving nature, and goodness of God during the times that we fall short. Furthermore, I believe it comments on how those things can bless our lives and free us from the burdens of mistakes, allowing us to move on to live lives filled with greater happiness.

This talk has been cleaned up for reading purposes and was given on May 23rd, 2021. It is all that I can hope for that this helps you in some way.


 

Mosiah 4:30

Hi everyone, my name is [Skywing Knights] and today I will be speaking on a verse we read in Mosiah chapter 4, verse 30.

If we turn to our scriptures, we read,

Mosiah 4:30 “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.”

So if you’re like me, you hear that and think “Oh my gosh, I’m a terrible person.” It’s frankly a really anxiety inducing statement! Namely because in this verse, King Benjamin basically just said to “be perfect” to his subjects who he is teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to.

Leonhard Seppala and his Sled Dogs

Anxiously Imperfect

We may compare this anxiety to the anxiety Leonhard Seppala must have felt as he directed his lead sled dog Togo across the breaking ice sheets of Norton Sound while they raced with medicine towards Nome, Alaska to save the children of the town in the midst of a diphtheria outbreak. But perhaps a more realistic anxiety that is more relatable for you would be the fear of messing up a job interview.

Or like me, maybe the most relatable anxiety is produced by the fear of working with leather where a single stitch, if made incorrectly, could ruin a whole garment. (It’s why the leather jacket I started last year is still sitting on my mannequin unfinished.)

Sewing Progress on Leather Jacket StalledThinking about these words, I am reminded of the dreaded feeling described by the Prophet Alma who says in Alma 12:14:

Alma 12:14 “For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.”

“Be Attitudes”

And perhaps the statement that brings the most gravity to this fear of meeting such a level of perfectionism comes from the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ goes into great detail about the new higher law He was teaching, giving us “be attitudes” and telling us to turn the other check, before literally saying at the end “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father … in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

The Be AttitudesBut obviously, no one can measure up to this. It’s impossible. Thankfully, rather than be doomed to exile in outer darkness, we know through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that thankfully, if we sin, if we make mistakes, there is hope. There is, and I quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland “An unfathomable gift given at an incomprehensible cost” – the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which allows us to be able to repent and become clean again.

The Gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ

It’s really a rather incredible thing. We all would have been barred from returning to our Heavenly Father, had it not been for the grace of Jesus Christ, for, as we are taught, no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.

Christ is able to free us and give us mercy because He so completely fulfilled the Atonement for us… an Atonement, that in order to be complete, He had to suffer so much for, in order to pay our debts for us. And he did all of this even though he was the only spotless one among us all…

Christ Suffers at GethsemaneThere was a point in my life when I had a hard time with this. I had a hard time accepting myself when I made the same mistakes over and over again. Because I’d think of the Atonement and the process that Christ went through and I’d be reminded that Christ literally went through the greatest agony for me and then died. To me, it didn’t seem fair to Christ to have to go through this for me, someone who continues to make the same mistakes, despite my best intentions at times.

And then I’d hear things like “We are never given trials we can’t overcome.” It’s a phrase I rely heavily on now and believe in with all of my heart, but back then, I’d only feel worse hearing it, thinking that, “So if I should have been able to overcome this trial, what am I doing? Why am I failing at this? Why are you (meaning me) such a terrible person?” One might say, that I was dealing with what Elder Holland termed “toxic perfectionism”.

Not Feeling Worth It

And frankly, I got to the point where I began to hate myself in a way over it. I started to think “If it weren’t for me, then Christ could have suffered even just a little bit less.”

Toxic Perfectionism

At some point, I went to my bishop and confided in him how unqualified I felt and how I hated myself for falling into the same sins and mistakes over and over again. I told him how I sometimes even thought that I didn’t want to partake in the Atonement if it could mean that Christ who is so good could suffer a little less because of me.

A Happy Family
Families around the world can be together forever because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

My Bishop gently and kindly told me that that is NOT the spirit of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He reminded me that Christ did not hate me for my mistakes or my sins. My sins do not define me. (Nor do they define anyone else, I might add!). Christ loves me, in my fallen state and all. He performed the Atonement because He wanted me to be happy. That’s how much He loved me. And by extension, that’s how much He loved everyone else who was born in this world. [And also everyone] who will be born into this world. Upon hearing those words, I felt an overwhelming sense of emotion at the love I felt from our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The following lyrics most aptly described the sensation I felt:

“I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.”

Christ with Children

“I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus”

As Elder Holland says, “We should not demean or vilify ourselves, as if beating up on ourselves is somehow going to make us the person God wants us to become. No! With a willingness to repent and a desire for increased righteousness always in our hearts, I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that doesn’t include getting ulcers or anorexia, feeling depressed or demolishing our self-esteem. That is not what the Lord wants for Primary children or anyone else who honestly sings, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.”

He goes on to say, “The grace of Christ offers us not only salvation from sorrow and sin and death but also salvation from our own persistent self-criticism.”

“So I believe that Jesus did not intend His sermon on this subject to be a verbal hammer for battering us about our shortcomings. No, I believe He intended it to be a tribute to who and what God the Eternal Father is and what we can achieve with Him in eternity.”

Jesus Teaches the Americas and Praises God

Satan’s Lies

Interestingly in the same talk, Elder Holland further noted that one insightful Latter-day Saint, Sister Darla Isackson, “has observed that Satan has somehow managed to make covenants and commandments seem like curses and condemnations. For some he has turned the ideals and inspiration of the gospel into self-loathing and misery-making.”
Satan's Tricks

In a talk titled “Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?” by Elder J. Devn Cornish, we hear Elder Cornish teach about the nature of God versus the nature of Satan when he says, “[God] will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.”

And that really is true. Getting us to believe we are not worthy, that we cannot possibly matter, that we should hide away from the Lord and believe we are not worth it – that is Satan’s trick. And believe me, he is real and he doesn’t care about you. All he wants is for you to feel like a failure. [Why?] Because he wants you to be as miserable as he is. [And that’s] because misery loves company and Satan exemplifies this above all else.

Do not fall for this! Don’t. It’s not possible for you to fall beyond the reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If we turn to Him, He will always reach out to grab us and lift us up.

Jesus Reaching Out To Us

Continue in Faith to Christ

So let’s go back to this original verse of scripture I mentioned in the beginning. [Why] if Heavenly Father knows we will sin, why give such a strong admonishment as given by King Benjamin in Mosiah?

Elder Holland states, “I hasten to say that focusing on the Father’s and the Son’s achievements rather than our failures does not give us one ounce of justification for undisciplined lives or dumbing down our standards.”

Elder Cornish elaborates saying it “does not mean in any way that sin is OK. Sin always has consequences. Sin always harms and hurts both the sinner and those affected by his or her sins.”

The prodigal sonThat’s profound. It’s profound because it literally shows us that God and Christ are telling us to avoid sin so completely, not out of wrath or irritation that we are not doing a ‘good enough job’, but because They love us. Christ [tells us] to be perfect, “even as I” because he wants nothing more for us to be happy and He knows that sin “never was happiness”.

It is why as Cornish goes on to say, “The worst kind of sin is premeditated sin, where one says, “I can sin now and repent later.” I believe that this is a solemn mockery of the sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ…. With repeated sinning, we distance ourselves from the Spirit, become discouraged, and then stop repenting.”

I take that in short to mean that when we do that, when we decide to sin preemptively and repent later, then we are essentially no better than the guards and soldiers who spat in our Savior’s face during His last days before His crucifixion. And as such, we are essentially deciding to distance ourselves from such a loving, forgiving, and kind elder brother.

Christ's Crown of Thorns

Come Unto Christ

I pray that we do not do this to ourselves or to Christ. As Elder Holland states “When [Christ] says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.”

Elder Cornish addresses the concerns of the imperfect, saying, “Let me be direct and clear. The answers to the questions “Am I good enough?” and “Will I make it?” are “Yes! You are going to be good enough”. And “Yes, you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and do not rationalize or rebel”. The God of heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game. He is our perfectly loving Father, who yearns more than anything else to have all of His children come back home and live with Him as families forever.”

The Art of Christ’s Kintsugi

A final thought of mine on this. When I think of the way the Atonement functions in our lives, I sometimes picture in my mind, the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Ever heard of it? I’m sure you’ve seen it. It starts with the literal breaking of a perfectly formed piece of pottery. It’s loud, it almost looks like it could hurt the piece of pottery. But then the sculptor, often using a metal such as gold, doesn’t simply repair the piece of lacquer. But [rather, he] puts the pieces back together in a more beautiful state, with the gold infused inside, gleaming where cracks once were.

Analogy of the Atonement of Christ to KintsugiIn a lot of ways, that is what the Atonement is. This admonishment to abandon sin entirely is so we can avoid going through any unnecessary, painful processes that result in “being broken”, whether by body or by soul. But even when that does happen, Christ is able to put us back together. And He does it in a way where we become glorious.

Elder Dale G. Renlund has stated, “The Savior loves to restore what you cannot restore; He loves to heal wounds you cannot heal; He loves to fix what has been irreparably broken;35 He compensates for any unfairness inflicted on you; and He loves to permanently mend even shattered hearts.“

A Glorious Invitation

Christ wants to give you rest and He can give it if you come unto Him. So please, do not turn your back on him. As Alma said in Alma 36:3 “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions.” And I’ll add to that, “any shortcomings we may have”.

Christ gives a man restI know we, no matter how broken we may feel, can be mended. We just have to do our best, and endure to the end. [Why?] Because “the pure love of Christ,” is the gift that “never faileth”. We may still live in a telestial kingdom. But the invitation always stands: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.

What a glorious invitation that is!

I know this is true. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ’s true and living church. This is my testimony. And I say these things in the name of my Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, amen.


 

Some Final Thoughts

I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He loves not just me, but you and everyone in this world. He knows us each individually and personally. And though I say this often, it bears repeating: He wants you to be happy and He gave His life for that to be possible. Do not delay for any reason to choose to follow Him. I know that can be hard. I admit I’m not always the best at this. But every time I have put aside my fears in regards to following Him, He’s been there for me with outstretched arms. He’s blessed me beyond what I ever thought I deserved. And I know He will do the same for you.

In that regard, I hope this talk has helped you in some way. I hope it’s helped you to feel closer to Christ, to not be discouraged and to “continue in the faith”.

Until my next post, all my love,

~Skywing