This week, to the visible outsider’s view, was exceptionally good. Moses is all set for baptism, soaking up the gospel like a sponge. We found a plethora of new investigators this week and now do more sit down teaching than anything else, and we had eight investigators in sacrament meeting. Things ought to be sunshine for me, right? But physical good fortune does not always correlate with emotional well being. (Hence why money does not buy you happiness)
This week it felt like the whole world was simply one big heartbreak. As if it finally became too much. It was in large part an accumulated 18 months of emotionally taking in every refugee’s story that I listen to; their slaughtered parents, their slaughtered children, their slaughtered brothers and sisters and wives and husbands. You start to understand a portion of Mormon’s anguish at the genocide of his people that he bleeds out onto the page of Mormon chapter 6. (Really one of the most beautifully heart harrowing passages of holy scripture)
James said in the New Testament; “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
So, I’ve always figured this is one of my most important purposes out here, if I really want to live my religion and want to follow Christ, but it all just came crashing down on me this week. Every burden from all these shattered wonderful people from the last 18 months just made me snap. It hurts. It really really hurts
For some reason, it seems my whole mission has been working with the most war torn and heart broken of people. But, I got a rather unique response this week while praying; one I was not expecting. I guess I was, in my self centred way, hoping God would say “I know it hurts. Good job. You can stop now and I’ll heal you.” But that was not what I felt when I prayed. Instead, the answer that came clearly was, “I know, keep going.”
How can it be the the answer to my prayer was to keep going, when I feel I can’t?
But, Heavenly Father is not the sort of parent that smothers and spoils you. He is the parent that loves you more than you can ever comprehend and He knows your potential. He knows that I could continue. He knows I absolutely cannot let myself go hollow. He knows I need to keep my heart out in the open. Why? How can this possibly be for my benefit? Well, without proper knowledge, one would probably think ripping muscles is a stupid thing to do…. But if you do it in the correct way it is what we call weight lifting and that is what builds strong muscles. Same principle applies to the heart. The strongest hearts are those that have been ripped apart and healed through the atonement of Christ. Your capacity to love and your quality of love increases from heartbreaks, because of the heartbreaks. They strengthen you if you apply the right healing methods.
Of course, King Benjamin counsels “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize therefore, all things must be done in order.”
Sometimes we use that as our excuse to do nothing at all. It is the most common scriptural excuse to avoiding charity or any form of sacrifice. Anti-welfare advocates love that scripture, but that is not what King Benjamin is getting at at all. He is saying work with your whole heart but make sure you do not become rendered useless, then you are not much good for anybody. He is not saying, do nothing, live for yourself….. God did not tell me to take an emotional vacation. He told me to keep going, because He knows my capacity. He knows how much is too much and even though I thought this was too much, He tells me to keep going….. Because this is one of the greatest gifts He can ever give me- a better heart. This may seem like nothing but pain and suffering right now for me but this will give me a better, stronger, purer heart at the end of this.
Sometimes, we forget what is most important in life. It goes deeper than that. The overarching purpose is not just to physically go from point A. to point B. It is to grow. To become more like Christ and the absolute most important thing to grow in obviously is love. Love is the means of obtaining perfection. Love is the fabric of the universe. Love is the why and how to our existence. Therefore, there is nothing more important than growing in our love. I cannot stress this enough. We can get caught up in the fine details but “without charity (we are) nothing.” Truly. Simply. It was therefore base and narrow minded and silly of me this week to want God to say I can just finish feeling love, lock up my heart, and go into robot missionary mode. Love is the reason why I am here. I am here to feel this heartbreak and pain. It isn’t a trial of my missionary experience. It is my missionary experience. It is my purpose. This is what life is for. Tearing my heart apart and healing it up stronger. Not getting bitter. Not getting cold. But seeking healing from the words of God in prayer and scripture study and then going out and loving more. So, when your world seems to only be heartbreak, thank God. This is His way of helping you grow. Keep loving. Not just even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. Trust in God’s promises. Look to Christ’s example. Always keep loving. I love this gospel. I’d give everything to it.
My mind has been on “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde this week. If you haven’t read this short story—read it, right now. (You can read it online here ) .If you’ve already read it, read it again. I wish I could read it on my mission so very much….but seriously read it, and remember what it is at the end of the story that God values as the greatest two things in the town………and then live your life to be likewise. The paradise of heaven is worth breaking your heart on earth.
I found my long lost apartment. Strangely the man who answered said it was not my apartment and that he was not all too interested in my message of his salvation.