Sunday, July 19, 2009

He Gave Me the Gift of Charity

This morning I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to the sounds of my roommate throwing up. I got up and got him a bowl and did the best I could to make him comfortable. I didn't want him to feel that he was alone in going through this ordeal. I spent the rest of the morning in a cycle of going back to bed and waking up to empty his bowl for him.

Later another one of my roommates commented about the great sacrifice I had made to help the other. Tears of gratitude came to my eyes. Though I had missed a lot of sleep and was exhausted today, it hadn't seemed like a sacrifice; it had been a natural response.

There's something you need to understand about me to recognize the miracle and understand why I cried tears of gratitude. By nature, I am quite selfish and am reluctant to do anything that doesn't have some kind of benefit to me. A long time ago I was struggling with many things, and life was very dark. I reviewed many events of my life with the Lord and he revealed to me several of my weaknesses that were causing my struggles. One of these was quite shocking: I didn't see value in others. I questioned the Lord if this was a real weakness I had, but again the confirmation from His Spirit came. Shortly thereafter I began to see how this weakness had subtly permeated many areas of my life and I was brought to my knees in humility.

I cried mightily unto the Lord for Him to open my eyes to see the value in others. I asked Him to help me see what He saw in them. I prayed to be filled with His love that I might help others feel His love for them.

As I look back I can see that the Lord has answered my prayers. Though I do not yet have the full measure of the Love Christ has for others (John 13:34), He has worked a miracle in my life. He has given me the gift of charity. He has helped me to see that others deserve to be happy. My life has been enriched as a result, and I continue to pray for the love within me to grow.

The following scriptures have literally been fulfilled for me:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:27).

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure" (Moroni 7:48).

It is a powerful, yet humbling thing to have the Spirit witness to me that I am now a true follower of Jesus Christ. Despite the many ways that I fail to follow Him and look to Him in every thought, I am a true follower of Jesus Christ. This gives me hope that I can overcome all things through His strength. I know that He will continue to turn other weaknesses of mine into strengths as I walk in humility before Him.

Elder Wirthlin once said:

“True love lasts forever. It is eternally patient and forgiving. It believes, hopes, and endures all things. That is the love our Heavenly Father bears for us. We all yearn to experience love like this. Even when we make mistakes, we hope others will love us in spite of our shortcomings—even if we don’t deserve it. Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will. We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.

The Savior has helped me to love others more like how God loves them. He helps me to look beyond the day to day interactions I have with others, and instead see their divine potential. He has helped me to loved others enough not to give up on them, or label them as "lost causes".

Going back to this morning with my roommate, I see it as a miracle that I naturally came to his aid without any selfish reasons. Blessings have followed. I think some of the most joyful moments of my life have been when I have ministered to another the same way the Savior would have done had he been in my shoes.

Another blessing I have seen was promised by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a modern day apostle. Speaking of Moroni 7:48 he said:

Soon, with that kind of love, we realize our days hold scores of thoroughfares leading to the Master and that every time we reach out, however feebly, for Him, we discover He has been anxiously trying to reach us. So we step, we strive, we seek, and we never yield” (“Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign, May 2006, 69–71).

I am beginning to see my Savior everywhere around me, in the people that I pass by every day. Ministering to them is equivalent to ministering to Him (Matthew 25:40). He feels close when I'm helping another.

So when I hear others comment about the love I have shown another, tears of gratitude come to my eyes because I see the miracle that Christ has accomplished, that I never could have done on my own. What once had been a great weakness of mind, has now become a great strength. It is impossible for me to look at how I've changed and believe that I did it on my own, of my own will and power. He worked the miracle, and the words of Nephi are as true in my situation as for someone who was recently baptized:

"And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:19-20).

I acknowledge that all growth of my character is a blessing from Him, and I need to continue to rely wholly upon his merrits.

Your weaknesses may not include a lack of love for others, but the principle of coming to Christ and being transformed by His touch is still a valid solution. I testify that we all can come unto Him and be empowered and changed by His atonement.