For the second time in two days, an apostle and prophet of God has expressed a concept that I have been deeply pondering of late, in a more effective way than I feel I could have expressed on my own. I have embedded the video below, but first I will address my own thoughts, and hope that they are sufficient to explain themselves.
I don’t often talk publicly about my religious beliefs, unless explicitly asked to do so. This is because I recognize that my beliefs are not always welcome or comforting to those who do not agree with them. However, these beliefs are still extremely important to me, not only because I believe them to be true, but because I hope them to be so. They have lifted me out of depression, apathy, and self-hatred, and given my life direction and purpose. They have brought light into darkness, and lifted me from the pit, and helped me to realize that my trials can be the refiner’s fire, if I allow them to work their refinement on me. I don’t know where, who, or what I would be without the Gospel of Christ in my life, but as a natural pessimist, I have a tendency to assume I couldn’t have gotten far on my own. The grace of God has helped me to both identify and refine my imperfections, and has given me the assurance that the rest of me is still good enough to be worth the effort of refinement.
I’m a perfectionist, but God has promised me—and us all—two things: that we will not be given a trial or temptation that we could not endure (1 Corinthians 10:13), and that we will not be given a commandment that we could not fulfill (1 Nephi 3:7). This means that every trial can be surpassed, and that inherent in every command is a guarantee that it can be achieved. When God commanded us to be perfect, he was simultaneously informing us that we are capable of perfection.
I have often recalled the words of the prophet Alma, which perfectly express my feelings: “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.” (Alma 29:1-2)
Repentance does not simply mean giving up sin. We are not in the business of forcing people to do things, even good things. True repentance requires a change of heart, a turning away from sin and towards everything that stands in opposition to sin. “Repentance goes beyond feeling to express distinct purposes of turning from sin to righteousness; the Bible word most often translated repentance means a change of mental and spiritual attitude towards sin.” (Online Etymology Dictionary; Century Dictionary)
My first goal in life is to remove all sin and sorrow from myself. My second—which must of course be addressed simultaneously, as the first cannot be achieved within my earthly lifetime—is to remove sorrow from all the face of the earth.
Finally, I add to the witness of millions my statement that the Lord Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I believe it to be true, I hope it to be true, and sometimes, when optimism strikes, I even know it to be true.
For those interested, here is the full (15-minute) version of the video: http://youtu.be/eBzKAFF4Sdc