Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Sins and Struggles

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We are children of God. That means that our natural inclinations are towards light-filled things. Helping others, speaking kindly, thinking hope-filled thoughts. When we act in contrary to our true nature, that is what is fake. God knows that we will sometimes act "fake." That is why he has given us repentance, the ability to shed ourselves of things that aren't in congruence with who we really are.

Satan feeds us a steady diet of "fake" so we forget who we are. When you are confused about your identity, you are more likely to let Satan control your life. In our world we call these addictions or bad habits. Swiping that extra cookie (or four). Scrolling through news feeds while we intentionally ignore our kids. Yelling. Berating our spouse. Watching questionable t.v. shows. Pornography addictions. When we have our hardest struggles, when we reach our darkest places, our lowest of the lows, we are usually alone or consumed by our own thoughts. We believe that dark place is how we really feel, and any happiness or joy we feel is fake. We believe the real person is the "bad" person.

It's a lie.

No matter how much "bad" you do, how low you feel, it can never outweigh the good that you are, inherently. In the Plan of Salvation, we are taught that the reason you are on this earth is because you chose Jesus Christ before you were ever born. Light is a part of the very nature of every person that is on this earth.

You can never erase all the good someone is. No matter how "bad" the sin is, the sin is just a mask over the real person. "I didn't know who you really were" doesn't apply in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You do know you they are. They are a child of God. And because of the grace of Jesus Christ, you can feel real emotions like love, hope, and joy even with a sinner, because we all are one.

It's because we don't know who we are that we are in this cycle of sin. All of us, any of us, who are stuck in addictive behavior live this way because our faith is not yet complete, and we have not yet seen the freedom that comes from believing in Jesus Christ. (Ether 4:15)

In our culture we can be guilty sometimes of creating a hierarchy of sins. There are "big sins" and "little sins." And certainly, there are sins that carry with them more severe consequences if left unrepented. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "go, and sin no more." We can do the same, for ourselves and others.

We start bad habits when Satan convinces us to see ourselves as different than other people. It is not only dangerous, it's not true that you are the only one who has been tempted in this way, the only one who has "given in." While it might be helpful to have open conversations with others who can identify with you, the most helpful would be to learn of your true nature, to recognize your worth as a child of God.

How can we elevate our society? How can we become the kind of people God wants us to be, free of sin and devoted servants of Him? First, we can see each debilitating bad habit as a red flag for someway we can improve our faith in Jesus Christ. Second, we can help others learn of their worth and increase their own faith. This is not a lecture, this is treating someone with love and respect. It's usually felt more than heard. We can stop reacting with shock and surprise when someone has committed a "bad" sin. We can recognize within ourselves our own roadblocks from God, and see that we are not that different. We can see that there is no hierarchy in how "broken" someone is. We are not less "broken" because our "sin list" has "smaller" sins on it.

God wants all of us to return to Him. We can do that by overcoming our own secret sins, and providing the needed love and support for others struggling in theirs.

I love this video of my friend Amy, a great example to me of someone who understands their divine worth. No matter our sin, we can shine just like Amy does when we shed ourselves of the things that are keeping us separated from God.

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