Introducing Lindsay 2.0

IMG_7497
Jungle Ziplining @ Tikal, Guatemala

Here at Extending Understanding we’re excited to bring you an upgraded authoring system which will power this blog in new and dynamic ways.  Though the previous version had some great functionality, it was brought to our attention through a series of crashes that there were substantial bug-fixes necessary.  After years of in-depth research, we built some lines of code which strengthened the resilience and streamlined the overall development of the soul of the site while maintaining the integrity of everything you loved about Lindsay 1.0.  Some long-planned upgrades in insight, efficiency, adventure and communication made it into this revision which will elevate the content and authenticity of the site and enable it to work seamlessly with the RJM platform.   Should you have any feedback regarding this new system or suggestions for features you’d like to see included in the future, please submit your comments below.

With love,

Lindsay 2.0

 

Advertisements

Beginning to Build part III

In the Book of Mormon, a prophet named Helaman shares some insight about his experience building on the rock and his words are later quoted by his sons.  If you’re familiar with the Book of Mormon, you know that Helaman comes from a long line of people who had solid experiences with rebuilding relationships with Christ.  If you’re not familiar with these folks, no worries.   I want to share a few beautiful stories of people who had misunderstood the Savior or people who had rejected Him altogether, and were reminded of the opportunity that we all have to change and rebuild.

A man named Alma (the great-great-grandfather of Helaman) served as a priest for a rather selfish and misguided king named Noah.  Alma heard the testimony of a believer named Abinadi and something inside him felt the truth in Abinadi’s words.  Maybe he couldn’t exactly articulate it but he realized he had quite a bit to learn about the Savior and he decided to seek Him.  Alma left the service of the king and sought to know the Savior in the ways this man Abinadi had described Him.  Unfortunately, by this time, Abinadi had been killed so Alma had to seek inspiration from heaven as he thought about Abinadi’s words. One of Abinadi’s chief complaints about these priests in particular was that they had been giving the people a very wrong impression of the Savior’s teachings and compassion (sound familiar?).   As Alma begins to glean understanding and share some of his new thoughts and impressions about the Savior with other people,  he gets varying responses but there are quite a few people who are interested in the doctrine Alma is learning.  When he teaches the people, his focus is on repentance (changing and learning about obedience firsthand from our choices) and redemption (belief in our ability to merge with the Savior’s proffered grace), and faith (belief that He can and wants to help) on the Lord (Mosiah 18:7).  When Alma begins to create a culture of goodness about him using the Savior’s principles  his focus is on compassion.  Alma’s ability to convey his thoughts and feelings about the Savior is profound to me because once he tore down so many of his preconceived ideas, he started teaching people one of the most simple and powerful principles by which Heaven operates:

“And it came to pass that he said unto them; Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life-

Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his spirit more abundantly upon you? (Mosiah 18:8-10)

The principle is loving each other, the action is baptism which is choosing to make a commitment with God to honor that heavenly principle of compassion and work on obeying it.  As a blessing for those who want to serve as witnesses of Him (walking reminders that He and His love are real), God offers an extra measure of His presence in their lives.  In this instance, it was His spirit.  No one forced them there.  There was no compulsion, there was no strong-arming.  It was simply an invitation.  Alma had realized that by loving others, He was blessed with an added measure of the Spirit.  God is no respecter of persons, so Alma was offering that opportunity to anyone else who wanted to approach Heaven.  There were inevitably doctrinal questions, as people began this new life with curiosity, about how compassion is extended to so many people and how to cultivate it.  And there were answers that came but at the core of a disciple’s life, then or now, I believe that compassion is what one will find.  And I imagine Alma had to accept the Savior’s compassion for himself in order to articulate it for those around him.  Alma simply taught the people to love each other the best that they could and they found joy in doing so.  Amidst all the doctrine he was picking up and all the revelation he was receiving, I think he was able to focus himself and others on this most important aspect of the Savior’s teachings (Matt 22:40) because he had painstakingly rebuilt every bit of his knowledge about Jesus Christ as he thought about Abinadi’s words and received personal revelation from God through the Spirit to help him understand how to move closer to heaven.

The reasons we may have to rebuild are varied.   Choices, either our own or other people’s, may reveal to us some weakness in our foundation.  Circumstances beyond our control may bring a need to rebuild to our awareness.  Ultimately, I’m not even so sure it matters why we need to rebuild because in the end, I think the only important thing is that we make the attempt because along the way, all the things we feel and learn about compassion and understanding as a result of our efforts to rebuild on the Rock bear divine similarity.

Puzzling

A religious leader who I love to listen to, by the name of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, once described coming to know Jesus Christ as a process similar to piecing together a puzzle.    He went on to describe the startling beauty of the moment when you have enough of the miniscule pieces in place that you can begin to see the image take shape.   I am still placing pieces for the likeness I’m creating over here but what do you think about the way these fit together?

I believe I lived with God before I was born and because God is love (1 John 4:8), I believe my soul knows what it feels like to bask in pure and gracious love.

I believe that God’s work is to give us the opportunity to choose to be like Him and He hopes to help us return to live with Him and thus have life eternally. (Moses 1:39)

In His intercessory prayer, the Savior says this: “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:1-3)

I believe that knowing Him is eternal life and that earth’s physical and spiritual distance coupled with my inability to remember Him, enables me to work toward an understanding and knowledge of His characteristics that would be impossible to sort out while in His commanding presence.

I believe John’s words that “we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”  He says we can know that we know Him.   (1 John 2:3)

I don’t think we’re talking about just knowing what He expects of us.  I believe the goal of keeping the commandments is to know Him as a Personality, to understand how He feels about us, what principles guide His interactions and His creativity, and what His priorities are.  It’s the difference between knowing Him as a casual acquiantance or a treasured friend.  I believe that’s what the Savior meant when He talked about knowing Them.

And again, I have found Him most frequently as Love.

John also says, “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him.” (1 John 2:5)

I believe that to know Deity is to know and understand the pure love that the Father and Son exist in and offer us.   I believe that the definition of working toward Him is becoming more like Him and because the primary facet of His personality is love, my focus is on understanding and feeling the love that He has for me and those around me.

I believe that as I participate in this process of obeying Him and thus knowing Him, I can experience His all-consuming love which my soul desperately misses and by definition, I can know eternal life here. Now.

The Pest Control Parable

Last summer we had an ant dilemma.  It began with a few ants parading in around the back door but quickly escalated into ants emerging from every crevice in the kitchen and pantry.  At that point, we determined that our efforts were no match for the foe we were facing so we called in an expert.  A kind and grandfatherly man showed up on our doorstep the next day and he proceeded to patiently and systematically address the inroads the ants had made.  The process began with a few kitchen bait traps and as the ants began to move and shift we resorted to a whole-house approach.  This caught me by surprise and one day I remember sitting at the kitchen table feeling defeated and anxious about what our pest control hero was finding as he dug into every closet nook and filthy bathroom corner of our home, baiting and trapping the ants that were troubling us.  I was relatively certain he was upstairs cursing me under his breath for having to dig through my messes and for my neglect of what must be routine maintenance in most homes.  After sitting in my shame for a few minutes, I remembered 3 things about his last visit. 1) He said that in his 30+ years in the pest control business he’d seen it all and there was very little that would surprise him.  2) In our conversations, he had always been respectful of others, even when describing worst-case scenarios.  3) He was kind.  And even though that didn’t change the state of my medicine cabinet, it did give me pause.  When I remembered who I was dealing with, the scathing judgments I had attributed to him began to melt away.  I realized that we were both committed, regardless of the cost, to achieving the same end result. I found a measure of peace in the knowledge that my cluttered bathroom cabinets may not be the anomaly I thought they were.  And I wondered if, after years of working elbow-deep in grime, you become less shocked by it are thus able to be even more efficient and compassionately focused on the restorative work at hand.

It was brought to my attention that this entry deserves a post script.  As I contemplated the above-referenced experience, I was jarred by the familiarity of those feelings of inadequacy.  Inevitably, when I find myself at odds with heaven I am embarrassed and ashamed at the state of my spirituality.  I am hesitant to approach Deity with the dusty corners of my soul because I anticipate the Savior offering me disappointment or consternation as I detail my shortcomings and ask for His assistance to clear away my failures.  I think it’s an age old, universal aspect of mortality-the immediate inclination to withdraw our imperfect mortal selves when faced with the grandeur of Heaven.  But when I really give it some thought and remember what I know about Jesus Christ, I remember that there is no disobedience or pride that He’s not intimately acquainted with.  He has seen it all and what’s more asks, perhaps even begs, us to bring Him more of whatever “it” is if that means easing our burdens.  He will never, not even for the grossest misdeed, be surprised by anything because His whole life was devoted to understanding us.  My realization at the kitchen table reminded me of the gracefulness of what He’s really offering.  He simply wants me to ask for help, for anything, no matter how big or small and He will immediately and kindly dive in with me and help me to work my way back in whatever ways I have strayed.  I recall his absolute compassion and kindness towards everyone who approaches Him for help, no matter the distance, no matter the deed.   And as soon as I choose to approach Him and let Him help me, I remember, again and again, that it’s simply love and compassion that He issues to the penitent, not guilt and judgment.  The point is that when I’m distanced from Him, even just a little bit, my memory of those characteristics is cloudy and it can be hard for me to feel brave enough to approach Him.  Thus, I continually seek to know Him better so that I don’t mistake what He is offering.

A moment

I was thinking about Moses today. Rest assured I will be making very few comparisons between myself and Moses but tonight I felt a kinship with him for a few moments. You see, I want to write about the Savior. I want to share what I know of Him and I want to understand Him better (that’s where you come in). And there is something very daunting about being a simple mama from Texas and wanting to write about Jesus Christ. And yet, I have seen His hand in my life in remarkable ways and if there is anything that I know of Him that might help you know Him better I would happily serve it up to you. Just know that all of my imperfections and insecurities will accompany the main course.

But back to Moses. He has a moment when He and the Lord are working out Moses’ job description. Now that I think about it, it’s the type of moment that occurs a number of times in the scriptures. Moses realizes what the Lord is asking Him to do and he is nervous, scared, and completely humbled by the magnitude of the task at hand. The Lord offers Moses some very poignant signs to help boost his faith a bit, but it seems like Moses still ends up feeling overwhelmed. And who can blame him? How do you acquaint other people with a Being you’re barely able to comprehend yourself? And how do you even begin to share His grace with others when you require so much of it? At this point, Moses points out some of the different weaknesses that he has. I wonder, in those moments, what was going on in his head? Was he just thinking aloud or did he really anticipate the Lord disqualifying him from the work. Did he assume the Lord would say “Oh, you’re right, I forgot about that slow of speech business, I’ll get someone else for this job.” Or did Moses think that his discomfort with vulnerability would be a just cause for releasing him from service? Did he think Heaven would say “Oh, you know, you’re right, people not agreeing with you, people laughing at you, that’s not something I want you to go through, don’t worry about it.” No. What He did was remind Moses, pointedly, of the Power that he was dealing with and He offered Moses the opportunity to see that Power extended further into his life. He offered Moses, His child, the chance to become more closely acquainted with the goodness that is God. And of course, Moses eventually accepted the invitation. And far from meaning a life of ease and plenty, the path that Moses undertook in that moment changed him in challenging and incredible ways. So, like him, I’m going to attempt something that seems beyond my reach and I’m going to have faith that I will not be about this work alone.

Welcome to my blog.