Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 3 Home - Our Best Selves

I can’t believe that it has already been three weeks. However… Time is an interesting concept. As a missionary, all can attest that the DAYS are just the longest things ever. You lie in bed at night and think, “wow that felt like an entire week…” But then the weeks somehow just scream by. All of the sudden you are at the library again, emailing your family on Prep day, wondering where the last 7 days went. I thought that time warp would go away, but I actually just think it is a symptom of growing up and having responsibility. The week went by fast for me, but the days were often painful and long. I miss Indiana and serving others 24/7, and being in the scriptures for 3 hours a day. I miss bearing my testimony 20 times a day and talking to everyone. I miss uplifting others and feeling like I am making a difference. If anyone ever tells you that the transition from being a missionary is easy… they are lying haha. Because the feeling of helping change someone’s life, and serving with all of your heart, might, mind and strength is irreplaceable, and unmatchable, at least for me it is. That is why I miss it. I became my best self in Indiana. I learned to truly love, serve, and care about others needs. However, when you are released as a missionary those opportunities are not as prevalent as before. I’m sure you have heard several return missionary say, “I just don’t feel like I have a purpose anymore,” or “I don’t know who I am anymore.” I used to chuckle when I would hear those things…but I am here to tell you…those feelings are real.

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your best self? What did you lose it to? Perhaps you lost it to an addiction – food, television, Netflix, shopping, gossiping, and exercising. Perhaps to sin: lying, cheating, lusts of the flesh, laziness, idleness, and selfishness. Perhaps a to-do list, a never-ending business that really is only surface deep. Perhaps you lost your best self to your worst self – to self-criticism and self-doubt. Whatever it is, the loss can be painful. In the scriptures, Satan is said to use Flaxen cords. A flaxen cord is a tiny itty bitty thread, that when tied around your wrists can be easily broken. However, the scriptures say that he leadeth them (humans) by the neck with flaxen cord until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever. One little flaxen cord can easily be broken… but a hundred little flaxen cords make a strong rope, which cannot be broken by your strength alone.

So what does this have to do with our best selves? We lose them only a flaxen cord at a time. I have talked to several missionaries who say that their greatest fear is to return home and go inactive, or leave the church, or mess up really bad with sin. It is a rational fear, but is also 100% up to the choices WE make on a daily basis. It is a fear that can easily be overcome. It is a road that we can choose NEVER to walk. Isn’t that good news? So how, how then do we so often end up walking it? Each of us in our life, whether you are a return missionary, still waiting to go on a mission, raising a family, or are 80 years old, each has experienced flaxen cords of their own. We have all spent a little time, lost from our best self.

Satan knows that any return missionary is not going to go get drunk or watch porn or whatever the night that they get home. Satan has been around far too long and is far too cunning and wise to even try that game. Just as in Book of Mormon times, he works by flaxen cords. Little by little, he tries to make his way into our lives. He tries so hard to ensnare our best selves, and to turn us into someone we were always terrified of becoming; someone we may have even promised we would never be.
So what is the answer? Although it may seem cliché, its all about the little choices. Am I going to pray this morning or not? Am I going to strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father today, or not? Am I going to think about the savior today, and try to be like him in my actions, or not? Am I going to watch that movie, or listen to those lyrics or will I shut it off and walk away? Am I going to keep going to the temple or am I too busy for that? Am I going to seek the spirit of revelation or just make decisions without prayer and pondering? Am I going to give my burdens to the savior during the sacrament, or am I going to play on my phone? So many little choices. But the good news, is that they are choices, and we always have the opportunity to choose right, to choose to let the savior change us.
Do you see the flaxen cords? Do you see how our little choices, made repeatedly, become big life changers? How thick is the rope you have decided to carry?
Do not despair, for there is still more good news. Not only is it our choice, but we also have one, our savior Jesus Christ, who has already gained the strength to break the cords, no matter how thick. Sometimes this break is immediate and the healing and relief comes quickly. However, usually, we are healed and the cords are broken as slowly as we created them, flaxen cord by flaxen cord. Just as our little choices can bind us, our little choices can free us. When we choose to pray and to read and to attend church and to cast away bad images and thoughts from our mind and replace them with good music and pictures of Christ, we are choosing to come to Christ; we are choosing to be free. These little choices are much harder to make once we are already tied up with a rope of bad choices, but it is POSSIBLE to make them, and POSSIBLE to break free. Jesus Christ makes it possible.

Elder Bednar, when talking about the burdens we carry, recently said, “It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to the earth to die for us. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us—not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us.”

The little choices are hard. But when we but the savior in our little choices, they become a lot easier. In the October 2014 General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook asks us to ponder our choices and think, “Will this make me a better person today?” Those types of questions will usually guide us to making the right decision. Perhaps an even more stirring question, “Will this bring me closer to the savior today?”

Write it on a note card. Put it in your car or your mirror. Put it as the background on your phone or your computer. Even write it on your hand if you need to. But begin to see your small every day choices as choices that have eternal consequences. Flaxen Cords.

I know God is real. Even writing those words makes me feel empowered. I know he is working on us and in us, to help us be better. But we must let him. Choose to free yourself from the flaxen cords. Choose to let Christ in your life to heal you. It is up to you.

 Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I love you. There is healing and hope available to every life. God is never finished with us. Even when we tell him that we are finished with Him, he holds on to us.

The Savior’s loving arms are always open. There is nothing he cannot heal. There is nothing that he cannot help you overcome. Make the choice today. 

Make. 
One. 
Little. 
Choice.

212 Forever. 
4th Missionary

Megan Cooley

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