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Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Friday, February 29, 2008

I believe....

I have thought and pondered and wondered how to write about my religious beliefs. How to put down in words what is in my heart? How to explain so that what I feel and what I know comes across in a positive way?
I am able to stand infront of vast numbers of people and talk about what I believe, when I know they believe the same things. I can look up, give scriptural reference, back up and testify to everything I personally know is true, when I am sure that what I say will move hearts and spirits and get an Amen. That's not vanity, it's fear.
I fear that when I say what I believe to people who do not share what I feel, it will be ridiculed, God will be ridiculed, I would hate that. I dread trying to say what my faith entails and getting facts wrong, I am hopeless at facts. I couldn't tell you, for example, what year Joseph Smith prayed to know which church to join, unless I looked it up, or asked someone who knows, like Seth.
So then, how to answer Julie Bo's request to know more about my faith and what I believe?
I wrote a post half way yesterday and deleted it, pompous and wrong and garbled and ...just not what I wanted to say, at all.
So, here it is.
I believe.
There's no arguing with that is there?
I believe, you can't take that away and no-one can say I am wrong. It is a fact, indisputable, I have not even a shred of doubt that God exists. I believe that His son Jesus Christ was born and died and was resurrected so that we can return to our Heavenly Father.
See, this is how it is, Seth is a genius, he knows many things, facts, things that go in my head and fluff about a bit and fizzle away...they stay in his head. But I know something he doesn't know, I prayed and I now I know and I may forget my address, I might drive somewhere and forget which direction my house is in but I know God exists and so does his son, Jesus Christ.
In our church ( Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints / Mormon) we have a set of beliefs that outline what the church believes. There are 13 of these articles of Faith.

1. We believe in God the father, in His son Jesus Christ and in the Holy ghost.
2. We believe that man will be punished for his own sins and not for Adam's transgressions.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith* in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof
6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law

Simple truths that we, as an organised church, believe in. ( I am saving the best til last, number 13 will be included later!)
As children in the church we learn these and can repeat them.....when we are adults we look at them and at some stage we will wonder if actually we DO believe them. I don't think anyone can live a religion as complex and involved as ours if they don't believe it, I'm sure that there a minority that go to church because they were raised in it and are afraid that if they veer away from it, they will be punished. I am sure that many people get in the habit and it's safe and comfortable and a great way to raise children. To live it though, really live it and gain from it, you must believe it and I am convinced that God is real, He loves us and would never ask anything from us that we are not capable of doing. He will never demand that we do something and then leave us high and dry.
Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you. God does not discriminate, He does not love one person more than another, if He said if any of you lack wisdom ask and ye shall receive, if you ask, with faith and real intent, He'll tell you. Don't take my word for it, try it. Read scripture, find something that hits home, that you really want to know the truthfulness of and you will know, not a booming voice or even a visiting angel, just an undeniable feeling of knowledge.
I have had many experiences that have left me with such a sure knowledge that the things I have been taught, the things I have read, the things I have prayed about are true that I can't deny them.
I have never been an easy person, never one of those children that agrees and follows and quietly obeys. I have always been a WHY? Sort of girl. I was always in trouble because I would not just do it, I needed to know why and how and what for.
When I did ( at 18) begin to question whether this life was right for me, this religion with all it's do nots and you shouldn't and nuh uhs......why am I doing it? I could be out there doing all that fun stuff and be like all my friends. So I studied and prayed and eventually I just knew that this was right for me, it made sense, it was good. I knew it. So I chose it.
There have been many times when my faith was shaken to the core, when I distanced myself from the church building, stayed away from services and tried to argue against what I knew to be true, anger made me feel that way, outrage that some monster had hurt my children and where was God? Well, he was there. Always there but He gave us all the greatest gift of all and that is freeagency, we are all free to choose good or evil , you don't give that gift and then when someone tries to choose evil, stop them, snatch the freedom to choose away.
The man who hurt my children used his free agency to hurt my children. What God did was help me to undo that damage, He took away that pain and fear and guided me every single step of the way. I did what I did for those boys and people have marvelled at how amazing it was that I knew what to do, knew what to say, knew how to heal them. I only knew because God told me, He put the words in my mouth, showed me the right people to talk to.
When I sat one night and cried, when I called my dad and told him, calmly that I had to kill Jordan, that this little boy was re-enacting what had happened to him on other children, that he was sure to grow up and be an abuser and I couldn't risk that, when I did that and I honestly felt that as a mother I had no choice, He sent someone to help me. A member of the church came to my house at 11pm, he sat with me and he asked me what I had done to heal my children and asked if I had prayed, such indignation on my part, how could this man, who had known me all my life ask me if I had prayed?
Then he asked me who had given the boys a priesthood blessing, who, having the authority to lay hands on my sons' heads had done that very thing? I told him that I hadn't been to church, I was angry, in the space of 3 months I had given birth, had major surgery twice, my husband had left me and now this......I was too angry to go to church and sing hymns and listen to how blessed we will be if we are obedient. If God loved me, if he loved these boys He would heal them, he would stop the night terrors, those hours and hours of pitiful screaming every single night.
This humble man very quietly said " helen, you haven't done everything you are able to do, even if you are angry, you should ask for help. I am going to give those boys a blessing and I promise you that they will be better, I promise.
He went upstairs and he put his hands on Jordan's head as he slept and he blessed that little boy, that tiny boy who was 2 years old, who had been through hell at the hands of a monster. This little boy whose daddy was gone, who was so damaged that I truly felt it would be kinder for him to die than live with his mind and spirit so crushed and hurt.
The blessing was simple and brief, it just said that Jordan would be made well, that he would be able to grow and enjoy his childhood, that he would be happy, that the things he had experienced would be forgotten and he would feel no more fear.
After that night Jordan never had another night terror, not one, not even a bad dream. It took another 3 years before I knew that every memory was gone, another 3 years before he would laugh outside the home, 3 years for him to be naughty at home, 3 years before he was a loud, messy, bouncy boy again. It took 3 more years but it happened.
I believe.
When I was at my saddest, when I told myself that all I had to do was get Sophie and the boys to a certain age, more independant and I would be able to die, when I used to comfort myself by imagining that I would get cancer and be able to lie in a hospital bed with something tangible that people could see and help me with, when I could die an honourable death and be out of this nightmare, I asked for a blessing for me.
I was told in that blessing that the Lord had been saddened when my boys were hurt that He had been right there with us and that He wanted me to know that never again would I suffer that pain again, that my children were protected, that angels were watching over them and that nothing like that would happen to them again.
I felt some comfort from that and it felt like a nice thing to have been told.
When I think of Sophie, when I hear the things she is doing, when I know the places she has been, when I see the people she associates with, I know that God if keeping His promise. She may well suffer and be hurt by her own actions, I am convinced though that angels are watching over her. I just pray that she doesn't give them the slip, that she soon knows that she might push her luck.
I have seen too much and learned too much to say anything but I know God exists. I am bound to keep strong and endure to the end.
I watched my dad die with such dignity, with such a clear heart, I saw him scream in agony and on the next breath tell us how happy he was. I heard him tell me as he was dying that I should go back to church, I watched my 19 year old son, who so many Christian people would condemn, kneel next to his papa's bed, place a hand on his head and pray with him and I knew that God lives.
I do not just believe, I know. I know that the things I have sought after, the things I have been taught and the things I have prayed about are true.
This is my most favourite of the Articles of Faith, those verses that outline what as a group of people, who gather together in the Lord's name believe in...

13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul*We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

That pretty much says it all. What better way to end this post than to say Amen to that.



Blogger Becca said...

Your post moved me and made me cry...thanks for sharing this.

12:42 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Amen, for sure, Helen.

I suppose many would argue that I laud you because I agree with you; while it is true that I have the same faith, I admire anyone who believes in something and follows it so completely.

I don't think anyone who *knows* you would think ill of the church, just because you are who you are. I know I have leaned on your testimony as of late, even if you didn't know it!

3:24 am  
Blogger TN said...

With tears, I say Amen! I so admire you for the person you are. Thanks! Clara

3:40 am  
Blogger LosingSanity said...

Amen for sure! Helen, your post was absolutely uplifting. When asked how I can believe in a God I cannot see, I have always said, because I have seen His beauty, felt His love and I have seen His grace and mercy. That's how I can believe. Because I know, I have seen it.

Beautiful post. Beautiful testimony!

7:51 am  
Blogger TheAlbrechtSquad said...

Amen Helen..

What a beautiful tribute to our Lord...what a beautiful testimony indeed.


2:40 pm  
Blogger mom of 2 said...

I don't share all of the same beliefs, but I do share the most important truth...that God IS real and that his son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for all of us and arose so that we can have eternal life. It is truly an amazing gift! Great post!!

5:44 pm  
Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

Thank you for sharing this heartfelt post with me. I wept with sadness and with joy too. What a wonderful gift you have.

I truly appreciate your testimony.

I confess I had a different question in mind when I asked about your beliefs though I'm too scared to ask it. I'll just say that I believe in YOU Helen.


6:46 pm  

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