Monday, December 6, 2010

The Headlines for me in Nephi 1:1

 . . . having been born of goodly parents
I, too, have been born of goodly parents–even GODLY Parents–a Father and Mother in Heaven.  I too, was taught in all the learning of my Father (and Mother) while I was there.  I have seen many afflictions in the course of my mortal life, but I have been highly favored of the Lord, having been blessed with a great knowledge (personal revelation) of His goodness and even some “mysteries” (like how He could be so kind and merciful and longsuffering toward me, even after and even while I am still stumbling around in this lost and fallen world.)

I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father
I too was taught somewhat in all the learning of my Heavenly Father (and Mother.)  I too was taught the “ways of Christ” (using the word Christ as a name-title in this instance.)  In other words I was taught the ways of Godliness.  I was taught the true principles that are good and true and wise, and that have existed uncreated from “the Beginning.”  Since the story of intelligent life began.  And where and when was that beginning?  Is there a beginning?  Or is it without beginning and without end–one eternal round?  “One eternal round.”  Life without end.  Experience, compound experience–opposition, opposites–happy, sad, good, bad, hot, cold, what works, what doesn’t (to bring peace, sanity, joy).  Experience leading to learning what works to bring peace, sanity and joy and what doesn’t contribute or foster those feelings.  And when does that learning set it?  When does it take place?  How many times must a person be exposed to the opportunity to “get it,” before they do?  "As many times as it takes," is the answer I get when I open my heart to hear from a Parent/God who has covenanted to use only persuasion, patience, long-suffering, kindness, and love un-faked (unfeigned) in wielding influence over me. (See D&C 121:41-42.)

having seen many afflictions in the course of my days
I can’t pretend that I haven’t seen many afflictions (wounds) in the course of my days.  I have a laundry list that I could hang out with the most sorrowful stories, if we were going to have a competition for who has seen the most trouble in their lives.  It’s not as horrifying and sordid as some, by a long shot, but still on a scale of “afflicted,” I’d give it an average of about 8 on a 0 to10 scale.  If you need further proof of that, you’re welcome to read the three inventory lists I’ve created on the page entitled “Inventory Lists.”*** (Note: This page is being "built" and will be available soon.)  One of the lists is of the ways others have  afflicted me by being fallible, lost and fallen mortals themselves.  The other list is of the ways that I have been an affliction to others.  And finally there is an inventory of how I have contributed to and participated in my own afflictions, long after my various perpetrators (instigators of affliction-based living) had no more immediate presence or influence in my life.

having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God,
I look back at my life and I can see that this is true of me: I have been “highly favored of the Lord in all my days” even through all the afflictions that I’ve both received and given.  Yes, that’s what I perceive:  Even when I was the one doing the afflicting of others, the Lord favored (blessed) me “highly,” or in other words greatly.  Let me repeat that thought.  It is a very essential comprehension or awakening for the sake of recovery (redemption) to begin: Even when I was the one doing the afflicting of others (doing wrong, being foolish, sinning against love and truth–and thus against good/God and others), I see, looking back, that God was still blessing me greatly.  He was still sustaining my life from breath to breath, from minute to minute, from hour to hour and day to day.  (See Mosiah 2:21.)  He was still extending His arm of mercy toward me in the light of day (sustaining my opportunity to be in this mortality.)  In other words, He was still sustaining my life and extending to me the chance to someday, somewhere, finally “get it” and, (like the prodigal son in the famous story in Luke 15:11-32), “come to myself,” (wake up) and realize what choices in my life work to bring genuine joy and what choices only end up sooner or later in misery.  This is that “great knowledge of the goodness of God” Nephi speaks of–and I have awakened to it in my own life.   It is the equivalent of what King Benjamin will try to get us to see in Mosiah 4:5-7, when he gives all honor and all glory to God and exactly zero to any of us. 

It is most humbling to look back along one’s life story or trail and see God’s hand in all things, and to see God’s goodness sustaining me even when I would have thought I deserved to be abandoned for my un-right, unwise choices.  I cannot tell you how many times I as a parent did not extend such patience and longsuffering toward my own children.  In my spiritual immaturity, I was so fast to be punitive toward them for their unwise choices.  Thus, rather than modeling wisdom (mercy satisfying justice), I meted out unbalanced justice and broke their hearts–afflicted them–added to their back-pack of challenges.  I am so grateful, today, to know that they too, can and will be able to recover (find rescue and relief and healing) from those afflictions when they are ready to.  But that is wisdom gleaned from another verse, many (delightful) pages from now. (See 2 Nephi 25:26 if you want to see how it is I feel certain they will come to a complete rescue from sin–mine as well as their own.)

Scripture References in this post: 

D&C 121:41-42 – No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;  (42) By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

Mosiah 2:21 –   I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

Luke 15: 11-32 – (I’ll fore-go including these 21 verses due to the length of the text, and encourage you with all the energy of my soul to turn to them in the Bible and review the story of the “prodigal” son’s awakening to his own nothingness and need for his father’s goodness.)

Mosiah 4:5-7 – For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state— (6)  I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—
(7)  I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.

2 Nephi 25:26 – And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

An Introduction--Seeing My Life in Light of the Book of Mormon

One day, many years ago, after my recovery had begun, I was reading the Book of Mormon and came to these words in Jacob 1:4:   And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ's sake, and for the sake of our people.

Since being in recovery is the equivalent of regaining a believing heart, I found myself willing to believe that God would hear and answer my prayers through the “words of Christ” or in other words the words of Truth, if I were willing to trust His promise to do so.  (See 2 Nephi 32:3.)  And so, in recovery I was regaining some of that childlike innocence and trust of God that I had as a little child, and I really believed it would do that–He would answer me.  He would converse with me, give me answering thoughts, whisper wisdom and understanding in to my mind.  And so, I asked, point blank, “Lord, the words, “engraven the heads of them” stand out to me and catch my attention.  What would Thou have me pause here and learn from these words?”  Almost instantly (and with a smile I could feel), I perceived the Lord God convey to my mind the words, “Think of what you are used to calling ‘headlines,’ Colleen.  That is what Nephi told Jacob to engraven upon the plates–the heads of them–the briefest summary of what could be said.”
“But Lord,” I continued, like the boldly inquisitive child He has taught me He desires and even enjoys me to be, “If the verses of the Book of Mormon are only made up of the headlines, how do I get to read the ‘rest of the story’ that goes with each one?  I mean, Lord . . . headlines only serve to whet my appetite or get my attention.”
With a continued smile (I swear you can feel His smile–in other words His good humor, His patience, His delight with you coming to Him for counsel–further light and knowledge, greater understanding), He said to me, “That is the part that will be opened to you as you seek to liken the “headline” unto your own life in the light of my Spirit.”
And that is how it is that I came to take the Book of Mormon as my source of “headlines” or “sub-titles” to guide the writing of my own life story.  I’ve thought for years I would someday share a finished autobiography or memoir using this model.  However, with the advent of the internet and the invitation of our prophets’ to use it as a resource and channel through which to publish/share ASAP our personal testimonies of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have decided to post/share/publish my life story–one Book of Mormon “headline” at a time.

Scattered throughout the text will be invitations to you to “See” such and such a scripture.  Since you may not have a Book of Mormon or Bible near at hand, I have included the text of the referenced verses at the end of my sharing for your consideration.

Scriptures referenced in this post:

2 Nephi 32:3 -- Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

Next post:  The Headlines for Me in 1 Nephi 1:1