Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Search of Understanding

These past few weeks have been astounding.

Elder Goodwin and I have been opening up a new area up in Portland Tennessee, a process that involves a lot of finding and working with the members of the local congregation. It’s been a blast talking with as many people as we possibly can about the gospel, and it’s absolutely refreshing to be somewhere missionaries haven't been in awhile.

Deserted Island, Anyone?

Often times when we talk with people, their previous encounters with missionaries come up. While they can (usually) never remember what they talked about, it most always is a positive experience. The only problem is that sometimes people feel like they have nothing new to learn from the missionaries or that they already gave it a chance and it’s not something they are interested in doing again. Really though, every missionary offers something new in the way that they present or teach, through their own personal experiences and understanding of the gospel, and even something as simple as the way they approach a prayer.

Though the gospel never changes and the principles and doctrines contained are eternal truths, I have never stopped learning and don't plan on that changing any time soon. It is so full and there is so much contained that it is only line upon line, one little brick on top of another, that we ever build up our knowledge and understanding. As with all things, the gospel cannot be learned all at once, and it sometimes takes even more time to actually understand it to the point where blessings are effective in our own lives.

Case in point... I knew Jesus Christ was my personal Savior and Redeemer long ago. I could tell you a textbook type definition and description of the event and a shallow understanding of what it meant to me, but it didn't really hit home until just a little while ago. I was struggling trying to change things in my life, but I always found a sneaky little voice in the back of my head that told me that, "These faults are just a part of who you are and you're never going to really change".

It made me lose hope for a long time, and with that I stopped putting effort into doing what I knew to be right and trying to change things around. I knew the atonement was real and mattered and was the reason any of us could become something better then what we have been, but I still didn't understand it. If I had, I never would have given up.

I was lucky and blessed enough to have someone help me understand not too long ago.

Though I've spent at least a solid fifteen out of twenty years of my life growing strong in the gospel, I still needed help to understand the Savior and what His atonement meant personally to me. It now means to me that I can change, and that also means that everyone else can change as well. It means to me that we don't have to be defined by those things we once were, and that despite our imperfections and shortcomings that there is a reason for hope. That hope gives me courage.

If I had been unwilling to listen to the person who taught me this, I wouldn't know how much more there was then what I understood. I am grateful that there are missionaries all over the world who are doing exactly what was done for me by helping others have a deeper faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. It makes me think of how much more important it is for me personally to do everything I can to do the exact same for the people in this new area that I am serving in, even if they don't think we have anything new to teach them.

There is more, there is always more. The peace and happiness are real, and the blessings that come from the message we share is too good for me to keep a secret. I’m going to go out and try to share it now!

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