For some time now I’ve been hashing out in my mind the direction of this post. I just can’t stop thinking about these things. Even though they may seem unrelated to you, they are seamlessly connected in my mind.
Greta loves to look at pictures in books. Her favorite ‘picture book’ is the scriptures with its pictures of Jesus. One of the pictures is of the Savior blessing children. This is the caption: “And he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them.” I’d shown it to her a million times before, but for some reason, one particular day I was overcome with emotion as I read that. It started me thinking about Christ and what He did, what He would do, and what I should be doing. WWJD? I had only ever considered that question in the context of making right or wrong decisions, until after this epiphany.
As Christians we know we are supposed to be doing the things Jesus wants us to do. Well, what exactly is that? Obviously, it means being nice, keeping the Ten Commandments, loving our neighbor, etc, etc, but for some time I felt like that was not enough. Most of us do those things without much effort. I mean, to not do those things takes more effort, if you ask me. It’s easier not to rob a bank than it is to do it, right? I felt as though I was in a big sea of water, with all the other Christians in the world, bobbing up and down, in the right place, but not really going anywhere. But now I wanted to swim, to have some direction, to achieve something more. I could see some others doing the same. How could I make more out of my existence? What more could I be doing?
After analyzing the picture of the Savior blessing the children I took away several important ideas:
1. If you have the Priesthood, the power to act on behalf of the Savior, you should be doing what He would do if He were here…which would be doing what He did when He was on the Earth..Blessing people, including children. Literally blessing them. Offering to bless them. Inviting them to be blessed. One by one. I think this is one of the most under used, overlooked, and under appreciated parts of our religion. God has a plan for us. He has things to tell us. The Priesthood is like the connecting phone line. Don’t keep us disconnected. Step up, brothers. Do what the Savior would be doing if He were to come visit.
Ok, here’s where my boys always get me. I start to say that I have a number of reasons for something, and I can usually only think of one. But this is where in my mind it all ties together. So, I guess you could call this number two, even if it’s not related to the aforementioned picture.
2. I don’t have the Priesthood. (AND I’m totally down with that.) What should I be doing? The Savior’s same invitation is extended to everyone to come, follow Him, to do the things He would do. I can’t give a Priesthood blessing, but I can still bless people. I can minister to them just like Jesus did when He was on the Earth. So back to the swimming thing…how do I do that? I could go on a service mission, like so many of men and women of faith do, build houses in Haiti, teach people in Sumatra, feed the hungry in Africa. I’ll tell you, it’s very tempting. It makes me wonder why our church doesn’t really encourage us to do that, at least not when we have families with children still at home. They would learn so much from serving God’s other children. We are generally so spoiled and ungrateful here. What is the best use of my existence right now? I’m still working that out, but I know a big part of it is making sure that I take care of the children God sent to me, helping them become the best people they can be.
That started me thinking about a few things. It has been nice having such a gap between Greta and the boys. It’s like starting over again, except better, because I don’t have to figure out everything as with the first child. I’m more relaxed and more confident, and I don’t sweat the little things, like trying to impress anyone with or for anything. (i.e. Walking at 9 months? No. Do I care? No.) I’ve never been big on impressing people, byw. That got me thinking about how it is nice to have second chances, how we should be sure to learn from the past, and about how we should take advantage of each moment and take nothing for granted.
I reflected on my life before Greta, or kids for that matter. I could do lots of things. For a few years I could pursue any interest I wanted, and I did. Music, travel, movies, exercise, crochet, eating out, sewing, painting, languages, copoeira, and yes, even basket weaving. If I could get a second chance, to do it all over again, would I do anything differently? Having the knowledge I do now, what would I change? What would Jesus be doing with His free time? I can honestly say that no worldly pastime or hobby of mine made me feel totally fulfilled. That’s why I tried so may. I enjoyed them, and still do, but they aren’t enough for me. They leave me bobbing in the sea.
The epiphany of the picture makes me long for so much more in my life. There are so many more important things I could do to be more like the Savior each day that there really isn’t time for copoeira and crochet in my life right now. Looking back on my life so far, if I could have done anything differently, I would have liked to have spent more time in the temple before having kids. It was not something that I valued enough in my early life to make a serious priority or sacrifice, but now I can see that if would have done it then, I would be light years ahead in my life now. And having kids just makes getting there more urgent and necessary, albeit more complicated.
It has been in the temple where I have received the most clarity on the direction and purpose of my life. I haven’t always figured out what I’m supposed to be doing; there haven’t been voices detailing out each step of the way, or angels appearing to tell me what to do. Rather genuine, undeniable confirmations that God has a plan for me. Not just a big plan for the universe, but a detailed plan just for Angela. I don’t have eternal eyes. Usually I can’t see the end picture or purpose fully. Sometimes I don’t even know what the next step should be, like right now. But I know as I keep returning, like Punchinello does to the Master in Max Lucado’s book about Wemmicks, He will help me see what I was meant to be.