Sunday, October 4, 2009

On "Trying to be Like Jesus"

Have you ever had a thorn in your flesh that you're not handling very well? If so, then you know where I am right now. My thorn is of a physical nature, but lately I have allowed it to move into the spiritual realm. In other words, I've been letting it affect my level of spirituality, which is probably not a real good idea for someone who wants to be healed.

At times like these, conference is always a godsend. President Eyring reminded me this morning of the importance of going back to the basics and becoming as a little child:

I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in His ways.
I'm trying to love as He did in all that I do and say.
At times I'm tempted to make a wrong choice,
but I try to listen as the still, small voice whispers:
Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
for these are the things Jesus taught.

I'm trying to love my neighbor;
I'm learning to serve my friends.
I watch for the day of gladness
when Jesus will come again.
I try to remember the lessons He taught.
Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:
Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
for these are the things Jesus taught.
-Janis Kapp Perry

Emulating the Savior is exactly what I need to be doing, especially when I'm not where I want to be with my physical health. Every time I become too preoccupied with me to draw near to Him, loss of spiritual health ensues...and then I'm really in trouble. The last thing I need is a thorn in my soul, too. Yet I seem to be working on one...

More self awareness came my way at the close of the first session, when President Monson helped me remember to ask myself the question, "Have I done any good in the world today?" You know what? The answer in recent weeks has been "not much." Quite frankly, I am allowing my physical thorn in the flesh to distract or even excuse me from focusing on the needs and feelings of others. It's like I've been taking a month-long hiatus for a private pity party––one that I can ill afford. How have I managed to forget once again that when the chips are down, helping others feel better always makes me feel better, too? Let's face it, accessing the powers of heaven has a lot to do with being spiritually-minded enough to open yourself to them. And being spiritually-minded and open to blessings has everything to do with trying to be like Jesus, something I've been neglecting in favor of ministering to my ailing self. Don't get me wrong, self care is important when you're trying to get well, but being able to care about people and things outside yourself is important, too.

Here's the stumper. How many times does one person (translation: me) have to learn the same lessons in life? (Enter the mighty change of heart talk by Elder Dale A. Renlund, Sunday afternoon session, in which he pointed out that our [new] mightily changed hearts need constant care and vigilance to eliminate the danger of "rejection.") I guess my heart has some hardening of the arteries going on if I can't avoid going through the same old cycle again and again. Seriously. I know this drill! I've had physical challenges aplenty, and the way out is always the same...letting go of my need to control and complain and consciously choosing to trust in the Lord, who invariably turns the thorn...or entire prickly my good. It truly doesn't make much lasting difference when or if the physical healing occurs at all, because it's the spiritual healing that matters. Paul said it very well in Philippians 4:11-13: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (And I can, but not if I forget to be His disciple.)

In following Elder Eyring's advice and trying to be like Jesus, I will be able to handle adversity more like He did. I will call upon Him more frequently, ensuring that He is walking with me and that I am remembering to actively use His atonement to overcome the world and its struggles. I will be reminded that trying to love as He did means reaching out to others and finding the kind of joy that has nothing to do with the flesh at all, let alone thorns in it.

I should mention that my physical problem is far more annoying than threatening, and the details are a trifle too delicate to discuss here. But I did want to discuss the lessons it is teaching me, and the absolute relevance of general conference in putting me back on track on a bi-yearly basis.

Conference is indeed a many-splendored thing!


Snarky Belle said...

I'm thinking of you, and keeping you in my prayers. I hope you are ok! Your attitude and determination are admirable. But, I can't believe your answer was "not much"...I personally know that to be false! You lifted me with a beautiful email I won't forget. Sending lots of love and hugs!

KC Mom said...

I was at the sunday morning session of conference in the conference center and I too was touched by the Elder Eyring.
You always lift and edify me and I'm grateful for your reminder of how wonderful conference was.
I hope your "thorn" will go away. :)

jen said...

It seems that, as the world grows worse, General Conference and the messages from our leaders grow stronger and better.
I agree. It was a fantastic weekend, one in which I learned a lesson similar to yours--look outside ourselves to improve ourselves.
But I agree with Natalie--you serve others more than you think. Take credit where credit is due, make the improvements needed, and move on.
And especially, feel better. A thorn in the flesh can be all-encompassing, even if it is only bothersome.
Thinking of you!

Karen Sue said...

Lately I've been on a Whine-fest. I don't mind doing things for my church and church family, but it seems the pile gets deeper no matter how fast I shovel! And I'm tired of others who have done it once, so they've done enough!! You are never done serving!! And you may change a life by standing here beside me shoveling. We might teach each other something, we may encourage each other, and we may encourage others. Wow! I just need to stand in front of the mirror and tell myself that a few more times!!

Darlene said...

I can so relate to everything you said, thorn and all. I did let everything go and just listened to all the speakers and for the whole two days I felt better, about myself and everyone else. I don't think I could make it if it weren't for the gospel in my life.

I too hope your "thorn" improves. I agree with Snarky Belle though in not believing your answer was "not much" Your writing (and especially your blog) blesses everyone each day. You are my strength in so many ways. I forever thank my heavenly father for sending you to me.....what a gift you have been.

Fiauna said...

I hope all is well (or gets well soon). I actually have the lyrics of "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" framed on my wall. Someday the words will rub off and I'll "be gentle and loving in deed and in thought."

Rhonda said...

Hey Sue, I have been looking to add you on my reader invite list, but can not find an email. We went private, and I would like to send you an invite. Email me @

Katie Blacker said...

I have to say, I relate well with this post. I often find myself too caught up in "me" and not focused on others. And you are right, it does hurt my spirituality. I missed a lot of conference this time being out of town. I am excited to read those talks I missed. I love conference weekend!

Em said...

i know, i know...but i really, really, really don't like the man my mom is married to. sigh. not sure if i can get past this thorn here. might be in the next.

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