Monday, November 7, 2016

fullness

I don't stop long enough to write down how incredibly full my heart is lately (which is especially silly not to be doing during this favorite month of Thanks Giving).

Every week in church I think to myself, "I must write down these thoughts," because sometimes they wrap themselves around that heart of mine and grip it so tightly that I just know my life will change when I put them into action.  They wash over me at church and I want them to take me with them to make me new.  

To make me different.  

To make me more His.  

But then we get home and we slip eagerly right into feeding our post-church-starving-like-we've-never-eaten-before selves (except on Fast Sunday, which happened to be today, on which days we come right home after post church meetings and sometimes a few Young Women visits, and promptly get grumpy and short with each other :), Family council meetings, cooking in the kitchen together, FaceTiming with Elle, having people over for dinner, and before I know it the day is gone and my eyes are droopy and I'm scrambling to clean up the remnants of Sunday kitchen and Dave is waiting patiently for our pillow talk and we get ready to start another new week.

But today I've been determined to write at least something down before I go to bed. (ha! now it's Monday morning but at least I wrote most of this last night...)

Today in church we were talking about a scripture in 2 Nephi (20:8) that talks about the sacrament and how your "soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled," if we let it, and our teacher asked what it means to "be filled."  That thought of "being filled" has been in my mind this afternoon.

Lately I have been "filled" in a lot of different ways.  Digressing from that actual scripture, but still keeping with the "filled" thoughts, I have thought about how my life and my heart have been "full" of such a myriad of things lately that I can scarcely keep track.  

Often when I think of being "filled" in a spiritual sense I think of being filled with goodness and joy.  Love for all mankind and inspiration and motivation and grit.  All the good things.

But my little epiphany of the day is that all light and beauty all the time may not produce true "fullness" because there has to be the good with the bad.  

Beauty for ashes.

Glory and pain, all mixed together.  

Because in my mind, the juxtaposition of both brings the true "full."

A series of events this week filled me so very full of anguish for Lucy, sorrow so deep and dark that I could hardly bear it.  It's a roller coaster ride sometimes with that girl who we want to help in so many ways we don't sometimes feel we have the capacity for.

But it is interesting that you can be so full of so much darkness yet have so much light interspersed.

How can two such contrasting emotions hold that heart and soul of mine so captive?  My sorrow was accompanied by so much joy this week I thought that heart of mine would burst wide open. 

One of the biggest things filling me so full of light was that our dear friends were baptized.  

I had slept over at the zoo with Lucy and the rest of the 4th grade zoology kids the night before.  And that sleep over was at the tail end of some of the most interlaced-with-too-many-things days I've had in a long time.  So as I snuck out of the zoo before everyone else to get back in time, I wondered how I could snap out of my fullness of stress and worry, and enter into the peaceful state I wanted to be in to witness this beautiful day.

But how could I help but be filled with that contrasting JOY when I found all this goodness waiting at the church:
We have known this good family for a long time...Dave and I met them in North Carolina when we were there for a wedding since Jen and I had met through this blog and she was interested in the church, and we happened to be in such close proximity.  She is one of the kindest people I have met and I loved her and her family instantly.  We kept in touch through Christmas cards for a couple years and last year at Christmas when we received their card I noticed a return address a couple miles right down the street.  

In their note inside the card she let me know they had moved a couple months before, and when I saw that picture I realized I had just seen her son as the "new kid" in Lucy's class that very afternoon when I was teaching Art Masterpiece.

How crazy is that?

As a side-note, he is probably the most polite child I have ever met with his southern "yes, ma'am" charm and although he looked familiar, I didn't recognize him from meeting him before until I saw that card sitting on our kitchen counter.

Dave had the idea to bring them over a plate of cookies to welcome them to the desert, and we invited them to Max's farewell, and ever since then they have been coming to church and falling in love with the gospel.

They have written down questions in their little "question notebook" and as we have discussed them, sometimes over dinner or lunch, sometimes with our whole families in tow, sometimes just us adults, sometimes over the phone, and Dave and I have gained so much "fullness" from their perspectives.  We have some interesting "cultural" things in this church of ours and it's helped us together dissect those things as well as gain a deeper appreciation than ever before for the doctrine.

These two grew up in very religious backgrounds so our discussions have made me think deeper and wider and more conscientiously about how much I love this gospel of ours, and how it changes me, and changes my family, and helps me understand and strive to be more like Christ.  And I have loved to watch how it has changed them and how incredibly happy they are.

So after much learning and many questions and lots of church-going and quite an incredible journey that is their own story to tell, this great family decided that it was time to get baptized.  

The parents got baptized on Saturday, and the boys will get baptized by their dad in two weeks.


And I think it's safe to say that all of us were "filled" with so much joy there was just no room for the worries and woes that beautiful, crystal-clear morning.

Dave got to do the baptizing and they were all three glowing with love and beauty.
They chose songs for the service that filled us even more.  Come Thou Fount which always gets me, and For the Beauty of the Earth and by the time we finished singing the closing song I could barely talk to say the closing prayer.
So on this day of Thanks Giving, I just want to shout from the rooftops how grateful I am that we really can "never hunger or thirst, and be filled" when we chose to let God fill us up, even when that fullness is seeped into the nooks and crannies along with the darkness by it's side, smothering it out at times with all it's glory.

As I sat in Sunday School yesterday, following watching our friends faces glow as they received the gift of the Holy Ghost and being "filled" all over again, I came across this scripture in 2 Nephi 27:14:
"And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me."  He has paid the price.  And he seeks to draw us to him every day, if we will just listen and grasp that hand that is "stretched out still" without end.

And I was "filled" once more that He has drawn me to Him even more through this great family.  I have been more fully converted through their conversion.  For which I am so very grateful.  And which conversion we talked about later in Young Women to be a continual process, never really finished, because we always need to be reaching and searching and loving more as our own personal conversions continue to progress and deepen.

God is good.  And I'm grateful for the fullness that life gives me, the good and the bad all mixed together to help me learn and grow along the way.  Thanks Jen and Adam for helping me feel that more fully this weekend, and ever onward as we continually work on our own conversions.

11 comments:

  1. Shawni:
    I loved this! It was just what I needed to read today! Just how I am feeling about the different things in my life right now! --Melanie

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  2. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

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  3. What a wonderful story! Congratulations to your friends and so happy for them and your family, for getting to participate.

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  4. Beautiful thoughts! Thanks for reminding me of this important truth. And congratulations to your friends. How wonderful!

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  5. I'm so thrilled to see these pictures! We love this family and love the tender feelings of your heart!

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  6. Thank you so much for this post. The Spirit pierced my heart and testified of truth. Thank you for sharing with the Internet and for the peace it brought this morning. We have the truth!

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  7. Thank you for the lovely reminders. Brought some peace and tears this morning.

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  8. I loved reading this post today. It confirmed to me once again, that "His sheep shall know my voice," and that we need to invite people to such wonderful things as missionary farewells and such. It also shows how genuine you and your family are. It really touched my heart today. Thank you.

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  9. Goodness, this came up in my feed after a serious of rotten articles about the election results with accompanying name-calling and hatred. It was such a welcome relief to read a testimony of Christ and see so much peace. It was a good reminder to me that one ray of light can dispel so much darkness. Thanks for sharing that light!

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  10. You don't know me, but I feel like I know your whole family through this blog! (Super side note... I live in Hurricane/Southern Utah, and happened to spot your sister Saren at a Manhattan ward a few weeks ago while on a girls NYC trip. I felt like a total stalker. Ha!)

    I just wanted to say that this blog post was exactly what I needed to read today. I'm killing some time as a high school teacher at parent/teacher conferences where I haven't had one parent show yet... and got to catch up on your blog (it's the ONE blog where I do not skip a post). My social media feeds have been clogged with all sorts of negativity following this election. I can't stand it. And I needed to hear this beautiful story full of love, hope, and Christ. Thank you for sharing and making my evening a positive one!

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