18 Oct 2015

Of Fears, Friends, and Lessons Learned from Them

Watching as I learn to let them in

A wonderful thing happened a while ago. General Conference happened. Many outside the church would call me crazy for calling ten hours of religious talks in one weekend a "wonderful thing", but I stand by my statement. I learned a great many things, but one stood out in my mind as something I need to do. Leaving my thoughts about the word "ponderize" aside, I felt impressed to share the spiritual thoughts and discoveries I have while studying with those who wish to read it online. Perhaps you'll find this useful, perhaps not. Either way, I've found it extremely helpful to write.

This week I've been thinking about a scripture from the Book of Mormon. Mormon was writing to his son Moroni about baptism of infants, and near the end of his letter he says:

Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God and I fear not what man can do for perfect love casteth out all fear.

Moroni 8:16

When I was on my mission this scripture often meant that because I had authority from God and I loved those I served the Lord would give me the boldness to teach without fear. I worked on that all the time, but it seemed to me that I could never love enough because I was still fearful. From the beginning of my mission to the end I still tried to be even more direct, to be even more bold, to speak of things that I knew God wanted me to, but I worried because it never seemed to be easy. It seemed to me that my fears were never "cast out".

But now that I've come home this scripture started to take on a different meaning to me. I was so focused on being a missionary, on losing my fear, that I forgot the other part of that situation. What I'm starting to see is that the more important thing is for the Spirit to take away their fear. I should not worry about my own comfort, all my focus should be on them coming to the truth, and that their fears in the way of their coming to the Gospel go away. I'd like to say I finally came to this realization of my own accord, but in all honesty it only came when I was put on the other side of the equation.

I don't know if everyone else feels this way, but I'm somewhat nervous about a lot of things. One of those things that I especially lack confidence in is my standing before the Lord. I'm not a bad person, but each of my faults seem so apparent to me. Most of those close to me don't see the parts of myself that I see as problems or mistakes, and so even when they complement or reassure me there is a shadow of doubt. It is almost a whispering in the back of my mind that if they knew of my mistakes they wouldn't say such things. In the midst of General Conference I had the chance to sit down and talk with a friend of mine, and in that conversation I chose to confide a portion of my problem.

In honesty, that was perhaps the scariest thing I've done in a long time. But rather than retreating or turning away this friend still chose to trust me. That small act of trust and love was exactly what I needed, and in a moment it tore all my fears away. I felt and still feel from that moment a confidence I didn't have before.

It is in those moments that we open ourselves up to others that we feel the most vulnerable, but I think it is also in those moments that we are the most ready to feel the love of others. And if we do choose to brave those moments, their love can cast out all our fear.

The greatest lesson I learned from this experience though, was that Christ's love - His perfect love - cannot take our fears until we let him. Just like I could not completely accept my friend's confidence until I knew in my heart I was not hiding or holding back, we are not completely ready for or open to his love until we open ourselves up and stop holding back. Just like with one another, opening up to Christ will often start with us feeling vulnerable or even weak. I'm beginning to understand more and more that this is an important part of the process that I do not need to be afraid of. Because unlike our fallible mortal comrades, Christ will never hurt us, and He will never leave us.