Michele's Journal: Outward Not Inward

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This journal entry was written by Michele at the beginning of her second week studying Act in Doctrine, a new book written by Elder David Bednar.

As I have been reading and pondering on the character of Jesus Christ, I feel completely amazed at His ability to serve and love others despite His own afflictions. In Matthew 14, Christ discovers that John the Baptist has been killed and goes “into a desert place” to be alone. Maybe he wants to grieve the death of His friend or seek comfort from God, but it is understandable that He would want to separate Himself from others during this trial. However, the people also hear of John the Baptist’s death and follow the Savior, disrupting his grieving. In this circumstance, I would probably seek the comfort of the people and feel sorry for myself or I would react in frustration and demand that they leave me alone. Yet the Savior always overcomes the “natural man” and when He sees the multitude, He perceives their trials and needs instead of His own. He is “moved with compassion toward them,” forgets Himself, and heals them instead.

There are definitely times in my life where I’ve been better at serving others and noticing the needs of people around me. As the Relief Society president of my singles ward, I was focused on serving others and thinking about their needs but then I lost some of that when I was released from the calling. I feel a little bit like a “spiritual spurter” as I realize that I am not as good at it now. How can I BECOME charitable instead of just performing charity in a way that doesn’t change me?

Elder Bednar explains that “in process of time” and by “small and simple things” we can change and develop a more Christlike character. My automatic reaction to this advice was to feel incredibly guilty and overwhelmed. I felt frustrated that I have to work so hard and consistently, as well as feeling a little unsure if I will even be able to change. As I read on in the chapter, however, I realized that I was responding in a “natural man” sort of way and doing just what I was reading not to do!

Being awakened to my weaknesses and imperfections caused me to turn inward and think that it wouldn’t be possible to change, so I shouldn’t try. But Christ would never respond this way. He would resist the temptation to stay the same and He would look outward at all the people He could love and serve. So, despite my imperfections, I am deciding to do the same. I am going to work everyday to change and to notice other’s needs more than my own. I’m sure I’ll mess up and have to remind myself of my goal, but I have faith in Elder Bednar’s words, “As we do our best to ‘press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men,’ then we are blessed to do and to become much more than perhaps we are able to recognize.”

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