Work in Progress
Friday Morning, January 1, 1836-- This being the beginning of a new year, my heart is filled with gratitude to God that He has preserved my life, and the lives of my family, while another year has passed away. We have been sustained and upheld in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, although exposed to all the afflictions, temptations, and misery that are incident to human life; for this I feel to humble myself in dust and ashes, as it were, before the Lord. But notwithstanding the gratitude that fills my heart on retrospecting the past year, and the multiplied blessings that have crowned our hearts, my heart is pained within me, because of the difficulty that exists in my father's family. The devil has made a violent attack on my brother William and Calvin Stoddard, and the powers of darkness seem to lower over their minds, and not only over theirs, but they also cast a gloomy shade over the minds of my brethren and sisters, which prevents them from seeing things as they really are; and the powers of earth and hell seem combined to overthrow us and the Church, by causing a division in the family... But I am determined that nothing on my part shall be lacking to adjust and amicably dispose of and settle all family difficulties on this day, that the ensuing year and years, be they few or many, may be spent in righteousness before God. And I know that the cloud will burst, and Satan's kingdom be laid in ruins, with all his black designs; and that the Saints will come forth like gold seven times tried in the fire, being made perfect through sufferings and temptations, and that the blessings of heaven and earth will be multiplied upon their heads; which may God grant for Christ's sake. Amen.
--A Prophet's Journal, compiled by Lee Nelson
As I was compiling my list of New Year's resolutions, I got the distinct impression that I needed to add to my list the intention to become more familiar with the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have long understood that his life and mine bear striking similarities, and it brings me great comfort to see that. I bought a copy of his personal journals a couple of months ago that I have yet to look at, and a brief perusal brought me to this entry.
My situation feels like an echo of this entry, and yet missing from my circumstances is that unshakable confidence, that peace that comes with the realization that God's way is perfect and that He is always in control of all things. It's a peace that I crave, and have felt in rare and brilliant moments since I've been in Utah, but I need more constancy. So often I find myself praying for a security that I just don't feel most of them time, and simply asking for it doesn't seem to be enough. I used to think it used to be a reflection of my worthiness, but now I think it's a just a reflection of my ignorance--a completely different issue. I need to do more to pursue that confidence, and I should have realized a long time ago that confidence comes from repeated exposure to the knowledge of one's worth. That's something I learned a long time ago in my martial arts training, and conveniently forgot it because I learned it in a different setting and never applied it to my religious education--where the lesson is much more crucial.
So I have a lot of work ahead of me. I knew that at the onset of the journey, but I never realized that the work wouldn't end once I became worthy of the blessings I was seeking. Worthiness, it seems, is only the beginning. The pursuit of truth afterwards is where the real work, the most important work, is. Much of the time, it doesn't come from reading a book either--as marvelous and crucial as the scriptures have been, don't get me wrong.
But service, real life application of the lessons we all spend years cramming into our head and hearts--service to others is how you take it to the next level and gain more truth.
That's something that the Prophet Joseph Smith knew to his very core, and it was something I used to know from experience. I have to get that back somehow. The reason I never struggled with my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith is because my circumstances allowed me to live a life so deeply rooted in many of the same trials and desires. There is so much more I could be doing to deepen that understanding, and that's exactly what I intend to do.