Monday, August 23, 2010

how shannon does it...

i met shannon just a few months ago. but i already know we're bosom friends. and not just because she, too, likes anne with an e. but it's a good start. she's interesting and fun to be around and probably one of the kindest people i've ever met. i kind of want to be like her. so glad she's telling me how to begin...

here's how shannon does it...

The following post is an excerpt taken from an “ah-ha” moment I had. You know what I’m talking about; you’ve had them before, too. It is the moment that something you are wrestling with finally makes sense, begins to settle and lets you be still. At this “ah-ha” moment in time, I had been struggling with feelings of anger regarding a family tragedy that had taken place three months prior. This is my story of letting go:

I've been thinking lately about an event I attended my junior year of college. Chieko N. Okazaki was one of the speakers at this forum. So many of her thoughts left an impression on me that day as I listened to her personal stories, but one lesson in particular has been reverberating inside this past week: "I know two things: There is a God. You are not Him."

This is a sobering statement for me. There is a God, yes. I do believe that. I am not Him, of course. Thankfully. But setting these logical truths aside, I find myself sometimes slipping into the false illusion that I have all the answers, know the full story, understand the entire layout. I allow myself to feel a sense of justification for judgment; to withhold my forgiveness; to harbor anger and resentment. And by so doing, I unwittingly place myself in a position that I am ill prepared and unworthy to be in--that of an omnipotent and all-knowing Being. This, I’ve found, is dangerous ground.

Dangerous because in all actuality, I am nowhere near all-knowing. I understand that I (and everyone for that matter) have been blessed with perspective, but it is certainly not all-encompassing, or all-seeing--and that perspective is subject to change via the different moods I encounter. I cannot read all hearts, see all sorrows, or even understand some of my own, let alone perceive true intention and judge indiscriminately the actions that take place around me.

So what is with me trying, against all odds, to place judgment or inflict permanent labels on those who I feel have wronged my family, myself or even simply the way things should be? Haven't the slightest. It's sickening, really, to feel that weighty burden. To really think that this is my duty, or obligation. To be pinned down with the awful, self-inflicted responsibility of judging and exacting justice. I cannot tell you how many times over the past few months that I have wept from the empty and dark feelings of hatred and worry in my heart. It has been, quite frankly, exhausting.

But to be reminded by this simple statement--that there is a God, and I am not Him--is the most freeing truth I have ever felt. I can place my burdens willingly at God's feet and find the solace of His hiding place. I can trust that because He is omnipotent, and all-knowing, He will do what is best and heal me in the process. For sorrows too heavy to bear, for anger that would harden into bitterness, He promises rest.

In her book, Corrie Ten Boom pleads with Jesus to carry the burden that she could not, and it worked for her. She felt lifted and freed and healed from the damage she endured. This healing did not come from some mental illusion, but from a true source of higher power. When I read her book a few months ago, I tried this, and it worked in a wash-me-clean and lift-me-up kind of wonderful, wonderful way.

But then time went by, and I forgot to keep allowing Jesus to carry that burden. I oh-so-graciously took it back, and consequently, once again felt the dark and bitter fruits of going at it alone. I had been clinging to the burden, and drowning in its sorrow and resentment, when this simple statement (along with millions of prayers and the second chapter of the book of Mosiah in The Book of Mormon) gently reminded me of this one fact: that mercy hath no claim on me if I do not allow it in my own heart.

So, here I am, handing my burdens back over to the One whose arm is outstretched, still. And do you know what? It is so freeing. Because He is God. And I am not. And for me, that is enough.

Sources Cited:
"Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom" Chieko N. Okazaki
Psalms 27:5
Matthew 11:28
"The Hiding Place" Corrie Ten Boom
The Book of Mosiah, Chapter 2
Jacob 6:5


Julianne said...

This is beautiful--right at the heart of things.

Rach said...

You have a way with words Shannon! It has been neat how hearing such an inspiring perspective can help me realize I need to fix my own perspective!

Molly said...

You know, I have a feeling it would be way harder for me to forgive someone who hurt someone I love than it would be to forgive someone who hurt me. What an interesting thought. Thank you for your thoughts and your ability to do such a hard thing--allowing yourself to soften your heart toward others the way Heavenly Father softens his heart toward us.