What a beautiful evening to start the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Back in August, I was thinking about this activity and that is when the theme of “Come As You Are” came strongly to my mind. I thought about the Savior’s birth and how the shepherds came with haste. In Luke 2:15-16 we read:
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
I wonder if there could have been more to this conversation such as:
• Wait! My sheep are dirty. I can’t go to the Lord until they are perfectly clean.
• Wait! I got up late and had a rushed prayer as I ran up the hill. I can’t go to the Lord until I kneel down and say my prayers perfectly for a month.
• Wait! I can’t go to the Lord—or even I just can’t be happy because my house is a mess or because I fell asleep at the temple or because my children are making choices that I don’t approve of or because I haven’t called my mom in a month. What will He think of me?
Luckily the next verse is much better:
16 And they came with haste (and I would add that some maybe came with a little apprehension because of their dirty sheep but still they came just as they were), and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
When things shut down, I tried to get in a habit of exercising more to improve my health and for other reasons. One morning after my exercise, I was laying on my floor in stillness doing a LovingKindess meditation. The meditation included these phrases and I invite you to close your eyes and offer yourselves these words:
May I be peaceful
May I be happy
May I be safe from inner and outer harm
May I be as healthy as I am capable of being
May I live with joy and ease.
The phrase “May I be as healthy as I am capable of being” struck me with great force. I thought, in this very moment, I am only capable of being as healthy as someone who is 28 again, can be. In this very moment, I am only capable of being as healthy as someone who is ****lbs can be. I can’t expect myself to run the Ragnar like my younger sister who has been training for years. I am only capable of being as healthy as the daughter of God that I am in this very moment. This has been mind blowing. It has allowed me to soften some of the expectations I have of myself. It also allows me to work to be kinder to my present and past self and to start being aware of how the choices I make in this moment will affect my future self. PHEW!!!! Mind Blowing!!!
I have been able to look at other areas in my life from the perspective of where I am in this moment. For years, I’ve had guilt and been unkind to myself because of thoughts like my Come Follow Me is lacking, my house is a mess and I’m sure I’ve ruined my children. This new view has helped me see things a little differently. When I had gone a long time without even opening Come, Follow Me, I thought in a panic, “Oh no, I have to start from where I left off and hurry to catch up!!!.” That seemed like a very overwhelming task so I took a breath and decided, “No, I’m just going to start in this new moment right where we are at.” I sat down and just as I started reading, I heard a kind and tender voice in my head that said, “Welcome back.” I knew then that the Lord was aware of me and that He loved me for coming to Him just as I was: a daughter of God who was late, behind, and imperfect but who also had a desire to do what she’d been asked. Those feelings of love and acceptance increased my desire to be more diligent with my Come, Follow Me study. It’s still probably about 50/50 (and that’s being generous) and I’m learning to give myself credit for 50% that’s fabulous and be mindful of the not-so-fabulous 50% and know I’m still loved and can move forward into each new moment with my Savior’s help just as I am.
Sisters what are we missing out on because we feel like we or things around us should be different than what they are? What joys and triumphs are we missing out on because we are so focused on what we perceive should be? I’m the mom who yelled at my child one day for not putting shoes away. I am also the mom who praised this same child for being responsible and getting up and out the door on time without my help (is nagging help?). I am both of these moms and I can go to the Lord and my child, just as I am, to own and fix, with the Saviors help, my not so great parts. And I can also go to the Lord and my child to own and work to continue, again with the Savior’s help, the great parts of me.
Sisters, I invite you to place your hands on your heart, and if you are comfortable, close your eyes, and just feel. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know your names and they love you. They know what color your shower curtain is and They are aware of what’s important to you no matter how big or small. They know if your mind wandered at the temple or if you just totally fell asleep and They accept you and welcome you back with open arms. They know all the struggles that you are experiencing and They are there to help you through them. They know all the wonderful things that you do and They know all the places that you fall short and They love you just as you are and are cheering you on. Sisters, I have personally experienced all of the things I just mentioned. Let us come with haste to the Savior just as we are. He will not reject us but will welcome us with open arms. And for those of us who are still a little apprehensive because of our dirty sheep, let us exercise a little bit of faith and still come and give the Lord the opportunity to show us that He knows us, that He accepts us, and that He loves us just as we are.
I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and yours, amen.