This particular post has been swirling around in my brain for a while. It has taken a couple of different forms, but I finally decided I just need to sit down and write it and let whatever is swirling around at this moment take some kind of shape. Hopefully it's pretty:)
On Memorial Day I went with several members of my family to a local cemetery where we placed flowers on the grave sites of our fallen soldiers. One of my nieces and several of my nephews were with us. I was touched as they placed the flowers and said a vocal thank-you. My niece even began hugging the headstones. It was rather sweet. I appreciated the opportunity to be able to teach a little about the importance of history and honoring our heroes.
I love history and have made a study of it. It sometimes really sinks in that the people I learn about are real. It does so forcefully when I learn about the Founders and other historically significant people to me. It sinks in when I read Scriptures and acknowledge that the authors lived, breathed and testified. One day I will meet all of these people, my heroes, including those faithful and good people whose actions went widely unnoticed but are heroes none the less. I want to be able to say thank-you and to look them in the eye and tell them I tried to do my part, scratch that, that I did do my part. That I stood by Christ and Zion and freedom. That I was never ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That I knew what was right and sought to do so, and repented when I fell short. I want to be able to look them in the eye and acknowledge their sacrifice and assure them it was not in vain as I too upheld freedom and faith in whatever way I could.
Life is the same as it ever has been in any age. Its about what you become, its about how you serve others. The good amazing men and women, the heroes have given me something to shoot for, a goal to emulate. I fall way short, pretty much daily, but I just keep getting back up.
The ultimate goal, the unattainable in this life goal, is to become like The Savior. If I fall short of my mortal heroes and yet get back up, than trying to become as The Savior is like a perpetual crawl. Perhaps that is why kneeling in prayer is such a natural thing to do. I desperately beseech God's help. This isn't some self-righteous rant. I'm painfully aware of how imperfect I am, how much patience God must have to work with me hour after hour. He does so out of love. The thought of the Atonement of Christ, when I can get my mind around it enough to begin to comprehend, takes my breath away. How could He, pure holiness, take the weight of every sin of every vile action and thought? I think of things not only I've been through, but people I know and care about have also. I think of the people I'm blessed to work with and the heartbreaking, and wrenching things they've shared with me. And the reality is I cannot really shoulder their burden, much as I sometimes wish I could. I can't because I don't really know what it was like to go through. But, The Savior does, because He did. Why? Love, in its purest and most powerful form. He is ultimate freedom, safety and love all in one being. And He stands there in the midst of our storms beckoning us forward. He is unafraid of the storm. He already passed through not just His but all of ours. And just at the moment we feel like we'll fall He reaches out that hand, lifts us up and encourages faith. He is my view, my ultimate goal. He knows each one of us, and He knows our great potential.
Christ in Matthew 20:16 states that "many be called, but few chosen." I have pondered that distinction and have concluded that to be chosen requires us to choose. It is up to us to heed the call to become what He would have us be. Once we have made that choice we trust in God to help us.
These days I hear a lot that we need to find a George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson or other important founders and historical figures. I've said the same kinds of things, in fact I recall a post where I talked about having a modern day William Wilberforce. But, I've come to realize that the heroes of yesteryear were men and women called and chosen in their times for specific reasons and purposes. I do think we need to learn from them and to do our best to develop the same positive characteristics and virtues as they did. But, I've also grown in my respect for the people living today. So, many are out there doing their very best to try and help this country. I have concluded that we don't need George or any one else back today, we simply need to be our very best selves, to make the same choice that they did; to answer the call and choose to become what God would have us be.
Every single one of us was put on the earth right now, in the right place and circumstances for very specific reasons. Our task is to become our best selves. Do we shirk the call in fear or apathy? Or do we face the fear and just go ahead and do it anyway? Do we act and put others needs before our wants? Or do we coast today knowing someone else down the line will pick up the slack? Do we honor our heroes? Do we honor ourselves and our callings? To be chosen is up to us.
Watching my niece and nephews honor our heroes made me realize how important of a practice it is. But, I also honor them, and who they will become. There is no need for them or any of us to feel like we need to be someone else. We just need to be our best selves. I want the children in my life to know they can be anything they want to be, based on who they are, not who anybody else is. We can do as our heroes have done, we can trust in God, and strive to become what He knows we can. We can apply the magnificent Atonement in our lives and become better through His grace. We all are the ones we need now. The country is in our hands, hands created for this time. Choose to use them.