Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Hope You Dance

For the past eleven years I’ve been studying Jesus Christ almost as if it were my full time job. It hasn’t been about memorizing scriptures or the timeline of the events of his life or whether the Gospels sync up or other arguable facts. It’s been more about trying to figure out his character. I’ve wanted to know who it is that I say I worship. And I’ve wanted to know why and how he did the things he did.

It’s been an amazing journey. The more I study him, the more I get him. I should say, the more He has allowed me to “get him.” (see blog post Jesus Christ)  One of my favorite songs that I sing a lot in reference to how I feel about our Redeemer is “Nothing Compares 2U.”   But I have found that I’ve been wrong about no one else comparing.  Most do not but there are others who have some of his qualities and characteristics, thankfully! (see blog posts Joseph Smith and The Prophets)

Christ-like Characteristics
One of the side effects from my studies that I hadn't anticipated was that I notice his characteristics in other people, especially men. And when I do, something happens to my heart. It is involuntary. Observing people is voluntary but when I see a quality of Christ in them (which I confess is what I’m looking for), the rest is involuntary. I love them--at least that quality in them. It pours out of my heart.  Total admiration. Sometimes it’s more intense than others. I can’t help it.  I don’t have expectations of any return admiration or love. In fact I prefer to quietly honor them and just figuratively shake my head and say in my head, “Wow!  So amazingly beautiful!” It’s something I can’t really go up and tell them about because it is so powerful and, I believe, sacred. My hope is that it is somehow communicated to them spiritually and anonymously. At least that is what I pray for.

Sometimes I find the opportunity to communicate my opinion to them in an appropriate way. I do this because I know it’s hard to develop His characteristics. I want them to know they are definitely being noticed and are making a difference.  Yet, I know they are not being that way to get noticed.  “That’s what makes you beautiful!” If they were, it would kind of defeat the whole purpose. If I saw they were doing it just to 'be seen of men', my heart wouldn’t do anything. If I can tell they are doing it because they are allegiant to Jesus Christ and want to obey his commandments, become like him, and receive his promised blessings then I love them. I think what my heart does is one of those blessings for them. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels like this. 

And I guess it works like this: If they really are what I think they are then they will feel what I and others feel for them. If they are not, then my projected admiration passes them by and goes to directly to our Savior.

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” ~Matthew 6:1-4

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” ~James 1:22

Chris (rt) returning home, Aaron (lft) already returned, Matthew mission in progress now
I’m finding that one group of people my heart is especially susceptible to is return missionaries. More often than not my heart does what it does when I observe one of them. When my own sons (the two oldest) came home from their missions, I was so impressed with them. They became men out there. And by that I mean men of God. Men of Christ.

“…arise from the dust, my sons, and be men” ~2 Nephi 1:21

"Our missionaries serving throughout the world are beautiful examples of those who are truly ambitious for Christ." ~Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, "Be Ambitious for Christ"

I also notice other young men (or not so young anymore) who have returned from their missions. There is just something about them. They seriously have His image in their countenance. It’s this look in their eyes that is confident (not prideful!) and humble at the same time. Their focus is outward on others, not on themselves, yet they are also open to receiving the blessings others have to offer.

“Have ye received his image in your countenances?” ~Alma 5:14

Prime example:  David Archuleta

I believe the cause of his image being in their countenance is that they have just spent the last two years of their lives forgetting their life and serving the Lord and loving the people. They most likely have endured a lot of rejection and disappointment but learned how to stay steadfast in Christ and love through it all. They're just beautiful! They can't help it.  

For our Savior, it didn’t matter what the scribes and Pharisees said or did to him. He just kept doing what his Father instructed him to do. This is one of my favorite qualities in him. One example of this is healing on the Sabbath. That act made the Jewish leadership way mad. But he just kept doing it. Another example is that he commonly associated with publicans and sinners, which the Jewish leadership didn’t like much either. He just kept doing it anyway. It made them reject him, persecute him, and want to eliminate him. But he just kept walking the pathway his Father laid out for him.

“Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his…” ~Mosiah 5:15

I Hope You Dance
My hope for my own sons and all of these other men of Christ who are getting home from their missions is that they won’t let that fire die out. I don’t want them to grow old and fat and boring and become spiritual dull slugs (#King Noah).

“Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” ~Isaiah 6:10

I hope they will continue growing--becoming more like Christ over time so that they can continue being the best thing ever for their (future) wives, children, and their communities.  I hope they don’t involve themselves in anything that will stunt their growth or if they slip up they will admit it and repent.  I hope they will keep their balance of Confidence and Humility and always work to stay away from Pride and Envy.  I hope they will maintain their allegiance to Christ when the going gets tough or when the going gets pretty boring instead of turning to other things that could enslave them in the end. I hope they never lose sight of their mission goals even though they have to be concerned with making a living now and other temporal things.

This past week as I’ve been in St. George helping my mom out, I’ve been running here along the red rock trails by the Virgin River and listening to this song called, “I Hope You Dance” by LeeAnn Womack. That song pretty much sums up my hope for these boys/men (man-cubs).  And I spin the lyrics “I hope you dance” to mean “I hope you keep striving to love like Christ did in Charity and becoming like him, like you did on your mission. Don't sit out of the dance. Live, experience, learn. Find a beautiful young woman who loves you, and marry her. Have a family. Yeah, it's hard but partake of the sacrifice. Don't try to avoid it. That will just result in a high vulnerability to temptation. So just do it!” My prayers and my heart are with you. Stay beautiful!