Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Thankful for Thanksgiving!

Maybe it's the fact that I've had a really crazy week, month and year, but I find myself looking forward to tomorrow with unusual anticipation. I am approaching tomorrow as an opportunity to really celebrate what we have, and I feel very blessed to have everything that we need and much more.

Yes, I know that is the point of Thanksgiving, but I think this may be the first time I've actually started thinking about it that way. It has always been about being with family and having good food, and our gratitude was saved for the 5 minutes spent as we went around the table saying what we were grateful for.

I think I really just came to these thoughts as I was doing some preparation tonight. I considered whether or not to pull out the china. At first I decided to because, "it's a special occasion," but then, as I thought about it more, I realized that the beautiful things we have could easily become, for me, a symbol of the blessings we have been given. It's at that point that I started pulling out the best pieces of everything we have.

So, I guess you could say I've found the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, as we prepare and attempt to eat a week's worth of delicious food, I will pour out my heart in gratitude for my cup as overflowing as the table.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Being a Better Person

One of the things I like about my church is that it makes me a better person. When I mentioned this to my wife, she said, "you're already a good person." Not being a member of my church, I think at least some of that comment from her is an opinion that I don't need the church. Having been a member my whole life, it is a little hard for me to speculate what I would be like without it. However, when the ultimate goal is to be like Christ, being what others perceive as a good person is not enough.

It would be easy for me, if I did not believe the way I do, to justify many of my - shall we say 'un-Christ-like' - behaviors by claiming they do not hurt anyone, or even that nobody would ever know. However, because I truly believe we are accountable to God for our thoughts, words and deeds, and also that I have been taught His will as being opposed to certain behaviors, I cannot justify myself with regard to those behaviors. I must try to do better.

I am grateful for these beliefs, as I want to be more like Christ. Without my faith in these principles and in the divinity of Christ himself, my reasons to stretch myself and try to be better would go away. I am already a good person. I am happy with my life. I do what I can to help those around me. The natural inclination is to say, "surely, this is good enough. Nobody is perfect," and leave it at that. However, I have been given the gift of a perfect standard which, although unattainable in this life, provides direction and motivation for going beyond good enough.

I was considering listing some of the areas where I trip up, which are incongruous with my goals of being more Christ-like. However, I fear that would be more distracting than helpful to readers. Let's just say I am nowhere near being worthy of comparing myself to Him. It takes daily effort to put these failings behind me and use the forgiveness available through His Atonement, and to look forward.

I will note one thing, which is I am inclined toward laziness, a fairly common human trait. When not combated with something to motivate me, I would slip into bad habits and vices even more than I do now - because they would be comfortable. It is uncomfortable to strive for daily change for the better. I would not do it without the motivation given by my faith.

This motivation to be better is something I cannot provide for myself. I need direction and reminders I get in church. I need the opportunity to serve. I need the encouragement I get from seeing the other members also trying to be better. I need my church. I need my Savior.