I got rid of my dog today.
I don’t want to get into the whole story in this post (you can read it here and here), but suffice it to say it had to do with my neighbour.
What I would like to discuss, however, is my reaction.
My first response was one of frustration. I was frustrated that my neighbour gets the benefit of the doubt, and I don’t. I was frustrated Animal Control accepted my neighbour’s exaggerations as fact. I was frustrated I had to pay $100.
I stewed about the issue all day. As such, it didn’t take long for me to consider ways to deal with my neighbour. I considered:
- Confronting him and telling him we got rid of Apollo
- Confronting him and telling him we had Apollo euthanized
- Reporting his cigarette smoke coming in our window
- Completely removing the hedge between our houses
- Not giving him cookies for Christmas anymore
- Stealing a “for sale” sign from someone else’s yard and putting it in his
As the day went on, my thoughts turned to my post-conference resolution to be less judgemental, less selfish, more grateful and more patient. I realized none of the above considerations were going to help me be successful in my resolution.
Before long, I found myself considering Sunday’s gospel doctrine lesson and one specific scripture.
“Behold what the scripture says?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùman shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay” (Mormon 8:20)
I slowly realized that it wasn’t up to me to do anything in this situation, even if there is an injustice.
What benefit would there be to my trying to exact vengeance or to confront my neighbour? Wouldn’t the better path be for me to try nurturing what relationship my neighbour and I have?
I came across something interesting during personal scripture study tonight. (I’m sure many of you are getting tired of that phrase).
We read the following in Isa. 10:1-2.
Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgement, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
While this passage does seem directed at those in political power, I can’t help but think there is some warning in there for us as well should we decide to prey about the widows and fatherless.
Now compare this with James 1:27.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
These two passages together make it clear God’s position on the poor, widowed, and fatherless. Even more so, it makes it clear how anyone who professes to be Christian should be treating such.
If you are in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for any significant amount of time, you will likely come across the phrase “broken heart and contrite spirit”. The scripture most commonly used regarding this phrase is 3 Ne 9:20:
Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit
But what does “a broken heart’ mean?
The popular usage of the phrase is summed up on Wikipedia: a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one. I am leery of the idea that this is what Jesus meant, that we wouldn’t be baptised by fire unless we lose a loved one.
So what does it mean then? Consider these two facets of farming.
“Breaking a horse” is common phrase. Wild horses do not let persons ride themselves. They need to be trained to accept riders. Thus a broken horse accepts its master.
“Breaking the ground” is another phrase referring to the entire practise of tilling, ploughing, and harrowing. Basically, it’s what a farmer does to prepare the soil for planting. Thus broken ground accepts planted seeds.
I wonder then if using these two examples, we can define a broken heart as a heart that accepts its master (as in Jesus) and the gospel seed (see Alma 32).
Page 10 of the new Preach My Gospel:
Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message.
There it is in black and white.
I am still surprised at how many missionaries, ward mission leaders, bishops, stake presidents, and mission presidents measure their success by baptisms alone.
But how else would you go about measuring commitment??Ç¬† Why the need to measure in the first place?