I was a good girl and attended all my meetings today at my own ward, even though Nathan was gone. I did not have to talk at another ward, and I did not have to be anywhere to help with any projects or mission things. So I went “home”, and enjoyed services at my own ward.
I was so glad I went! I feel like I got so many surprise blessings that I would not have experienced if I had not been there.
First, one of our favorite couples spoke in sacrament. They spoke about the priesthood, and took notes as fast I could on my phone and emailed them to Nathan right away so that he could participate with us.
Then in Sunday School, we talked about the priesthood again, because we were discussing baptism and why it is by immersion and why it has to be done by someone with the priesthood (the authority to act for God). This brought up something else for me, on a scripture chase tangent, and appreciated the discussion with my father-teacher.
What I realized was that when other religions talk about “heaven”, they are talking about a terrestrial kingdom. It is a place better than life here, and a good place, but it is a place of individuals and without progression. It is only in the celestial kingdom that we can continue progressing and continue in family units.
I thought about my parents who have already died, and them continuing to learn in the spirit world. Their kingdom is not yet assigned because they have not yet finished choosing. They continue to learn and study and make choices. The veil of premortality remains, but they can remember mortality. They also have access to all those who have already crossed through the veil, including ancestors and prophets and everyone else who may have already progressed further along or have things to teach them and ways to help them. I am grateful for this, and grateful for temples that give me a way to help here as I pray and as I am given a greater capacity to be obedient and prepare for proxy ordinances. We can only be made perfect with each other, as all of us – on both sides of the veil – continue repenting, accepting, learning, and receiving.
I also thought about how the adversary to stop us from doing so. He has two very successful tactics: one, to lure us into states of non-action where we surrender our agency (addictions to television, food, gaming, alcohol, pornography and also not testifying to those around us) so that we feel like we are still in premortality without bodies, cozy and comfortable and not having to experience things (numbing out, drowning out, silencing, suppressing, avoiding) and so not progressing; and two, to tempt us into being tolerant with being in such a state so that we are comfortable not progressing (and so thereby also more comfortable choosing a terrestrial world instead of a celestial life). The adversary knows we are (sometimes) too smart and knowledgeable to choose to do bad things, so he works to keep us comfortable being asleep rather than awake. He is okay with us just existing in life numbed out and avoiding conquering challenges because that is still only a terrestrial life – which is still outside Heavenly Father’s presence, even if it is “good”.
Then in Young Women’s, the lesson was again about the priesthood. I noticed new things about the purpose of the offices being for helping, for governing, for ministering, for perfecting ourselves and others (D&C 124:142-143). I had never thought about it that way. I had thought about the conditions that worthiness determines power, and have experienced in my own life the power – and even happiness – that comes from obedience and service to others.
If that were not enough pieces to fit together and swirl around in my brain long enough to apply them every where I could, I also got a father’s blessing after church. Blessings are always good for reminders of how much Heavenly Father loves us, and how well He knows us. My blessing, in part, specifically spoke about how progression happens only as we learn by experience. I had (have) so far to go, and needed to make such progress, and was such a mess that it was important for me to progress quickly, that it was best for me that many challenges be given to me for the purpose of ensuring my progress and burning my testimony into my core. Even in this, though, I am protected and provided for and blessed – which I know to be absolutely true because my Father in Heaven keeps His promises.
There was a lot more to my blessing, but that’s the part that reminded me of what I learned in the other classes. It made me think about the lesson in Young Women’s, about how the priesthood is given for the organization and care of people. It made me think about the second hour class, and how my family continues to progress and I continue to progress and we have ways of helping each other. It made me grateful that because of temples, our relationships can continue even after we complete our mortal journeys. It reminded me of the sacrament talks about the priesthood, and what I can do, and how grateful I am for a husband who holds his priesthood sacred and loves me well.
That was a lot to think about, and gave me much to chew on this week as I continue to ponder and try to apply it. Faith. Obedience. Priesthood.
That’s when I lost my keys.
They were just suddenly gone, and we looked for an hour and a half all over the building: in the bathrooms, in the classrooms, in the pew where I sat during sacrament, and even in the trash.
I prayed. We looked again. Others prayed with me. We looked again.
Finally, I remembered that with the new fancy-schmancy car, I can use the app on my phone to unlock the car. I did this to get the garage door opener out, and got a ride home with my friend. I ran into the house and got Nathan’s keys, and we went back to the church for me to drive the car home.
Except the keys didn’t work.
These were brand new second-set backup keys that came with the car, given to us by the dealership just two weeks ago.
We hadn’t needed them yet, so had no idea they didn’t work.
We went back inside to look again, and pray again, and finally news came that someone had turned in my key.
(That’s the third time I let a toddler play with them and the toddler took them home.)
This was a small thing, but a giant miracle to me!
It was also the same lesson from all morning: my spiritual life only truly starts and works right when “unlocked” by the proper key with real authority.
And whether it is the men “holding” the priesthood by what they do, or us “being” the priesthood” by who we are, the point is to get things going and people helped.
It does give me a greater capacity to be obedient or help than what is just me.
It changes me, making me more of who I was designed to be, by aligning me with God and giving me a power greater than my own with which to love and care for those around me.
In General Conference this last April, Elder Scott said:
When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God—power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord.
It makes me a better me, and gives me better relationships by making me better at loving other people… not because of me or who I am, but because of God and who God is.
There is peace and happiness in there, somehow.
That’s what I am learning.