On Friday I was in the middle of a completely different activity when the Relief Society lesson came to me in a flood. This doesn’t happen often to me, but it was a very real experience, and by the way the lesson went, I felt assured that God had given me the lesson plan as a gift.
As part of the lesson, I made a worksheet for the talk, “Spiritual Eclipse”. I then completed it myself to see if it was helpful. It was helpful for me. I didn’t share almost any of my own answers in the lesson because I was learning from all of the wise sisters in the room. But I’m posting my answers here for the sake of family history.
How do you feel the “sun” of the gospel in your life? Is it a feeling (e.g. hope, faith, peace) that you carry with you through the day? Is it an ability to remain calm? Is it an enhanced capacity to love? Can you give a specific example of how you felt the gospel sunshine recently?
- For me the “sun” of the gospel is feeling calm and reassured that God loves me, that He AND She are nearby, and that they will help me with my problems.
- I feel the sun when I honestly engage with the scriptures and receive insight into the nature of God.
- It’s also an ability to extend grace and forgiveness to others, even when I feel misunderstood—or even worse, when someone has understood me all too well!!
- I feel the sun in my life when damaged relationships are repaired.
- I feel the sun in my life when I go to the temple and feel the love of God there.
- THIS WEEK: I felt the sun in my life this week when Julie came and stayed with me for a couple of days and we got to lovingly reconnect through a couple late night, marathon conversations. I felt the sun when I had a play date and talked for a couple non stop hours with Heather Anderson. I felt the sun when my visiting teacher and neighbor, Laurie Moran, talked with me on the sidewalk for half an hour. I felt the sun connecting with my therapist. I felt the sun while Shauna and I visited on the couch and she serenaded all of us on the ukulele. I felt the sun when Abe and I talked on the couch and before bed multiple times throughout the week. Loving, vulnerable, authentic conversations are a primary way I connect with others, feel charity, and receive revelation. I felt the sun when I received personal revelation on how to plan this lesson. I felt the sun when I prayed and felt that Heavenly Mother was there for me. I felt the sun when I prayed and felt grace from Jesus Christ. I didn’t feel much sun during my scripture study this week, but maybe that’s because I am in Leviticus.
What is your “moon”? What blocks you from experiencing gospel sunshine? Is it comparison to others? Using social media to compare yourselves to others? Ambitions related to your talents, gifts, or education? Goals for your children or spouse? Is it fear (e.g. of not being good enough, of failing, of not being loveable, of letting others down, of the future)? Is it difficult questions about the Church?
- Comparison to others.
- Difficult questions about the Church, its history and its culture.
- FEELING NOT GOOD ENOUGH. This affects almost every aspect of my life (relates directly to “comparison with others”, being mean to my kids, and being uncharitable in relationships) and does a very effective job blocking out gospel sunshine.
“Do you recall my description of special eyewear used to protect those viewing a solar eclipse from eye damage or even eclipse blindness? Looking at a spiritual eclipse through the protecting and softening lens of the Spirit provides a gospel perspective, thus protecting us from spiritual blindness.” What are your “glasses”? Are they reading the scriptures regularly, keeping a prayer in your heart, taking the sacrament? Are they your loving investment in relationships with others? Are they service? Are they self-acceptance? What helps you overcome “spiritual eclipse” and experience the joy of direct, gospel sunshine in your life?
First, I’ll write what “glasses” can help me gain perspective on the “moons” listed in the question above.
- (Comparison to others): For this reason I finally started more seriously curating my social media feed this week! I now only follow people who post interesting, thought provoking, vulnerable, and, most especially, authentic posts. For a long time I thought that if I liked the real life person, I should probably follow their posts, but I don’t think that anymore. I can love a person and unfollow their posts. If I have a friend who seems bent on using social media to portray perfection, I can unfollow them, forgive them for this weakness, and forgive myself for not having a life that mirrors the perfection encapsulated in their curated posts. And above all: Don’t go seeking out blogs or websites that will get me down!!!! (I do this occasionally and it is never a good idea.)
- Difficult questions about the Church, its history and its culture: I have a LOT of those. One thing that has been extremely helpful for me is to realize that the Church itself is not my sunshine. It is not where I get my warm fuzzies, although I do like the comfortable, familiar feeling I get when I step into a physical church building. I get my gospel sunshine from God, from the scriptures, from prayer, from divine reassurances and revelation. The Church is not in its final iteration, nor has it ever been. It will be perfected when Christ comes again, and until then, it’s a wonderful place for all of us to optimize our relationship with God and with each other. The Kingdom of God is established–often in Church–by relationship and community building. Church is the appropriate place to take the sacrament, encourage each other in our faith, and prepare ourselves to make and keep temple covenants. Our culture and history are imperfect and marked by human error and sin. We can accept this while still believing the scriptures to be true, believing Joseph Smith was called by God to perform the work that he did, in fact, accomplish, and believe that our current leaders are chosen and inspired (even if we don’t agree with everything they say).
- FEELING NOT GOOD ENOUGH. THIS IS THE REASON THE SUNSHINE EVEN EXISTS. GOD LOVES ME AND HAS JUSTIFIED ME THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. BECAUSE CHRIST AND I ARE ONE IN COVENANT, I AM GOOD ENOUGH. I AM ETERNALLY LOVED AND CHERISHED AS A DAUGHTER OF GOD.
On the concept of “gospel glasses” in general: I put on the gospel glasses when I take time to kneel, physically kneel, in prayer and acknowledge God’s role in my life. I put on gospel glasses when I keep a prayer in my heart by yearning for God and God’s help throughout the day. I put on gospel glasses by studying the scriptures with a seeking, humble heart. I put on gospel glasses by prioritizing the mediums through which I most strongly feel God’s love—namely, loving, real, live, authentic relationships. Insofar as I can swap out social media for the life-giving relationships found in person, on the phone, and through written exchanges, my life will be filled with that much more sunshine.
How do your glasses affect your “moon” and your “sun”?
First of all, there is purpose to those moons. This life is supposed to have challenges and obstacles, even those that potentially block us from walking around on a perpetual spiritual high. Moons are not only purposeful, but they are also inevitable. We are human, imperfect, and we live in a mortal world. We will never live directly and eternally in the light until after death. Even the tropics aren’t immune to an eclipse.
That said, my gospel glasses can help me feel so much more sunlight, joy, peace, and happiness than I would otherwise feel. Prayer is an unspeakable comfort to me. The scriptures are an irreplaceable source of wisdom for me. Loving relationships are the stuff of life to me.
I can feel the sun more when I put on my gospel glasses, and my loving, heavenly parents want me to enjoy as much sunshine as I choose to access in this mortal journey.
What can you do THIS WEEK to wear your glasses more often?
I am pretty inconsistent when it comes to physically kneeling for prayer. I need to KNEEL in prayer twice a day this week. This physical, symbolic act can change the tenor of my days and my life, and my goal this week is to bookend each day with it.