Challenges, Heart Conditions, and Knowledge – Matthew 13:12

So – this post is partially a response to my scripture study today and also a response to this article. So just go with it for a second.

So…we’ll start with the scripture study portion of this blog post:
After giving the parable of the sower, the apostles ask Jesus why he speaks in parables. Christ answers them the following:

“12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.> – Matthew 13:12

Note the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse: “JST Matt. 13:10–11 For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”

I’ve thought about the theme of being receptive/having a soft heart and knowledge a lot. I guess it is because I love learning more about the gospel. I have definitely learned that the Spirit speaks to me as I study the gospel. I may not get the “warm fuzzy” feeling we think we should get. Instead, I feel the enlightenment of the Spirit – what some may call an “Aha moment”. I know that these are things I couldn’t have learned on my own, but I need the gentle guidance of the Holy Ghost. Such experiences are humbling. And they cause me to truly hunger and thirst for more experiences with the gospel.

Alma explains a similar concept taught by Jesus:

“10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.” – Alma 12:10-11

So – I really do want to know the mysteries of God, and this scripture tells me what, exactly that means. Knowing the mysteries of God requires that I have a soft heart – in my studies and in my actual life. In other words, I need to be willing to accept and do what I have been taught – even if it is hard.

So…

I recently read a post in the NYT about a single, Mormon woman. Overall, I felt like she has lost her faith in one way or another – and seems to point to her being single in the church to be the cause of such a loss. I kind of felt sad as I read the article because I have also been a single Mormon woman.

My situation was different than hers. I was married at a young age. I was married in the temple to a return missionary. I never figured I’d be married so young, but that was right for me. Within two months of my marriage, my spouse began cheating on me – officially. Of course, I had absolutely no idea, and his unfaithfulness continued throughout our marriage.

I discovered his second life – his sexual addiction – his betrayal(s) – 6 1/2 years into the marriage. The challenge was staggering. We had two children – 3.5 and 2 years old. I was completely blindsided as he did a really good job of living a double life. However, the Lord softened my heart and helped me to remain faithful with the help of two amazing bishops, and really really great friends.

I remember, two days after finding out about his infidelity, the day after meeting with the bishop, I was leading the Primary – as the primary chorister – and we were singing “Families can be Together Forever”. It was emotional and difficult. No one, other than my bishop, my mom, and another friend, had a clue as to what was happening in my life. I needed to continue in my calling, but it was hard.

I wanted to stop. Sure, there was a part of me that was tempted to say, “It’s not true!” But I couldn’t say that because I knew that it was true – Families can be together forever – through Heavenly Father’s plan – meaning you actually have to keep the commandments! Otherwise, there is no guarantee. So, I was very tempted to give up.

About a month after the dissolution of my marriage, I was scheduled to go to the temple with my ward. Our entire stake had rented buses for each ward, and months prior to the trip, My (then) husband and I had reserved two seats for it. By the time of the trip, I didn’t really want to go. How was I supposed to go to the temple – alone, and in the process of a divorce?!

But my bishop encouraged me to go, and I went. I’d love to say that it was a wonderful, easy, uplifting trip. I’d love to say that I smiled and laughed the whole time.

But it was really hard. The idea of being a single woman was even more pronounced in the halls of the temple. I felt a little isolated -for a second. No one was isolating me, though. It was just a way that I felt. I don’t want to blame anyone…

Of course, the Lord has a way of comforting us in the exact right way at the exact right time, and that happened in that temple trip. The Lord blessed me to know that I would have the blessing of a temple marriage again one day (no idea when). Until then, it wouldn’t be an easy life, but I’d manage – if I relied on the help of the Lord – if I made the commitment to keep going to the temple and other church activities that were more “family-oriented.”

I realized that the Lord would bless me with strength, and knowledge, if I continued with a soft heart. And He did – all along the way.

This is where I get back to my original topic. We are all given challenges, but we are given the tools to overcome them, too – through knowledge. And we can’t gain this knowledge unless we come to the Lord with a soft heart. Having a soft heart may mean that we accept the challenges that He has given us. We can remember the words of Nephi, “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world;” (2 Nephi 26:24). This includes giving us challenges. He wouldn’t give them to us if they didn’t benefit us in some way. If we accept them with a soft heart – ready for the information he is willing to teach us, then we will gain knowledge.

Which leads me to my most favorite “knowledge” scripture:

“3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:3

This is why we need to gain knowledge – so we can have eternal life. And Heavenly Father disseminates his knowledge in various ways. Sometimes, we learn through the scriptures and prayer. Sometimes we learn in our challenges. Sometimes we learn when we repent. Other times we learn through our blessings. The Lord wants us to succeed. He glories in our salvation.

So – we just need to keep our hearts open – ready to receive what he yearns to give us.

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