|A bitter gourd|
One thing I strive to teach my children is to let go of bitterness. It's like a poison -- it holds us back and prevents us from growing and accomplishing all we can.
In early 2004 I was attending a morning Gospel study course on the New Testament. At the start of the course I felt quite 'full of myself'. In my mind (at the time) it went like this:
Attend church 100% check
Pay a full tithe check
Fulfill Calling check
Fulfill Civil Duties check
Help the Poor check
Hold Family Prayer check
Hold Family Gospel Study check
Visit my sisters in the church check
I felt good about who I was and how I was. But then our teacher began to elaborate more of the personality and life of the Savior. As we studied the Sermon on the Mount and other examples, I felt my checklist crumble into nothingness as well as my self esteem.
What was all this 'Turn the Other Cheek' business? And 'Judge Not' business? Pray for your enemies? I had heard these lessons a hundred times before, but that particular morning changed my life around. These were not things that I could put on a check-list and tic off. These things were hard...and many times uncomfortable. They required far more 'Christ-hood'.
I learned of the meekness of Christ. To me, (at the time) meekness meant 'weakness'. A kind of giving in to those stronger and perhaps more intelligent then yourself. But by the end of this class, I came to understand that meekness is an essential quality of divinity. It is the ability to see past emotion and take a higher road into Godhood...at least this is how it stands in my mind.
A year later I found myself going through the extreme difficulty of divorce. One day as I sat in church I took a good look around me. There was a teenage girl giving a talk at the pulpit, the Bishop and his councilors sitting behind her, others like me who were struggling. My eyes settled on individuals who I knew had certain addictions and I caught myself as I wondered why they even came to church.
I was feeling bitter and annoyed. The lesson came back to me and I closed my eyes and let all the judgments leave my heart. I especially let the unkind, unfair judgments I felt others had of me leave. I scribbled down my thoughts that day and it ended up with the poem below:
Renew My Meekness
A simple bench, a humble pulpit
'Mongst men of plain imperfectness
Such was a stable, strong and able
To hold the Savior in it's mist.
Oh renew, renew my meekness
Soft testimony conquers doubt
Grand words of wisdom, doth reflect from
Lips of ordinary mouths.
A fallen man, a broken sister
Harsh words from eyes, impure remark
To be a judge, you must have love
Remember who hath made their hearts.
Yes renew, renew my meekness
For these eyes are young and blind
The whole need not a physician
Let us come and be refined.
A wealthy world, a life of greatness
In charity, thou gave discreet
Can I tame my need for gain?
In giving make, my soul complete.
Oh renew, renew my meekness
Thy Majesty, I will hold dear
For the diamonds of the righteous
Are found in full and glistening tears.
Cruel enemies, seeds of oppression
Divides my heart, and cuts so deep
Can I pray for you today?
Can I turn the other cheek?
Please renew, renew my meekness
How I feel so far behind
Beside the tares, my roots will strengthen
Help me grow, to be divine!
~ Chimene Kirkpatrick