I’ve come to understand that there is this dichotomy of experiences that I’ve been having and it’s been interesting, thought provoking and most of all, weird. My thought process began after I read the book “Falling to Heaven” by James Ferrell. In his book, he talks about how the gospel is filled with paradoxes and dichotomies which started with the fall of Adam and Eve where their fall was necessary for us all to progress to eternal life. Additionally, there are a number of other dichotomies such as to feel joy we first have to feel pain, to feel the releasing joy from sin we first have to feel the binding guilt of sin, to learn to trust God we first had to learn what it was to not trust Him, To be able to live with our Father in Heaven we first had to forget we lived with him before and so on and so forth. It set in my mind that the gospel is not all milk and cookies 24/7, it’s learning by failing and from the failing we progress even further from where we started.
The Car Experience
This idea further cemented itself into my being with a couple of experiences I had. First one is about a car. Now I live in a big city and in my area, public transportation is really sparse so no vehicle means no groceries, work, church, etc. So when my car blew its head gasket, I was blessed to have another one, in my price range, that was available within walking distance of me. I purchased it and after three weeks it to blew a head gasket. I was able to scrape together enough to get it fixed and it worked for a whole nine months before, while driving home from an ARP meeting, the timing chain failed and wrecked the engine. I pretty much hit my limit because I was out of money and what I thought was the blessing of a nice, good, reliable vehicle turned out to not be. So I became angry and I vented that anger to the Lord.
But there was something else that came into play that I believed was a lesson and blessing that serendipity just doesn’t begin to explain. It just so happened that a friend of mine had a vehicle returned to him by his son. His son wanted something more economical so he bought a new vehicle and the car his parents got him, he gave back. The mom wanted that car out of the driveway so my friend was looking to sell it. “Serendipity” steps in because this was a week before my car died. My friend and his wife talked about it and they decided that they wanted me to have it so they sold it to me for an extremely generous price. So now I own a very nice vehicle that I’ve used to not only get myself around, but also cart around the missionaries, give other rides and to take care of my callings.
The day I got my new car, I immediately thanked my Father in Heaven and repented for my outburst and not trusting him. That’s when I felt the movement of the spirit let me know that my Father in Heaven knows what’s going on with me and that He has His plan for me. I only need to strive to do my best and trust Him and that everything will unfold as He sees fit. That this lesson he wanted me to learn by experiencing this episode with my car.
The School Experience
So on to my second story; I seriously and sincerely hesitate to share this story because I don’t want to throw out there what may seem to be a criticism of the church I dearly love. But this was to become a point where I truly had my commitment to the church tested and strengthened. Keep in mind that, as I mentioned before and in my interview, I am a registered sex offender because it will come into play.
I applied to the BYU-Idaho Pathway program because I wanted to move forward and get my bachelor degree. The first time I was denied because I was not a member. Ok, that part was fixed with rebaptism so I applied again. I was denied again because I was a registered offender. That really set me off, truly hurt me and really make me question how is it that a church that allowed me to be rebaptised into the fold, forgave me of my sins and indiscretions but yet still have one of its institutions deny me entry? It seemed that this was double-talk and I couldn’t reconcile it with the gospel it espoused.
I pushed back pretty hard and really questioned it but at the same time, I love this church and if there’s one thing I learned is that the church is true but, at times, the members leave a lot to be desired. So I thought the answer was that this was human failing. But after pushing and prodding and hurting, I still couldn’t get an answer to my question to why I was being denied entry even though I repented, was rebaptised and could get an ecclesiastical endorsement (before members can get entry into a church school, they must pass muster with the Bishop and Stake Presidency and that’s called an ecclesiastical endorsement).
I sat down with my stake president and he told me that he couldn’t answer why other than there are consequences to my actions and that even though I repented, was rebaptised and was forgiven, I still have consequences for my misdeeds that cannot be escaped. As he told me that, I felt a confirmation that what he was saying was correct and was my answer.
When I got home and thought about it, my memory took me back to the time I asked (demanded, actually) from the Lord an answer to why is it that because of what other people have done to me as a youth which became the catalyst for the horribly bad decisions that I made, that I have to suffer the consequences from it? The answer: nothing. I never received an answer to that question but what I did receive was the grace of God. When I asked that question, I was in a lot of emotional pain and I was still struggling to move forward. What the Lord did was to lift that pain from me which enabled me to take a huge, progressive leap forward. This question about the church became the same thing; he lifted the deep hurt that I was feeling leaving the question not fully answered.
I’m going to go to school, but I’m going in a different direction than before. After much prayer, meditation and looking, I found a schooling path that I feel comfortable the Lord wants me to pursue. So after I worked through and learned that the Pathway Program is not an option for me, I’m able to concentrate more on where I need to be.
And thus this takes me right back to the dichotomy of the gospel. I needed to go through the bad experience of the car to further learn to trust God. I also needed to go through the experience of the Pathway Program to not only solidify my commitment to the church, but to learn to trust in the path God has laid out for me. Because, in that path, I can live the dichotomy of having to deal with the consequences of my past sins and the judgments I incurred and still progress in life, light and have joy and happiness.
Living with the consequences from past sins and still gain true, deep and abiding happiness – really, the thought is just weird but in practice, with the Lord, it’s the truth.