The other day I wanted to hear/read an uplifting message. So, as I sometimes do, I went to http://www.byu.edu/, and typed in "Speeches" into the search menu. This search will bring you to an archive of BYU devotionals, forums, etc. Having done so, one talk caught my eye in particular: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk entitled, "Remember Lot's Wife" (Here's the link for it if you're interested... and believe me... you should be http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1819&tid=5). Anyway, this talk had a great impact on me. I was able to relate to several of the things he shared.
We all are familiar with the story of Lot's wife. In short, the Lord commanded Lot and his family to leave Sodom and Gomorrah because it was about to be destroyed. As they were leaving, Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Likewise, in our day, the Savior has asked us to put off the things of the world (Babylon), follow him, and not look back (Luke 9:62). In particular, I love what Elder Holland said about Lot's wife:
"... what did Lot’s wife do that was so wrong? I have thought about that and offer this as a partial answer. Apparently what was wrong with Lot’s wife was that she wasn’t just LOOKING back; in her heart she wanted to GO back. It would appear that even before they were past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. As Elder Maxwell once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon."
I've thought about how much I am like that. I love the Lord and want to follow Him; however, there are times when I am tempted to keep my own summer cottage in Babylon. Why is it so hard to lay aside every sin and follow the Lord, not looking back? It's hard, but it'd doable. I was listening to a talk by Elder D. Todd Chirstopherson this morning, and he said that it (losing the desire for sin) is a life long process. But, we can't just coast along; we have to try our best.
Elder Holland goes on:
"It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We certainly know that Laman and Lemuel were resentful when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back LONGINGLY. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin."
Elder Holland's quote reminded me of an experience I had two days ago, during church. I had a great day at church. In particular, I really enjoyed our Elders Quorum lesson. Keith (one of the guys in our quorum) made a comment that really struck my brother, Ben, and me. It went something like, "You know, I think that the times when I am unhappy or when I feel the most pain are either because I'm too focused on the things I've done in the past or because of anxitey about the future. Rarely do I feel this way because of what is happening right now" I've found this to be true of myself.
"I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives."
I really loved how he puts it into words. Wallowing in regrets of the past are not what the Lord desires for us. God cares so much more about where we are going that where we've been.
Elder Holland explains:
"There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist."
To paraphrase, not forgiving ourselves or others is un-Christian.
Elder Holland furthers this with a great analogy to playing in the sand:
"Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, "Hey! Do you remember this?" Splat!
Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, "Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?" Splat.
And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what God, our Father in Heaven, pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.
Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Now, I'm not writing this to tell you guys that I'm wallowing in regret of the past. I just really like what Elder Holland said. I have a testimony that the things he spoke of are true. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about moving forward. Christianity means forgiving and moving on, putting off the things of man, picking up our own cross, and following the Savior. I know that when I follow these teachings, I am truly happy. It works! And it can work for everyone of us if we will follow Him.
8 years ago