Sunday, March 9, 2014

What Comfort Looks Like

This is what Comfort looks like...
Looking around our homes, we can probably name spots that hold meaning to us in one way or another. It may be a spot where a special painting hangs. It may be a wall that contains a growth chart where we have seen how our children have grown, and why we dared blink our eyes between the inches and years!

That's not Alexander in the mirror, it's Christian!
Sure, I can name some special spots in our house like that. One specific example is in my kids' bathroom where I painted a scene with a green frog enjoying a shower. I love that spot, but even more so because of the four frog wall hangings on the opposite wall. Those belonged to my grandmother. I took one of those frog scenes from my grandmother's frog pictures and highlighted it on the small mural there above the toilet.

I will be so sad to leave it behind when we move from this house in just a couple of months. (the mural on the wall above the toilet is what will be left behind, I mean. Obviously my grandmother's frog pictures will come with us! If it was possible to bring the mural too, I would!)

You can see 2 of my grandmother's frog pictures in the mirror.
As fun and sentimental as the "frog bathroom" is, there is a spot in our house that has some meaning in a different manner. It doesn't have sentimental meaning, but it's poignant. 

Why poignant? Because unfortunately, the spot I am speaking of is affecting in more of a negative sense. 

I know I'm being vague, but I do not desire to take that specific explanation any further than that.

Chris and I could easily argue about that spot and what to do about it. We can easily get defensive. By the way, Chris and I are experts at all of those tactics, so I am not claiming to be superior to anyone.

However, this time, Chris took a different approach with that "spot". A couple of weeks ago, I passed the spot to see this photo (below - Jesus wiping the tears of the young girl) was taped there. 

"I Will Dry Your Tears" by Simon Dewey
The uppity control freak part of me who does not like scotch tape and things randomly taped around the house almost took it down, but then I paused to see so much more than just the annoyance of a piece of paper taped there.

On the back it gave the title of the work and the scripture: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." - Rev. 21:4

"Peace Be Still" by Simon Dewey
Then this description follows: "Each one of us experience times of sorrowful tears. This young girl has broken the vase and feels as if things cannot be made right.  Jesus reaches out to her with compassion and mercy to wipe away her tears.  He can make things right again, for this girl as well as for any who are willing to ask.  The well and the water bucket in the painting represent His ability to heal us with "Living Water". The early morning light reminds us that hope shines after even the darkest of nights.  If we will follow the example of this young child, meek and humble, the Savior will encircle us with His love and dry the tears of our sorrow."

One may think that the symbolism of my husband placing this dear photo with such a powerful message to this "spot" would have been where it ended.  

But he wasn't done yet.

The next day, the spot had an added picture (and yes, more scotch tape that had me biting my tongue and I tried to ignore that fact due to what was more important...). The photo/picture placed there was the one above with Jesus calming the storm is called "Peace Be Still". The scripture: "...The He arose and rebuked the winds and sea; and there was a great calm," ( Matthew 8:26) was on the back.

Chris knew exactly what message he wanted to convey. First with grief, then with the tempestuous battles we fight within. 

And next....our children. 

This one (left) that he taped there is called "Mother" by Liz Lemon Swindle. 

On the back it reads: "As our children grow, we draw great comfort in their concern for us.  Their kindnesses forged in the furnace of our earlier devotions...." Liz goes on to say, "I wanted this painting to show the love the Savior had for His mother and the feeling that every mother can find comfort and safety in His arms."

I admit that despite believing in Christ my whole life, I never began to gain an understanding of the Atonement until well into my adulthood. 

That was certainly not the case with Chris. He "got it" early on. I even remember how apparent his clear understanding of Christ was when we weren't even dating that long. I don't remember what the conversation was about, but somehow it was emotional. He testified what he knew of Christ's love and the Atonement. I know at that time I didn't understand it myself yet, and I wasn't sure how to respond to Chris's declaration, but hearing how he described it told me there was so much more. 

I am also grateful how Chris has manifested his love and understanding of Christ's Atonement in a way that reflects the pure love that Christ was. There is no finger shaking or judgements or looking down on others. I know that if more of us just carry ourselves with those pure teachings of Christ in mind and forget the rest, we would treat each other exponentially better and the world would be a better place. 

Instead, we find ourselves caught up in judging others, hurting others and we let our pained feelings and frustrations take the steering wheel all too often. Pride often (if not always) enters into the tangled web and we further cause pain to ourselves and others.

This seals it for me.
And we are too hard on ourselves. We need to hand it over to Christ. I am comforted at so much I have been able to hand over to Him thus far.  However, I readily admit there are some marked burdening demons that I still hold. For some reason, I cannot hand them over. I can't find the "switch" for those to be handed over to Christ.  Why? How do I begin to find the switch?

That spot in our home with its negative connotation is there for a reason, and it's because of those demons and how they still exist within me. The gesture of Chris placing these pictures with these messages over them, reminds me of the healing power of Christ's love and that He is waiting for me to hand them over to Him.

Satan really knows how to convince us we are not worth it. Satan knows how to use these demons to convince us we are beyond Christ's love and atoning sacrifice. The adversary exploits and manipulates our weaknesses and uses every angle and cunning tactic to crawl and set up camp under our skin. 

It's so heartbreaking when he succeeds. 

We are equipped with all the tools and armor to fight him and triumph. The problem is, Satan knows our inner struggles and uses his trickery and tactics to maneuver and navigate around them. He has a way to hide our tools (or convince us that they are hidden) even if all we need to do is reach out, grab them and use them.

Despite my increased understanding of the Atonement in the last two decades, I admit I still have much to learn. We all do until we take our last breath in this life. And who knows what new lessons we may have on the other side!  However, knowing I have much more to learn about the Atonement doesn't feel as overwhelming to me as it did, say, 20 years ago.

Why? Because of the comfort I feel in Christ's love.  

What was once overwhelming feels easy to me. I hope I can climb to the point where handing these demons over to Christ is just as easy. 

In the meantime, we need to be on our knees more. That is another challenge of mine. 

I'm up for conquering it. 

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