Gratitude Day 3: Repentance

I know how much I mess up, and I want to #GiveThanks for the divine gift of repentance.

Repentance

For every stumble, there’s a helping hand,
Every wrong road has a way back.
For ever closed door, there’s an open one,
Every small light keeps off the black

For every missed chance, there’s a second one,
Every friend lost could return.
For every test failed, another’s given,
Every mistake is a fact learned.

For every pain, there’s a relief,
Every prayer has an answer.
For every sin there’s a solace,
Every debt has a Savior.

The man who wasn’t crucified

In church today, during sacrament meeting, one of the speakers made a comment that he heard once from a Baptist Preacher: “Jesus had to be treated like Barabbas for Barabbas to be treated like Jesus.” I thought that was an intriguing thought, and I turned it into this poem. 

The man who wasn’t crucified

Imagine yourself as Barabbas. 
Facing certain death
For your mistakes and crimes:
Murder, sedition, and insurrection.

Suddenly, guards bring you out in chains. 
The crowd is angry, but not at you —
At a strange, quiet man,
Who doesn’t look like a criminal. 

Pilate asks who the crowd will free,
And somehow, they call your name. 
In disbelief, but also relief, you walk away,
Chains unlocked, now a free man. 

Maybe you later go watch the man on the cross,
Dying instead of you. 
Or later hear stories of how he lived
And did miracles for the poor. 

Maybe you later change your life
When given this second chance,
And try to live as that man, Jesus, no longer could,
To make up for his unjust death.

One thing I know, that fateful day,
When the innocent man died,
Barabbas was not the only man
Whose life was saved by Jesus’ death. 

I’m worth it

My poem this week came while thinking about my friend who struggles a lot with low self-image.

I’m worth it

If God can see

All the times I failed,
When I didn’t live up to my hopes,
All the moments I regret,
Or should regret but don’t,

All the ways I’m weak,
When I topple to Satan’s breezes,
All my lifetime of mistakes,
Choosing the world first, not Jesus,

All the times I stopped trying
To do what I know I should,
All the times I rebelled,
And I shunned God and what is good —

If God can see all this in me
And still loves me enough to die for me,
Maybe I can love myself, too.

Take my hand

This last week, I had an experience helping a friend who wanted to self-harm. Some of my thoughts about that experience developed into the first stanza in this poem, and the rest of the poem followed. 
I don’t personally struggle with temptations to self-harm. If you’re reading this and you do struggle with those thoughts, please know that you are loved. 

Take my hand 

“I cut my wrists,
So I know I won’t feel comfortable in heaven.”
Christ said, “my wrists were cut for you, 
Take my hand and you will be comfortable with me.”

“I’m different, I’m made fun of, 
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “I was mocked for being different, 
Take my hand, you belong with me.”

“My friends say I’m not good enough, and they left me,
So I know I’ll feel alone in heaven.”
He said, “in my darkest hour, my friends abandoned me, 
Take my hand, and I’ll always be your friend.” 

“I fail, and fail, and fail, and fail to choose the right, 
So I know I’m not worthy to be in heaven.”
He said, “I know how hard it is to choose to drink the bitter cup,
Take my hand, I can make you worthy.”

“The world has taken from me, and abused me, 
So I know there’s not enough of me left to go to heaven.”
He said, “the world abused and hurt me, too. 
Take my hand, I know you are enough.”

“Others are so much more righteous than I 
So I know I’ll never make it into heaven.”
He said “there’s room for everyone who wants, 
Take my hand, and you’ll make it with me.”

“I doubt myself, I doubt in you sometimes,
So I know I won’t hold on all the way to heaven.”
He said, “I will come back to you as many times as you need. 
Take my hand for this next step.”

“I’m a terrible person, I’ll never be worthy of love
So I know I’m not worth your help.”
He said, “Take my hand, and follow me.
Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without you there.”

He Lived for Us

This poem stuck me as a great one to go along with Alma 34, which I read this week for Come Follow Me. is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. I especially think about verse 10, where Amulek describes the Atonement as an “infinite and eternal” sacrificed. This has always struck me as odd, because although I certainly see that the effects of Christ’s sacrifice are infinite and eternal, the sacrifice itself seems to have been limited in time and scope. Christ gave up his life, but he was resurrected. He suffered, but He is not suffering now. If any of you have any insight into this, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

One thought I’ve had is that part of the sacrifice that Christ made was sacrificing His life as He lived it to be an example and to be worthy to perform the Atonement. He sacrificed His will entirely and for all eternity, not just in the Garden of Gethsemane when pleading if the cup could pass from Him. 

He Lived for Us

Written on my mission, May 6, 2018

On a mission one spends a lot of time studying and pondering the Atonement. One thing I have been struck with was that Christ didn’t just come down to earth, suffer, die, and resurrect. First, He lived a life. A perfect life. That means that every single choice, every single temptation faced, would have to be faced and overcome perfectly. I can’t imagine the sort of pressure this was on Him, but I am fortunate that because of His perfect life, our lives, though far from perfect now, can become better.

His first steps were not on the road to the hill called Calvary.
His first breath was not taken in the Garden Gethsemane.
His hands were first a carpenter’s hands, before nailed to the cross.
Before He died, our Savior and Redeemer lived for us.
 
Christ was born in Bethlehem, a baby in a manger.
He grew from grace to grace, though to temptation was no stranger.
He always chose the harder right, never the easier wrong.
The Mighty God Jehovah served the weak He was among. 

He taught us how to live our lives, He said, “Come, follow Me.”
He did good long before he died for us on Calvary.
He fulfilled His father’s will in all things from the start,
Until the end, upon the cross, when sin’s pain broke his heart.

He is a man of sorrows, well acquainted with our grief,
But He knew the way to give true healing and relief
Was to be perfect—to bear the weight of the world in every deed.
And when we make His soul an offering for sin, he’ll see His seed.

It’s as if He walked a tightrope over a pit to save a friend—
One misstep and down He’d fall, a poor and unhappy end.
But Christ was perfect! Every step was straight and strong and true
So He could qualify as sacrifice and die for me and you.

He’ll look back, and He can see the travail on His great soul.
But if just one man, through His sacrifice, can be made pure and whole,
He shall be satisfied, His joy in heaven how sublime.
How great a man, my Jesus Christ, how perfect and divine.

Pure Water

I was talking with a friend the other week about how it feels to be truly clean, and she compared it to the waters of a river. I tried to capture that idea here:

Pure Water

I’ve stepped in a lot of rivers.
When they had dirt at the bottom,
My steps would send mud
floating down the river,
and the tan filth blocking any view of the riverbed.

I’ve looked at a lot of rivers.
And I love the ones that slowly,
In their crystal blue motion
capture the rolling beauty of nature
in their clear flowing depths.

I want to be a dirt-free river.
I want no mud of the world in me
and to flow confidently onward
to the ocean,
knowing I am clean.

The Miracle of the Sacrament

The Miracle of the Sacrament

If you saw the peace
   in the little crust of bread,
   as eyes were closed
   and thoughts turned upwards;

If you saw the cleansing
   in the little cup of water,
   as if liquid light were poured into a silhouette,
   and great drops of brightness overflow;

If you saw the power
   Christ was willing to use in your behalf,
   the legions of angels armed for battle
   awaiting your prayer for their help;

If you saw the gifts
   He holds, willing to give you,
   the blessings He prepared to make you happy,
   and the joy of living with Him up above;

If you saw the desire
   The Spirit has to live in you,
   to talk to you, to be your friend,
   to make you into something wonderful;

If you saw all this with spiritual eyes –  
   the miracle of the sacrament –  
   would you live the rest of the week
   the way you do now?

Christ never said

I was reading Mosiah 24 for Come Follow Me this week (I’m a little behind) and I was struck by verse 14, where Christ seems to show that helping us in our afflictions is more important for us to build faith than delivering us from our afflictions. I decided to expand on that idea with other instances from scripture.

Christ never said

Christ never said that storms wouldn’t come,
He said He’d be a refuge when they raged. (Isaiah 25:4)

Christ never said we would not have trials,
He said He’d visit us in our afflictions. (Mosiah 24:14)

Christ never said He would keep us from wandering away,
He said He’d come and find us when we do. (Luke 15:4-7)

Christ never said we would not have grief or sorrow,
He said that with His stripes we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:4)

Christ never said we would be perfect in this life,
He said He would succor us in our infirmities (Alma 7:11-13)

Christ never promised we would never cry,
He said He would wipe away all tears from our eyes. (Revelations 21:4)

Christ never said we would not be heavy laden,
He said He’d give us rest, and make our burdens light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Christ never said that life would not be hard,
He said He would be with us always, even to the end (Matthew 28:20)

Redeemer

Redeemer

If every bad thought
were a stone you had to carry everywhere,
how grateful you would be
if someone helped you lift the pack
and let you walk again.

If every unkind word
were a year you could never see your family,
how grateful you would be
if someone offered to take on your lonely decades
and let you hug your family again.

If every hurtful deed
were a stab wound in your flesh,
how grateful you would be
to the doctor who bound and healed your wounds
and let you live without pain again.

And yet,

when every bad thought would always weigh us down from happiness,
when every unkind word would keep us from our family forever,
when every hurtful deed would lead to everlasting pain and death,
how often we forget
the Man who suffered, struggled, and died
to let us live again.

Hosanna to the Son of David

Originally published 07-07-19

I submitted this poem for consideration in the new hymnbook as a hymn.

Hosanna to the Son of David

A baby boy lay sleeping in an inn at Bethlehem,
And nearby, angels sang their song of peace, goodwill to men:
CHORUS: Hosanna to the Son of David, come in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest, glory be to God.

The multitudes flocked to the mount to learn great truths from Him.
They followed as He blessed the meek, and sang in praise this hymn:
CHORUS

When Jesus rode a humble colt into Jerusalem,
The joyful crowd waved palm branches and cried unto His name:
CHORUS

When soldiers took away the Christ, the crowd grew sparse and small.
And gone were all the hopeful throngs who once had cheered and called:
CHORUS

Although the cross stood on a hill, no multitudes there came.
Though Christ atoned for all their sins, no grateful voices sang:
CHORUS

He rose again, the third day passed, death’s victory was gone.
For justice had been answered, and our Advocate had won:
CHORUS

We take His body and His blood and promise as we do
That though the road is long and hard, we always will be true:
CHORUS