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.”

Believers at the edge

This is a slightly different style than the poems I usually write, but I wanted to try something new. I was listening to a talk by Hank Smith about believing, and he used the example of Charles Blondin crossing Niagara falls on a tightrope. I love this example and sent home a poem about it from my mission. I liked the point he made, though, and tried to get that across in this poem.

Believers at the edge

10,000 gathered on the American edge,
10,000 gathered on the Canadian edge,
To see the Great Blondin
Cross Niagara on a tightrope.

Cheers rose as he crossed once,
Louder as he crossed back,
Then he grabbed a wheelbarrow,
And shouted to the crowd:

“Do you believe that I can walk
And roll this wheelbarrow along, too?”
They all shouted, “We believe!”
And cheered him on to go.

“That’s good that all of you believe,
But I only need one volunteer.
Who will sit in the wheelbarrow,
As I walk across the falls?”

Silence fell. The crowd grew still.
Nobody raised a hand.
“What?” the Great Blondin cried,
“I thought you said you believed?”

Who’s a believer?
The person who stands
And dares to tell the whole ward
They believe?

That is truly wonderful,
But to be a believer
Does what you choose to do
When not in church matter, too?

“I’m so glad,”
Says God,
“That you believe in me,
Will you get up and leave this movie?”

Or “I’m happy,”
Says He,
“That you have such a testimony.
Will you share it with your friends?”

Daniel was a believer,
Praying when he knew of the lion’s den,
David was a believer,
Facing goliath with only a sling in his hand.

Nephi was a believer,
Going back for the plates when he once again failed,
Joseph was a believer,
Leading Christ’s church though hell and earth assailed

Christ was a believer,
Drinking the bitter cup he wished could pass.
Am I a believer,
Living up to what my Redeemer asks?

I don’t know if, today, I’d answer yes,
That I’d hop in the Great Jesus’ wheelbarrow.
I don’t have perfect faith,
Or perfect trust in my Perfect God,

But I’m an idealist falling far short
Of ideals I yearn, someday, to live.
I’ll let Him carry me across smaller waterfalls,
I’ll build my trust in Him.

I’ll show my faith in little things,
And my faith, like a seed, will grow.
Until I, a believer at the edge,
Will choose unhesitatingly to trust Him.

For the hard times

For the hard times

When the night falls, 
Or the power goes out, 
When the alarm feels heavy 
With the morning’s weight

When the sadness comes 
And won’t go away 
Or the overwhelming world
Drowns all hope

When all the future
Seems empty and black
When the hard times come, 
Remember:

Night isn’t forever 
Day will always come,
Hold on to hope’s spider-silk thread 
And take one step forward 

Trust

Sent home from my mission Aug 28, 2017

Trust

As I stood on a mountain
He said to me:
“come to the edge.”
and I didn’t because I feared I would fall.

Again He smiled, and beckoned to me:
“come to the edge.”
“No.” I said, “I’ll fall,
I don’t trust myself there.”

Comfortingly, He reached for my hand
I took it, He said:
“come to the edge, and trust me”
I trusted Him, so I followed.

I saw the view, the world,
and as I turned to Him to thank Him
He pushed me off the edge—
and I flew.

The next time that I stood there,
I remembered my flight—
the joy of the view
and the thrill of the hight—

And I thought it’d be wonderful
to do it again,
so I went to the edge
and jumped.

But I fell and didn’t fly!
and as the ground came up to meet me
my thoughts turned to a Savior
who left me all alone

I pleaded for someone to come to me
and saw him there besides me
He told me, “take my hand,
and I will do the rest”

“It’s all in your hands now”
I said, as I grabbed and held on tight
and right before we hit the ground—
we started to fly.

I’ve never left my Savior since,
but still, I’ve often thought—
why could I not do alone
what He did for me?

I’ve realized I’m not strong enough
and need my dear Savior near,
in Him I put my trust and faith—
I put it all in His hands.

The Village of Krasnodosch

Sent home from my mission, Oct 08, 2018

I thought of this poem this week while listening to a conference talk describing the Jewish seder. Jewish families not only set a place for Elijah, but fill his cup to the brim and send a child to the door to see if Elijah is there. (Hosanna and Hallelujah—The Living Jesus Christ: The Heart of Restoration and Easter, by Elder Gerrit W. Gong) I think this tradition is a great example of living with faith. 

My poem this week, tentatively titled “The village of Krasnodosch” (crass- no- doesh, roughly translated as “red rain”), is a story I heard in sacrament meeting once in Ivano-Frankivsk. I put the story to verse, because I think it fits really well. The speaker used it to point out the difference between mere hope and faith. It reminds me of a quote I heard once, that “faith is what we choose to act on every day”. I liked the story and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

The Village of Krasnodosch

There once was a small village
With the name of Krasnodosch.
The people there loved God, and they
All followed him with hope.

One spring, the people planted fields,
But then, no rain did fall.
One week turned to two, then three,
The fields weren’t looking well. 

The people all decided they would gather
Together on the next day
And pray that God would send them rain,
So the drought would go away.

The day was hot and cloudless
As the crowd started to form,
But one young girl walked up with an
Umbrella on her arm.

They asked her why, she said, “Well,
Aren’t we here to pray for rain?”
They shrugged, and all together,
They prayed, and then they prayed again.

They prayed for several hours,
But the rain still didn’t fall.
The crowd started to go back home,
But with hope, hearts were full.

“Look!” Said the umbrella girl,
“A cloud!” The crowd all turned
And saw far off a tiny thing,
The name “cloud” barely earned

They watched as it grew closer, and
They watched as it grew big.
They wondered if this answered prayers,
And each sure hoped it did.

The cloud stood right on top of them,
But not a drop fell down
“Schwoop!” the girl’s umbrella went,
But some began to frown

Then, after a while, a drop,
Then one more, two, and then,
Someone opened heaven’s floodgates-
It began to pour down rain.

The town ran home, glad but wet-
Their hope was not in vain.
The umbrella girl, she walked home dry,
For she had prayed in faith.

Would I See Him

Sent home from my mission Aug 07, 2017

The poem I want to share with you this week is one I wrote half of in the MTC around Christmastime, and I finished the rest of it out in the mission field. I thought about what kind of person I would be if I lived in the time of Christ—would I be a shepherd who went and worshiped the baby Jesus, or would I be one of the hundreds or thousands of other people in Bethlehem to whom this was just another baby? 

Would I See Him?

If I’d walked the roads of Palestine
in older, simpler years,
would I have seen a man
drying people’s tears?
Would I listen to His words 
and choose to follow where He goes,
or would I spit on Him, reject Him,
there in Calvary, alone?

If I’d walked the roads of Bethlehem
on a certain silent night,
Would I have seen a baby
in swaddling clothes wrapped tight?
Would I have knelt and sang his praise
and worshiped Him, my Christ, that day,
or would I have been too busy
and continued on my way?

And in the paths I’m on today
in this loud and noisy world,
do I make time to see my Savior
and His gospel flag unfurled?
To pray for truth, and seek His grace
and follow what He taught,
or will I never feel His hand in mine
and do the works He wrought?

As I seek to walk His paths,
and simply serve my brother,
will someone see me, and notice 
as I try to help another?
Will they see my work and think of Him
who served us each so selflessly?
I don’t know, but I did my part
And I that’s enough for me.

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)

A House of Hope

A House of Hope

Hope is the warm bed
and the blankets I wrap myself in
when the cold creeps in,
and I need to feel held.

Hope is the solid door
that shuts the world out
and reminds me there is more to life
that I can make of it, myself.

Hope is the clear windows
that let me look and see
all the wonders God has made
and look out into forever.

Hope is the slick floors
I can slide on in my socks
and remember small joys now,
and big joys to come.

Hope is the slanted roof
carrying away the storm water
and keeping me dry
from the world’s droplets of depression.

Hope is the sturdy walls
Standing strong every day
and reminding me how long things last
when built with love and time.

Hope is the loving house
that invites me to be safe,
to belong, to find peace in
hope.

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.

The Miracle of a Hand to Hold

Originally published 10-13-19

This last Thursday, I read this poem at the BYU Museum of Art Poetry Jam. A lot of different poets wrote works in response to different pieces of art on display, and we walked around and looked at the art while we heard the poets read their poems. It was a pretty neat experience. I wrote this poem in response to “Jesus and Peter on the Water” by Gustave Brion.

The Miracle of a Hand to Hold

As the only two men to ever walk on water
hold each other tightly,
the man holding desperately, the God holding lovingly,
the storm rages, and those without the faith to even try
watch over rough waves.