“The wise person will avoid the flood of bitterness and hatred that can be caused by the waters of hurt. He will constantly pursue the Savior’s paths without stopping at this roadblock caused by apparent or real injustices. It is up to us to go forward and not confuse or confound ourselves. Those of us who cannot forgive and forget break the bridges over which we must pass.” – Brother Mahe.
Before I get into the Church lessons that were essential to learn – Here is the built up story leading to it.
I have re-attended Church last month after awhile, to a new ward & area that I’ve never been to before. The only difference this time however is that I’m now attending on my own accord, for no one, & not requiring anybody to hold my hand figuratively along the way. This would be the first time ever that I’d be going to Church solo & alone. I reached out to the Missionaries from this new ward to retrieve the time when Church begins.
That first Sunday, I was so scared & my anxiety was off the charts. Firstly, I deal with social anxiety particularly when I am all by myself in a gathered area full of people I don’t know, & also I’m an introvert. Secondly, I had no business needing to go to Church out of the protection of my own unhealed parts if I were to just go alone – remembering how it was like in the past – my trauma’s were triggered, I needed my family with me, or someone that was always there to hold my hand as a security blanket. However, I found the strength & experience to push those fears aside – I stopped thinking like a victim, & continued to push forward, knowing that I don’t need anything anymore & that I am all that I need if I have truly grown from the old me – just stay true to my real self & everything will be Okay. Therefore, I found the strength within to just Be My Self, & go purely For the Lord.
So, by being reminded to just be my self & lead by example – on that first day I didn’t wait for others to come to me to make me feel welcome – I made my self feel welcomed the moment I walked in & made others feel welcomed too as if I had been there for a long time. I chose mindfully & carefully who or what was good for me, & who I would had needed to avoid. Trying to navigate through this all on your own shouldn’t be so hard or stressful, but I’ve learnt from experience, & with the help of the Lord I know it be worth it. After all I expect myself to be much grown this time, not a little kid anymore that was scared of how people would judge, reject, misunderstand or mistreat me.
During sacrament as I was looking around, I did ask my self however – Why was I here. When comparison began to get the best of me as it seemed that everyone else was with their families, or their friends, or accompanied with a companion. Nevertheless, this was an opportunity for me to allow the spiritual side back into my life, to have the holy ghost & the spirit of the Lord with me, beside me, where ever I go. No longer do I need to prove to anyone that I am not alone, nor that I am not weak by standing on my own. After that first day, I pondered about what I had just done & felt proud of the decision I made. How I turned up to Church by myself to a new ward entirely not knowing anybody, just complete strangers I’ve never met in a new unfamiliar area – I knew I was on the right path when I trust in His plan, the person He needs me to be, & I know the Lord is also proud of me. Although a small part of me began to cry after I jumped in car, just minor setbacks with healing (being reminded of how I’ve always had my ex by my side going to Church, & her family, and those times when I would come over to her house after Church routinely every Sunday) I didn’t had any where to go this time after Church. It reminded me how if things had worked, this time this year we could of had been sealed/married by now – but I know the adversary wants me to be miserable – what’s done is done & coming to Church that day on my own I know Heavenly Father is proud of me, & I trust & have faith in his plan for me.
I know Heavenly Father had put me on this path for a greater purpose. He must of, according to what had transpired within the very short time I had been attending to this new ward. On that first Sunday, I met this easy-going man & his family, & after a couple of weeks he invited me over for lunch at his house to get to know one another better. Now here’s what happened during that lunch after we finished eating, & I will keep this family as private as possibly, but when I was having a conversation with the wife she bought up this sensitive topic about her younger brother that had just passed away 2 years ago… that she was still grieving from. When she mentioned that he was only 17 & murdered at a particular area, I had automatically knew as a reactive response – as my whole nervous system just froze for a brief moment – my shock & realisation called out the murderer’s surname, & she was agreeing as-well as simultaneously shocked that I would know who he was. However, the topic quickly changed when the husband came back. The murderer was one of the ex’s cousins, & I was trying to wrap my head around it that whole afternoon. I remembered when she had told me 2 years ago, when her cousin murdered someone at a party over something so small. It was surreal how we would just talk about him innocently before it had happened, because he was dating one of her close friends during those times. The cousin & her weren’t close or anything, but it was part of her world & her vast family I was once submerged in from all the stories she had shared about her side. Now, here we are & I am here with the victims family & it all felt so unreal. Just with what the odds were, it was not like they were all staying in the same area, not even close – but here I am. How strange the Universe & God brings certain people together. What a coincidence, & small world. Regardless, it had only been a couple of weeks in this new ward & I’m already reminded one way or another of the ex when the whole point of the new ward was trying to have a fresh start away from it all. Clearly, this is a sign that God has intended for me to learn from before I move on.
On that same day, I met another member during sacrament, this guy from Tonga who also goes to Church alone. His family here in Sydney are not members, so therefore he doesn’t have that support. We became friends almost instantly, & I highly encouraged him to come with me to a musical fireside that our ward was hosting later on that night. The Sister Missionaries that I was reaching out to in the beginning for the time, were already applauding how quickly I had seem to function in this new ward & already fellowshipping a less active. In which, to add to that I also suggested for them to take me out one day to do some work with other members & the community so I can be familiar with the new area. As I will mention later in this post, Charity never faileth & I really do feel that. Honestly, that day & night, I knew God put me here for a reason, to truly test all that I said I was, actions always speak louder than words. If we really do love God, then we must demonstrate it. If we really do love ourselves, then we must demonstrate that also by loving others how we love ourselves.
Not every new journey comes with obstacles, or in this case, past challenges. On that same night, one of the YSA from our ward (young single adults) invited us (my new friend & I) to come tag along with their group & meet up at the Sydney Temple lights after the musical fireside. For our Church, we always have Temple lights around Christmas times. As I drove to the Temple, my new friend & I got to share & learn more about our lives. After all, when it comes to people (particularly Tongans as I’m more familiar with nowadays) I know who to be open with & feel that I could trust, I know who are angaleilei, someone that is good-hearted, well-mannered & humble, particularly if they’re from the islands & have not been corrupted by the Westernised world – yet. So I got a good vibe from him that whole night. However, our YSA that invited us to come, weren’t really sticking by as a group that I had expected. You know how people invite you & then just split up, go off on their own way once you’s gather – ditched, Yeah that’s what happened. Not that it’s a bad thing. My friend & I knew that’s just how it is, it’s not like the islands where they are mostly/generally taught to be mindful & stick together, come as a group & leave as a group. If you invite someone, there’s just a little responsibility & duty of care in that sense, at least that’s what I’ve been taught that I have valued. Particularly when my friend & I left, no one seemed to had noticed or check up on us, not even a text – Anyways, just different values.
On that night however, when I met more of our YSA from our ward – what happened for me was a bit out of pocket. It’s been about 8 years since I left my old ward, since my family moved to Brisbane & I went through that whole journey of self discovery & growth. Today, particular who I am is a whole world apart to anything back then. But, there seem to be people that still remember or hold onto that old version of you that no longer exists. Here I was at the Temple lights, on a whole different path, looking forward not backwards, introducing myself to the YSA in the ward that I have never met before – When I was talking to one of them & trying to find common ground, just good vibes, they knew people who were related to my family in Brisbane, & pointed out to one of the other YSA that they are related to them & that we could be related, in that sense. That other YSA quickly shut that down that they’re not related to me in an obvious ashamed manner. They brought up the past, saying they remember me & that I had a bad rep. I have never met these people & I been gone for 8 years, where were they? They don’t know me, they don’t know me. I responded out that was like nearly 10 years ago. Firstly, I don’t need to defend who I am today for someone I’ve completely outgrown, I’m not here today to go backwards. Secondly, life has moved on even when I didn’t want it to, the past is not to be lived in. I was triggered slightly, after all I’m still healing, I was standing there alone, feeling disconnected from everything, all over, again. A big part of me was telling my self I’m not a victim, as they continued to reinforce or remind how I had a bad rep. As if I had to respond to what no longer exists. If anything, it’s never personally & it says more about them & their character than about me. I responded to them – Yeah, people change – & they both said yeah & moved on to other people that were there to talk to. It made me realise what I already know, that I didn’t know back then, that just because it’s a Church setting doesn’t mean there won’t be narcissists, energy-vampires & drainers. The same old trope with the popular kids in high school & powerful statuses within the corporate world. People that just want to know info & what they can about you, determine & judge you etc but that’s it. It’s not sincere or genuine, I already know this, & I was just disappointed that I have to reconsider keeping a distance putting boundaries & just stay away when the Lord taught us to love everyone, love thy neighbour & be charitable. Although it’s no big deal, & it’s nothing personal – I wondered after that happened why am I even here giving myself out like that. However, God put me here for an intended purpose. It was an event that had to happened for the bigger lessons to come as part of Gods plan & I knew He needed me to experience this to test who I am today, if I really am all who I say I am. After that night, I appreciated the friend I had made on that day, the Missionaries that I met on that night & that family that invited me over for lunch – because although the past exists, it’s an illusion to the present day that requires to keep moving forward – we have the choice to focus on the present that’s for us. Some people who may still hold onto your or their past, may remember those bad parts about you that no longer exists, but there are other people right now & in the future that depend & count on the best parts of you that’s good. I will always remember this, that reputation whether that’s good or bad doesn’t define you, it’s your character that does.
So, that was the previous Sunday night, & that whole week I was praying about how I felt about it all. I know strongly that I wasn’t going to be a victim all over again, & charity was the answer. Christmas is going to be in 2 days from today, & so last week I made it a mission to prepare all the gifts for everyone (for my family in Brisbane that I’m going to see this Christmas, the upcoming birthday gifts for the family, Christmas gifts for the YSA in our ward, & the family that invited me over for lunch). I felt from my prayers, that I’m not going to let the past or other people’s opinions place a shadow on the light that I hold within me.
Thus, it was last Sunday at Church when I handed out all the Christmas gifts for the Missionaries & the YSA. I know that being able to face them single handedly alone, knowing what I know now, brought peace to my troubled heart, because it’s what I would of done anyway as part of charity to show my love for God & for my self. Despite the urge to feel like a victim & hold a grudge, I faced the YSA whether they had intended or unintended to bring up shame for me to remember, & gave them charity instead. Whether that was the dumbest thing to do according to this world in terms of pride & ego, I know the Lord is happy with me. For all that it was worth, letting go of pride & ego was the reward from charity, I freed myself from further hurt by doing what’s best to just move forward in peace for my self. That was one lesson that was intended to be learnt. I received a call from one of the YSA’s dad right after Church finished, & he told me that I was the man, & he was thankful for what I did, he encouraged me to keep being me, & keep being my self. I will always remember that, because I truly needed to hear that. After delivering the gifts to that family that invited me over for lunch, I had one last proper conversation with the wife about her brother & what I had known. It was a chance to clear things up & I explained to her how I was shocked at the lunch particularly being reminded again of the ex because of her cousin, & it was a shock for her too now knowing that she had never spoken with anyone from the other side of this and it was interesting for her now that she has. Maybe, I had gave her some sort of closure for what it was worth, or maybe it was closure for me. However, God had allowed us to cross paths, for a reason.
Moroni 7: 46-47 Wherefore, my beloved brethen, if ye not have charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail – But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Another important lesson from my time here, was during Class for Elders Quorum. That dad who had rang me with those encouraging words, was also the teacher. Within those lessons for the short time I was there, I will always remember his main words throughout the lessons which is ‘To be a Man’ & take nothing to offence. It was just strange, how much it answered & directly applied to what I had needed all this year, how God has placed me here exactly to hear what I needed to learn. The point of the lesson in action is to harden up, toughen up, be deliberate, be fully committed, as he mentions we’re not children anymore, Be a man. What that was referring to was from one of our lessons Roadblocks to ‘personal’ progress’.
Here is the lesson – Some of us set up roadblocks to progress that contribute to our own unhappiness while we wait for others to seek us out and offer help. Negative attitudes lived today cause stagnation, misery, and bitterness tomorrow. It is unproductive for those who should be anxiously engaged in seeking the abundant life to nurse personal hurts. We are all Gods children. If we love Him, we will feed his sheep wherever they may be found, without regard as to our own personal plight or situation. Often we can best feed others when we are hungry ourselves or not completely comfortable in the fold that we presently occupy. Very often those who are hungry, helpless, and cold can best be rescued by those who have been through the same exposures.
Marking time or stalling should not be indulged in by the weak, weary, uncertain, and unrecognized. Instead, there is a healing power as we use our energy in action, in service, and in lifting others.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which we had overcome while trying to succeed.” – John P. Bradley.
Victories in life come through our ability to work around and over the obstacles that cross our path. We grow stronger as we climb our own mountains.
“The brightest crowns that are worn in heaven have been tried, and smelted, polished and glorified through the furnace of tribulation” – Thomas Carlyle.
Let us ponder these enemies of eternal progress and seek ways of gathering the courage to cast them aside.
The constant nursing of personal hurts.
Each of us should daily resolve that with God’s help we will not allow careless words from others to shape our destiny or control our daily course. How tragic it is to see, on occasion, a life of usefulness lost because we have allowed an unkind comment to cause a wound or hurt. We let the injury become an open sore and fester rather than treat it with prompt skill and maturity. Some try to get even with their offenders by dropping out of life’s race. How weak, how damaging, how self-restricting is the often used statement, “I’ll never go back as long as that person is there!” On occasion some of us seem to stand on the sidelines waiting to be hurt, offended, or ignored. We listen for careless words from others and remember the unsaid hellos and read into the said or unsaid words a totally unintended message.
The greatest teacher and leader also showed the world an example of proper conduct when He was the victim of unkind words and cruel deeds. He simply said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” – Luke 23:34.
During his earthly mission Jesus made every confrontation a learning experience, including those that would be destructive or cause hurt and dissatisfaction. He was never rebellious, never ashamed; always long-suffering, patient, kingly; and never deterred in being about His Father’s business.
He, too, proved His greatness when His personal pain and suffering were the most intense. Hurting words and unkind deeds never kept Him from reaching His goals. No one can meet life in all its fulness without experiencing hurt, pain, and suffering.
The wise person will avoid the flood of bitterness and hatred that can be caused by the waters of hurt. He will constantly pursue the Saviour’s paths without stopping at this roadblock caused by apparent or real injustices. It is up to us to go forward and not confuse or confound ourselves. Those of us who cannot forgive and forget break the bridges over which we must pass.
Too often we allow incidents to contribute to our stagnation when we permit ourselves to feel ignored, unwanted, or unworthy. How damaging sympathy is when it is self-administered. How refreshing it is to meet people who don’t have time to be offended. Certainly what we are is more important than what we have or what is said of us.
Being fettered with habits and mistakes of misconduct. A friend of mine who only in recent months has made giant steps toward purposeful living and complete activity in the Church shared the following: “I can tell you as one who has had many years of experience and practice that it is much easier to criticize individuals and knock the establishment than it is to change oneself and recognize the real causes for one’s own inactivity and negativism.”
Change is hard. Rather than going through the struggle to overcome a bad habit or rectify a mistake, some of us choose to make excuses for inactivity. Progress comes as we are able to give up something for something we want more.
Honesty with oneself and setting of desirable but attainable goals day by day can determine the paths we follow. One might make a list of goals and then a price list for each goal. One day at a time the price of change can be paid. The cost will then not be overwhelming.
The Lord has promised that he will forgive and remember no more when the process of repentance is complete. If the Lord will do that for us, why should we not so do for ourselves? Mistakes can be forgiven. Habits can be changed. One more roadblock to progress can be removed.
Wow! That was the lesson & how strongly did that resonate with me, particularly with my struggles this year with depression & grief. It was as if this new ward was the pit stop I needed before the year ended, before I move on to my next chapter. Waiting for someone to come back to help nurse my personal hurts, setting up roadblocks to my personal progress, resulting my own stagnations, pain, & misery, and lastly allowing the unkind words & opinions of others to offend me or possibly change my destiny – dam, I really needed to hear that & I wouldn’t have had that wake up call if I had never taken that leap of faith to attend Church alone at this new ward. As we learn now that mistakes can be forgiven, habits can be changed & one roadblock progress can be removed – this was what I needed to hear or be reminded of moving forward. Thank you, Heavenly Father.
Yesterday, which was the last day in Sydney for 2021 before I had made my way up to Brisbane – I met up with the Sister Missionaries serving in our ward to see one of the member’s that they were teaching. This member’s husband was not a member, however he was in the process to be baptised & join the Church. It was a good lesson at their house, & I also got them Christmas gifts for that family. After that, the Sister Missionaries had one more lesson & I would meet up with them later that evening at the Sydney Temple lights, as I had promised to cater food for them there – as-well as for the other Missionaries that may be there. It was a really good evening & night well spent with them at the temple, as I met the other Missionaries there, often times it felt like I was blending in seemingly, without the badge. I was filled with joy within, as it did made up for the other night that didn’t go well with YSA at the temple. I was surprisingly happy & at peace.
I had originally planned to go alone to the Temple as one final farewell for my own personal closure & last goodbye – to let go of the memories & ties here, from going to this Temple with the ex & her family, with how we were going to be sealed here, how close I’m reminded with it was all going to happen. It was time to say goodbye to this place.
That night I was filled with company of many Missionaries on duty when I could of been alone. How things really did felt like it was coming to a full circle, how I had finished packing to head to Brisbane & ended up visiting that family that was going to get baptised, how it all started when I was going to get baptised almost 10 years ago. So much has happened in 10 years, wow. I just never would of thought the journey I would of had after deciding to be baptised & follow the Lord. But my time here is coming to an end, as I’ve been planning to move to Cairns for quite a long time now for my own self, to take that leap of faith & just be on my own to find my self and be ready for the next chapter of my life. I’m thankful I had this short solo pit stop at Church in this ward, & the lessons that were intended for me before I move on. I’m grateful that everything had happened the way it was suppose to, especially for this year, 2021. This time, I will be with my family in Brisbane when this year ends & New Year hits. As I return back to Sydney one last time for my cousins wedding next month, I’ll be preparing to move to my new home in Cairns.
It’s been a blast, 2021. Thank you, next.