Wednesday, January 4, 2012

it was the best of times; it was the worst of times

I've been thinking a lot about paradoxes lately, statements that are contradictory, but true.

I attribute it in part to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, from this talk in General Conference. In it, he points out two scriptures, namely "man is nothing" and "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." He testifies the truth of both, despite their contradiction. President Uchtdorf states, "The great deceiver knows that one of his most effective tools in leading the children of God astray is to appeal to the extremes of the paradox of man."

This stuck in my mind. I am so wary of complacency because (to use a metaphor) as soon as you forget how indebted you are, you stop being concerned with paying off the debt. I am constantly trying to be a better person, and I think that's a good thing.

President Uchtdorf's statement, however, helped me to see that I was going too far. Satan loves to target my feelings of inadequacy so that I don't recognize the opposing truth...that I am an eternal daughter of Heavenly Father. I am a princess, with all of the prestige and responsibility that comes with that appellation. I have a work to do, and a great one at that.

Since that realization, I have been alert to other paradoxes in my life. And today, I hit on one in particular.

I can be both gentle AND passionate.

It is my birthright and responsibility as a daughter of God to be gentle. (Plus, I'm pretty sure it makes me a more enjoyable girlfriend.) Christ was meek, mild, temperate. And I want to be like Him. I can be like Him. In my best moments, I am like Him.

On the other hand, I am a passionate, enthusiastic person by nature. I care about things, and I care a lot! I get emotionally involved very quickly, and my fervor can certainly be a major contribution to my peer groups and communities.

These traits, in my mind at least, are contradictory. How can I be purposeful, yet peaceful? Daring, but dignified? Sparkling, but soothing?

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure. I do know, however, that by resting too heavily on either extreme, Satan catches me up in a riptide of good intentions. When I try too hard to be gentle, it manifests itself in fear and hesitation. When I recklessly manifest passion, I find no rest, no peace. And fear or exhaustion will do equally well for Satan.

On the other hand, if I acknowledge the necessity of both and steer clear of the extremes, I can be fearless and peaceful-- faithful. I can provide refuge and inspiration-- encouragement. I will be neither frenetic nor benign-- I will be warm.

That's who I really am, you know.

The past few months have been the best of times and the worst of times, but if Heavenly Father is teaching me lessons like it really so bad at all?

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