Over the past thirteen weeks, I have been working on becoming more charitable. As a general rule, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will say that “charity is the pure love of Christ.” Which, is indeed true, but that is really the simple and easy answer.
When I began this project, I was brainstorming on what attribute of Jesus Christ that I needed to work on in my personal life. As I pondered this, I felt prompted to inquire of my family their opinions on who I am and who I needed to become. My family apprehensively agreed. Upon coming back to my family to ask them of their thoughts my 12 year-old daughter firmly told me that I needed to work on not scolding her when she argues with her older sister. My 14 year-old daughter advised that I needed to work on being more attentive to my children when they are trying to communicate with me and lastly, my husband said that I needed to work on not speaking negatively about those that irritate me. While this was hard to hear, my family was right.
As soon as my paperwork was accepted by my instructor, I set to work setting some goals to get myself focused to the task at hand: learning to become more charitable. My first goal was prayer and as the semester progressed I found myself, in almost all of my prayers asking Heavenly Father to help me find ways in my life to give charity to those that I come into contact with. He has answered me.
To add to my prayers, I decided to set a goal to read several General Conference talks regarding prayers. Next, I made myself a sign that is now hanging in my office above where I sit each day and study my scriptures, use my sewing machine, write my blog posts and do other projects. This sign lists all of the attributes that I found within scriptures and General Conference talks that gave a descriptive word to what charity is. I find myself gazing at this little sign many times throughout the day. After receiving some feedback from my instructor, I understood that while I could feel in my heart and see in my own actions that I was beginning to change, my overall goal was not measurable.
With the need to measure my goal, I created a spreadsheet where I marked each day with a sub-attribute of charity that I managed for the day with a short explanation of how what I did displayed charity. I kept this chart going for several weeks in order to show continued change and growth.
I can honestly say that what I did the most of during the course of this project was being on my knees and praying along with regular scripture study. The Fundamentals of Religion 121 course had a rigorous study of the first half of The Book of Mormon and I found myself reading a chapter or two (sometimes more) a day in order to keep up with the assigned reading. I am so very grateful for being blessed with the opportunity to participate in this class in order to build myself up with the power of daily scripture study. I know that I have grown closer to Heavenly Father over the course of the semester and can still feel myself continuing to grow. It takes time and effort to create new habits and this is one that I am 13 weeks into and very pleased with.
As I worked on daily scripture study and focused on prayer asking for ways to display charity to those that I came into contact with, I found plenty of opportunity within and outside the walls of my home.
I have had at least one opportunity each and every day to display charity to my family or others, and to save anyone reading this a really long list, I shall condense my sharing to a few short experiences. My first big experience was a child’s birthday party that I attended and at this party there were several adults that do not hold the same moral standards that my husband and I do. I had several people get on my nerves and by the end of the party, I was very frustrated at how some of these people spoke to and treated their children among other things. I chose to try and rise above these feelings of contempt and be kind and tolerant of others. I believe the clearest display of charity that I was able to display was here in my home. My husband and I regularly check the phones of our children to monitor their chats with their friends and their browser history. When we looked at the phone of one of our daughters, we discovered that two boys were texting to her inappropriate messages with sexual innuendos. Our daughter was not participating within the conversations, but she clearly did not stand up for her beliefs and tell these boys to stop. We were sorely disappointed with her inaction. Within minutes of our discovery, we were sitting with our daughter in the living room talking to her about her choice to remain silent. She sobbed and cried and in a situation like this, I know my previous self would have been pretty angry with her choice and I would have certainly said something about her lack of emotional control during our conversation. However, this time I sat and I spoke gently to her, I had my arms wrapped around her and was kissing her head. I loved her and my husband and I explained to her the many possible consequences for her choosing not to stand for what was right.
To wrap this up, I will say that I did have my bad days and I had frustrating times when I was (and am) working on being attentive to my children that they don’t seem to notice. There are a lot of days that I take time to do kind things for each of the older children and they do not even notice. This is frustrating, even though I know that providing service and being charitable are not done for gratification, it would make it easier to serve if those receiving service said a simple thank you. Therefore, I am still working on a goal of being able to provide service in love and have the understanding that the recipients of such may not appreciate or even care one iota that service was provided. The best thing about becoming more charitable over this semester has clearly been my recognition that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know who I am as an individual and that my prayers for specific needs when asked in righteousness are answered.
I am grateful for the opportunity to write up this summation and look forward to what next semester and the second half of The Book of Mormon will bring. A special note of thanks to Brother Mike Day who lead this class with integrity and an attitude of kindness by sharing his wealth of knowledge in a simple manner in which I understood.
I leave this with you grateful and humbly in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.