Giving Thanks, part 8: Nephi

Today I am grateful for Nephi.  2 Nephi 3:8, to be exact.  But first, some background:

I have always had a hard time balancing the dialectic of doing what God expects of me while not being too hard on myself.  I’m sure you all understand what I’m talking about.  It’s a pretty common predicament of followers of the Commandments.  

However, my battle with this has been maybe a little different than the usual “how can I ever be good enough?”. You see, while I may be hard on myself in certain ways, when it comes to spiritual things, sometimes I am way too EASY on myself.  I find myself justifying breaking some Commandments under the guise of, “I’m a good person!  So I’m not going to be hard on myself about this.”  So I don’t study my scriptures consistently.  I don’t pray on my knees consistently.  I don’t serve enthusiastically in my calling.  I don’t nurture charity.  {etc.}  But I’m a good person!!  I’m not mean to people, I’m honest, I work hard, I love my family. . . Plus, Heavenly Father doesn’t want me to self-loath or beat myself up because of my shortcomings {which, of course, is true… but He does want us to progress!}!  So……I don’t put forth effort to do things I know I need to do in order to have a strong relationship with my Savior.  Because, heck, it’s fine to just be a good person.

And it’s kinda been like this for a while.  I’ve just been floating along, the good person I am, down a lonely stream of spiritual stagnancy and complacency.  

Then I read this the other day in 2 Nephi 3 {this is the Lord speaking, referring to Joseph Smith}:

And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him. And I will make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work.

And I paused in my heart.  The phrase “I will make him great in mine eyes” stood out to me.  I realized that I wanted to be great in the eyes of the Lord, not just good in the eyes of the Lord.  So I decided to dissect the verse in an attempt to figure out what it takes to be made great in the eyes of the Lord.  And this is what the Spirit taught me:

We each have a very personal, very real, and very important work that the Lord wants us to fulfill.  It’s probably different than Joseph Smith’s work, but it is just as important to our individual relationship with Jesus Christ as Joseph’s was to his individual relationship with Jesus Christ.  It may not seem very grandiose compared to others’ missions {we shouldn’t compare, anyway}, but we simply cannot accomplish the biggest things Father wants us to do, however small they may be, if we are not doing the little things that are the foundation of faith and works: praying, studying the scriptures, serving with a willing and tender heart.  So, in essence, the little things are the big things.  At least for me.  

So–for me–all it takes to be made great in the eyes of the Lord is doing the little things.  THAT is how close I am to being GREAT, instead of being GOOD.  That’s how big of a difference kneeling to pray makes, or studying the scriptures even just ten minutes a day makes, or sending a note to that sister in Relief Society who you think has been struggling lately makes.  Being great isn’t really that far off.  And when I realize that just those little things can make that big of a difference, I am EXCITED to do them, because I’m EXCITED to be GREAT!  At least for that day.  Some days I am still just a good person, but I know that any day of the week I can CHOOSE to be a GREAT person.  

And it sure feels special to be made great in the eyes of the Lord, and to know exactly what to do to be so.  And I’m grateful for this new insight into my spiritual strength and potential. 

date night to Temple Square, summer 2010    

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