Monday, June 16, 2014

"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it." -Miss Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

 Getting COMPLETELY soaked one day on our way home.
Was it Father's day yesterday? I am so confused. It was Father's day here in France but Mother's day here was different than America's so I am just confused. Well, if it was Father's day...... Happy Father's day, Daddy!!! I love you so much. If there is a Dad lottery in heaven, I won it.
Happy Birthday... and Anniversary... Jasmyn! I LOOOOOOOOVE YOU!
This week was... hard. Very hard. But so good at the same time.
First of all, we got to go do exchanges in Paris! When I was in Lille we did exchanges in Bruxelles, which was cool... but not Paris. I had done exchanges in Paris in my first two villes so it was so nice to be able to go to places that were familiar. I also got to ride my favorite RER A all the way out there, which just so happens to be the RER that goes right through my old area in Paris. So I got to look out and see old buildings I had ported and bus stops I had met people at. At every single stop I would turn to Soeur Hawkes and say "The Lasas live here... Erica lived here..." It was so wonderful to be back in my beautiful Nogent. And God KNEW so perfectly when I was going to be there and set up the most beautiful miracle.

Soeur Hawkes first introduction to red lipstick.
At the beginning of my mission I did exchanges with my beloved soul friend Soeur Garrett in Paris. We went and visited the kindest woman ever named Rachel. We had a beautiful lesson... and then I went back home to my area. A few months later... I was on exchanges with Soeur Wade. She told me we were going to visit someone and as we began walking there I asked if it was Rachel. And it was! She recognized me and we got to share a beautiful moment and ask the Elders to come give her a blessing.

Well, wouldn't you know... this last time in Paris who did I get to go see? Rachel. This time I felt like I was surprising a long lost friend! She let us in and we lived some of the most beautiful moments of my entire life. She told us that she was going to go in for surgery the next day and that it was a miracle that we had come to see her! We got to pray with her and comfort her. We all just sat there crying and testifying. The spirit was so strong you could physically feel it. She is going through the hardest trials with her health and she told us that sometimes she feels abandoned by God. But as we spoke to her I just felt God pour a little smidge of some of His love for her into my heart. It was overwhelming. We told her how much God loves her and is so so aware of everything she is facing and she just sat there smiling through her tears. And as we left she said that she know God still loves her and that no matter why she has this problem, she knows God knows best. She has so much faith! I love her so much and I wish she was my amie! I want to go to Paris and steal her.

RACHEL!! My dear sweet miracle. :)
A few weeks ago Soeur Hawkes told me that she had never seen the Eiffel Tower. What!? She has been in France for 8 months so that's just absurd. I told her that somehow we would get her there. The day we were coming back from Paris, half of the trains in France shut down because of striking so we had to catch a later train. What a tender mercy! Soeur Hawkes and I hopped on the metro... and she got her first glimpse of the lovely tower. 
Here I am 1 year later! 

 My awkward "I don't know what to do with my hands..."
My soul can breathe. 
This week I thought a lot a lot about mistakes and weaknesses.
It is so easy to regret. To look back at who you were and the silly and plain stupid things you have done and feel a longing to do them over. To beat yourself up over your shortcomings. To still cringe over things you said or things you did and feel like they are screaming in your ears "That it who you are. You cannot change that."
But it's wrong. Not only is it sad and destructive, but it's just plain wrong! Jeffery R. Holland says it like this:
"There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ.
"When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal."
I had never thought about it like that before. Being hard on myself and killing myself over my limitations and all I think I should be is denying the power of the Atonement. Basically saying "I believe Christ suffered... but wasted it on me."
Regretting things doesn't even have to be something that happened years ago. Whether it was ten years or ten minutes, it's over and done with and the only thing to do is move on and determine to do better. We simply can't hold out on loving ourselves until we have mastered all of our faults. We have to love and accept ourselves right now.
"Develop the courage to be imperfect while eagerly continuing your search for perfection. I use the word courage because it does take a great deal of strength to accept oneself as less than perfect while still seeing oneself as a person of genuine value. One must accept oneself as he or she is—good enough at this moment—in order to have confidence to move on." (Patricia Holland)
I love that line. In order to have confidence to move on. I think you can only move on and start growing and becoming after you have stopped regretting and decided to love yourself anyway. I'm still not sure why. I have thought so much this week about the paradox of loving yourself despite your weaknesses and past mistakes = the ability to overcome your weaknesses and make less mistakes. 
I believe it's because it is only then that you stop denying the Atonement. When you finally stop limiting the power of Christ's sacrifice in your life and start accepting His healing grace and mercy as something real and tangible in your personal life and for your personal weaknesses and sins, then and only then you are able to truly hand it over, stop trying to save yourself, and allow God to make you what He has always envisioned. Only then you can use the Atonement for what it was meant for! To wash away your sins and give you the power to do better next time.
Christ died for that. He died so we could have second chances. He died so we could start over again and again and again. He died so we could change. Because of Him
My dear soul friend Soeur Garrett told me something once that changed my life: "I can't look back on my life and regret those stupid and embarrassing things I have done because that's not even who I am anymore. That wasn't me. I have changed."
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can change. 
Tomorrow is a second chance. Tomorrow is the beginning of my new life.
xoxo, Soeur Autumn Bradley

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