This week has been interesting. After a long (though welcomed and needed in many ways) Christmas break, I was looking forward to getting back into a schedule. Over the years, I’ve become rather fond of having somewhere to be. While responsibility can mean exhaustion, it can also mean fulfillment and progress. That’s what I was looking forward to.
Though, I have to admit, I didn’t get off to a great start. After a long series of events, my Sabbath day became less lovely than it usually is—we’ll leave it at that. I had made a commitment however, to pick up a friend from a bus stop and drop her off at her apartment. I grudgingly trudged out of my home at 10:40 PM to do what I wished I hadn’t promised to do. But fulfilling that promise ended up setting the tone for a gratifying and moving week.
There was a devotional on the radio that reminded me why I’m here and what I hope to do during the coming semester. The speaker, Greg Klingler (Faculty Member at BYU-Idaho), taught about understanding who we are, and not discrediting ourselves because of who we are not. He compared us to the body of Christ. Referring to Corinthians chapter 12 he read:
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, but one body.”
Explaining further Klingler remarked, “When we are baptized we become a member of the body of Christ. Each member of the body is given important gifts, and talents. Some taste, some hear. Some are eyes, and some are hands. God set the members, “every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.””
“When one part of the body is afflicted, the whole body feels it, and we are not whole until all members of the body are whole… When one of us suffer, we all suffer.”
Do we suffer when our friends and family suffer? Perhaps, but what about that person you struggle to understand? How often do we allow others to walk a lonely road of pain and affliction without coming to their aid? In addition, how often do we discredit our own worth because we don’t play the same role as the person next to us?
If we could come to have a healthy understanding of the role we play, and the importance of the other players, no matter their function, the world would change. We would become more vigilant to the needs of those with whom we associate. We would become more forgiving. We would be able to work in ways that we cannot do alone.
And yet, we often feel isolated. One of the most dangerous trends I see in my community, and throughout the world, is a sense of judgment when we see the sickness in others. Do we not recognize that we are all sick? That we all desperately need the help of the Physician?
In some ways we may desire to be seen as perfect and unflawed, but I believe that at a deeper level, we want to be seen where we are. We so badly wish that others would look to us, and see our bruises and come to our aid but we look at our fellow man with far less mercy than we want for ourselves.
Perhaps this is because we see a better way and wish that they would avoid unnecessary pains, but once the damage is done, there’s no use in focusing on why they were injured. That time has past. The time for love, compassion and aid has arrived.
Unfortunately, I have seen many people put off the healing power of the Atonement because they are afraid of the retaliation of the people with whom they associate. What difference would it make if we stopped looking at those who have to skip the sacrament as broken goods and started seeing them for what they are– healing children of God?
The speaker showed the proper way to treat the injured we may encounter along the way: “To those able and willing to go to the rescue, this will be our message, ‘We love you, the Lord loves you, and we need you.’”
The repentance process can be grueling, and while the opinions of others shouldn’t have a bearing on our self worth and motivations, the truth remains. If we fail to recognize the divine worth of one who is working to repent, the fault in that judgment lies not with the one who’s seeking out help, but with the one who acts like they are whole and passes judgment on the one who is meek enough to honestly seek forgiveness. We are all broken. And maybe I’m crazy, but I think that’s a beautiful thing.
Brother Klingler went on to tell a compelling narrative of wounded soldiers on a battlefield. He spoke about courageous love that allowed them to care for their wounded brethren. They didn’t critique how they could’ve avoided their injuries, nor did they hesitate to run to the aid of others because they themselves were hurt. They recognized their collective need and they moved forward with power endowed upon them from a loving God.
He continued, “As we go to the rescue, there may be times in which understanding the source of the spiritual wounds of those we serve is instructive and helpful to prevent further mistakes, but please be careful that you do not add to the pain of the wounded by casting an unrighteous judgment.”
“Imagine with me the Stripling Warriors searching diligently for their battle-wounded brothers. When finding a battle-torn brother, I doubt they provided a careful analysis of battle maneuvers or critical hindsight. Rather, I imagine one brother would wash the wounds of the fallen with his own tears while another warrior would stop the bleeding of the wounded with his own hands. Our wounded brothers and sisters need less criticism, and more care.”
We may not be the Physician, but we can train to be incredibly successful Physicians Assistants. But that means we have to be present. We cannot hide out hoping to avoid the battle and come out only for the celebratory party afterwards. That means we have to be out in it. We need to be in the trenches. Running to the wounded. Digging deep and finding faith and strength we didn’t know we had.
“None of us are whole. Each of us carries wounds that can be painful and heartbreaking. At some point in our life pain, suffering, trial, and despair will bring each of us to our knees. Some of our wounds are a consequence of our own sin while other times our wounds are a consequence of the sin of someone else. Some wounds are inflicted as a result of physical or mental illness. Other wounds present in the form of a loss of loved ones, marital problems, wayward children, occupational or financial burdens, and even academic stress and pressure. The list, and possibilities of trial and tribulation is endless. However, please understand, you are not alone. Christ did not merely watch the sinners from a distance. He lived his life among them. He walked among them. He went into their homes. He fed them, He healed them, He loved them. The sinners, the homeless, the lame, the lost; He loved each one.”
“And so it is in our day. Christ does not work from the periphery. He is not merely a spectator of your life, waiting and watching to see ‘how things work out.’ Christ knows you. He is not far from you. He can heal you.”
The lessons that resonated with me are rather simple:
- Find my place and recognize the good that I can do in whatever role I’m asked to play. Don’t discredit myself based on the strengths of others but find my strength in the Lord. Magnify my call. Remember that magnifying my call doesn’t mean burning holes in those around me but adding to the good in the world. My light comes from Jesus Christ, and if I use it correctly, I can light a fire that warms, refines, guides, and beautifies the world.
- We are all on the battlefield of life. We face a real and persistent enemy, but when we work together we can be assured in knowing that we will win. We won’t come out unscathed, nor should we—especially when we’re doing what we should be doing! Let’s get scrappy. Let’s work together. Let’s run to the aid of our wounded brethren. Terrible things happen all around us everyday. Let us bring light to the darkness.
“…In this battle, one way in which we heal our own wounds is by seeking out and going to the rescue of others that are wounded. One measure of our success in this Great War with the adversary may not be how effectively I mend my own wounds, but rather how I assisted others to the source that could mend their wounds. There are many around us wounded on the battlefield. They are part of the same body of Christ that we belong to, and we are not whole until they are whole. We must go to our wounded.”
It is my prayer that as I move forward, fighting this fight, I will find those wounded. I pray that I’ll never turn a blind eye on the suffering of others. I pray that I’ll be able to come to their aid. That I’ll be ready to love them and assist my Savior in healing them. I pray that I’ll be strong enough to stand, even though I am wounded.
As the hymn says, we are all enlisted until the conflict is o’er. We are all wounded and yet we are able. And because of that, we truly have cause to ‘joyfully march to our home’.