I first remember trying to learn about the difference between justification and sanctification during a New Testament class at BYU. We talked about it a lot, but I never seemed to be quite able to internalize what the difference was (including when it was asked as a test question). I’ve still tossed the words around as they’ve been used in a couple of talks and books since then, but today in Sacrament Meeting I finally understood what they mean. Maybe I’m finally listening.
The speaker today obviously knew her stuff. Toward the beginning of her talk she was looking for a definition of justification in her notes. She looked for a few seconds, then, deciding she wasn’t going to find it by looking, defined it on the fly.
It more or less ran like this: Justification is when your sins have been forgiven and you are, in that moment, without sin. But it doesn’t mean you haven’t sinned, and it doesn’t mean you won’t sin again. It simply means that, in that moment, you are without sin. Sanctification is deeper: it is becoming the kind of person who doesn’t want to sin. It means that, once justified, you will never sin again. Both are gradual processes; both require the Atonement of Christ in order to happen. And I guess I have plenty of work to do toward both!
So, anyway, the talks in church today were really good. I would have thanked the speakers in person, but I was in Primary and they weren’t. Oh, well.
I prefer the BYU singers’ recording to this one. But apparently BYU didn’t take kindly to that recording being posted. Whatever.
This piece is a fascinating musical depiction of the emotional process of falling asleep. Some people think it’s weird, but as a lifelong insomniac I find it oddly poignant.
The other morning as I was saying my prayers, “His Hands” drifted into my sleepy brain. I realized I didn’t know all the lyrics off the top of my head, so as I was eating breakfast, I looked up “His Hands” on Youtube.
I found the following video:
As I watched, I heard a voice inside me testifying to me that Christ did this for me, and I felt His love spread through me. It’s been too long. In that moment I remembered that Christ is stronger than all evil, than all the horrible things we do to eachother, than all the pain and suffering we go through in life.
I think I’m back.
A few days ago, I was sitting on my couch, pondering the deep things of life, and my thoughts turned to the past few years and all the changes that have happened to me. I looked around the living room, my eyes rested on a picture of my wife and me standing in front of the temple on our wedding day, and above it a framed certificate that says “Marriage for Time and All Eternity,” and I couldn’t help feeling like I had awoken from a nightmare.
The most immediate part of the nightmare was school–no offense, professors–but school combined with a two-hours-one-way commute and a job in another county eventually broke me. I spent the last days of my master’s degree in such a mad rush for the finish that I abandoned almost everything else (including scripture study, exercise, and date night), but I can’t take credit for finishing, since my professor ended up having to turn in my project for me. As I sat on the plane to my wife’s parents’ house the next morning, I wept for joy at the thought that my master’s degree might be finished; I hadn’t yet opened myself to the possibility that everything might actually be done, for fear that it wasn’t and I’d have to sign up for two credits the following semester and finish my degree four months later than planned (while presumably working somewhere full-time, since we were all out of savings by this point). It wasn’t until late that day, after two flights and a 2.5-hour drive into the soybeanfields that I was able to check my email and find out that, in fact, I was going to get a master’s degree. I still didn’t quite believe it until the diploma came in the mail last week. Okay, I still don’t quite believe it.
But going back farther, I thought about the years I spent just after my mission figuring out my sexuality: the sleepless nights, the tears, the prayers, the endless surfing of the internet trying to find someone who said the things I was afraid to say out loud to anyone; the abject fear that someone would find me out, or trying to figure out how gay I could be without anyone finding out; the feeling that no matter which way I went part of me was pulling the other way, until it felt like I would rip apart completely. I still can’t figure out exactly how my life stopped being this way, except to say that I can’t really say I’m responsible for that part either. It took years, but things gradually fell into place, and in the end all I can take credit for is letting God drag me into my current, excellent life. If anyone had told me three years ago (cue Pink song) that I would be graduated, employed, married, expecting a little poo in a few months, and fully active in the Church, I probably would have laughed in their face (I probably wouldn’t “stand up and punch them out,” for the record).
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got the grumblies. I’m hardly perfect–I’m daily humbled by the good things that happen to me, knowing that they usually happen in spite of my antisociality and self-centeredness of the day. I’m sure that plenty of grumbly times are ahead. But for now, I’m awake, I’m happy, and I can’t believe the bad dream is over.
. . . aaaaaaand then the shaving cream in your bathroom cupboard explodes.
- This is the first time I have ever worn tights to the ward Halloween party. This is not the first time I have worn tights to a ward activity.
- We won the costume contest, so I guess it didn’t offend too many people. That, or we’re just popular.
- Yes, when you were doing the fish pond you looked behind the sheet and saw me. Yes, you and the fourteen other children who have figured it out so far think you’re all sooooooo clever. Now go away.
- When we won the costume contest, our choices for the prize were scented shampoos and shower gels, or a necklace and earrings. I let my wife pick.
- Then someone asked, well, don’t YOU want a prize? And then I was offered refrigerator magnets that said “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Charity.” It was marginally manlier, so I took it. Good thing I’m so secure.
- I think if they were men’s tights, they would have fit better.