Friday, March 27, 2015

Broken Flower

On Tuesday, March 24, on my way to the Assembly Hall, I came across a yellow pansy on the sidewalk. The groundskeepers had probably broken it off when they walked around the flowers to trim the bushes surrounding the Triad Center. I picked it up and carried it with me for a while, brushing the dirt off it and moving the petals back to their original place. Scuffed and marred, the flower still had some beauty to it.

Admittedly, the first thing I thought of when I held the pansy was of a documentary called India's Daughter, about a woman, Nirbhaya, who was gang raped on a bus in New Dehli while coming home from seeing The Life of Pi. She was so brutally tortured that she died of her injuries a few days later. One of the most stunning things about that documentary are the interviews with the men defending her attackers. ML Sharma, defense lawyer for the four rapists, said, "A female is just like a flower. It gives a good-looking, very softness performance, pleasant. But on the other hand, a man is just like a thorn. Strong, tough enough. That flower always needs protection. If you put that flower in a gutter, it is spoilt. If you put that flower in a temple, it will be worshipped." Attached to this metaphor is a stigma that when a woman is raped, she loses her value permanently and ultimately deserved it.

I don't like those guys. I also don't like anyone that thinks that women are objects. Anyway...

Sometimes I feel like this pansy that has been ripped off and stepped on, except I feel like I have done the damage myself —that I've smashed the flower into the pavement with a sledgehammer, ground it into a pulp with my heel and spat on it for good measure. Worthless. Permanently damaged. Good for nothing but compost.

Let's just say that the guilt that accompanies sin really sucks. Especially when you feel like you can't get away from the sin no matter what you do or how hard you try.

The Assembly Hall (a.k.a. the worst acoustics evar)
Fittingly, my destination was a devotional held by LDS Business College where Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, would be speaking on the infinite power of the Atonement. Brother Callister is the author of The Infinite Atonement, a book that I have heard and assume is amazing, but I still have not read yet. (Sorry!)

In his address, Brother Callister said, "Some people have innocently, but incorrectly, placed limits on the Savior's redemptive powers. They have converted His infinite Atonement to a finite one that somehow falls short of their particular sin. But it is an infinite Atonement because it encompasses and circumscribes every sin, every weakness, every addiction, every wrong and every finite frailty of man."

He continues, "Once we have repented or emerged from the waters of baptism, there is no black mark on our right ankle that reads, '2010 mistake,' no stain behind our left ear that says, '2015 transgression.' There is no such thing as a spotted or creme-colored repenter in God's kingdom. Rather it is as Isaiah said, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow' (Isaiah 1:18), or as Moroni said of repentance, 'Ye become holy, without spot.' That is the miracle and the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

"Whatever our status in life, we can be comforted by the truth that God will ultimately judge us by what we become, not by what we were. ... That is the truth taught by Paul the apostle: 'Therefore if any man be in Christ (meaning he repents) he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new' (2 Cor. 5:17). For the repentant, the guilt will pass away, because with perfect honesty he can say, 'I am not the man who committed that sin. I am a new creature in Jesus Christ.' In summary, as our faith in Jesus Christ increases and our hearts change, we become new creatures in Christ, we are born again and our guilt is taken from us."

I carried the pansy from the train to a flowerbed on the corner of Temple Square where I set it down on the edge of the cement flower box. As pretty as my pansy was, I would never be able to clean it, re-plant it and give it new life. So I left it to die like the heartless jerk that I am.

As for me, I left the Assembly Hall reminded of something I forget often. God hasn't given up hope for me. He never will. I shouldn't either. Because of Christ's Atonement, I can have the hope that God's grace can bring. I can over come my sins, my weaknesses and my shortcomings, only Because He Lives.

I am not a flower.

I am a person, a woman, a daughter of God.

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