Their Hearts Shall Be As Gold

This talk was delivered by me to our church congregation in July of 2019 as my daughter Tess and I stayed in Katy, Texas.  She was receiving treatment for cancer at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.    I was asked to speak on the theme “How the Priesthood Has Strengthened Me Through Trials.”  To clear up any confusion, the Priesthood that I refer to in this talk is defined as the “Power of God”.  Another valid definition is: “The power of God given to man to act in His name.”  While men of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints “hold” or use the Priesthood in God’s name for many different purposes, a common way is using it to give Priesthood blessings to the sick or otherwise afflicted.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold alloy. Its origin dates back to 15th century Japan when Japanese craftsmen were looking for more aesthetic means to repair these fragile items.

The popularity of this art form isn’t surprising because of the profound meaning it holds. Kintsugi is built on the idea of strength and beauty in imperfection. When a ceramic object breaks, the kintsugi technique involves using gold dust and resin (or lacquer) to reattach the broken pieces. The resulting piece thus incorporates the unique cracks into its design, and the gold lines add to the beauty of the piece while strengthening it. This art form is seen to many as a metaphor for brokenness and healing—that embracing one’s brokenness and imperfections can create something unique, beautiful and strong.

In many ways, I can see my life and trials as a form of Kintsugi. Because we are mortals with fallible temporal bodies and minds and because we are subject to the agency of others, ourselves and the laws of nature, we are certain to find ourselves broken…many times and probably in many different ways.  We will be brought to the base of mountainous troubles in this life and we must scale them and batter and bruise ourselves against them as we try to conquer them for our own good. As much as I wish it wasn’t so, this pain is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes, as we get tousled by trials and difficulties, we may just get chipped a little around the edges.  Sometimes we become cracked but are still holding it all together. Other times it may feel as if we are dropped from a devastatingly high place and we shatter into what feels like a million un-fixable pieces. 

The Priesthood has strengthened me through this overwhelming trial in many merciful ways. I’m willing to bet at this moment, many would assume I will speak of Priesthood blessings that have been given in times of stress or illness.   There have been many instances where I have hoped—so, so much—that a Priesthood blessing would perform the kind of miracle that my earthly eyes can see: grandiose and tangible. I’ve had faith that blessings would stop the pain of mental illness, mend the broken body back to the perfect human state and change the wills of those who could benefit from the hand of God in their lives. I always ask for a blessing when the storms of life hit…and they do bring peace. However, in my trials, I have had to come to recognize and accept strength from the Priesthood in, perhaps, one of the simplest and often most overlooked ways that the Priesthood can support us: simply by turning to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in those moments when I just don’t feel that I can go any further.  

This is easier said than done. I tend to hoard the ailments and pain this life has brought me as if they were badges of honor.  If I am not careful, I have found I will tend to them, much like tending to a garden, because I have “earned” them. I have also found that by ALLOWING the same Priesthood power that created this majestic universe also can mend me and smooth my jagged edges, I can be made strong and whole again. Little me.  One in the billions and billions of Heavenly Father’s children. I can be made whole through the power of the Priesthood: the very power of God Himself. 

I am not good at this, AT ALL.  Every day is a struggle. It is easy to let my fears overcome me and my anxieties dictate the point of view I see those trials in. My “natural man” is constantly at battle with my “spiritual man” and It takes a conscious effort to allow healing to start and progress…but it can be done.  And it will be done if I reach to Him. In moments of quiet, after allowing myself to feel what I need to feel and recognize my emotions for what they truly are, I do my best to give it to our Savior and our Heavenly Father and move on. Occasionally I move on and walk in a circle for a while.  But at least I’m not standing still. Sometimes it is two steps forward and one step back, but it is a forward progression, nonetheless. 

I turn to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which is so very personal and unique to each of us,  to remind me of how I am loved and valued. President M. Russell Ballard taught, “Not only is the Priesthood the power by which the heavens and the earth were created, but it is also the power the Savior used in His mortal ministry to perform miracles, to bless and heal the sick, to bring the dead to life, and, as our Father’s Only Begotten Son, to endure the unbearable pain of Gethsemane and Calvary—thus fulfilling the laws of justice with mercy and providing an infinite Atonement and overcoming physical death through the Resurrection.”  The Atonement also reminds me that I am not alone. Through the Atonement, the Savior gained perfect empathy to understand us and help us through the challenges of mortality. The Savior took upon himself the pains, sicknesses, and infirmities so he could succor us. Jeffrey R Holland states: “I testify that the Savior’s Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair From the beginning, trust in such help was to give us both a reason and a way to improve, and incentive to lay down our burdens and take up our salvation.”

How do I do it? I pray to God, in the name of His son, for the strength to do the correct things and to keep moving forward.  Chances are He won’t take the test away from me, but He ALWAYS provides a way for me to overcome it. I listen for His voice in the scriptures and in the other written works and I take what I need as they speak to me at that moment.  I watch for His mercy through the service that is provided to my family and to me, individually, and I know that others truly are His hands on the earth. I feel His quiet encouragement as I surrender the waves of hurt and anger and sorrow frustrations that almost suffocate me.  I sense His love for me–so very real as the love I have for my own children–and understand that with time, His power will mend my brokenness and I will become beautifully whole once again. Wisely, I know that this will not be the last of my earthly trials, so I store up as much courage as I can for the next one and rely on Him to lead me forward to help others using the knowledge I have to maybe make their load a bit easier to bear.

I can testify that through the power of the Priesthood–the power of God–that personal repair is possible and beautiful.  Through Christ, who used the Priesthood in His own life to perform miracles and give blessings never before seen, we can be healed. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which was made possible by the Priesthood, our sins and our pains and sorrows can be made right.  THIS is how the Priesthood has blessed me through trials.

The Priesthood of God is the fine gold that bonds our breaks and accentuates the beauty of our heartaches and our most tender of sufferings. The alloy of this eternal power will mend and secure the porcelain hearts and fragile minds of the sons and daughters of Heavenly Father during this earthly life, and in doing so, create beauty from our seemingly unfixable brokenness.

Consider the lilies of the field,

How they grow, how they grow.

Consider the birds in the sky,

How they fly, how they fly.

He clothes the lilies of the field.

He feeds the birds in the sky.

And He will feed those who trust Him,

And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sheep of His fold,

How they follow where He leads.

Though the path may wind across the mountains,

He knows the meadows where they feed.

He clothes the lilies of the field.

He feeds the birds in the sky.

And He will feed those who trust Him,

And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sweet, tender children

Who must suffer on this earth.

The pains of all of them He carried

From the day of His birth.

He clothes the lilies of the field,

He feeds the lambs in His fold,

And He will heal those who trust Him,

And make their hearts as gold.



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