"Some men are willing to die for their faith but will not fully live for it. Christ both lived and died for us. By walking in his steps and through his atonement we can gain the greatest gift of all--eternal life--which is that kind of life of the great Eternal One, our Father in heaven."
In the Auschwitz death camp, a group of inmates told Viktor Frankl that they no longer expected anything from life. Frankle responded that they had it backward. "Life expects something of you, and it is up to every individual to discover what it should be."
Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again. It makes the thought of being a basher [critical or verbally abusive] repulsive.
Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.
If our definition or concept of ourself comes from what others think of us, we will find ourselves gearing our lives to their wants and their expectations; and the more we live in terms of what others expect of us, the more insecure we become. Expectations change. Opinion is fickle. One person or one group may expect certain things while another individual or group expects other things. Which should you please? The teen-age son may desire to please both his parents and the peer group to which he seeks belonging, but they demand different things; they hold different standards. If he is true to one, he us untrue to the other; but if he learns to pretend or to put on appearances, he might be able to get by, so he thinks. However, in the long run he discovers that by trying to become "all things to all people," he eventually is discovered for what he is, and he loses the respect of others as well as of himself. The only sure anchor to personal security is in God and in God's definition of man.
But when he took up debate in high school and learned that his grandfather had been a champion debater for Brigham Young University, our son began to identify with his grandfather. My father had kept a personal journal during much of his adult life, and one day I showed my son an entry describing a debate between BYU and Princeton. I left that volume of the journal with him, and he ended up reading all three volumes.
Some months later, our son worked his way through a particularly trying experience and came to me late at night to tell me what had happened. He said, “Dad, I never knew Grandpa Hafen, but I felt that he was there to help me.”
Not long afterward, as that son was anticipating receiving his mission call, we went to a weekend family reunion in southern Utah. On Sunday afternoon, our son borrowed his grandmother’s car and drove alone to the isolated little canyon where his grandfather had loved to ride his horse—the place, in fact, where he had passed away. At an appropriate spot, my son knelt to pray, asking for the Lord’s help to sort through his questions about his mission and his faith. Something very special then occurred, and at his missionary farewell, he described the deep assurance and new insights he had carried out of the canyon that day.
As I think about those precious personal moments, I have no doubt about the reality of a bond and a sense of belonging between the generations on both sides of the veil. Through these experiences, my son gained a sense of identity and purpose. His tie with the eternal world became more real, and the resulting sense of destiny and mission he felt sharpened his life’s focus and lifted his expectations.
To err by having naive expectations concerning the purposes of life is to err everlastingly. Life is neither a pleasure palace through whose narrow portals we pass briefly, laughingly, and heedlessly before extinction, nor is life a cruel predicament in an immense and sad wasteland. It is the middle (but briefest) estate of the three estates in man's carefully constructed continuum of experience.
Once you really determine to follow that guide, your testimony will grow and you will find provisions set out along the way in unexpected places, as evidence that someone knew that you would be traveling that way.