Monday, July 18, 2011

Remember Lot's Wife

I attended this devotional at BYU in January 2009 and it really changed my outlook on life, my work as a therapist and my marriage.

I've put some excerpts here, but go watch it if you have the time. It's about 30 minutes long.

Remember Lot's Wife
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
As a scriptural theme for this discussion I have chosen the second shortest verse in all of Holy Scripture...It is Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, "Remember Lot's wife."

The original story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. "Escape for thy life," the Lord said, "look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed" (Genesis 19:17).

Surely with the Lord's counsel "look not behind thee" ringing clearly in her ears, Lot's wife, the record says, "looked back," and she was turned to a pillar of salt.

So, if history is this important ‐‐ and it surely is ‐‐ what did Lot's wife do that was so wrong?

Apparently what was wrong with Lot's wife is that she wasn't just looking back, but that in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before they were past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. As Elder Maxwell once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion but they still hope to keep a
summer cottage in Babylon. It is possible that Lot's wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We know that Laman and Lemuel did when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn't just that she looked
back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.

The past is to be learned from but not lived in.

There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life ‐‐ either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the
Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes ‐‐ our own or other people's ‐‐ is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.

That happens in marriages, too, and in the other relationships we have. I can't tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through
the window "pain" of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other
wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound which the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change, and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is it hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don't keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone saying, "Hey! Do you remember this?" Splat! Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, "Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?" Splat. And everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what our Father in Heaven pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is not right! It is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In these cases of marriage and family, and wards and apartments and neighborhoods we can end up destroying so many, many others.

"Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more" (D&C 58:42).

We can be so hard on ourselves, often much more so than with others! Like the Anti‐ Nephi‐Lehies of the Book of Mormon, bury your weapons of war, and leave them buried. Forgive, and do that which is harder than to forgive. Forget. And when it comes to mind, forget it again. You can remember just enough to avoid repeating the mistake, but put the rest of it on the dung heap Paul spoke of to those Philippians.

Dismiss the destructive and keep dismissing it, until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future, and the bright future of your family and your friends and your neighbors.

To all such of every generation I call out, "Remember Lot's wife." Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ is the "high priest of good things to come."

Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant, and live to see the miracles of repentance and
forgiveness, trust and divine love transform your life today, tomorrow and forever."

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