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I’d Take It All Back Just To [Hug] You!

Lindon Claridge Lindon 0 Comments

This week I have learned how much our Savior Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us. But I fear that the biggest problem with our world today is that very few can say the same.

His Atonement for our eternal souls was and is the greatest act of love that has ever existed. Right?

We have heard that all of our lives, though, haven’t we? We have heard it so much that it doesn’t even really have an impact and effect on us anymore. It has become something that sounds good, but invokes little feeling or action in our internal lives or even our surface lines.

Lately in wading through my PrisonTemple journeyings I have been trying to get to know my Savior on a very, very personal level. Not just the solemn over glorified being that I am way too unworthy to approach, but the bubbly and anxious friend who can’t wait to be able to give me a bear hug if I but let Him. In my prayers I repeatedly pray to have this Jesus in my life, to consume my life; that whatever in my life that is inhibiting my Master’s love to fill my soul will be found out and dealt with.

My prayers are like a popular song that plays on the radio with a catchy banjo serenade. The lyrics echo again and again, the desire of my heart, “I take it all back just to have you!” Undoubtedly, the song was written about other things, but to me it emphasizes the relationship I desperately yearn for with my Savior.

“I take it all back just to have you!”

I cannot listen to that song without shedding a few tears. The spirit overcomes me. I think of the God of light and love and my eyes leak. I can’t help but realize how much I need to have Him, how much I want to have Him, yet heartsick by how much of Him I actually lack.

Though, as the true Prince of Peace He comes through and answers my plight, “You have me Lindon, you have me!” I see Him saying through glistening eyes, and a reassuring smile that melts me. He goes on, “You will always have me… But I want to have you!” And that’s how it started – our relationship took a drastic turn. It wasn’t so much of, “How can I have you?” As much as it is, “How can I give all of myself to you?”

When my prayers changed to accommodate this new perspective on the real issues at hand, I began to get real specific answers. Answers like, “Lindon, you are trying to do too much of things your way. Your pride has become a wall. You have too many false beliefs and traditions that encumber your eternal progression.” Naturally, I then plead, “Help me to be humble. Then, help me to do things your way.” On a whim I then add, “Why can’t YOU be my teacher!? Wouldn’t that be best? Then you could teach me directly the things that I should know and do. I could be your personal apprentice. It’d be awesome, huh?”

I loved His response to this – He just laughed. I love that feeling when you know He’s laughing! “My dear boy…What do you think we’ve been doing the past three years?” I had no reply. I was a bit struck. But of course He knew this. He always knows. It’s what I love most…His plans and timing are always so perfect!

Now that He really had my attention, with love He continued His lesson, “Lindon, sometimes our Heavenly Father deems it necessary to pull one of our servants out of the confines of the institutions that profess to carry my name. For their sake, it is necessary to spend some time away from such organizations for the express purpose of tearing down false beliefs and traditions, and in their place, erect up your understanding of my gospel. If the conditions of repentance are met, then my mercy that I so unsparingly wish to give you can accomplish such a feat. You were lost my little lamb, oh so lost. But slowly you are beginning to let yourself be found. Each and every lesson you have been given while in your PrisonTemple has been for the cause of allowing yourself to be brought closer to me. I hear your pleading to the father in my name that you want to have me. Well, hearken to my words. The way you have me is by letting me have all of you. This is done by continuing to do what we have been doing. Remain teachable and I will teach. First, we must replace your pride with hope, which I will do by dispelling your false beliefs and traditions that you unknowingly uphold with a false sense of faith. I desire to have an undiluted relationship with you Lindon, sanctified, pure, and holy. If you to desire this then let’s get to work!”

“I do Lord! I do.”

“Then renounce your idols and your wisdom and come follow me.”

“I take it all back just to have you!”

I admit that it is probably the most difficult things I’ve ever been asked to do. I am still very discouraged by the reality of how far I still have to go. Letting go of myself (sins, expectations, beliefs, and all) and giving the Lord full reign in my life is truly stepping into the unknown. I must have true unadulterated faith in Jesus Christ.

“Faith, to be faith, must center around something that is not known. Faith, to be faith, must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence. Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness.” (Boyd K. Packer, “What Is Faith?” in Faith (1983), 42.)

I’m not going to lie, it scares the crap out of me trying to let go of myself. It’s difficult, it’s almost crazy. It goes against everything we’ve been taught by the world. It definitely goes against all rational senses. But we must allow ourselves to take these few steps into the darkness and have the faith in Christ that He will catch us and take us beyond our dreams. He is always so willing to exceed our expectations. But letting go of ourselves and allowing our will to be swallowed up in his is a definite prerequisite. It must take place!

Elder Neal a Maxwell had this to say:

In the agonizing atoning process, Jesus let His will be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:7). As sovereigns, choosing to yield to the Highest Sovereign is our highest act of choice. It is the only surrender which is also a victory! The putting off of the natural man makes possible the putting on of the whole armor of God, which would not fully fit before! (see Eph. 6:11, 13).

Uniquely, atoning Jesus also “descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things” (D&C 88:6; see also D&C 122:8). How deep that descent into despair and abysmal agony must have been! He did it to rescue us and in order to comprehend human suffering. Therefore, let us not resent those tutoring experiences which can develop our own empathy further (see Alma 7:11–12). A slothful heart will not do, and neither will a resentful heart. So being admitted fully to “the fellowship of his sufferings” requires the full dues of discipleship (Philip. 3:10; see also 1 Cor. 1:9).

If, like the Savior, we do not “shrink,” then we must go with the demanding flow of discipleship, including where the tutoring doctrines of the Master take us. Otherwise, we may walk with Jesus up to a point, but then walk no more with Him (see John 6:66). Shrinking includes stopping as well as turning back.

The more we know of Jesus, the more we will love Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will trust Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will want to be like Him and to be with Him by becoming the manner of men and women that He wishes us to be (see 3 Ne. 27:27), while living now “after the manner of happiness” (2 Ne. 5:27). (“Plow in Hope,” Neal A. Maxwell, May 2001)

Essentially, this is what the Lord has asked me to do to better get to know Him, so that through the truth that He emulates I could be brought to Him. Getting to know Him allows me to have Him and allow Him to have me.

This is the ultimate purpose of our PrisonTemple’s. They act as “tutoring experiences” that prepare us for endless happiness. This is because only through experience can we truly come to know Jesus Christ. It is this important fact that my prayers have recently grabbed hold of – that I may have experiences in my seemingly unimportant life that will help teach me about my Savior, to get to know Him better. In-kind, the Lord has flooded my life with lessons of who He is, if I would just take notice of them. He promised He would teach me if I remained teachable.

Thus, in due diligence I feel I must share at least one of these new lessons about the most amazing being that ever walked this earth.

I’ve shared in previous posts that prison is like one big swap meet, or flea market, as they call it here in North Carolina. Everyone has their “hustle” – a specialized skill or access to certain materials – to make a little extra side cash. So when I came to this camp, I found myself in need of some clean sheets and a new blanket. I knew that I would need to locate and speak with one of the clothes house hustle boys that all prisons have.

I walked up to where they hang out and handed one of the guys a list of items I had prepared, so it’d be easier for him to know what I needed. Since this was outside the scope of the regular clothes house hours, it was automatically a mutual understanding that if I was to get any of the items on the list, it would cost me. The cost would be stipulated on the fact that the clothes house worker would have to go through some sort of risk to get the items to me.

It’s not allowed to give out clothes house items during nonworking hours. Like I said, I knew this and was okay to pay him just as long as the price wasn’t too high. Now, I don’t want you thinking I endorse rule breaking. The only reason I was okay with a transaction like this is because I know the officers could care less. I knew that there is literally no risk whatsoever to the clothes house worker for getting the items to me and was basically willing to pay him as more of a “thank you” than for him actually having to extend himself in any kind of risk. So it really wasn’t rule breaking. I had arrived that morning at the camp and needed clean sheets to sleep in during the night.

Like any good hustler, though, he first got all the items together before he told me what it was going to cost me. It’s an old seller’s trick. It guilts the buyer into accepting any price by fear of being inconsiderate. They make you feel scared of saying, “No, I won’t pay that much.” After seeing them go through all that work getting everything ready. It worked on me, even when I knew exactly what he was doing.

I knew it should have taken maybe a minute, grabbing sheets off the shelf, but he drug it out, making it look like a real chore. I saw sheets on a shelf next to his shoulder, but he bypassed them, and instead grabbed a chair, put it next to the shelf, stood on it to reach for a box on top. I just rolled my eyes. About 10 minutes later he had all my stuff gathered neatly in a bag. Then he sat down with my little list and a pen, then looked as if he was calculating a price. Dude, I just need two sheets, a pillow case and a blanket. How hard is it to say, “Just get me a cold drink out of the canteen and we’ll call it even.” Or better yet, “You don’t need to get me anything because the prison is supposed to give you this stuff when you come in here anyway. I won’t charge you.”

But no…the guy takes another two minutes making a grocery list of things for me to get him. Even though I was furious, I still took the list and went straight to the canteen to get him his stuff. It was about five dollar’s worth of stuff. To you that might not be much, but to me that’s a lot of money, especially since I didn’t have a job anymore. Being moved to this new green clothes camp I no longer had a job.

I took him his stuff, then we exchanged bags. He even had the tenacity to say to me, “I usually charge guys more than that. But since you are new I went easy on you. Make sure if you ever need anything else you come to me first.” Which pretty much told me the rest of the story. He sees a young white boy and automatically assumes that I come from a wealthy family. So therefore, I’m easy money. He doesn’t want anyone else tapping into his gold mine – only he can abuse it.

The whole thing ticked me off. And you must understand that I don’t get mad easily. But when I do I can’t seem to let it go, and it’s usually at myself, which in this case, it was for being a pushover. All day I brooded over it. Then that night, just sleeping in my bed spread made me cringe. I was out a good chunk of my available funds and now my reputation on this new camp was that I was easily manipulated, which is a horrible reputation to have in a prison!

I was just beating myself up over it, to the point where I plead in prayer that I could quit worrying about it, “Take this from me please! This is such a stupid thing to get bothered by, can you please help me?” I soon fell asleep, and when I woke up, I found my answer as if I already knew it. “Turn his sin into my service” KABOOM! World rocked…!

Of course, that’s the answer! There was so much peace in my mind after I accepted all its truth. By allowing myself the opportunity to transform the overpayment to be service from me to him changed the whole circumstance entirely. By the flip of a switch his sin went away *Poof* just like that. It became my honor to pay that man five dollars for his help. Regardless if it was well over what he was worth. And that is the true beauty of this whole experience.

To contemplate this experience is to contemplate who Jesus Christ is and how much He loves each of God’s children. He so willingly paid for ALL of our sins, satisfying the demands of justice, saving us from that ax that hangs over each of our heads. He has rented the veil dividing us from God and placed Himself between us and everything else. No matter how much we owe or are worth or are ripped off or rip others off or fall short, Jesus Christ is ever so willing to pay the price. It is His honor! Therefore, by His matchless love we are made whole. It is free if we but choose to accept it. The fact of the matter is that it is us – our pride and false beliefs, and traditions – that keep us from truly knowing our Savior. Thus, in mercy and love the gift of plentiful assisted-repentance is available to all of us, for it is upon the conditions of repentance, our sacrificing our hearts and will, that we can have real hugs from Jesus Christ.

Elder Neal a Maxwell goes on to say:

The infinite Atonement is so vast and universal, but finally, it is so very personal! Mercifully, through the Atonement we can be forgiven and, very importantly, we can know that we have been forgiven—that final, joyous emancipation from error.

Thus within the discipleship allotted to us, we are to overcome the world (see 1 Jn. 5:3–4); to finish the work we personally have been given to do; to be able to partake of a bitter cup without becoming bitter; to experience pouring out our souls; to let our wills increasingly be swallowed up in the will of the Father; to acknowledge—tough though the tutoring trials—that, indeed, “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7); and to plow enduringly to the end of the furrow—all the while glorifying Him and using the matchless gifts He has given us, including, one day, “all” that He has (D&C 84:38). (“Plow in Hope,” Neal A. Maxwell, May 2001)

This is what Jesus Christ wants for us. He wants to spend eternity with us having a blast, laughing all the while. I can’t imagine all the jokes He has in store just waiting to tell us! “Oh, wait, wait, wait, have you heard the one about Father when He was first exploring the components of nuclear energy? It just blew up in His face! Ha Ha Ha!” That roaring laugh of His. I cannot wait for it!!!

That right there is why we endure our PrisonTemples. They are our “tutoring trials.”  Embrace them, for they will help you know your very best friend is waiting for you in anxious anticipation. Your Savior’s love can be a constant source in your life.

I pray that you will have the courage to step into the unknown by giving ALL of yourself to Him that you may access that endless well of living water. Do so by living every day as if it is a lesson to get to know Him better, because ultimately it is! He will teach you because He desperately yearns to. In all actuality, He already is teaching you – all you have to do is recognize it.

Prepare to let go of your pride and false beliefs and traditions. If you are like me, you hold onto far more lies then you’d scarcely like to realize. But that’s okay for now because being an apprentice to Christ Himself means that as thorns in our sides are being extracted He will not leave us comfortless (see John 14:18). So let go of yourself and put your faith in Him. Because the more you get to know Him, the more ready you become to have Him; to HUG Him, and that hug my friends will change EVERYTHING!

You know I’d take it all back, take it all back, take it all back
I’d take it all back just to have you
You know I’d take it all back, take it all back, take it all back
I’d take it all back just to have you

I’m waking up
Hey, my life is real great, feel I’m well on my way to my dreams coming true and I’m getting to do with you
And it feels so nice when the people sing along, they’re singing along with the banjo

But I’d take it all back, take it all back, take it all back
I’d take it all back just to have you
You know I’d take it all back, take it all back, take it all back
I’d take it all back just to have you (Take It All Back, Judah & the Lion)