I see this painting each time I walk into church. I stare at it each time I sit in the chapel of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. I cannot help but ask myself what the Savior is saying to me as he gently holds His fingers up to show me a measurement with one hand, holding the other hand near His heart, there seems to be more love in his tired eyes than I can even begin to identify with. I can see the all knowing wisdom and the intense yearning he has for all who look to him, and even those who don’t, to “come unto me”, especially “all those who are heavy laden”, it appears he is begging us… “take my yoke upon you, learn of me, … for my yoke is easy and my burden is light… and I will give you rest”.

It is interesting to me how each person who looks at this painting interprets the feelings of Christ differently. Even more interesting to me, is that some look at the painting and see its simple beauty while others stare at it for hours and seek a deeper meaning. Is there a correct way to have faith? I don’t think so. Is faith a gift or something we work at and long to have? I would say both. It is different for everyone. I believe some are blessed with the gift of faith, while others work, toil and sweat to learn just a small measure of faith. I would identify with the later. I suck at faith, while one of my sisters, who I discussed this with yesterday, Leslee, was blessed from a young age, with the gift of faith. She has been by my side since I can remember, asking me “why do you make it so hard?” Ohhhhh if I could have faith given to me…. What a gift! I would purchase it if I could. Instead, I have spent the majority of my life (and I am not kidding when I say that, even while smoking pot as a teen I was pondering God and if He was real, I always found myself talking about life, before and after this earth and what it was all for, so much so that my friends didn’t like getting high with me). I have always longed to have faith! It is something I work at every single day.

During this conversation with my sister yesterday, I asked her what she saw when she looked at this painting of Christ. She said,

“I see how much He loves me, it’s like His finger is giving the sign to come follow me, I feel like The Lord wants us to bring all we can to the table and he’ll bring the rest. So I look at life like I’m doing my best. I don’t think He wants us to feel stressed out and overwhelmed, He just wants us to do our very best, and he’ll do the rest because each of our best is different. Some can do more than others but it’s their very best!”

She then asked what I saw…. “I see Him holding up His fingers saying, ‘you’re doing great Jackie, can you give me this much more? Can you hold on just this much longer? You’re almost there”. My sister chuckled and said, “you cant ever just chill out and relax can you? You’re always so hard on yourself and thinking way too much.”

Our conversation ended like this…. “I think it is because I’ve never loved myself. I think the absence of love for self is the underlying problem for everything in this world. When you love yourself, you love others and you assume others love you and even if you feel they don’t love you, it’s not a crushing blow because when you love yourself, you can feel the love that Heavenly Father and The Savior have for you, and that is enough.”

It intrigues me how each of us are so different. I frequently ask myself why some people seem to be born with love of self and confidence, while others struggle for it their entire lives and never quite get there. Why is that? I think it definitely has to do with our early years and the environment we grew up in. I think it has to do with the choices that others make, which affect us, and also the choices we make, that plot the course of our journey. It is interesting to me that so much agency is granted and regardless of what turns or detours we make, The Savior is always there. I don’t believe that our exact paths were laid out before us and like magnets we follow exactly, and so it is miraculous to me that God is able to watch every move each of us make and adjust things accordingly so that the symphony of life can continue. I don’t believe in coincidence, rather, I believe in divine intervention.

Where does embracing adversity come into all of this? Last week my husband asked me, “what do you feel is the biggest change in yourself, because of adversity?” I could think of a million responses and so I said, “you tell me, what do you think is the biggest change?” Here is what he said… “Each week when you take the sacrament, you are renewing your covenant with The Savior to always remember Him, and His promise to you in return, is that you will always have His spirit to be with you. You are constantly thinking about the Savior and because of that, you always have Him with you. “

I have pondered this all week. I think Paul is right. There is a difference in my life. Because the adversity in my life has become more than I can bear alone, I became desperate for help, for peace and for comfort. I have looked everywhere…. in a bottle, on my motorcycle, at faster speeds on my motorcycle, and with really loud music at faster speeds on my motorcycle. I’ve looked in Arizona, St. George, Oregon, Chicago and Hawaii…. It’s not there. There is one place I have found peace and comfort, and that is right next to The Savior. Sometimes I forget what I’ve learned about real strength coming from softening and I revert back to my old habits of feeling like I can do this alone, I build walls, get tough, and move away from the Savior…. It doesn’t work. Strength comes from softening enough to be vulnerable and allowing The Savior into my heart.

Perhaps what The Savior is saying to me in this painting isn’t really that I need to do a little more, maybe what he is showing me with the measurement on His left hand is…. “This life is this big in the whole spectrum of things, just endure this much longer my love. Let me into your heart, learn of me, have faith, patience and trust, we can do this together”.