Moroni saw me daily
June 27 was the nine-year anniversary of my daughter Zipporah Linda-Ann Johnson's passing. I intended to write a tributary memorial and honor her memory. It did not happen. The memory of her passing rivets my soul to one lurid image--one I hesitate to describe here.
For hours I sat in a funk of depression, almost zombie-like. I told the family that we needed to look at videos and reminisce, but that failed to happen also. Grief has a changing face over the years relating to the death of loved ones, especially children. My mother lost a son before I was born, Johny Lee Oliver. To her dying day, she cried over the loss of that child. The whole he left when Johny slipped into the veil changed Mother, Catherine Oliver, into another person for the remainder of her life.
I now realize, Zipporah's crossing over did the same for me. Some years I can celebrate her life. Other years I weep in the fetal position despite knowing that she is waiting on the other side for our family reunion with our other family who have passed on. Every year I berate myself with blame. Each time it takes the Holy Spirit to pull me from despair as I agonize of the events that led to her death.
Fathers protect. One of my babies did not have enough protection. I wonder every day if the other six kids of mine will get lost in some way because of the protection I provide. It is an ugly feeling to have and experience, yet I live in that reality often.
The Day after June 27, I can talk about it. It is also the day that Joseph Smith lost his life to martyrdom. How is it that for his death I am grateful he was willing to seal his testimony of Christ with his life, but for Zipporah's death I still, still and constantly want to call her from the dead in the name of Jesus Christ. How is it possible that I wait with hope to meet a resurrected prophet through Jesus, but hope every day God will change His mind about Zipporah and have her come back to our family?
Grief or guilt? Both?
Wrote the prophet, "And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."
Moroni let me know right here in this verse that my entire life up until that point of losing my Zipporah was a trial of my faith. Now I have to dispute not because I see not her face right now. My life, trial of faith, is not over. Living without her is a trial daily. What has Moroni seen in you?
In 2015, Herman Johnson passed away, my father. I never truly knew him because he and my mother did not remain together following the births of their children. I met him as an 16-year-0ld, never having heard from Mother why they split until after I experienced him. Mother let the floodgates open about what she experienced with him, why she left him, after several doses of him took their toll on me emotionally.
Papa was a rolling stone. He laid his hat many places always leaving a couple of kids in his wake, it seemed. The greatest thing Dad ever did for me was introducing me to my other brothers and sisters. We share the same biological father who gave every child he could his last name. He did not set an example of family the way God describes it in the The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
"THE FAMILY is ordained of God," declare the prophets. "Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." (TF:APTTW)
Dad did not give us that, unfortunately. He did give me his last name and both my given names. My father, who was not married to my mother, claimed me. The act of claiming me as his own created in me a sense of belonging that I yearned for up until that point in my life. I had a daddy! I had siblings by this daddy and we all look alike, like him. It broke my heart that I did not have that feeling of completeness for the 17 years before meeting my father, but I have ever since.
Dad created in me a desire to make sure I produced children, in the bonds of matrimony and offer them the presence physically, emotionally, and spiritually that I lacked in my youth. My desire to give my kids all that I did not have growing up comes with a price that I wish at times I did not have to pay, but like Jesus, I drink the bitter cup offered me because it is God's will that fathers, both "Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live." (TF:APTTW)
My dad making the simple act of claiming me in name, while Mother did all the rest was enough to give me a history, to hold up my head. How much more can a father who is present and actively loving and supporting his kids can empower a soul.
Moroni loved and respected his father so much that he recorded his words and put them in a sacred book that became scripture, the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. "And now I, Moroni," etched he, "write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity. ...if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever." (Moroni 7:1, 47-47)
The words of a father have the potential to inspire good beyond measure in the hearts of his children whether he is a prophet of God or a man of the world recognizing his child's existence. Moroni immortalized his father's words and I internalized my father's words of acceptance. When he passed to the other side, I went to the Phoenix Temple and returned his temporal favor to me by doing work for him that will propel him into the eternities with potential to live with our Heavenly Father.Thanks Moroni for remembering the words of your father and sharing them. Happy Father's Day Mormon. Happy Father's Day Dad. Happy Father's Day Heavenly Father. Thanks for willing doing what you do. What has Moroni seen of you?
Repentance is the power to grab happiness by the horns and achieve it through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. How? Jesus paid the price for all people to change our lives in a way that we can incrementally find our way to perfection daily as taught by President Russel M. Nelson with clarion invitation in the following:
"When Jesus asks you and me to “repent," President Nelson instructs at the April General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ, "He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit —even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies." 1
Change, is the word of God to us in this day of so much turmoil in spirit. Repenting is not about being evil and changing to good only, but about being what we are and making small changes to be more of it daily. "Nothing is more liberating," President Nelson promises, "more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance." 1
Why is every day repentance "liberating", "ennobling" or "crucial?"
Moroni, speaking of the ancient prophet Ether said this man "did cry from the morning," as does the modern prophet President Nelson, like a clarion, doing so "even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed." 2. President Nelson warns "The adversary is quadrupling his efforts to disrupt testimonies and impede the work of the Lord. He is arming his minions with potent weapons to keep us from partaking of the joy and love of the Lord." 1
Ether assures through the ministration of Moroni, "by faith all things are fulfilled--
Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world," through the act of repentance, changing for the better in daily increments. He continues quoting Ether that through this repentance, we can hope for "even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men" 2
Moroni suggest through Ethers words that repentance, changing a little each day as President Nelson teaches in the way "we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies" will have the effect of helping us be "sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God," 2.
Daily repenting, changing for the better by improving ourselves is how God makes people perfect as His son commanded us to be. What has Moroni seen in you?
We Can Do Better and Be Better 1
Ether 12:3-4 - 2
During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ taught His disciples the importance the Holy Ghost would portray in their lives. Because He, the greatest of all Comforters, remained with them, His disciples could not yet enjoy all the manifestations of the Holy Ghost for some reason yet to be revealed. To instruct them in the full measure of His doctrine, Jesus told them that there were many more things that He wanted to reveal to them, but could not because they were not ready to endure them. According to John, Jesus said toward that truth when He leaves them, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever... But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:16, 26
Though Jesus could not reveal all things to them at that time because they were not ready, He affirmed that the Holy Ghost would teach them all all things and help them to remember everything that He taught them. That promise applies to us in modern times.
Probably the last prophet with the apostolic mantle still in mortality at the time, Moroni affirms the teachings of the savior in his final testimony. Moroni, in testifying of his record to the world that became the Book of Mormon gave the key of the Spirit of God as the way to know the truth. He said nothing differently than did his Savior Jesus whom he saw as a resurrected being. Moroni's words are, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Moroni 10:5 What has Moroni seen of you?