Episode #44: Published January 20, 2020
Stories in this episode: Christie and her brother learn they are never alone as they name-drop their eccentric great-uncle and embark on daring adventures wandering a local hospital. Artist Kate struggles with her self-worth until an unusual assignment from her stake president leads to a new understanding of God’s love for her and a new mission to share her testimony through art.
Christie with her brother in their neighborhood in the Avenues.
Christie with her brother at Christmas.
Motherhood is the toughest job you'll ever take on: there is no interview, no job description, and no salary. When you get the position, it can be all too easy to feel under-qualified and overwhelmed. But with a sweet message of encouragement, Christie Gardiner reminds women there are as many ways to be a good mother as there are mothers in this world—and there's no one more capable of raising your children than you!
When referenced in the scriptures, the word holy means to "set apart for a sacred purpose." It is a description all women who seek to follow Christ want to embody—but the struggle between the ideal of a holy life and reality can seem far apart. In Holy As You Are, best-selling author Christie Gardiner seeks to close the gap reminding women of the holy attributes they already possess and how they can accomplish extraordinary ordinary things that will forever change the landscape and heart-scape of their world.
Deseret Book artist Kate Lee.
Kate Lee at Utah Stat University.
Kate Lee with her family.
Kate Lee with the young women in her ward and her stake president (far right).
Kate Lee's painting of the woman breaking free of the flaxen cords she painted for her stake president.
Kate Lee's painting "Faith to Be Healed."
Welcome to “This is the Gospel,” an LDS living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host KaRyn Lay.
When I was a little girl, I had a deep sort of angst about my name. It's pronounced KaRyn, but if you're looking at it all written out, you'd probably read it, Karyn, at least all of my teachers did. In fact, when I introduced myself to people now, I always tell them that my name looks like Karyn because if they meet me in person, and then they get an email from me later, they're like, who is this Karyn lady? I've never even met her. So there's a capital ‘R’ in the middle just to make things even more confusing. And even though my parents swear that this name is an Irish name, I have literally never met another Irish KaRyn spelled the way that I spell it. And to be honest, I've never been to Ireland, and I don't know very many Irish people. So, if somebody is listening in Ireland, and you've met another KaRyn, please, please please email us. I would love to know that.
Needless to say, when I was six years old, I decided that I needed a different name, a better name, a more beautiful name. And the most beautiful name that I could think of was Rose. I honestly don't even know where that came from. I don't know anyone named Rose. We don't have any Roses in my family. But I distinctly remember telling people that if they wanted me to respond to them, then they had to use my new name, my real name, Rose. And while clearly my renaming didn't stick, it stuck with me enough that I remember it even to this day. My longing to be someone other than plain old KaRyn lasted probably through middle school.
And by the time I finally reconciled myself to my first name, and actually started to think it was pretty cool, it was my last name that wasn't cool enough. I mean, someday I was going to be discovered and taken to Broadway where I would star in Les Misérables and I definitely needed a cooler name than Daily, So I spent what seems like hours doodling my stage name, which was KaRyn Cavanaugh. Doesn't that sound so romantic?
The good news is that I never made it to Broadway. And I eventually grew to love all the parts of my name, especially as I got older, and took on a new family name through marriage, I now see my name as this beautiful tribute to every single person who's ever loved me, and all the things that kept me grounded and make me who I am, and couldn't we all use just a little bit more grounding, a little more sense of ourselves in a world that is constantly challenging our identity in more ways than one. Well, today, we've got two very different stories that explore the question, the spiritual question, “who do you think you are?” And how claiming that true divine identity, our true divine identity, can give us strength and power to fulfill our personal mission here on this earth.
Our first story comes from Christie whose unique childhood set her up for a lifetime of possibility. Here's Christie:
In the middle of downtown Salt Lake is a neighborhood called the avenues and it's built on the hills, right above the valley. There are old houses all the way back to pioneer times -- big houses, little houses, old but they all look Victorian and kind of beautiful. To me it reminds me a little bit of Boston when you get right outside of the city. And that's where I grew up.
I was older. My brother was four years old, and I was eight years old when we moved into this beautiful old house that had been in our family for years and years and years and was owned by my great uncle. He lived in a house about three blocks away. And this was just the house where he had raised his family and he wanted to keep it in the family. My mom was a recently single mother and that was a recent development. And here we were this mom in her 20s with these two little kids and she was just trying to make her way in the world.
So my uncle was sharing his home with us. My great uncle was the most eccentric man you've ever met. He had a farm in downtown Salt Lake, he had terrorist the mountain all the way down into city Creek Canyon, which is this canyon right by the Capitol building, and he raised chickens and goats and had sheep in the middle of downtown. It was bizarre, but he was a really well known surgeon, and he was a cancer surgeon, and that's what he did. And he was just the most amazing man. He sang in the Tabernacle Choir with this huge voice but everyone who was anyone knew this guy.
My great uncle and aunt were the closest to grandparents that I had near me; My grandparents all lived far away. And we were happy that in the middle of this really challenging time for our family, where we were going through the divorce of our parents, we had this additional family close by.
So my mom worked a full time job and was trying to support these two little kids. So because our mom was away a lot working, we kind of had the house to ourselves a lot and we were left to our own crazy devices. And so my brother and I would go to school, and when he was in kindergarten, and I was in school, I would stop at the babysitter on the way home from kindergarten and pick him up. And we would go home and wait until our mom got home from work.
So my brother and I would come home from school and have a lot of time to ourselves. We would do our homework, watch TV, we would practice the piano and then we had to make ourselves Dinner, so macaroni and cheese, tuna fish sandwiches, whatever leftover happened to be in the refrigerator. But unless we went over to our uncle's house, we didn't really get hot meals at night.
But making stuff like that doesn't take too much time. And so, we had some extra time on our hands. And we were both little entrepreneurs so we would come up with all different ways to make money and we decided to start a business selling things to our neighbors. So we would cut all of the flowers out of our neighbor's garden and then bring them home and we knew that having a dozen roses was the thing. So we would put them in groups of 12 and then put them in our little red wagon and drive around and sell the neighbors their flowers back that we had just cut out of the yard.
We would paint rocks and sticks and create things with a hot glue gun and then take those and sell them. We sold any canned good that we had, and we would take those door to door and sell them, and then we would share the profits and depending on who came up with the scheme, they got more of the profits, but I think if you asked my brother, he would probably say that I took the lion's share most of the time, so sorry to my brother.
We didn't really know a lot of our neighbors. We knew some of them, but really not a lot. And we just had guts and would go right up to the door and try to sell our wares. And my brother and I just had a lot of hutzpah.
We really never had any neighbors get mad at us for what we were doing or our crazy antics, or anything we decided to do when we put on plays in their yard, or we had a surprise party for our mother once where she had worked a full day at work a single mom, she comes home and her living room is full of these random neighbors from all around the Avenues who had no idea who she was, but we had hand delivered invitations to her birthday party. So I think she spent her 30th birthday party with total strangers.
One time we sold some flowers to a family that we had cut out of their yard and the mom invited us in, she gave us some money, they were getting ready to leave, and there was just a little chaos in their house, and I think they forgot that there were these two children sitting in their foyer, and then everyone left and we went to their playroom and it was awesome.
It had all of the best toys that we did not have at our house and it had this butcher paper that you could pull out of a roll from the wall and you could color all over it. And we just played and played and played and the people weren't even home and we didn't know them. And they were 18 blocks away from our house. We just decided we were done when it started to get dark and so we left the house grabbed our little red wagon -- wagoned home.
So, with all of our sales, we really felt like we were making some money here and what did we want to do with it? We would go and buy penny candy at the Eighth Avenue store, and when that got to be old and we weren't so excited about buying penny candy anymore, we thought we don't want to make ourselves dinner anymore.
Across the street from our house was a big hospital, LDS Hospital in downtown Salt Lake City. Let me describe this hospital. It's right in the middle of the Avenues. It’s surrounded by houses, and I actually grew up with the sound of ambulances and helicopters landing medical helicopters to the point where when we finally moved from this house, I could not sleep. We moved to a neighborhood that was quiet and dark, and I missed the sound of the ambulances and the landing helicopters.
And it kind of was a hub to us. We rode our bikes in the parking lot of the physician's office building. And it was kind of just a home base there. One day we decided to go into the hospital. And we started wandering through the halls and looking at everything and to our little minds, it was so exciting and everyone was dressed up in ‘Dr.’ gear and they knew where they were going.
And so, we started wandering and in one of our wanderings, we saw that there was a cafeteria there. Now being the two kids that we were, we started thinking about that macaroni and cheese and the tuna fish sandwiches and we went, “Why are we eating there when we could be eating fried fish and chips that are seven days old from the hospital?”
So we decided to pull the money from all of our entrepreneurial activities and eat dinner at the hospital at least once a week. So we would sneak into the hospital and walk through the halls. And rarely we would get a look or two, but mostly nobody paid attention. And we went and we would have our dinner in the LDS Hospital cafeteria. And we thought it was a very fancy because we could pick whatever we wanted. We started to become kind of known in the hospital.
And people started to say hello to us and the different workers and orderlies and nurses and doctors and the people who even worked in the cafeteria knew who we were and started to expect us. From my child mind, I just thought that that was normal. From an adult mind, now looking back, I wonder what these people were thinking about these two urchin kids wandering the halls of a hospital day in and day out.
So we started to get more and more comfortable in the hospital and with people knowing us and we started to venture outside of the cafeteria and the hallways, my brother was really interested in surgery. So we pushed the button in the elevator to the surgical level waited until someone had something to open the door and he snuck in to an actual surgical area. It when it was my turn to pick what we got to do, I made my brother Go with me to see the babies. And I would hold him up. And we would press our face to the glass and look at all of the little babies in the nursery. I have no idea why people didn't pay attention to two little kids roaming the halls of the hospital. But maybe it was just in my mind, but nobody really seemed to notice or care or even say anything to us.
We were never scared of getting caught. We never thought that there was anything to get caught about. We did know we were being sneaky sometimes when we would sneak into areas we definitely weren't supposed to be in, but We really just felt a sense of entitlement to be there. We knew that if we ever needed to and if anyone ever said something, we could just drop our uncle's name. We basically thought that being a surgeon meant that you owned the hospital. And so we thought our uncle was the king of the hospital and if we ever got in trouble, we would just use his name and that would be that.
There was this one time when we knew what we were about to do at the hospital might be crossing a little bit of a line. It got to be summertime, and it got really, really hot. And so what do two little kids want to do in the summertime when it's really hot, you want to go swimming, but we didn't have anyone to take us to the neighborhood pool. So we donned our swimming suits and picked out some towels and went to the hospital fountain and we put out our towels, we lathered up with sunscreen, we were very conscientious and responsible children and started swimming in the fountain, and this is when the look started.
So as we were swimming along in the fountain, we noticed that there was an official looking guy that came out of the hospital and he looked a little bit mad. And he was coming our way really intently. And as he approached us, I had maybe a moment where I thought, “Oh, maybe you're not going to be too happy that we're swimming in the fountain.” But I splashed right over to him and he said, “What do you two think that you're doing out here? What do you think you're doing?” And I said, “Swimming.” And he said, “What makes you think that you can swim in the hospital fountain?” And I kind of got a bravado about me, shook my head and said, “Don't you know who our great uncle is? Our uncle is a surgeon,” and then I said his name. And the guy looked at me, and I just was quiet, and he just turned around and walked away. That was enough for him. And I don't know what he thought, but no security ever told us to leave and we went back to swimming and it wasn't the last time we swam in the hospital fountain.
I never really felt guilty about any of it. Even though now as an adult, it's funny to think about and interesting to think about, and I would kill my kids if they tried to swim in a hospital fountain. Who did those kids think they were?
Looking back the memories with my brother in the avenues in Salt Lake City are actually the best memories of my childhood. That confident little girl in the fountain who knew that her uncle would protect her and had the courage to just be herself, ended up going through a lot of really hard things, and life didn't get super easy for those two little kids, it got even harder than it was.
And one gift that came from this childhood is that I've never questioned whether or not I was alone. No matter what happened to me through the rest of my life and things got kind of intense over the rest of my childhood. Well I was the kid who swam in the hospital fountain. I was the kid who knew that her uncle was there, if she needed him. And just like I knew my uncle was there, I've always known that God is there. And no matter what else happened, I knew that I could depend on that. Having Heavenly Father behind us, makes us capable to do things that we never thought we'd be able to do, and that we could never do alone and gives us that hutzpah and that confidence to go for forward, knowing who we are.
I guess what I would want to tell people is that no matter what you go through, no matter what questions come your way, no matter what trials come your way. No matter how much you feel like you're traversing this world alone, you're not, you have God and you can invoke his name and that will give you the confidence to move forward in whatever you have to face in this life.
That was author Christie Gardner. Both of Christie's books, “Holy as you Are” and “You are the Mother your Children Need,” are full of personal stories about claiming your divine identity, right now in the midst of your imperfection. And I think that's something that I really love about Christie’s story. When she says that she doesn't really feel bad about doing the things that she and her brother did. Well, we know that it's not because she's full of herself. It's because she understands that all of these experiences have made her into the woman that she is now. And wouldn't the world be a very different place if those of us who are struggling with our confidence acted just a little bit more as though our uncle was the king of the hospital?
Well, the great news is that our father, our Heavenly Father, is the king of the universe. And the humility that accompanies our duty as his child, mixed with the power and entitlement that comes from the gift of our spiritual genetics, can and should send us confidently into the fulfilling of the measure of our creation. I love to think about that and I'm grateful for Christy for sharing this story. Besides making me laugh, it really made me think.
Our next story comes from Kate who's lifelong struggle to believe in her own worthiness and connection to God was challenged by a loving church leader.
I always knew God existed, I’ve always known he was there. But I always felt like he was disappointed in me and that he didn't have time for me. Growing up, I was incredibly insecure. I was really terrified to go to school, when I went to church and different activities with the young woman or whatever, and I was the odd man out, you know, I just, I felt very awkward. I remember one time needing some kind of strength or comfort, and I knew that other people turned to God. But I knew that I wasn't worthy enough.
I even wrote him a note, which sounds silly, but I did. I was like, “This is how I feel and this is what I need.” I was probably like 10, and I folded it up, and I put it under my pillow and I thought if God loves me, he'll take This note, and I woke up in the morning and it wasn't gone. I know that that sounds silly, but in a 10 year old’s mind, I was like, “Of course he doesn't love me, of course he is not going to take that.” And I remember just crying and crying and crying on my bed that there was no relief for someone like me. I carried that with me into high school and into my mission and into my, you know, my young married life. You know, I really felt like sorry that I'm not enough and I can't fully come to you and to get comfort because I'm just not the person that deserves that or is worth it.
I started drawing when I was really really young. I remember getting in trouble in kindergarten because I would draw more than I would do my work. And I just have always loved it. Like it just something that made me happy. And then in high school is when I picked up painting, and we tried all types of mediums in high school and then watercolor was when I was hooked. But I never ever felt like I was good enough. And so I'd always hide my drawings or my paintings, because I didn't want to be embarrassed.
It was about five years ago that my stake president asked me to do a specific project for him. I met with my stake president. And it really was just for the recommend interview. That's all I wanted to talk about, get in and get out and go. At the end of that interview. He's like, “Is there anything else you want to talk about?” And I was like, “No, I'm good,” like thanks, but I'm fine. And he said it again. He's all, “Sister Lee, is there anything else that you want to talk about?” And I just like bust into tears.
There was everything that I want to talk about, but I was too afraid. I didn't know that I could talk about the things that I felt inside. And so I started telling him, “This is what I feel about myself, and you know, I wish that I could be better. I wish that I could be like good enough for God and I really felt like I was just a huge failure.” Anyways, so we would meet every week and talk about different things. And he'd give me different assignments. There were two assignments that really changed me. First one was just a scripture in Alma, but it's talks about to act and not be acted upon it. Because forever, I always felt like, Oh, I'm just a loser. You know, I'm just not a good enough person, and I'm not good at anything. And he says, “Well, are you going to just live your life like that? Are you just going to continue to believe that about yourself?” And I was like, “Well, how else am I supposed to live?” You know? And he says, “Well, you can either act, or you can be acted upon,” in the nicest way. He basically said, “Stop being a victim and take your life into your own hands.” So he told me to go home and study that those scriptures and to really, like apply that to my life. And I have, I have done that, you know, and it's changed me in ways I never ever imagined it would.
The other assignment he gave me, he said, “What are some things that you think about yourself, how do you feel about yourself? How do you think God views you?” And I told him, “You know, I feel like he is just kind of disappointed in who I am.” And he says, “Okay, well hold right there.” And he pulled out sticky notes. And he put these sticky notes on his desk, and he gave me a pen and he said, “Write down what you think is truth about you.” And so I wrote down, “You are ugly, you're dumb, you're not smart enough. You're a waste of time. You're bad at your calling,” like all of these negative things. And but it was truth, that was my truth. He says, “Well, what are those?” and I said, “Well, this is who I am. This is my truth.” And he said, “No, that's not who you are.” And I said, “Well, yes it is.” You know, and he, he put those ones aside and he put up fresh ones like new sticky notes, and he says, “I want you to take these sticky notes home, and I want you to pray about the ones that you wrote down. And then I want you to write down what God really thinks about you.”
I was like, “No, because God's gonna confirm what I think; I can't handle that.” But he says, “This is your assignment take it home.” It took me two to three days to get the courage to sit down and to actually even just to acknowledge that the sticky notes were there because I was terrified that God would say, “You're right, you're right, you are a waste of time.”
And then the boys one morning left for school, and I was like, “Okay, I can't avoid it.” And I knelt down at our couch. Before, you know, anything came out. It was just this feeling of calm and peace.
Heavenly Father answered all of my questions. And he confirmed that, “No, this is who you are. And this is what you can do. And this is your abilities and just, you know, go forward.” And it was just incredible. And I have my folder upstairs. I keep it with me, always. Because it's a reminder because it's so easy to fall back into that, “Oh, I’m stupid. Oh, I'm, you know, like, I just am a bad artist or I'm a bad mom or whatever it is,” and I keep it with me so that I can remind myself of this is what God said. This is what maybe the world says, but this is what God said. And, you know, I'm going to go with what God said, and his truth. Through talking with my stake president and sharing things with him, it's fully opened my heart to be able to look at my Father as a real Father. Because I didn't, I never understood it like that before. And I didn't believe that he loved me and that he was interested in me, it was really difficult for me to communicate and talk to him because I didn't feel like I was worthy enough to talk to him or that he wanted me to talk to him.
About a month after the sticky note assignment, I went back to my stake president talking to him and he said, “What are some of the things that you like to do, like what do you love to do?” And I named off a few things, you know, like, “Oh I like being outside and I like doing, you know, being on my mountain bike and stuff,” and he’s like, “No, no, like, what do you like to do?” And I'm like, “I like to draw.” And he goes, “Yeah, you like art, right? And I, you know, am like, “Yeah, yeah I love it. I love it. It's so good.” And he says, “I need you to paint me a picture.” I looked at him like this like, What? “I have this scripture that I love, I want you to paint it for me.” And he gave me a scriptural reference in second Nephi about the flax and chords and he said, “Paint this, and paint it how you want and how you interpret it.” And he says, I want it on a really big Canvas, the biggest you can find.”
I was scared to paint that. I believed I was going to fail. I did. It was the whole being acted upon all of the thoughts that I had when I was kid: “Oh, you can't do it. You're not good enough,” came flooding in and every brush stroke was like a heart attack because I was terrified I was going to make the wrong stroke or I was going to ruin the whole painting, and more importantly, though, I was afraid that I wouldn't get the message that he wanted, you know, he had a specific message that he wanted and I was afraid that I wouldn't capture that for him. And it took me nine months to paint this picture. And in that time is when I really discovered my abilities, like I learned to trust myself.
So when the painting was done, it was on Halloween night. The Stake President just walked over to her house to check on the painting, and I almost had a panic attack, because I didn't want to give it to him. I brought it up out of the studio and handed it to him. And he kept saying, “It's beautiful. This is beautiful. This is exactly what I want.” And I was like, “You don't have to be so nice. It's okay. I know it's bad.” And he's like, “No, this is what I want.” And it just was such a cool experience because it taught me this is a gift and this is something that you can share your testimony through this, you know, and that's really the first time that I felt like a real artist was about five years ago. And I didn't realize this at the time, I probably didn't even realize this until a couple years ago, that I had been that girl that was wrapped in these flax and chords that was pulled down by doubt and fear and you know, just experiences from when I was a kid and all of that, and I didn't know how to break free from those flax and chords and it was it was pulling me down. It was keeping me from progression. It was keeping me from knowing Christ. It was keeping me from knowing who I really am.
And I think that, he knew that, and I didn't know that. Anyway, master plan, but he knew that I could paint that that I could start to break free and he was right. And I didn't realize what he was trying to do. But that painting, opened the door to all the other paintings that I do now, you know, had I not done that painting, I would not be here, because I would still be scared. I'd still be the girl in the flax and chords.
I feel like my art reflects that. So the painting, “Faith to be Healed,” is about the woman who has the blood issue, right? And this is a story that I've always loved because she so desperately wanted to be healed, you know, and this image came to my mind, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I want to paint that, like right now,” you know. And so I went into my studio, and I drew it and it just kind of like poured out. And as I was painting it, I imagined what she was feeling, you know, with every, like different color she'd come more and more alive and it was just like, I was connecting with her and I felt what she felt and I was like, “I know how you feel, because that's how I felt.” She wanted to just fit in, in the crowd, you know, but that she didn't and she couldn't. And that's something that I felt like, I just wanted to find a place, I just wanted to have a place where I fit in, but I felt like I just didn't. This lady this is her story, she knew that through Christ, she could be healed. She knew that one touch and Christ’s robe would heal her from the inside. The last thing that I painted was her hand touching Christ. I finished that coat of paint, and it was like, my heart was just whole.
I could see my life and I could see where I was going, what I wanted and what Christ could do for me. For her, it was the same thing. She knew what she wanted, she knew what Christ could do for her. She just had to reach out to Christ, she just had to touch him, you know, and it's the same here. I can't physically touch Christ. But I can reach out to him and I can like, dive into His Atonement and be healed.
I paint my experiences now or my, what I put on paper, and I'm not afraid of it anymore. Like I feel like where before I was terrified that I would be criticized and now I'm like, I hope that this painting can help somebody else feel the spirit. I hope that this painting can you know, bring somebody else to Christ. I hope that they can know that who they are is important. But more importantly, I hope that they can know that Heavenly Father is there watching over them and that they have a Savior. Like I just want them to like, emotionally connect with not just the painting but through the painting they can emotionally connect to Christ, and that they can understand what the atonement can do for them because the atonement isn't just for sins, it's for you know, heartaches and sorrows and insecurities and all of those little things that we carry every day. That's what the atonement is for and so I hope that people can come to Christ through my paintings.
That was Kate Lee. Kate is an artist if you didn't figure that out from her story, and that painting that she talks about “The Faith to be Healed” painting is beautiful and it's truly evocative of that moment. One of my favorites in all of scripture where the woman with the issue of blood reaches out to touch the hem of the Savior's garments, we're going to have a link to that painting and that first rendering that she did of flax and chords in our show notes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel. You'll also love to see how Kate's gifts have evolved over time as she put her faith and her trust in God. I know that I can't possibly be alone when I say that I can relate to the self-doubt and lack of confidence that Kate described in her story. It is absolutely a truth that the world has a way of twisting us around so that we never know which way is up and which way is down, and we are definitely no longer recognizable to ourselves in our most divine form.
I'm so grateful that Kate had a wise and loving stake president who was willing to listen to the Spirit and ask a question that he didn't have to ask so that he could help start her on that spiritual path to understanding her worth. Those guides, the people that guide us, however they present themselves to us are absolutely a gift. I believe that they are a gift from our Heavenly Father. For me, it was a perfectly appointed therapist in just the right time and just the right place, who handed me the book “Believe in Christ” in a therapy session. I am forever changed because of that understanding that I got from reading that book. And I'm amazed that our Heavenly Father reaches us in whatever way he knows will most readily hear his voice. Whether it's a book or an art assignment, or a moment of surety in a hospital fountain that has burned itself into our memory, ready to be recalled when the earth dust gets too heavy. It makes me wonder where else have I seen his reaching hand filled with those reminders of my divine origin? What about you? What other places have you seen his hand show up to guide you to a new truth to help you remember who you are? I think we all have those moments if we really dig in and look for them.
As we've recorded and edited the stories this week, my heart has been pulled steadily back towards the story of Moses, that we learn about in the Pearl of Great Price. It's that moment in the first chapter of Moses, the book of Moses, when the Great Deceiver, Satan, tries his very best to shake one of God's most stalwart children. The Prophet Moses had just received his errand from the Lord in verse six of chapter one, and he had been filled with the Spirit of the Lord. And when that spirit withdrew taking with it the spectacular light and glory that had just moments before filled all of Moses, he was left with only whatever light the world provided, which we can all agree is not even close to comparable to God's light. And in that moment, Satan saw his chance, he stepped in ready to offer Moses some light to fill the void. And he says in verse 12, “Moses, son of man, worship me.” But Moses, who had just recently been in the presence of real light, well, he can smell a counterfeit a mile away. So we asked Satan, “Who art thou? And where is the glory that I should worship thee?” And then just on the heels of that, he reminds Satan that he can judge between him and God: “For God said unto me, thou art after the similitude of mine only begotten.” That knowledge of his divine identity was the key to what happens next.
He calls Satan out, and he tells them that he's not about to worship him. And then Satan gets grumpy as he does, and he tries one of his old tired tricks, which is to use his power of fear to impose obedience. And it seems to be working at first. Moses is shaky, and he has to call for backup. Emboldened by his knowledge of who God is to him and who he is to Christ, he starts to claim his power against the fear and he tells Satan to depart, and when he sees that Satan is trembling, he invokes the name of the Savior, the source of all love, all hope, and all true light and Satan must depart, but not without a whole lot of fanfare, no one ever said Satan wasn't dramatic. And Moses is left to lift his eyes to heaven in a holy gesture of, “What was that?” And his father, his real master sends a message. And we find that message in chapter one, verse 25 and 26. And calling upon the name of God, he held his glory again, for it was upon him, and he heard a voice saying, “Blessed art thou, Moses, for I the Almighty have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters for they shall obey the command as if thou wert God, and low I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days, for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel, my chosen.”
The lesson I learned from Moses, and from Kate and from Christie is this: It's not always easy to remember who we are in moments of distress or fear. Satan's tactics may be old and they may be tired, but they've worked for eons, and he's not about to stop now. But we can take courage from the fact that despite the quiver in our voices, or the uncertainty in our stance, when we begin to step into our true identity as Sons and Daughters of God, and when we begin to call upon him with a sense of our true birthright, he will strengthen us to fulfill our mission. The first stroke of the paintbrush may be weak and unsure and full of panic as it was for Kate, but it will not stay that way. With each subsequent brushstroke, and every next moment of facing our demons, and each call for Satan to leave us alone. We will grow in confidence and surety until we to like Moses can lift our eyes to Heaven and know that we will be made stronger than many waters when the time comes for us to part our Red Seas.
That's it for this episode of “This is the Gospel.” Thank you to my friends, Christie and Kate for sharing their stories and their strength and true selves with us. We'll have links to both of their beautiful creative work in our show notes for this episode at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel. That's also where you will find the transcript of this episode.
All of our stories on the podcast are true and accurate, as affirmed by our storytellers. And if you have a story to share about Living the Gospel, please call our pitch line and leave us a pitch. We often find many of our stories from the pitch line, and while we might not get back to you right away, if a story fits one of our upcoming themes, we will give you a call, and we'd love to hear how the Gospel has blessed your life. So give us a call at 515-519-6179 or you can find that number on our show notes and pitch your story in three minutes or less.
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This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay, that's ‘K, a,’ capital ‘R,’ ‘y, n.’ not Rose, with additional story producing and editing by Katie Lambert. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six Studios and our executive producers Aaron Holstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and the other LDS living podcasts at LDSLiving.com/podcasts. Have a great week.