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Monday, September 21, 2015

"superior to your former self"

Dear all,

Check mark on the first week of the transfer - complete with sending the finishing missionaries home, welcoming the jet lagged new missionaries, a handful of road trips through the gorgeous Erzgebirge mountain range, free Chinese food, a heaven-sent surprise 15 minute conversation with President Kosak, two sleepovers, some really intense lessons with some of our investigators, and much more. 

My dinner break on Friday night found me once again attempting to tackle the task of organizing the chaos of my desk. Under a hundred copies of German "MyFamily" packets, I found a crinkled sticky note that I had written 7 months ago. It was a quote sent to me by my father: "True nobility does not come from being superior to your fellow man; true nobility comes from being superior to your former self." I slowly put my Euro Shop pencils away, sat down on my squeaky swivel chair, put my hair in a knot on top of my head, and thought about what it means to 'be superior to my former self' - how could I know if I was doing that? I thought back on the last few weeks of my time spent in Israel over a year ago- my teachers (my heroes) talked a lot about what it means to be transformed. I remembered Dr. Seely's parting address where he talked about what it really means to be a pilgrim: to go on a journey and return a changed person. To allow our experiences to change our character for the better means to be transformed; to become more holy and more like the Savior and our Father in Heaven.

I concluded that in order to see if I was working on this goal of being superior to my former self, I needed to see if I was actively trying to change. I needed to see if I was allowing my testimony and my experiences to change my behavior and character. The question became: 'Am I a different and better person than I was when I began this journey?' My mind began to replay all of the weaknesses that I feel like I've working on forever and
somehow they still aren't strengths (Ether 12:27). It was hard to fall asleep that night.

But personal study the next day gave me the strength to tell the adversary to leave me alone. As Nephi declared in 2 Nephi 4: 26-28:

26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of
mine afflictions?

27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

I don't think any of us will ever be as far along the path of perfection as we would like to be, but we need to do our best to change for the better and to have the miracle of Christ's Atonement transform us. We make steps forward as we become "more than conquerors through Him that loved us" and day by day strive to be superior to our former selves. 

Liebe Grüße, 
Sister Grace Allison

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