Monday, July 12, 2004

(This Thought Sponsored by) Hugh Nibley

On Saturday night, my friends and I had a tribute party to Hugh Nibley. Hugh lives on the street next to mine, was even my next-door neighbor for eight months. I never saw him, though. Saw his head once, I think, old and white-haired and pressed against a southwest window. Word has it that he sleeps in a hospital bed in the front room. The front room light is always on.

Word also has it (from his daughter, Zina Petersen, my first English professor at BYU) that each morning when he wakes up, he swears because he's still alive.

Hugh Nibley is a legend. (We like to call him Nibbles.)

But on Saturday, during our discussion of Hugh Nibley, his teachings, his role in the church and in the world, we watched a little bit of an interview with him. During the interview he said this: "In this life there are only two things we can be any good at: repenting and forgiving. None of us is very smart or brave or strong or pretty. But we can become good at repenting and forgiving."

This has changed my prayers at night. I've recently decided--am deciding--that it's too hard to try to reconcile glorifying God and getting in a little glory for myself. It's too hard. I fail so often. If I do glorify God, then I take pride in that glory and glorify myself. But then, if I'm aware, I realize how poor that is, and then--wham, fail. And then, too, my efforts to glorify myself compromise the integrity of my real desires (which are there, but which aren't always the only things there) to serve God and love others. It's too hard to do both of those things.

I'd like, then, to only be good at repenting and forgiving. This doesn't remove from me the necessity to act in courage and faith, with verve and passion and planning. I still need to follow commandments, still need to develop my talents, still need to magnify (magnify, MAGNIFY) my calling and use my wit and brains and creativity to love the people around me and build the kingdom. BUT. But. It does mean that at night, when I pray, the only abilities I should be worried about having made improvements on that day are my abilities to repent and to forgive.

I'm not thinking I'm going to be good at any of this, really. Not the repenting or the forgiving or, especially, the giving up of my desires to be great, to be stunning, to be a star. But right now, on this Monday morning, in this office chair, the desire for exemplary repentance and forgiveness is here. Not exemplary, I guess. Just a good job at it. I'm practicing, too.

I'm sorry.
I'm really sorry.
I'm wrong.
I was wrong.
I will change.
I will try to change.

It's okay.
That's okay.
I'll be okay.
You're okay.
I love you (anyway). I love you anyway.
I love you.

And, too, the next time my plans to make God and me great at the same time explode all over me, that desire will, I'm sure, arise again. I'm just praying I can keep it close to me, keep it foremost, in the time between now and then. Til Wednesday, at least.

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