Shattered Silence

Shattered Silence

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 10)

See my introductory post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well. This is the final installment of the 10-part series begun in January 2018, wherein I have reflected on spiritual lessons inspired by this song. 

* * * * *


Second Hand Heart
Performed by Ben Haenow
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart
… you know you got my secondhand heart” 

Elder George Albert Smith (1870 – 1951), who would later be sustained as the eighth president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) once said the following:

         “The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it makes us all equal in as far as we keep the commandments of the Lord. In as far as we observe to keep the laws of the Church we have equal opportunities for exaltation.”
         ~ In Conference Report, Oct. 1933, 25.

This quote by then-Elder Smith was among the first of a collection of quotes that I began recording shortly after I joined the LDS Church. I wrote them in a spiral-bound notebook and later meticulously transferred them to my computer where my collection has reached over 300 quotes from LDS prophets, apostles, and general authorities. As I’ve pondered the closing of this Song Dissection essay series, and these final few lyrics, I’ve reflected much on my distant past, the recent past, the present, and my future in order to write about what these lyrics meant to me when I first heard them, and what they mean to me now.

Growing up as a closeted, gay young man, and also living with Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder, I was frequently torn between wanting to fit in with everyone else, while still desiring to stand out among the crowd as someone unique and special. I recognized my talents and wanted to share them with others, perhaps in compensation for possessing so many visible and invisible flaws and shortcomings.

I wanted to be included while internally my sexuality made me feel excluded from others, especially other males. Outwardly, I couldn’t help but be noticed with my frequent vocal and motor tics. I’ve thought about this period of my life a lot, with sorrow, regret, shame, and anger—for the ways in which I was treated, for the ways I behaved and acted out while yearning for attention.

It's an interesting feeling to know that you stand out from the
crowd while having a strong desire to fit in with others.
Looking back now, I feel that what I really wanted most was to be noticed and acknowledged on my own terms rather than forced into public view by the disorders that ruled me. I wanted to be liked because of my good qualities, not necessarily my outstanding quirks; I wanted to feel important because of my human worth, not because others felt sorry for me. Many days I wanted just to blend in with the crowd (preferably the more popular, well-liked groups); other days I longed to juxtapose myself across social circles and be admired by all. My sometimes erratic behavior got me into a lot of trouble during high school as I struggled so hard to find a comfortable place among my peers, while maintaining my individual identity (as I simultaneously suppressed my sexual identity, albeit very poorly).

It’s an interesting feeling to know that some integral part (or parts) of who you are—like your sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, etc.—make(s) you unequal to everyone else around you in ways that you cannot fully comprehend in your youth. I think this is why I sought early on to find a community or clique that understood me and appreciated my differences, while also not emphasizing them. People who wanted me, needed me, but with whom I fit in like a piece of a larger puzzle. People I could be mostly myself around without censoring, silencing, or second-guessing.

Like a phoenix from the ashes, my trials
have given rebirth to my confidence to
be unique in a pool of cultural homogeneity.
Over the last several years, I have caved to the idea that I cannot be the Latter-day Saint or disciple of Christ that my Mormon peers expect me to be, which is a devastating inclination for someone like me, who for so long felt rescued by my faith and devoted to it for life (and eternity). Yet my realizations brought me very near to leaving the Church for the second time, just a year ago. Though the ways in which I’ve grown in the last year are important, they are subtle even to me, and I will not try to explain them. What I can articulate is that, like a phoenix that survives its own self-induced flames, this process of suffering and starting over has renewed my sense of identity and self-worth and given birth to a new confidence that inspires and emboldens me to embrace my outstanding differences in a pool of cultural sameness.

I have chosen not to succumb to the trends of homogeneity in my faith. I invite and embrace human diversity in all its many forms, especially with people and in places where diversity is too-often viewed as rebellion, irreverence, or lackadaisical discipleship. I am pushing back, gently, against the impossible cultural standards where I live, work, and attend school and church, which is saturated with toxic messages that do not reflect the God I know and the gospel I have come to love.

With a large portion of my faith and testimony restored, I am trying to make a place for myself in the church, just as I am—no apologies, no explanations, and no guilt. I am striving to show my fellow Mormons that I can love God the same as they do, and that it doesn’t matter if I wear a rainbow tie tack to church, or bring my sparkly man-purse to activities, or whether I talk openly in meetings about my sexuality or speak up to correct misguided generalizations about people and unfair blanket statements that exclude others.


It has been said before (and reiterated by LDS leaders) that we ought not to judge others for “sinning differently” than we do—because we all sin (Romans 3:23). I offer that it is just as courteous, if not critical, to apply the same token by not judging others (in this instance, fellow Latter-day Saints) for worshipping differently than they do—because we all worship the same God. We are brothers and sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and our faith should unite us in every respect, where too often it divides us in petty and insensible ways.

"Come As You Are" by Greg Olsen
Copyright © 2018 by Greg Olsen
More importantly, for me, I am trying to show my Heavenly Father and my Lord, Jesus Christ, that I can support the people, causes, and communities I love—and feel equally apart of, like the gay community—the same as I love Them, my heavenly home, and the gospel path I am presently taking. And I see no reason why I can’t do just that. I have made sacred covenants to obey God’s laws and commandments, and I honor and keep those covenants while repenting often to show Him that I am dedicated to being my best self. Every other detail of my worship is between me and the Lord.

The only inapplicable portion of the lyrics in this instance is that I am not asking for permission to squeeze my way into a toxic culture that proscribes me from being who I am—and deliberately making a place for myself there in the hope that I can force a few people out of their comfortable cultural bubbles to see that Mormons are not cookie-cutter people, as I like to call them—nor do we have to be. What unites us is that we love the Lord, we know where we came from, why we are here, and where we want to go—back home to our heavenly parents.

It’s true that I will never be able to prove to God that I will always be faithful to Him and the covenants I’ve made in His holy house. My experience as a Latter-day Saint has been wracked with ups and downs. But like the lyrics of the song, I can acknowledge the majesty and splendor of the star-filled heavens while recognizing, trustingly, that they are not in my power to command. Perfection is not a reality of mortality; it is a blessing of eternity. What’s important now is that I continue to aim for the stars, knowing that in time I will reach them.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an apostle of the Lord, and then a member of the First Presidency of the Church once gave this beautiful anecdote:


          “Isn’t it wonderful to know that we don’t have to be perfect to experience the blessings and gifts of our Heavenly Father? We don’t have to wait to cross the finish line to receive God’s blessings. In fact, the heavens begin to part and the blessings of heaven begin to distill upon us with the very first steps we take toward the light.
           “The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now. It doesn’t matter how unqualified you may think you are or how far behind others you may feel. The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of His light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come.
                    ~ “The Hope of God’s Light,” Ensign, May 2013, 75.

When I was baptized, I was under the impression that rising out of the warm waters of the baptismal font made me clean from my sins—which I felt were many, even at age 16—and that it was my responsibility to never sin again. I remember how awful I felt when I transgressed the new law of my life as a covenant member of God’s Kingdom soon after. Similar vices have stayed with me since then, and I don’t imagine they will ever leave—I will probably always be tempted to sin and transgress in ways that have long helped me to cope, find relief, self-soothe, and bring comfort.

But how wrong I was to assume that becoming a disciple of Christ meant being a perfect mortal at all times and in all places. I have learned through trial and error that God’s only expectation for me is to do my best and let the atonement of Jesus Christ make up for the rest. I am happy for the times when I am strong in the faith; but I have seen too many like me leave, and have wanted to leave (or have done so) too many times to erroneously assume that I will always be a Mormon.  I simply don't know, and try not to speculate either way.

To some, that probably sounds pessimistic and depressing. To me, though, it is living purposefully and deliberately with my challenges—spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional—by choosing to be a person of faith as long as I can. I cannot say that others (or myself, really) will never tear me apart from my religion, but I don’t think I could ever disregard a belief in my God or my Savior, even if my relationship with Them changed over time.

I take comfort in knowing that the Lord knows all the
chapters of my life, and all the feelings of my heart.
For now I can have faith and trust in power and knowledge greater than my own that things are working out exactly as they should, and will continue to do so. I can forgive others of their insensitivities and ignorance, though at times it is difficult. And I know that no matter what I go through in life, or how my circumstances affect me temporarily, my Redeemer has my secondhand heart permanently, and it is of more value to Him than I could ever possibly comprehend.

He knows my heart’s hurt, its sorrow, its passion, its love, its devotion—for all things, including Him. He knows perfectly, intimately, every story my heart could tell, because He was with me through the telling of them all. He took my heart gently in His pierced hands and mended it after every conflict, struggle, and sin that bruised it, broke it, and crushed it. And I am confident that all that my secondhand heart has felt and endured will be taken into account in the end; and I believe this will hold greater power in the final judgment of God over any choices we may make in order to find further peace and fulfillment and to endure well to the end.

When I look at my brothers and sisters and see addictions, transgressions, weakness, hatred, and foolishness, I am reassured that Christ knows every detail of their turmoil, and all the reasons for their actions. And I am thankful that my tales of success, failure, struggle, and triumph are forever written in the hands and feet of the Master Storyteller, who will mercifully consider all the chapters of my life—both told and untold—before making His final review.  “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).


          In the Roman Catholic tradition, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, or Sacratissimum Cor Iesu in Latin, is a devotion (non-liturgical, or personal, form of worship) recognized annually by a solemnity, or religious celebration, called the Feast of the Sacred Heart, which takes place outside of regular Sunday worship. Pope Pius IX established the solemnity of the Sacred Heart in 1856 as obligatory for the whole church.  The devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the most well-known and widely practiced devotions in Catholicism, taking the physical heart of Jesus Christ as the representation of His divine love for humanity.
          Considering that the Feast of the Sacred Heart will be celebrated this week (June 8, 2018) by Catholics worldwide, I found this painting by an unknown artist to be an appropriate conclusion to this essay series, showing the Savior holding His own perfect, but once-wounded heart in His hands—also symbolic, perhaps, of the way the Lord holds our hearts in perfect love and mercy.
          It is my prayer that the followers of Christ, in many faiths, will remember always that Jesus knows how to heal our secondhand hearts because His own beating heart was once stilled for our sakes, and brought to life again through His miraculous resurrection.  Our Redeemer lives, and I testify of it!
          To my readers, thank you for joining me on this literary journey.
                    ~ Wade




Friday, May 11, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 9)

See my introductory post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will continue to dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series. 

* * * * * 



Second Hand Heart
Performed by Ben Haenow
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?”

When Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples in the ancient Americas, He declared the Law of Moses to be fulfilled in Him, and that their burnt offerings and sacrifices would no longer be acceptable to Him. In place of animal sacrifice, he taught the Nephites that a broken heart and contrite spirit would be required of all those who professed to follow Him and sought to be like Him (3 Nephi 15:2-10; 3 Nephi 9:15-20).

"Similitude" by Walter Rane
Blood sacrifice began by the Lord's command
with Adam & Eve, after they were expelled from
the Garden of Eden.
When you consider all the blood that was spilt, poured out, and dabbed on holy altars or at their bases over centuries of Mosaic Law, one can only wonder if the Israelites and ancient American followers of Christ ever pondered curiously the necessity of so much symbolic carnage in the name of Deity. Throughout the Old Testament record we can see that some generations of the children of Israel did not fully understand God’s Law with its statutes, ordinances, and commandments; this misunderstanding repeatedly led the Lord’s covenant people into pride, spiritual blindness, and idolatry (Psalms 78:5-8).

As we read the scriptures today, we may wonder ourselves how many more young bullocks, rams, sheep, or pairs of turtledoves would be required for them to finally see the likeness and image of a Messiah in their offerings consumed by flames. Had I lived then, even I would wonder, “Is it enough yet? What more have we to learn about our God?” For when the Lord did indeed come to earth clothed in flesh, He was recognized by relatively few as the promised Son of God during His lifetime, but rejected by the majority of the Jews in Jerusalem and killed by the faith’s highest leaders (John 5:43-47).

I can visualize the Tabernacle in the wilderness where Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his sons worked—within the outer curtains of the structure the dusty ground is wet and muddy, not with water, but soaked with blood and stained crimson. Mosaic Law was given to the Israelites because they brought with them to Sinai the idolatrous worship of the Egyptians; this kept them from the higher law of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Today’s standard for peace offerings and sin offerings are not as complicated, at least in deed. But still, the gift of a broken heart and a contrite Spirit, along with the blessed and sanctified bread and water may sometimes seem to us of little avail compared to the complicated and meticulous grandeur of sacrifice and offerings performed by the sons of Levi.

Latter-day Saints today still kneel at altars
inside holy temples to make sacrifices and
covenants with God.
And yet, that is all that the Lord requires of us—the gathered pieces of our broken hearts, and the low humility of our fallen spirits, given freely over to Him. Like the analogy used by Elder Neal A. Maxwell in a previous section (see "Part 2" of this series), often our offering to God will seem like a trivial, burdensome dandelion upon the altar of God; but the offering—any offering—is accepted by Him when it is given in humility. I have heard the offering of a broken heart described as godly sorrow, which brings us to God to seek forgiveness. Secondarily, the contrite spirit has been called meekness before God and the willingness to be healed and forgiven.

In Moses’ day, according to the Book of Leviticus, a man or woman coming to the temple with an offering gave the best that they had to God for a sacrifice. If, because of scarcity or poverty, he had none of the rightful animals to sacrifice and burn, he brought what he could, even it was only “a handful of flour” mixed with a little oil and incense; and the Levite priest accepted it “to be an offering made by fire, of the sweet savor of the Lord” (Leviticus 2:2).

Elder Maxwell expounded this concept in yet another beautiful way when he said:


        “…[R]eal, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the ‘sacrifice unto the Lord . . . of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,’ (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving ‘away all [our] sins’ in order to ‘know God’ (Alma 22:18), for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him.”
          ~ Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,’” Ensign, May 1995, 68.

No matter what we have to offer the Lord when we come to Him for help or comfort, He will always receive it with open arms and accept it. It does not matter if it’s the first time we’ve ever sinned or the millionth time (because the lifetime sin-count will be high for all of us); Jesus will take the pieces of our tattered secondhand, third-hand, millionth-hand hearts and guide us in putting them back together. From His high cross on Golgotha He lifts us up with Him through our adversity; and from His high throne in Heaven He releases us from sin and guilt by His atoning power, knowing full well that it will not be the last time. Like Paul wrote to the Galatians, “[we are] crucified with Christ: nevertheless [we] live” because Christ died for us (Galatians 2:20).

Monday, April 16, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 8)

See my introductory post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will continue to dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series.

* * * * *


Second Hand Heart
Performed by Ben Haenow
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand that this imperfect love can start over again.”

These lines hit home for me because I care a great deal what others think about me; another person’s perceptions of me hold more power for me than I have of my own accord, and my self-esteem rests often in the judgment—good or bad—of others. I’m sure there have been many times in my life that others thought I was a hopeless wreck; some of those times I probably thought I was too. But with my recent success in college and my approaching graduation (after dropping out twice over a ten-year period), I have shown myself and others that I am capable of much more than either party probably supposed.

Errors and imperfections are a part of life for everyone;
thankfully, God allows retakes and do-overs for a fresh start.

Certainly I am a prime example of the ebb and flow of testimony and religious activity. I grew up not knowing any God, and soon after I made covenants to follow the God I found, I became disenchanted with Him once again as I pursued forbidden paths. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I came back; and in more recent posts (see “15 Years a Mormon—A Reflection”—November 2017) I’ve shared my wanderings back to that fence that ten years ago I straddled between a religious life and a nonreligious life. Doors that were once closed are now unlocked and ready to be opened, though presently I choose to stay in the faith.

I’ve always tried to keep my blog compelling, and I am compelled by personal tales shared in truth and vulnerability. I have told my tales of struggle and triumph in the hopes that others may be inspired; but I do admit to worrying a great deal about what others might think when I share old doubts that I had once conquered, but am suddenly reliving. I lose sight of what it means to repent and be forgiven, and I fail to remember that repenting and forsaking our sins and shortcomings does not mean that we will not make the same mistakes again. The beautiful thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that perfection is sought after, but not attainable, and we all get as many do-over’s as we need.

I'm discovering just how fragile faith is, as challenges have more
than once stripped my base of testimony down to its roots.

In my head I make up scenarios of people gossiping about me when I’m not around, and they say, “How can he be doing that again? I thought he moved on; I thought he was past that stage of his life. I guess his repentance wasn’t heartfelt; I guess he didn’t try hard enough to change.” In reality, I think these made-up conversations are expressions of my own conscious awareness of my struggles and how I feel about them, rather than how most others really view me. In my circumstances, it is probably not all my other friends who think I am hopeless, but me thinking such thoughts about myself.

While I could probably have a very heated debate with my imagined gossipers about why I am not a hopeless cause, and how I can start over again at square-one, convincing myself of that is a bit harder. Bouncing back from mistakes has never been my strong point, and my slate is never quite as clean as I’d like it to be after erasing my errors. Truly, I am my own worst critic and my own worst enemy; we all likely are, in one way or another. When I am faced with such critical decisions—sometimes questions of faith, sometimes questions of life or death—I have to travel back to the roots of my being to rediscover, again and again, why I choose to be present and accounted for.

Building upon foundations of faith can bring me back to higher
ground, and back again into the enlightenment of God's truth.

With my faith, these are doctrinal concepts such as, “Do I believe in God? Do I believe that He loves me perfectly? Do I believe He has power to help me if I ask Him?” Though the answer has not always been in the affirmative when I am living in dark moments, I usually come back to the light with a resounding and peace-lending “Yes!” With my life circumstances—living with physical disabilities and mental health challenges—the fundamentals I come back to are questions like, “Who are they that love me and would miss me if I were gone, and how can they help me through this difficult time? Do I believe that things will eventually get better? Can I hold on long enough to get past this most troublesome moment?”

Wilford Woodruff, fourth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once admonished:

          “Put your trust in God and rely on his promises, living up to the light and knowledge you possess; and all will be well with you whether living or dying.”
          ~ Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, ed. G. Homer Durham, 260.

Though not particularly profound, I have long loved this quote because of its back-to-basics approach. Whatever we have available—be it faith, family, friends, or other beneficial resources—we should utilize them as we carry on along our journey; this includes reaching out to loved ones when we are struggling, visiting a professional therapist, talking to ecclesiastical leaders, taking time for ourselves, and practicing self-compassion.

Imperfection is expected of all; indeed, it is the one character trait that we all share as human beings, and which can be anticipated with 100% certainty. While others may judge us (or seem like they are), they cannot escape the same fate of failing at one thing or another, just as I do. Whether or not we can start over again—and again and again!—when we do imperfect things is the true test of our character and our faith. And when I do find that my faith is in need of repair or renovation, it’s helpful to remember that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me perfectly in my imperfection; and that divine love provides the eternal blueprint from which I can reconceptualize my existence, reframe my challenges, and reconstruct my faith.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 7)

See my introductory post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will continue to dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series. 

* * * * * 


Second Hand Heart – 
Performed by Ben Haenow 
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart.”

Moses knew that even while humankind was incomparable to the
glory of God, we were our Father's most prized creations.
When God revealed Himself to Moses, speaking to the prophet face to face, He said, “Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33). Everything that fills the great expanses of space and time was formed and arranged by the priesthood power of the Great Jehovah, acting under the instruction and divine commission of his Father, Elohim—the Almighty God. It was by Their word that unorganized matter was gathered, collided, and joined together over billions of years to form the planets, stars, and galaxies which were then gradually set into motion; and it is by Their eternal laws and power that the celestial bodies of the universe are governed.

After seeing the earth upon which he stood and all its inhabitants, Moses “greatly marveled and wondered” at the creations of God (Moses 1:8). The experience left him astounded, and in great awe at the power which God possessed. “Now,” said Moses, “for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). The prophet knew early on in his communion with God (through which many more things were revealed) that the works and wisdom of the Almighty were grand and glorious.

It is humbling to know that among all of Heavenly Father’s vast creations, we, His children, are His most prized and precious! Sometimes throughout life there are moments when we are touched with the Holy Ghost so powerfully that we cannot help but desire to fall to our knees in worship of the Great God who made us and first loved us. I know there have been times when my offerings to the Lord have not seemed sufficient compared to all the He offers me, including my daily breath and life (Mosiah 2:21). Indeed, I have felt that even if I could steal the stars and present them to my Father as a gift and token of my devotion, still my gift would be secondhand to the Being who made the stars and placed them in the heavens.

"Gethsemane" by Adam Abram
Copyright © 2018 by Abram Arts LLC
In essence, we can never repay God for the supernal gift of His Beloved Son (John 3:16). We can never repay Christ for His pain, suffering, and willing death upon the cruel cross. Christ’s atonement is not “Rent-to-Own,” so to speak; it is not the one prized thing in the department store window that we stare longingly at with our hands stuffed in our penniless pockets. “If only…” is not a phrase that should ever precede our desire to know Christ and feel His power. The atonement is ours if we want it—it was always ours! The Savior holds the keys to our salvation, and the door is unlocked; we only have but to knock to be let in and partake of it (3 Nephi 27:29).

We are not making payments toward our salvation or resurrection. Living the commandments is not a deposit into the eternal IOU account held by the Lord. The price is paid, the deed is done. Jesus Christ saved us all; and all He asks is that we follow Him. He doesn’t want the stars; I’m sure He has a great view of them from His throne at the right hand of God the Father. He wants us to use the gift He gave us, not strive to earn it, or feel that we fall short of it. He wants our hearts to stay close to Him, no matter how many times they’ve been broken and mended—the Great Physician always has power to heal us. And hearts continuously healed by the Son of God will help us reach higher for that place where we can catch the view of those stars right alongside Him, which He offers to the faithful, even “all that [the] father hath” (D&C 84:38).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 6)

See my introductory post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will continue to dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series.

* * * * *


Second Hand Heart
Performed by Ben Haenow 
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change.”

In the infamous first chapter of Romans, Paul seems to condemn homosexual and lesbian behavior, while also reminding the Roman saints of the age-old sin of idolatry. For many gay Christians like me, this chapter has been personally read many times in hopes of finding clarity and understanding. However, I will not be arguing that subject today. What I like most about this chapter of Paul’s epistle comes before the heavy subjects, when the apostle is speaking of those who have experienced the glory of God, but have not acknowledged His divinity; they do not thank God for His goodness toward them, but instead become “vain in their imaginations,” then, “professing themselves to be wise, they become fools” (Romans 1:21-22).

This reminds me of the words of the ancient American prophet Jacob, who said:

          “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. ...
          “But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:28-29).
Lessons are often learned from
the times when we play the fool.
I have been alive for almost 32 years, and I can look back on my life experiences and see many times when I thought I was wise, but it’s clear to me now that I was really a fool. I can see now what my parents and leaders must’ve meant when they said to me then, “You’ll understand when you’re older.” In past blog posts I have discussed my reasons for setting my faith and religion aside while I pursued paths that I was certain were better for me (see “The Greener Side”—August 2013 and “The Best and Worst of Times”—June 2014). In the short run, those paths were traversed far too quickly for me to really gain anything meaningful from them then; but in the long run, those paths set the mark for my journey through adulthood as a disciple of Christ.

I have learned that when I act foolishly, God does not ask me to mope back to the beginning and start over, just to end up hitting all the same potholes that got the better of me the first time through. He simply asks me to find a different path that still leads to Him, and pursue it, letting Christ cover up my footprints on the crooked path behind me. That’s what I think of when I go to my Heavenly Father in prayer and acknowledge my transgression or sin—I admit that I have been a fool, that I have been prideful, trusting in my own limited knowledge instead of in His infinite wisdom. I ask Him for forgiveness, and promise Him that I can change—not a vain declaration that I will show Him what I can do of my own strength—but a testimony that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).