Years ago as a young 17 year old I was working with my Grandpa in his yard. He was holding the hose watering a patch of dirt prepping it for the weeding we would shortly do. As he always did while working together my Grandpa was dishing out sound advice to me. Today’s topic was “remembering to have fun in a marriage”. Just then across the flower patch my Grandma who was also weeding turned what was exactly and precisely 180 degrees away from us and bent all the way over to work on a section of weeds. Her rump couldn’t have faced us more squarely had it been plumed with a rafter square. My Grandpa and I stopped for a second now silent as we noticed our situation. Suddenly visions of not sugarplums but water balloons, mud balls and tomatoes danced in my head and I started to see more of a giant target than my Grandma’s rear quarters. It was as if I were Nephi and Laban had been delivered into my hands. However, anyone who knew my Grandma knew she is not one to be messed with nor is she a pushover in any sense of the word. My odds of physical survival after taking advantage of this situation would be higher wrestling an angry grizzly bear while handcuffed and blindfolded than with my Grandma. I weighed out the hilariousness of what could ensue vs. what it would be like to learn to walk again once I awoke from the coma she would have put me in. At 17 years old and still now, I have plenty of crazy, yet at that moment I bucked and faltered for lack of courage. I then looked back at my Grandpa who was still holding the hose who simply smiled at me. Without words I understood he had been thinking the same thing the entire time. It was as if the heavens had presented him with a golden opportunity to demonstrate a point to the topic he was speaking to me about that day. A point he couldn’t resist to make. With a simple phrase that went something like “watch this” (which always means something good is about to go down) I suddenly knew what crazy and courage were. My Grandpa was risking his very life and limb to demonstrate a point to me. The perfectly aimed stream of water hit my Grandma square in the butt and she shot up faster than a Cobra striking its prey. It was everything I hoped it would be! Hilariousness and consequence followed. My Grandpa immediately owned up to the act and took his beating like a man again proving his integrity. In fact, he never even lost consciousness! It was totally awesome.
Was it courage? Was it crazy? I’m not sure. I think it was both. My Grandpa was willing to do something completely crazy which required an insane amount of courage for the greater good. That greater good was to demonstrate his point to me on the topic he was teaching me about that day. He risked life and limb for me. He knew there would be consequences, yet he went forward out of love for me.
I don’t mean to say that my Grandpa’s example is on the same level of the atonement, nor do I mean to portray the atonement as a joke, only that the lessons learned between the two can be similar. To anyone who doesn’t understand the atonement what Christ did sounds crazy. He allowed himself to be subject to ridicule, scolding, torment, pain, suffering, hurt, grief, sorrow, anguish, agony, scorn, laughter, evil speaking, jeering, misery, embarrassment and afflictions of all kinds. This came from all directions, all of which he could have silenced totally, completely and permanently at any second, yet he declined to do so. Christ allowed himself openly to their words and actions and was maliciously and ignorantly tormented, spit upon, mocked, teased and tortured all the while choosing not only not to stop it, but not even to buffer it in the slightest! Why would he do that!? Why did he do that!? He did it for you and me. He did it for the very people who were persecuting him. He did it because he loves us. That is not crazy, that is courage and love beyond what we can fathom. That is courage and love surpassing words that exist to describe. I don’t know if the mortal mind can even comprehend the full extent of that sacrifice. Christ allowed himself to be subject to this, knowing he was being led as a lamb to slaughter. He had the power to stop all who reviled him and persecuted him, yet out of love he not only allowed it, but suffered through it without even becoming bitter, hateful or even angry toward those against him. To further my point while hanging on the cross with nails (which were likely more like spikes) gruesomely driven through his very hands and wrists while bleeding badly, cut, bruised, scraped, and with flesh hanging off him finally chose to speak. He didn’t speak words of anger, or cause the burden or treatment to cease with words of fierce rebuke. Not so, rather he petitioned his Father in behalf of those guilty of this very atrocity, IN THE VERY MOMENT and said “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”! There are countless examples of what the Savior did that could act as a summery for him or the life he led. This just seems to be the most telling of all. No doubt God himself and the very angels of Heaven wept through this! No doubt the Angels struggled against their order not to offer aid! No doubt this was pain and suffering to the highest degree and beyond our physical comprehension! No doubt this was heartbreak beyond compare! Yet, in his perfection, for the greater good, he endured for you and me. In fact, he endured this for those who hated him. He endured this for those who still hate him. That’s not crazy, that’s courage!
Very recently I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the strength of my own Mother. She like Christ with incredible courage led herself as a sheep to slaughter. She went openly through torment, ridicule, angry words, pain, grief, ignorant words and much more all out of pure love for myself and her other children. Just as with the Savior, she chose not to speak words of fierce rebuke or to become angry at those mistreating her. Rather she was filled with love and by so doing changed the very hearts of those involved and for me forever solidified a legacy of love, strength, sacrifice and courage. Words fall short to express my gratitude, love and respect for the deed done and the courage it took to accomplish. It was personal. It was for me. It was courage of unthinkable degrees which was driven by love of the highest degree for her children. It wasn’t crazy, it was courage! I will forever be grateful for my Mother, who has shown me, and demonstrated through literal example what it means to possess those traits. I will be forever indebted to her for her example and for her love, and for the life which I now live which she brought about. I have never known my mother to lose faith or even doubt her faith. She like the Stripling Warrior’s mothers of old is full of faith, strength, hope, trust, love and courage all with an eye single to the glory of God. I then, like a stripling warrior of old will follow her in faith and go to battle willingly for her and my God both Now and in the future.