Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ingrown Toenails and Virtuous Living

Repentance, Toenails, and Prostitutes

While I was a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I spent a lot of time walking around. Walking, less than ideal shoes, and poor care on my part led to an ingrown toenail that eventually became so painful I couldn't walk normally anymore and a piece of the nail needed to be surgically removed.

The afternoon after I had the piece of my toenail removed, I went out to work. Normally, we would walk around and talk to people, but with the big bandage on my toe, not to mention the throbbing toe within, I wasn't up for much walking. We prayed that the people would come to us, since I wasn't up for finding the people.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves waiting at a bus singing hymns waiting for the Lord to answer our prayer. It was answered when Cecilia came over to talk to us. We had talked with her before, and though she hadn't told us what she did for work, we had a pretty good guess when we saw what she was wearing on her way to her first day at a new job. As we sang "How Great Thou Art", something inside of her felt peace and hope that she hadn't felt for a long time. We talked with her and tried to help her know that God loved her. She still had doubts whether she could be forgiven or be accepted at church when she was working as a prostitute.

At this point I pointed out my toe, thickly bandaged and sticking out of some sandals I had been given. I explained that the ingrown toenail had started out simple enough. If I had taken the time to clean it or soak it at night, it would have healed itself quickly and easily. If I had been more selective about my shoes, I could have fixed or even prevented the problem.

But I had ignored the problem, thinking it might go away. Sometimes dirt would get under the nail, and I would just hope that my regular showers would take care of it. In time, the toenail became infected and gross. It would have been easy to fix earlier, but now the only answer was surgery. So I had a piece of my toenail cut out and now I had to recover.

My toe still hurt. It actually hurt quite a bit more than it had when it was just infected. But I knew that by removing the infected area, my toe would be able to heal rather than continuing to be infected.

We explained to Cecilia that she would need to make some changes, but God still loved her. Even though the changes might be very difficult and hurt, it would be worth it in order to feel peace and hope in her life again.

A Case For Chastity

The main reason that I believe that it is important to keep the law of chastity (which is abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity after) is because I know that there is a living prophet on the earth today. He has told us God's will, and God's will is that we live virtuous lives. "Because God said" has always been a good enough reason for me, but I want to explain other reasons as well, as well as clearing up a few misconceptions.

Don't You Love Each Other?

First off, I hate the "If you really love me you will..." argument. It is completely flawed, not to mention emotionally abusive. Secondly, there is a big difference between love and lust. My husband and I were friends and knew each other for over a year before we started dating. We had a solid friendship and respected each other.

Of course we enjoyed holding hands and kissing when our dating relationship had progressed to that point, but there was something deeper as well. We could enjoy staying up until 3 am talking about deep things and sharing souls in an intimate way instead of just relying on physical intimacy to strengthen our relationship. We are able to be intimate emotionally as physically.

We also avoided a lot of confusion. A while before we actually started dating (in what we refer to as our pre-dating phase), we had a golden opportunity. We ended up being the only ones on a flatbed of hay riding from one building to another after everyone else had got on the other flatbed to travel to the next destination. It was freezing outside and even snowing. Perfect cuddling weather and no one around to ask questions or spread rumors! My hands were freezing and the rest of me was far from warm. But we were just friends and nothing happened.

We both would have enjoyed it, we could both feel the sparks and the potential, but without anything established, we just didn't take advantage of it. I was sad and a bit disappointed at the time,  but in the long run, it was totally worth it. I didn't have to spend my Christmas break at home wondering what he meant when he put his arm around me or held my hand. I didn't have to question whether he was committed or just cold and taking advantage of a great opportunity. Instead, when I got a phone call on New Year's day (we were in different states over the break), I was able to get excited when he asked me out on a date, and when we were officially dating (about a week later), I could enjoy cuddling without confusion.

Trust and Loyalty

My husband is an absolutely phenomenal person. When I got married, I really felt like all of the confusion and trials leading up to that point finally made sense. I hadn't always understood what God's plan was for me, but when I realized it involved being married to such an amazing man, I felt that it was all completely worth it. It was all so clear once I reached that point in my journey, even though it could be confusing and hard before that.

Because my husband and I chose to practice self control while we were dating and obey the law of chastity, we have a deeper trust and loyalty in marriage. Marriage is a wonderful institution, but the ceremony only takes a few minutes and does not change the nature of the people who are getting married. I would like to say that the day I went from being single to being a wife I could magically cook and clean in ways I had never done before. Not so. The same appetites  passions, wants, and needs will exist before or after marriage and they will exist before or after sleeping with someone, with or without marriage. 

I'm not trying to say people can't change or that having needs met won't change our behavior, but it is hard to say "no" unless you have a bigger "YES" somewhere inside of you (more about that "yes" later). I like to eat dessert, but if all I ever eat is dessert it won't make me happy and really won't satisfy my cravings. That doesn't mean I should never eat dessert. If I reserve dessert for special occasions or circumstances, I can enjoy the dessert more and not feel guilty.

Just as it is hard to trust a friend that gossips about other friends, it would be hard to trust a spouse that couldn't keep commitments. Because my husband and I exercised self control before marriage, we can trust each other to be faithful and loyal after marriage.


I hope that this post gives hope and encouragement to those who are already striving to live faithful, virtuous lives. God knows us each individually and has a plan for us. Even if it doesn't always make sense, He does have a plan. The answers may not come during this life, but they will come. Being faithful and clean is worth it.

I also want to give hope to those who have stepped away from the ideal, for whatever reason. I have many dear friends that have chosen paths different than mine, and I don't love them any less because of it. I also know that I can't control their choices, nor would I want to. 

What I do know, is that the blessings that our Heavenly Father has to offer us are available only upon conditions of obedience, and chastity is one of the commandments that has been given that we are asked to be obedient to. These blessings are available to ALL of God's children. That means you, me, and every single human being on this planet.

It doesn't matter where we are at in life, we can continue on the path we are on or we can change direction. We will make mistakes along the way, but we can be repent and made clean. As we choose to keep all of the commandments, God will bless us. Repentance is available to all, and like the surgery on my ingrown toe nail, it is worth the price.

Expiration Date

I love the movie "A Walk To Remember". It is a great, inspirational movie and makes me want to be a better person. But the ending is so bittersweet. Sweet, because this wonderful couple gets married and are able to enjoy their time together and the girl is able to live all of her dreams before she dies. Bitter, because she dies! They have one wonderful summer together, and then she is gone. It makes me so sad. 

It is hard to have relationships that are inevitably tainted with an eventual end. It is still worth it to build relationships, but it can be really hard to have a relationship with an expiration date. In the movie, the couple doesn't know how long they will have together, but they know it will be short. They make the most of every single moment. Living like that can be a blessing, to be sure. But I imagine that many of their days were also tainted with the fear and sadness of knowing it would be temporary, even if the memories would last forever.

Most marriages come with an expiration date. The marriage ceremony says "til death do us part". Whether you are married by Elvis in Vegas or a preacher in a church, you are married for time only. The contract ends at death and then your marriage is over. Hopefully there is a long time between the beginning and end of the contract, but the end will eventually come, and it is usually a sad day when it does.

But does that really make sense? I love my husband now, and I'm sure I'll love him even more after many years of marriage. Heaven wouldn't be heaven if I don't get to be with him. I know God has a lot to offer, but nothing else would be able to make up the difference if there is gaping hole where my family should be.

So God has provided a way to get rid of the expiration date on our most precious relationships. It isn't free, it may not always be easy. If I am willing to spend a little extra money for a quality vacuum cleaner, shouldn't I be willing to pay the price for something worth far more than a household appliance?

God has said that if we keep His commandments  we can be with our loved ones FOREVER. Not just until death. Knowing that Eternity is an option, how can I ever be settled with less?  He has so much to give us, and all He asks is that we follow the example of His Son and keep His commandments. Sounds like a deal too good to pass up.

What blessings have you seen from virtuous living? Or do you see things from a different perspective? I would love to hear what you have to say. Please share in the comments below!


  1. What about people who realize it was a mistake to get married? They may have liked each other in the beginning, but by the end they can't stand each other. If being with your loved ones forever is heaven, wouldn't being stuck with someone you hate be hell?

  2. Eternity is a long time, and I think there are a few things worth considering.
    1. We won't be "stuck with" anyone. A movie I like puts it this way: If a man doesn't love and cherish his wife here, what makes him think she will want to be with him in the hereafter?
    2. Situations and people will be different in the hereafter. While people rarely change overnight, they usually change over time. We so often judge others based upon the current situation and circumstances. But with thousands of years of refining, I think a lot of people we can't stand now will turn out to be pretty amazing. We also need to realize that the same applies to us, if we can't stand our living with ourselves now because of all of our imperfections, realize that we can be pretty awesome with the Master's help and that perfection doesn't have to happen today. All of us will be much more awesome in the next life.


Please leave your comments below. I look forward to hearing what you have to think!