We All Matter|We Are Here to Love

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the love and support that I have had over the years.  I am so, so grateful for it.  Let’s face it, this life can be difficult sometimes and it’s nice to have someone to talk to and lean on.  I believe that we are all here to help each other on this journey through life.  Whether it be by kind and simple acts of service or being a shoulder to cry on, or someone to hang out with.  Sometimes it is even through the roughest moments of our lives that someone comes along and is able to give us the push we need to move forward or says the exact right thing we need to hear.  I call that divine intervention and I don’t believe it is a coincidence at all.

Some people may not believe that there is a divine being that cares about us more than we can ever imagine, and that’s ok.  We are all different and have different paths and journeys that we take in this life. As I always say, I can only speak from own experience.  But there are so many other people’s experiences in this life that we can learn and grow from.  And if we shut people out because they don’t believe exactly as we do, we are literally passing judgement on them.  Does not Jesus Christ (whom I believe is that supreme being for me and all of us), say in Matthew 7:1-2?

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

I have spoken of this subject before. But I firmly and so totally believe that we are going to speak at some point for how we judge our fellow men.  I believe that is a question that we will be asked, “How did you treat others? How did you think of others?  Were you your brother’s keeper?”  No matter the situation that we came to this world in, all people including ourselves, are deserving of unconditional true love and charity in it’s deepest form.

In this world, unfortunately, we are so completely bombarded with judgement and selfishness and harshness from those we love the most and those who don’t know us at all.   There is so much negativity in this world as we know it.

Fortunately for us there is an opposite side to that negativity.  However there must always be a push and pull, or good and bad.  In the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, we read in 2 Nephi 2:11

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.

With that being said, we must embrace positivity with all that we are.  And upon on doing that we must grow in acceptance and love, pure and unconditional, that reaches out and fills the cups of others.  Can we not accept the fact that we are and always will each be individuals in this the human race?  We are all human beings!  That doesn’t make us any better or worse than the person sitting next us.  We are each deserving and worthy of love and light! Our responsibility is to see the divinity in others, no matter what situations they may be in.  We need to be better , we need to do better in that treatment of each and every one we come into contact with.

I’m certainly not saying that I’m am perfect at this in any way!  In fact quite the opposite.  I am such a work in progress.  That is why I write what I do.  It is usually because of some experience that I have had that inspires me to speak about something like this.

Jesus taught us so much in parables about the way we are to love and treat each other.  Did he not teach the parable of the good Samaritan?  And the prodigal son?  Those who labored in the vineyard, some that came in the morning and some that came in the evening to work, yet all were payed the same? Do these parables not teach us that we are equal in His eyes?  That we need to treat each other with respect and divinity, no matter how differently we may think or act or look? Are we not all deserving of this great love that Jesus so spoke of?  The answer is a resounding YES!  We are all deserving, all worthy and we are all worth it!

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the twelve apostles said, God sees you not only as mortal being on small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and  designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.”

Yes we are worthy of and worth His love.  Which in turn means that we are worthy and worth the love of others, no matter the circumstances or the choices that have been made on our individual journeys.  Remember we have our journey and other people have their journey.  We all respond and learn differently.  But we are asked to love others without condition. speaking of the two great commandants in  Mark 12:31 we read:

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt lovethy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

I will completely and wholeheartedly take responsibility for my own shortcomings in this  area.  I have so much to learn and so many people to accept and love. And I’m am so grateful to the supreme being who loves me and knows my shortcomings and doesn’t expect me to be completely perfect.  He knows that I am going to fall short and yet loves me anyway.  He loves each of us anyway!  No matter how broken or  wronged or battered you feel, you do have one who loves you so greatly and so completely that He died that you might live!  You are important, you are loved, you are enough! You are the you that you were meant to be!  Embrace that.  Embrace others for the diversity that surrounds us.

We are SO blessed to live and love and have this great adventure that we call life!  My challenge is for myself and for you to go out today and love on someone who needs your love.  Love so hard that you forget that they are different and think different than you do.  Love them unconditionally and perfectly.  As that is how our maker loves us.  “As I have loved you, LOVE one another!”

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John 13:34-35

 

 

 

Come in the Door is Open!

This past Easter weekend I have been thinking a lot about our Savior and what it means to be His disciple.  While contemplating on that thought I was reminded of the picture of Christ knocking at the door with no handle where we talk of it being us that need to open the door for Him to come into our lives.  Which is definitely true.  We read in Revelation Chapter 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

However, recently I have begun to look at in another light.  Instead of picturing him at the door knocking for us to let Him in.  I picture Him on the other side of the door and when seeing us come to knock, swinging the door wide open with a giant smile on His face saying “Come in the door is open”!

The Lord does not discriminate.  He sees us as we are and as we can be!   So I don’t believe He would hesitate at all if He were to see us taking the steps to come unto him.  He would enfold us in a big hug as if to say “I’ve missed you, where have you been all this time?”

It warms my heart to think that we have a loving Savior who is as concerned and committed to us as a loving parent would be. He sees what we are going through.  He sees us laugh and cry, win and lose, find joy and have pain.  He is all knowing and despite our giant mistakes and problems He loves us all the more.

Seeing our Savior in this way has allowed me to be more open and willing to share the Gospel here on my blog as well as with those I come into contact with.  For were it not for me being born into belief in the gospel, I fear I might not be a believer.  And I feel for all of those who have never heard of Christ the Lord and have no idea that there is a power beyond their own that they can tap into and rely on each and every day.

So what can we do?  How can we help or find those who have never heard of, or who have strayed from the path towards Christ?  I believe there are several ways that we can do that.  But, might I suggest just one? That we just love them.

When I was a young mom I had a child that would test me to my limits.  I could tell you story after story of how he would get into trouble and press my buttons.  But just to give you a couple of examples, he once buttered, with a tub of butter and a spoon, his younger sister while sitting on the sofa waiting to go have pictures done while I finished getting dressed, lol.  Imagine my surprise and displeasure as I came out to find, not only my 18 month old daughter covered head to toe in butter, but the carpet, T.V. and everything in between.  How long was I away?  Couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes.

On another occasion, he thought it would be fun to dump Hershey chocolate syrup all over our brand new carpet!  By this time, I was on a first name basis with the carpet cleaners.  I knew not to even attempt to clean it, just call the cleaners, haha.  Oh he was a Dennis the Menace in every way.  I can laugh about it now, but at the time, I would find myself at my wits end as he got into fiasco after fiasco testing my every last nerve.  And he did it so quickly and slyly right under my nose.  I couldn’t leave him alone for a second!

I remember one night I was praying and pleading with the Lord to help me with this child.  Help me to know what to do and how to handle him.  I begged to know what I was doing wrong.  Why did he test me like this?  As the tears flowed and I poured my heart out.  These gentle words came into my mind still and quiet, “Just love him, just love him”.  For that is how the Savior handles us.  He just loves us!  No matter what.

As I was thinking about this, the words of Ulysses Soares a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came to mind from our recent conference. “When we earnestly, heartily, firmly, and sincerely seek to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach it to one another, these teachings may transform hearts. …It is hard to understand all the reasons why some people take another path. The best we can do in these circumstances is just to love and embrace them, pray for their well-being, and seek for the Lord’s help to know what to do and say. Sincerely rejoice with them in their successes; be their friends and look for the good in them. We should never give up on them but preserve our relationships. Never reject or misjudge them. Just love them!” 

Just love them!  I am so amazed by the love that our Savior has for me and for all of us.  The least we can do for Him is to treat others with respect.  Honor them for who they are.  Be examples of love and light like the Savior would have us do.  And above all, just love them!

I pray that I can help others to come unto Christ.  That I can be open and ready and willing when opportunities arise.  That I will be able to take the words of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, into my heart as he said   “...Pray daily with all your heart that you will find those who will come and see, come and help, and come and stay. “

And when that opportunity comes hopefully I will be able to say “Come in the door is open!”,  with a great big giant smile!

p.s. I know I promised my next post to be another about mental illness … but when thoughts come I have to get them out :).  And that one is proving to take a little longer and be harder than I thought it would be.  It will come soon…XO Wendy

 

Enlightened and Rejuvenated!

If you have read very much on this blog, then you know that I have a deep and abiding love for my Savior Jesus Christ and all that He has done, and continues to do for me.  Every 6 months, the church that I belong to, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has a General Conference meeting.  In this meeting we are taught and counseled by our leaders and those that we believe are called of God at this time and day to lead and guide us in the way that we should go.  We believe that just as in times of old,  we have a prophet on the Earth today, President Russell M. Nelson.  We also believe that we have 12 apostles, just as in Christ’s day, that are called by Him to be His disciples.  They are admonished to finish their days on the Earth teaching, preaching, and loving every man, as taught in the books of the New Testament.  What a privilege it is then, to be able to hear, learn and ponder the messages they share with us each Spring and Fall.  If you are interested in viewing any of these messages you can find them here.

The conference held this past weekend was no different than past conferences.  At this time in my life, I try to spend the days and weeks preceding General Conference (I haven’t always been so diligent), preparing my heart and mind to be open to the messages that God has for me personally.  I was especially mindful this time.  I had some very specific questions that I needed answers to.  I was not disappointed.  Not only did all my questions get answered, but very rapidly as the conference began. (They never all get answered, haha). It was if a book had been laid in front of me to the exact page I needed.  And I was privy to the knowledge and answers that my heart yearned for.  And as you may know, those answers are not always the answers that we want to hear, but they are the answers that we NEED to hear.

I won’t say what the questions were or the answers that came, as they are deeply personal.  But, I was assured  once again of the deep and unfailing love that my Savior has for me and indeed for all of us.

I was struck by so many of the messages that the tears began to flow and did so mightily.  I loved every message from our beloved prophet and all of the apostles for sure!  But here are a few of the messages and links to hear them, that especially touched me this time.

One of the answers to my questions came with the very first speaker.  Elder Ulysses Soares.  He taught us of the importance of living and teaching the gospel to our friends and loved ones.  And the importance of teaching, and raising our children in the light of the Gospel. To teach them that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them.  That Jesus Christ, His son, is the Redeemer of the world.  We need to be rooted in the rock of the Redeemer that we may know that as we learn of Him and come close to him we shall never hunger or thirst. Isaiah 49 :10

10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVED Sister Sharon L. Eubanks.  She taught that we need to be “plugged in” to the source of light, even Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer.   That He is the one that heals us , picks us up and dusts us off and joins with us to pull our heavy burdens.  She taught that in our afflictions He will keep His promises and He will always be with us as taught in the book of Mosiah from the Book of Mormon: Chapter 24

13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

She taught how to access the light of the Savior.  We need only knock and he is there waiting to help is in any way He possibly can.

Matthew Chapter 7

¶ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

She taught that we should use our light!  We may only be one bulb on a tree but we still shine our small light!

And so many more good messages came from her talk, I hope that you will listen to and be edified.

One other one that really touched me was Kyle S. Mckay . He taught that the Lord’s timing does not equal our timing.  Sometimes we go through things that seem never ending.  But the Lord will not forsake us, nor forget us.   Though we may not see immediate answers or relief in our situations, we can be sure that the Lord will still send us immediate blessings to help us while we are waiting on the greater blessing.  We access this by praying with real intent and full purpose of heart.  And then we recognize and praise God  for those tender mercies that come.  Quoted from the Book of Mormon in  Mosiah chapter 5

10 And again, when they thought of the immediate goodness of God, and his power in delivering Alma and his brethren out of the hands of the Lamanites and of bondage, they did raise their voices and give thanks to God. 

Oh there were just so many good messages.  I feel rejuvenated and edified and spiritually fed.  I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life and the great strength it brings me.  In times of plenty as in times of trial.

I hope that you will take some time to ponder and study the messages that were taught, as I know they come from God and are intended to lift, edify and help us through whatever we may be going through.  You can find out more about my faith, General Conference and Jesus Christ by clicking here.

 

Look for the light!

Sometimes, in this ever darkening world it gets harder and harder to find the light.  Who am I?  Where am I going?  What is my mission?  Do I even have a mission? Do I matter?  What is my purpose in this life?  These are  questions that we ask ourselves in times of darkness.  Or when we are really struggling to find the light.  The light of Christ.  The light within ourselves.  The light of others.  So how do we answer the tough questions?  How do we find the light?

I would like to say there is an easy answer! And here is exactly where you go to find it!  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) we have to do the work to find the answers to those questions.  And it’s HARD work!  Many of us may not be willing to put in that kind of work to find the answers to these, and many other questions that plague us.  Many more will find the easy way out by placing the responsibility on others to change or conform to what their belief is.  I guess some could argue that that is what I am doing.   But what I am doing, is trying to get you to look at your life and what questions you have and then do the HARD work to find the answers to those questions.  Find out for yourself!

When I wrote What Being Away from the Church Taught Me, I was in the mind frame that if there was someone else going through what I went through and they could be helped by it, then it was worth sharing.  I still feel that way and I have had many experiences that have led me to believe that we all have something to share that will help each other on this path in life.  The struggle is real, and its HARD!  But we don’t have to do this life alone.  In fact we are not meant to.  Although there are some things that we do have to do alone, like finding the answers to the questions that we struggle with.  What I am asking you to do is: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5

Sometimes, when we do this, we are directed into the path of others that can help us find those answers.  In fact, many times people will be placed in our path to help us open doors and find new and better ways of looking at our questions.  A new perspective can open our minds and fill us with knowledge that we hadn’t previously considered.   We will find that there are new ways of finding the answers to those questions.  We are never completely alone in our quest!

I hear and read all the time that my church is full of judgement, and self righteous people that don’t understand that what they are saying or the way that they treat people is keeping them from coming back to church or joining the church to begin with.  Believe me when I say that there was a time when I felt that way myself.  I remember at one point (maybe on several occasions) saying “Shouldn’t the people be a reflection of the Church?  And if that is what the Church is then I don’t want to be a part of it.”,  But you know what that was?  It was an excuse.  It was an excuse for me to take the easy road.  Why?  Because the other road is much HARDER!  It takes effort and grit to really ask the tough questions and then find a way to get answers.

I’m not saying that there is not judgement in the church, there is plenty of it… way too much, in my opinion.  I have often said, I believe that will be the first question we get asked when we face Christ, “Did you love others, as I have loved you?”  For this is the second great commandment:

 “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matt. 22:39; see also Gal. 5:14).

BUT….. That does not mean that we can let the judgement of others keep us from finding the light. Or, keep us from doing the work to find the answers for ourselves to the questions that we have.   We have to dig deep!  We have to take responsibility for our own life.  It’s the only way to truly find peace and happiness on this Earth.

In the Bible,  James 1:5-6 It reads:  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

So there is our answer!  That is how we can find the answers to the seemingly impossible questions.  God will not let us down!  But we need to do the work!  Praying once may not do it.  Praying for an answer a 100 times may not do it.   But if you continue to pray, study, ponder, search, it will happen!  I can promise you this because it’s happened to me. And many people that I know and love.

Certainly, God is not just going to pour down answers upon your head of everything you’ve ever questioned.  You have to do the HARD work!  But with each question, that you use this above process to find answers with, I promise you, it will work!

The other part that often gets overlooked is that we have to have intent to do something with the answer that we’ve been given.  We have to have “faith unwavering”! Knowledge always comes with responsibility.  We have to acknowledge that when we find the answer, we will do something with it.  Faith precedes action! We can’t just sit back, tap our heads, and say hmmm.  Sometimes it requires a major lifestyle change.  Or an extreme reversal in thought process. So the HARD work comes in again here!

It is not easy!  I’ll say that a hundred times because it’s true, it’s not easy!  Especially when sometimes it feels as though we are just trying to keep our heads above the water to keep from drowning in all the information that is thrown at us from every angle.  But if we are diligent in working towards finding the answers, doors will be opened, hearts will be changed and miracles can happen in our lives!

The Savior teaches that He is the light that “enlighteneth your eyes,” “quickeneth your understandings,” and “giveth life to all things.” The Light of Christ will help us see ourselves and others through the Savior’s eyes.

President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, said “… the spirit that dwells within each of us can be enriched with enthusiasm and enlightened by the Almighty. The process of spiritual growth is revealed in the scriptures: “Intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; … [and] light cleaveth unto light. ”  That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 ,also Doctrine and Covenants 88:40)

I can’t imagine what truths await us if we put in the HARD work to find our answers.  And I hope that with those answers comes a greater determination to move forward, onward and upward.  We owe it to ourselves to take action!  He loves us and wants us to succeed!  Of that I am confident!

 

 

 

 

Look Inward, Then Look Upward

man-person-people-trainOn one of my many trips to Utah, I sat on a delayed airplane outside the Denver International Airport.  A storm was pushing through and there was no way that plane was going to get in the air any time soon.  Sitting there on the tarmac for what seemed like hours, I had an experience that I know now, was not a coincidence.  I chose the window seat (I always fly SouthWest so I get to choose), and a young man about the age of my oldest son sat down next to me.  We didn’t converse much at first, he seemed to be exhausted and wanting to sleep.  But after the captain came on for about the third time to let us know that we would not be getting off the plane or in the air for at least another 45 minutes, he struck up a conversation with me.  He started by asking questions.  And in a round about way we began to talk about marriage.  I think I must have told him that I’d just visited my boyfriend in Nashville and was going home to UT.

When I told him I had 4 children, he asked what happened with my previous marriage.  I explained the situation as best I could, and then he started to tell me about his family and how his parents had divorced.  He was not so long married himself, I think about 10 years, and he wanted to find a way to stay married to his wife and not let that happen to him.  So we discussed various reasons why divorce happens.  And so the conversation went….then the captain came on and said we’d be in the air soon.  We’d already sat on the tarmac for over an hour and half.  I watched out my window as the storm clouds rolled in, menacing and gray.  And thought about this chance encounter with a young man half my age, who seemed to know more about life than I did.  And I realized that is was not by chance.  You see, I believe that God places people in our paths for a reason.  And depending on where we are at spiritually or otherwise we can see those encounters for what they truly are.

Before I knew it, he was telling me about his life long use of drugs and his road back to the LDS church.  THE church, that I was in the process of leaving.  He told me of an experiences that he’d had with God.  Mind you, during this time in my life, I didn’t really want much to do with any church.  I was perfectly happy where I was.  He asked me about my boyfriend and we talked about him not being a member of the LDS church and that I was currently not active.  It wasn’t until much later that I realized this young man was a messenger  sent by God and he was there to give me a message.  I began to listen intently to what he was telling me.  It was incredible, the life he’d been through at such a young age.  But what he’d learned and was able to share was truly extraordinary.  After telling me pretty much his whole life story, he said that one conclusion that he’d come to after being at rock bottom and then working his way back up, is how important CPR is.  Not the traditional CPR but CHURCH, PRAY, READ.   EVERY DAY!  He said that he felt like he’d found the solution to most of life’s ups and downs and that was CPR.  I thought, ok I can see how that has worked for you in your life and I’m happy for you.  But, I tried that and it didn’t work for me.  And that was that.  We had arrived in Salt Lake City and we said our goodbyes.

When I got home, I pondered on that conversation several times.  I began to think, maybe I didn’t use CPR like I should have. Was I attending CHURCH ever single week (well yes, but was I REALLY doing the best I could to get everything out of it…probably not)?  Was I really PRAYING?  Or had my prayers become routine and repetitive?  Probably somewhat.  Was I really READING my scriptures every single day? No.   Did I have a lot of work to do?  YES!  And slowly….. VERY SLOWLY…. my heart began to turn back toward God.

Now, it was a super slow process turning my heart back.  It really took me getting to MY rock bottom, before I realized what a big part that chance encounter had played in my life.  And this past 2 years since I came back to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has been 2 years of extreme spiritual growth.  We have gone through temporal trials that have caused us to look inward and upward.  We have struggled with questions like, why did this happen?   And how long will it take to get through?  And what did we do to get here?  And where do we go from here?  Questions that I think many of us struggle with.  And I certainly don’t claim to have any of the answers to those questions.  All of our trials are different, with different time frames, and different variables.  But I do believe that they all have one thing in common.  God knows us!  God LOVES us and He knows, HE KNOWS what is best for us.  Whatever we think is good for us in our life, God’s plan is better!  It’s so important for us to look at where are hearts are and then to look upward.  To look to God, He knows the way!  His hand is in every facet of our lives and all He asks of us is to “remember HIM”.  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

Remembering him when our hearts are hard is not easy.   When our hearts are hard we are far from him.  We look to the world for our answers and not to our Loving Father in Heaven.  It is only when our hearts become softened that we are able to hear and heed the voice of the Lord and remember Him always.

There are many other practices that we need to be doing to stay close to the Lord and keep our hearts soft.  But CPR, CHURCH, PRAY, READ, is a pretty good recipe for success in the process of softening our hearts and learning to look inward and upward.

Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good…  Doctrine and Covenants 90:24

When we are struggling, when we are having success, when we have doubts, when we have joy, our God ALWAYS, ALWAYS remembers us!  Is it too much for Him to ask that we ALWAYS remember Him? Look inward and then ALWAYS remember to look up to that God that LOVES you!

I will be forever grateful for young man on a plane, that took the time to tell me about his life and his struggle to find life’s meaning.  For having a soft heart and the courage to listen and act on the Spirit’s prompting, to teach a total stranger about CPR!

 

Sharing our witness of Jesus Christ

There is an old saying that goes something like this.  “There are 2 ways of spreading light,  to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it!”  Elder D.Todd Christofferson of the twelve apostles, wrote a talk entitled Becoming a witness of Christ.   He said “people should be able to see in us something of Jesus Christ.  the way we act, speak, look , and even think will reflect Him and His ways.”  In other words we should be a reflection of the Candle (meaning Jesus Christ the light of the world).  In 3 Nephi 18:24  from the Book of Mormon, we read “Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.  Behold I am the light which ye should hold up- that which ye have seen me do.”  As you read this today, I pray that the spirit will be with you and that you will feel impressions on your heart and mind, as to how you can answer these questions. Ask yourself :  1. In what ways do I show that I am a reflection of Jesus Christ to others? and 2. What do I need to do to become a witness of Jesus Christ?

Those are some pretty big questions that hold a lot of weight with them right?!  And truly when you think of a special witness of Jesus Christ we usually think the 12 apostles, who are specifically called to be “special witnesses of Jesus Christ”.  But I believe, and D.Todd Christofferson does too, that it is within the capacity of each of us to become His witness!  Now this certainly does not come easy and hopefully we are making it a lifetime pursuit.  Very often it involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible….  I have seen this happen with my husband as he learned about the gospel and that this is indeed Christ’s restored church on the face of the Earth today.  His testimony began to grow little by little.  He began to make small changes (well he might say the were big, haha) that began to turn his life in a different direction.  We both did really, because I had gotten myself off of the path and had to make those changes to lead me to seek again for Jesus Christ in my life. 

  There are many ways that come to my mind when I think of being a witness of Christ or a reflection of His light.   But here are a few.  I think pure love (he atoned for us, it doesn’t come much purer than that) I think of compassion, a server, a healer of hearts and souls, a giver of light and so much more.  As I was evaluating my life and trying to answer those question I started to think of ways that people I know have shown those types of qualities to me.   

I have had many experiences throughout my life of people who have shared there witness of Christ with me.  Through the ways that they treated me or things that they helped me with.  The first ones that came to mind are my sweet parents!  They have always worked so hard to care for me, love me, and give me the precious fruit of the gospel. 

When I was going through my divorce and then when I became less active, never once did they waiver in their support and love for me.  They never made me feel rejected or left alone.  I always knew that I could turn to them, counsel with them, vent to them if needed and that they would never judge me.  I can truly say that I have goodly parents and that has been such a blessing in my life!  And through the way that they reflected the Saviors love they constantly bore silent testimonies to me of the truthfulness of the gospel and of their witness of Jesus Christ.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson stated that “All of us who are baptized and confirmed have taken upon us the name of Jesus Christ with a commitment to “stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places (Mosiah 18:9).   

He doesn’t ever say, well if your busy you don’t need to be my witness, or if your kids are sick and your house is a mess and laundry needs to be done, you can take a break for awhile, or if you are just tired of always doing what’s right and you feel like it’s all just too much, well then,  just go ahead and take some time off. 

He doesn’t say things like that because He knows what our potential is and He knows the fight that we are in against evil.  He knows the importance of taking a stand!  Standing means being strong, unwavering, leaning not unto our own understanding.  We can’t afford to take breaks from being a witness of our Savior.  There are too many souls that need saving, that need healing, that need something that only we can give them.  They need the peace of the Gospel plan they need the peace of Christ in their lives. 

In our church we have a youth program.  Each year they pick a theme to follow.  I love our youth theme for 2018.  If you haven’t watched the video  I encourage you to go and watch it. I’ve also posted it above.  The theme comes from D&C 19:23  “Learn of me, listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my spirit and you shall have peace in me”.  There is a great song that goes along with it.   The chorus goes like this: He gives us hope when hope is gone, He gives us strength when we can’t go on, He gives us shelter in the storms of life.   When there is no peace on Earth there is peace in Christ.

I came a cross this statement in Elder Christofferson’s talk and it really made an impression on me.  He says “a prophet has told us that the witness of the Holy Ghost makes an impression on our soul that is more significant than a “visitation from an angel”!  That thought just really struck me … the Holy Ghost makes an impression on our soul that is more significant than a “visitation from an angel”!   We have the opportunity to help make those impressions on others souls.  By having the witness borne to us through the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ lives and that He truly is our Savior puts us in unique standing because we then in turn can bear our witness to others and then they will have that impression or that mark borne to their souls through the power of the Holy Ghost.  It is through us, most likely, that others will have that witness make a mark upon their souls.   

Now ultimately, we as individuals are responsible for our own personal spiritual growth!  But it can come through the witnesses of others that we turn our life just a little bit more toward the Savior.

This happened for me as a certain individual truly stood as a witness to me of the Savior.  Every time that I did come to church (and it wasn’t that often) she made sure that I knew that she knew that I was there.   She reached out and tried to find things in common.  She was a lifeline making a mark on my life that literally saved it, when the time came.  When I went through my health problems, she was the one that I reached out to.  She was the one that I knew, no matter what she was doing, would drop everything to come to my rescue.  And she did!

What kind of mark will you make in the lives of those around you?  What kind of reflection will you be?  I invite you to put some real thought into those questions over this Special Christmas season when we remember the birth of our Savior.  When we come to a new year and re-evaluate our lives and our priorities.  What kinds of changes can we make that will help us to be that special witness of Jesus Christ for some one else? We know that because of Him, our eternal happiness is assured.  As our faith in Jesus Christ shines through, we show others who “labour and are heavy laden” how to find rest in Him how to find peace. 

I have shared scriptures today from what we believe as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to be another testament of Jesus Christ.  This is one of my favorites:  We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 nephi 25:26)

We must write according to our prophecies, that our children may know…. or that the world may know, to what source they need to look for peace. 

 I testify to you that Jesus is the Christ,  the atoner, the sacrificer, the giver of light, the healer of souls.  My redeemer and your redeemer He is where we go to find peace.  Can we work just a little bit harder to share that peace through our witness of Him?  I know we can.   

Adversity and the Adversary

Note:  This post is referenced in this previous post where I said I would share the story about finding my Doctor.

praying hands

It has been almost two years to the day that I lay on my living room sofa in a complete pile of tears.  I had all but given up on finding the right medication and a good Dr. to take me on my journey to wellness.  I had been put on waiting list after waiting list to get in to see a psychiatrist.  I had a scheduled appointment, and the day before I was to see the Doctor I ended up back in the hospital following another manic episode.  The Dr. I was supposed to have seen said that since I was unable to make that appointment,  that I would be scheduled for another 6 weeks out.  I felt so beaten down and forgotten.  Why was God not helping me in this? Where was He when I needed Him the most?  And why am I so broken?  These were the questions that I asked myself over and over again.

My husband Joe, had come home to check on me during his lunch break.  He gave me the news that he was finally able to land me an appointment with a strongly referred psychiatrist…. for 6 weeks from that day!  I was torn, I knew this was a good thing but I was completely devastated that I had to wait so long.  I am not going to make it another 6 weeks I cried, I’ll end up in the hospital again, I just knew it.  Joe could see that I was near my breaking point.  We were both at a loss of what to do.  The adversary was working so hard on us, trying to break us down.  I think he knew that we were nearing the fork in the road where we would be required to make the choice of whether to try and do this all on our own or put our trust in the Savior  and let him carry us.

The Savior said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30)

I know I’ve used that scripture previously but it describes so perfectly what I was experiencing, and what I needed to know.  And although at the time I was probably further from God than I had ever been, I also knew that he would hear my cries.  I think the important point to remember is that we all have our loads to bear.  Each one of us goes through hard things, each of us experience opposition and trials that can lead us away from God.  Or they can build and strengthen us if we will trust in His plan for us.

Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the twelve Apostles once stated, “Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness.”  Adversity, then, is essential to our success!

Joe calmly took my hand, and said I think we need to ask God for some help on this.  Can we pray? (This is my non-religious husband whom I had never seen pray before).  Of course, I said a resounding “yes, please pray for us!”  He then poured out his heart right there in front of our sofa.  I don’t really remember the exact words he used but I know that he truly pleaded with a true and honest heart that God would exercise his hand in our situation and somehow bring us peace and comfort and help us get through this hard trial that we were experiencing.  He closed the prayer and I felt a peaceful calm settle over me.  Joe went back to work and I fell into a deep sleep, which was unusual during that time because of my condition.  I awoke to my phone ringing about an hour or so later.  The woman on the line explained who she was, the receptionist of the highly referred Doctor that Joe had spoken with earlier, she explained that they had had a cancelation and knew that I was in desperate need to get in to see him.  “Could you be here at 8:30am tomorrow morning?”  “YES!”  I exclaimed, “I’ll be there.”  I hung up the phone and dropped to my knees,  I knew this was truly God’s hand working a miracle in our lives!

That phone call changed everything for me and for us.  We were now at least “on the journey” towards me becoming healthy again.  The Doctor turned out to be exactly who I needed and has helped me throughout the past couple of years to get and stay well.  However it has been, and continues to be, fraught with many obstacles along the way.  Once we chose to lean on God and get on the right path in that fork in the road the adversary started throwing fiery darts, it seemed, at every turn.  We are told in the Book of Mormon that there is opposition in all things  “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11; see also verse 15).

Although trials come, we must remember that opposition permits us to grow, it strengthens us it helps us to learn to trust God even more and to …lean not unto our own understanding Proverbs 3:5.  And let Him direct our path!  Because even though we may think we have a great plan.  He sees more and His plan is better for us!

President Henry B. Eyring stated in the October 2017 General Conference address “… as much as we have already built faith and courage in our hearts, the Lord expects more from us—and from the generations after us. They will need to be stronger and braver because they will do even greater and harder things than we have done. And they will face increasing opposition from the enemy of our souls.”

So we see that the obstacles that the adversary throws at us our necessary so far as we are leaning toward and trusting in the Lord to guide us through these obstacles.  Life is not easy, it was not meant to be easy.  As Elder Bednar stated. “Happiness is not the absence of a load…”.  It’s what and how we deal with that load that really matters.

Joe and I were recently commenting about the length of this trial and how we just didn’t think it would take “so long” haha.  But I can honestly say that without experiencing the ups and downs of these past few years, we would not have grown so close to our Savior.  We would not know God the way we do now.  We would be floundering wondering which way to turn and how to move forward.  But through the strength of our Savior and  Redeemer we have learned that we CAN have happiness even amongst the loads!