Find your light again

Today we are talking about light. And boy, don’t we all need a little light in our life these days?

The past couple of months have been super challenging.  I know that I am not the only one that feels this way.  It’s ironic because back in February before all the craziness started, I felt better physically, mentally and emotionally than I had in a very long time.  Stronger.  More equipped to fight off the adversary.  More confident, after struggling for so long to regain what I felt being diagnosed Bipolar, had taken away from me.  Courage to face the challenges that would come my way.  Little did I know what myself and others would be facing over the next several months.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you, doesn’t it?  I don’t know if there is anything that could have prepared us for what we have all been through over the past several months.   And on top of the many circumstances that each of us have faced together, many have had to face the normal day to day challenges and inevitable trials that unexpectedly would come our way in our so-called “normal” pre-Covid life.

As I have been struggling, I have been searching for ways to pull myself out of the funk that I have been in. To find the light.  Sometimes, in this ever darkening world it gets harder and harder to find the light.  We start to ask questions such as 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? 

Well wouldn’t you know it as I have been pondering these questions, especially the last couple of weeks, God came through with something that I needed.  And maybe you need it too so I thought I’d share.  It’s important for me to say that it didn’t just happen.  I have been praying for days to feel better and re-gain that strength and faith and courage that I had just a few short months ago.  As I have mentioned many, many times, we can’t just wait for it, we have to look for it and ask for it.  

In Matthew 7:7-8

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

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

 And so I thought I would just put that to the test, as I have on many occasions.  It is such a great promise from the Lord.  And the Lord will never let us down.

And so I asked Him.  Where do I find the light?  And when I asked I realized that the first step was exactly what I was doing.  To look to the light for answers.  

In John 8:12 we read 

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus Christ our Savior is the ultimate example of light and hope.  He is the giver of light, the light of the world.  So merely by looking to Him and asking Him for help will bring a measure of light that can’t be found elsewhere in this world. How reassuring is that?  He is our exemplar and our strength.  He is the “light in the darkness”.  

From the words of the Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

When we choose to follow him and make Him the center of our lives we are choosing to become like Him. Our fears will be replaced by courage and we will have a desire to reflect that light in our own lives.

In a talk given in October of 2015 by President Thomas S. Monson, says, “To each of you, I say that you are a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. You have come from His presence to live on this earth for a season, to reflect the Savior’s teachings, and bravely let your light shine for all to see.”

Upon reading that, immediately a quote came to mind that I used to repeat over and over when I was practicing daily affirmations (which is probably a practice I should return to.  It can be so helpful.), it goes like this  “There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it!” 

How do we find the light again?  The way is simple, we can find our light again by looking to the Savior for guidance and peace and by following the path he marked for us. 

President Monson goes on to say “Life is perfect for none of us, and at times the challenges and difficulties we face may become overwhelming, causing our light to dim.  However, with help from our Heavenly Father, coupled with the support from others, we can regain that light which will illuminate our own path once again and provide the light others may need.”

So then I thought about the mirror or reflection, and I was reminded of the scripture from the sermon on the mount.  

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.

And then in 1 Timothy 4:12 … but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

So in essence we draw our strength, our light, from the Savior and then reflect that light to those around us.  And you know the crazy thing about that is that when we do that, the light comes back to us.  It’s like a boomerang effect.  The more you throw out light, love, peace, kindness, the more you are filled with it yourself.

I have thought about this phenomenon and also of the opposite which would come from the adversary.  Satan would have us remain in isolation, loneliness, and darkness.  Questioning ourselves and what our purpose is.  He would love nothing more than to have us succumb to depression, to anger, to bitterness.  But that’s not who we were meant to be.  That’s not who we were created to be.

We were created to be lovers of light.  Lovers of “The Light” our Savior who completed the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Who suffered for all the hurt, pain, and loneliness that we feel.  We were created to be givers of light!  Our purpose is unquestionable in my opinion. Our purpose as believers of our Savior is to bring that light of Christ to others.  That’s it, that’s our purpose

Now our mission or our calling is different and that’s a whole other show. So we can talk about that another time.

But, our purpose is to remember that there are two ways of spreading that light, the light of Christ.  To be the candle, OR the mirror that reflects it.  That’s the boomerang effect.  We can BE the light to others.  But, we can also REFLECT that light that is given to us through others’ light.  It’s so cool how that works!  Whatever you send out into the world be it love, kindness, peace, it is going to bounce back to you!

Unfortunately, the boomerang effect can work in the opposite way as well concerning darkness.  If we dish it out negativity, ill will, anger, and contention, we get it back. That is not God’s way.   There is only one place that all of that comes from.  And that is Satan.  He would have us believe that evil is good, and good is evil.  Isaiah warns of this when he says in Isaiah 5:20

20 ¶ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

But let’s not dwell on this because it truly is not God’s way.

President Monson went on to say. “each of us came to earth having been given the light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.” 

Now I am going to get a little vulnerable and tell you an experience about how letting your light shine affected me in such a big, big way.

When I went through my divorce 10 yrs ago, I really struggled.  It was a terrible time trying to figure out what to do and where to go next. And I was bitter.  I’m not going to lie about that.  I had friends that I felt abandoned me when I needed them most.  But I tried really hard not to let that influence my decisions, but it truly did shake my faith.  It was one of the reasons that I walked away from my church.  I felt that if that was the way members of my faith acted when someone needed them most, then that wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of.  I felt that the people in the church should be that reflection of what we preached about each week.  Of our Savior.  And I knew that my Savior would never treat me that way.  I moved out of the area and subsequently went to a different building of the same faith.  I was welcomed there but I still felt that touch of judgement when people learned of my divorce.  But I kept going because I knew my Savior didn’t feel that way about me.  I tried so hard to stay close to my Savior.  But it got harder and harder as I felt more and more ostresized.  Looking back, it wasn’t so much their fault as it was mine.  I could have been more forgiving of the way that I was treated.  But I was hurting and sometimes when people are hurting they don’t look at things in a logical way.  

Any way, When I moved to Nashville in 2012 there was a  certain woman who truly stood out as a light for me from the Savior. She lived in my neighborhood and  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 knew I could reach 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. When I suffered through my two back to back times in the hospital she was there to help pick up the pieces.  She probably didn’t even know how much her small acts of kindness changed my heart.  Many, many times I remember her being so friendly and kind and doing her best to make me feel welcome and loved.  She was such a light in my life when I really, really needed it.

Looking back, I can’t blame those friends for not reaching out.  Sometimes we encounter awkward situations where we just don’t know how to respond or what to do.  But what I have learned through this experience is that it really doesn’t matter how small your gesture.  A phone call, a text, a smile, a hug can all go a very long way when someone is going through something difficult and just needs to see a tiny sliver of light.

I can speak from experience when I say it’s not an easy process to find your way back to the light. To trust in and look to the Savior. It takes time, it takes faith, it takes healing.  But I promise you that if you can do that, if you can put your trust in Him, He will bring the light back into your life again.  Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  There’s always a way!

As your faith in Jesus Christ grows and you glean from his example the light can’t help but shine through you.  You will be able to help not only yourself, but others who “labour and are heavy laden” to find rest in Him and to find peace. And especially to find that light in themselves again!  Because oftentimes that is where the real struggle is. 

So…turn to the Savior!  Find your light again.  And then ask yourself, what kind of mark will I make in the lives of those around me?  What kind of light will I hold up?  What kind of reflection will I be? 

Put some real thought into those questions.  Journal about them.  Write down your journey towards finding your light.  And then, remember all of this as we approach this season of giving and of love when we remember the birth of our Savior.  When we come upon a new year and take time to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities.  What kinds of changes can you make that will help you to rekindle that light in yourself? And then how can you use that as a boomerang effect so you continue receiving more light? Because if you can do that, I promise you that you will have an endless supply of light in your lamp when the time comes that you really need it.  And you will have ample to share with others along the way!

XO Wendy

An Ordinary Box? Or Something More?

Imagine for a moment, a medium sized moving box, (maybe one that you could put a couple loads of old clothes in).  Dingy, old and worn, smelling musty from being stored for a long period of time.  Maybe even a little water damage can be seen in the ripples of the beat up box.  Dust has begun to collect from the years of being untouched.  An ordinary storage box by outward appearances.

Ok.  Do you have that mental picture in mind?

Now let’s take this imaginary box to a new level.  Though ordinary, there is something different about it.  This box can not be seen by the naked eye.  Beat down, worn out, and barely noticed anymore.  But….YOU CAN see it clearly now.  And It is time to open this box and discover what is inside. For some reason, you are a little afraid of what you might find, but you decide to open it anyway.

To your astonishment, as you open the box, familiar things begin to suddenly appear in your minds eye.  There are loads and loads of memories inside.  Good ones, bad ones, happy and sad, success and failure, adventure, and despair.  But wait.  Some of these memories you recognize, and some you have never felt or seen before.  How can that be?  It is YOUR box, right?

Then you realize deep in your soul that these are ALL of your memories!   A Lifetime’s worth!  All of your emotions, your hopes and dreams, your adventures, your experiences!  Even those you haven’t had or seen before. All of them trapped deep inside this box never to be found.  And then it hits you!

It comes to you with great force, like a huge punch in the gut. You feel sick to your stomach as you realize that this  box was created FOR YOU!  Not only that, it was built BY YOU!

You suddenly realize that there is one emotion that is not trapped or missing.  It is the very same one that kept you from opening it to start with.  The very one that you are feeling right now.  It’s Fear!  Fear of what might have been inside.  Fear of what might have happened if you opened it.  Fear of the unknown.  Plain and simple, the emotion is  Fear.  And you realize that you have been filled with fear for a very long time.

Ok, snap out of it.  Back to real life?  How do you feel?

No worries.  The great thing about imagination is that it is just that, imagination!  And that means that you can change the way this story ends!

And you know what?  It is time!  It is past time for you to take control of your fear.  Kick it to curb.  Release all of those past experiences and failures that have made you afraid to experience your life. Afraid to try new things, to take risks, to become more than you are and learn something new.

Because no one wants to look back at their life as they take their last and final breath and see that there was so much more that could have been.  If only they would have opened the box!

Break free!  Your life is waiting for you!

XO, Wendy

What prompted this post:  I realized that since I was diagnosed with Bipolar 5 years ago, I have been so afraid of what might happen.  It took several years to get meds right and get my physical, mental, and spiritual balance back.

But since then I have been somewhat paralyzed by the worry that it will happen again (meaning I would end up in the psychiatric ward again).  So what if it does?  It wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I mean, I do NOT want that to happen for sure!  However I  have survived.  I’ve been surviving it most of my life (with the help of my Savior and redeemer carrying me every step of the way).

But the difference now, is that I am so much stronger.  Because I know.  I know what I am dealing with.  I know what triggers me.  I know what precautions I need to take.  There is absolutely no reason to remain stuck in this place.  It is way past time to see what is on the other side of fear!

And if you have similar feelings of being stuck and unable to progress or move forward.  Maybe it is time to take a good look at what is holding YOU back.  I’d be willing to place a bet that it is the box of fear that you have been hiding in.

I know it’s not easy to break free from.  Believe me I have been trying for nearly 40 years.  Do not let this be your story.  There is ALWAYS hope!

P.S.  If you have not yet heard of it, check out the book Limitless by Jim Kwik.  I haven’t finished it yet but it has made me realize that  my brain is not broken.  Just untrained, underused and misunderstood.  A work in progress, but truly limitless!

 

Coming back…

“…in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” President Russell M. Nelson remarked in 2018 General Conference.

This particular passage came into my mind with such force this morning.  I don’t know why. I’ve learned not to question. But to allow things like this to marinate a little and wash over me.  What is the reason? What is the purpose for this? Maybe a reminder to not take my experiences for granted. Because there was a time when I did just that.  Took it all for granted.  

We are all a constant work in progress.  Trying to live each day in the best way we know how.  Despite the many setbacks, trials, sicknesses, and other life events that we encounter, we push forward to find a way…. Our way.  

My way is certainly not the best way, but it’s my way, my journey. And your way, is your journey.  And no matter the circumstances we face in our lives, part of living is learning to enjoy and even flourish amidst all that we face in these confusing and sometimes dark days.  

Pain is part of it. Joy is part of it.  Tears and heartache are part of it. Success and conquering are all part of this journey!

This blog is my story, my life, my journey.  I can’t change anything for you in your personal life.  Only YOU can do that. But as I have mentioned in many of the posts I have written.  You don’t have to do it alone. You are NEVER, EVER alone!

Sometimes it may feel like it.  Sometimes it may feel like Heaven’s doors are shut and locked to many of us.  We want to know and to hear and understand, but sometimes (and I’m just speaking from my own experiences here), it is not the Lord that walks away from us.  We distance ourselves from Him. Not in a completely intentional way but in an “I’m not sure this is what I want in my life right now,” sort of way. I just want to find out for myself.”  And I am here to suggest that this is EXACTLY what you need to do. Find out for yourself!  

No one can get you to feel or grow and progress spiritually except for you. And it takes work.  You can’t just expect to have all the answers laid out in a neat little package for you. But questioning is part of that work. And though it may feel as though Heaven is closed, believe me when I say, those windows and doors are wide open, waiting to pour out blessings upon you.

We do have to ask, seek, knock in order for those answers to come. And it is hard.  He never said it would be easy, only that it would be worth it! 

Several years ago (It’s been almost 8 years to be exact), I found myself in a position of questioning and struggling with things of a spiritual nature.  I would ask myself (and sometimes others) the impossible questions. Why faith? Why is everything predicated upon faith? If there is a God, why do bad things happen to good people?  Why are there starving people in the world? Why is there so much sickness and despair and natural disasters? If there is a God, why can’t I feel Him, why does He talk to others but not me?  And where is my “beyond a doubt” moment? And so many other relevant questions that many of you are asking yourselves right now.

I certainly do not have all the answers.  I am a work in progress, just like everyone else.  I only see it the way that it happened for me. As it is for all of us.

When I left the Church that I was raised in, I walked away from a culture.  I walked away from a “building”. I walked away from what I knew at the time.  I slowly moved away from my Savior, (even though I didn’t believe that at the time).

But when I came back, I came back because my Savior found me. He found ME. Though I was lost, HE went out looking for me.  He left the other sheep to find the ONE. I don’t know how or why it happened for me the way that it did. I don’t know why that passage came to me with such force this morning.  I’m still not sure. Maybe the good shepherd is out there looking for YOU.  Perhaps I am just the messenger.

I know you are struggling right now to find answers.  Your road will not be easy.

My road was NOT an easy road.  And to have it to do over again… I’m sure I would have pleaded to find another way.  A way that wasn’t as painful and full of struggles as it was. But in that same breath, I have learned and grown in ways I never could have imagined.  Ways that I never would have if my road had been different.  

He heals me every day that I allow him to.  He carries me when the days are long and hard.  He finds me when I get lost for a moment. He LOVES me without condition.  He is my strength when I feel weak. He is my hope when I feel despair. He brings me so much joy and peace.  He found ME but in HIM I find my peace, strength, love, hope, and healing. He is my Savior and redeemer.  

This is my story, it is my journey, my life.  And through it all He WAS there. Even when I thought He wasn’t.  He WAS THERE! For ME. The ONE!

And he will be there for YOU too!

XO 

Wendy

Matthew 12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Be grateful for today.

Be thankful for how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned along the way.  We only have one life!  

Don’t waste it away worrying about what you haven’t yet been able to do.  Make today great and full of gratitude and everything else will take care of itself.

Live in thanksgiving daily.

…live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. (Alma 34:38)

Thanksgiving

First of all, I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving day.  I thought it would be appropriate to speak of gratitude on Thanksgiving day!  What other time of the year do we take one whole day to celebrate all that is good in our lives, all of our many blessings?

If you have read much of my blog, then you already know how important journals are to me.  And my favorite of all the journals that I write in, is my gratitude journal.  It doesn’t have to be a big expensive journal with a fancy cover.  It can just be a notebook that you can keep inside your purse if need be.

The important part is that you write in it.  Not just periodically, but daily.  It’s similar to being consistent that we talked about here.

“Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence.”                        Bonnie D. Parkin

A few weeks ago we talked about joy and I believe that one of the ways that we can find true joy is through living in thanksgiving daily as stated above.

Today you will gather with family and friends to celebrate your love and relationships and all that you have to be grateful for.  You will eat a lot of good food, watch football, play games, sleep and love on each other, build on current relationships and maybe start new ones.

I hope that you will take a few minutes at some point during your day to write down all of the many blessings you have in your life.

While everyone’s Thanksgiving might not be perfect, it can be filled with love and happiness.  That really depends on you.  Sure you could give away your control when one of your siblings or parents says or does something inappropriate.  But how much better will your memories be if you can just be filled with gratitude.

I’m not sure who, but someone shared this with me one day, and because I live far away from my family it really stuck with me.

Think about the people in your life, not those you live with daily, but those that you may only see a couple of times per year.  Now think about how many times you will get to see and be with them in their lifetime.  Usually that’s only a couple of times per year for most people.  If it’s a parent, and say they have roughly 10 years more of living, that’s only about 20 more times in YOUR life that you will get to spend with them!

So today, try to make the most of the time you get to spend with all of the important people in your life.  Because you just never know when that might be your last time.

And if you live far away from family, CALL them or FaceTime them.  It would mean so much to them.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

XO Wendy