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!

Feed my Sheep

Feed My Sheep

Over and over again this thought has come to my mind in the last month.  I will pray and ask God, “Is there anything you would have me do or know?”  And inevitably the answer comes “Feed My Sheep”.  So of course it has been at the forefront of my mind, wondering exactly how he wants me to “Feed his Sheep”.   And then I walked into church on Sunday and wouldn’t you know it,  there were little sheep everywhere, lol.  Not real sheep of course, but the decorations that we had for our special Mother’s Day lesson was entitled, you guessed it, “Feed my Sheep”.    Super cute too!  You know how those mormon women like to decorate for everything, haha!

Anyway, that made me think that I am certainly not the only one that is feeling that prodding and poking to share the word of God with others.  I suppose that is what all of this means.  That He wants us to share his word with all that we come into contact with.   So how do we do that?

Certainly much of what we do is by example.  Matthew 8:14-16 reads:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

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

If we are to look at our children or children that we come into contact with through various means, how do they learn?  How do they grow?  It is by watching those who have gone before them.  Learning their way from those who have already learned.   That is why we grow up in a family unit, go to school, or to church, or are drawn to others.  It is because of that urgency to learn more, to grow, to experience life. We can not learn all things all at once.  we teach the way our Father taught us, it is ... line upon line, precept upon precept.  Here a little and there a little.  Isaiah 28: 10 . 

And again we read in 2 Nephi 28:30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little;  

This is how God wants us to teach and this is how God wants us to learn.

Another way that we “Feed his Sheep”  is through love.  President Thomas S. Monson taught “As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”  

When a lawyer asked Jesus which of the commandments was the greatest, He could have chosen any of the many commandments from the Old Testament, from the law of Moses, or from the Ten Commandments. Instead, He summarized all of the commandments in these two:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  “This is the first and great commandment.  “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” Matthew 22:37–39).

I remember a time when I had a newborn son in the NICU.  It was grueling days at the hospital, hoping to see signs of improvement.  I had 3 other children that had to be cared for at home.  But all I wanted to do was be with my newborn son and comfort and love on him.  I wanted him to come home with me.  Every day I would plead with the Lord to make my son whole so that I could bring him home.  He only spent 12 days there, but that gave me a whole new appreciation for those that spend weeks and months there.  It is not an easy feat by any means.  However, I was shown so much love through that experience.

I will never forget those who took my children so I could be at the hospital, or the many meals that were brought in so I didn’t have to worry about dinner.  Or the church members that came to the rescue and gave priesthood blessings when it didn’t look like he was going to make it.  But one of the acts of kindness and love, I remember the most was probably one of the smallest, but it meant so much to me.

One of my neighbors brought an Easter Lily and left it on my porch.  It was not in bloom yet… maybe just one or two were blooming.  But she had left the kindest note and mentioned that maybe each day when I got home another bloom would be out, reminding me that it is the small steps that my son was making each day that would get him home.  She said, “by the time these Easter Lilies are in full bloom, maybe he will get to come home.”  It meant so much to me that she put some thought into something so small, but that would come to mean so much to me over the years.  He did come home (he’s 22 now!) and the Easter Lilies were in full bloom and it was glorious.  The smell of them always reminds me of that time in my life when I thought my world was spinning out of control.  But it was one of his faithful servants just … responding with love and kindness to whatever came her way.   To this day, I still LOVE Easter Lilies!

 These are not the only ways, for there are many, many ways that we can love, serve, and teach others.  But know that the smallest act of love are a symbol of the love that we have for God.  John 21:15-17 

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Remember that most of the ways that we “Feed his Sheep” are by the small and seemingly insignificant acts, like the Easter Lily, that help someone feel loved, cared for and appreciated.  I hope that today you will find a way to… respond with love and kindness to whatever comes your way.

 

Feeling the Love of God more Abundantly

I’ve recently been studying about Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, which has brought many feelings to the surface and helped me to recognize the importance of His grace in my life.  I was awakened at 4:30 this morning with thoughts about feeling God’s love more abundantly in my life.  I’ve felt the guidance of the Savior’s hand in my life lately as never before, and have felt the undeniable promptings to put it in writing.  He says:

Matthew 11-30;  28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 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.  30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.                     

I know that the Savior leads us along and wants us to have a voice and be strong and help gather his children back to him.  So in that spirit, I am striving to be a diligent servant and share His word through my personal experiences, and hopefully it will help someone out there who may be experiencing something similar.  Or who maybe just need a little lift in their day.

I had a dream recently that really gave me pause.  I was riding in a car with my husband and it was a blizzard outside.  We could barely see the road because of the wind and snow falling.  We were on a canyon road that was a mountain on one side and a drop off on the other.  I could see that we were dangerously close to the cliff.  Suddenly the car began to swerve and I could see that we were going to slide off the road.  There was nothing that we could do.  I remember feeling so helpless as I looked to my husband and saw the same look on his face.  I was thinking “Is this how it is all going to end for us?”

As we slid off the cliff and started falling, I was astounded as I looked to the left, to see a large hand glowing white, come around the the front bumper of the car.  It was a huge hand that engulfed the whole left side of the car.  And then as I glanced to the right I saw another huge glowing white hand (I can’t really say glowing, it was more like on fire), brighter than you can imagine.   I definitely knew in my minds eye, that it was God’s hands coming around the car to shield us from the impending crash.  I remember being astonished at the strength and comfort that seeing those hands, brought to me.  I could see that we were going to crash.  But I could also see that we were going to be surrounded in the arms of his love and in some way protected from the inevitable damage that would take place.  Then, just as the hands came around us, we began to hit the trees… and that’s when I woke up.

This past year and a half has been especially difficult for us.  You can read some about it here.  When I told my husband about my dream he said, “well we did kind of go off a cliff!” And even though I laughed when he said it, I knew he was right.  I had been praying and pleading with the Lord to help us find a way out of the situation that we have been in.  We like to joke that we were on a bicycle built for two with our arms spread out wide, the wind blowing in our hair,  just coasting along.  And then someone took a stick and put it in the spokes and we came to a sudden stop and went flying over the top!

For months and months we both pleaded with the Lord for guidance and direction. I feel like this dream came to me to remind me that even though we experience REALLY TOUGH things in our lives, He is always there to protect us when we go off the cliff and hit the trees.   We still fall, we still hit the trees, but his loving arms surround us….2 Nephi 15:25; but his hand is stretched out still, no matter what we are experiencing in our lives.

Through this experience we have seen many miracles.  We have felt the spirit lead and guide us.  It has changed who we are.  And it has strengthened our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our Savior felt it all when he suffered for us in Gethsemane, He suffered the unimaginable so that we would be able to one day return to our loving Father in Heaven.  I am so grateful that I have been able to feel His love, grace and mercy in my life more abundantly.  It has been rough, bumpy and uphill climb but when we are growing the road is always uphill!

We still aren’t out of the woods, in fact some days I feel like we are still sitting in the crashed car saying “what just happened?” But I am constantly reminded of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us if we will just reach out for it!  Therein lies the secret.  Revelation 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. We have to be the ones to reach out to Him.  He stands at the door and knocks but we must open the door and let him in.

It is my prayer that we can take his yoke upon us and learn of him so that we can better handle the situations that are thrown at us each and every day.  John 14:6; For he is the way the truth and the life!