Tag Archives: Bible

I Will Not Leave You Comfortless

Tonight in my scripture study class someone asked why God sometimes seems to leave us when we need him most. He quoted the scripture, “I will not leave you comfortless” and then asked why that didn’t seem to be true at times.

I thought about this for a minute and my mind rested on the word “leave”. Sometimes we do feel comfortless. Sometimes it feels as though God has abandoned us, that we are hopeless, helpless, and alone. Sometimes in our times of greatest need we will wonder where God is and why he would leave us when we’re doing everything right, when we are doing our best to follow Him and do His will. But that word “leave” is very important. He does not say, “I will not allow you to be comfortless,” or “I will not let you feel alone.” He says that He will not leave us that way.

I struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, loneliness, anxiety, and more. I do not ask why bad things happen to good people; I simply know that they do. But I have never had something bad happen to me that I wasn’t grateful for eventually. The darkness is sometimes a very lonely place, but I know that if I can just hold on long enough, I will not be left comfortless.

This week and the week before have been incredibly difficult. I have felt like I am trudging through waist-deep mud simply getting up in the morning and doing the day to day necessities of life. Tonight though, I felt okay enough to go to my class. I don’t think that was a coincidence. I don’t think that comment or my comment in response were coincidences.

It may have been a small thing, but reasons like that give me hope in the darkness. Tomorrow, life may feel hard again. I may feel depressed and alone, but if that means I can help someone else see the light, I would go through the darkness over and over.

Hold on.

He will not leave you comfortless.

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Suicide and the Atonement

Today in church, we watched a video of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Before they enter the garden, he says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” When I heard that, I thought, “I know how that feels.” That’s what I felt like with suicide. The longer I watched, the more it seemed to apply.

Christ’s experience in the garden was much like my experience with suicide attempts. He asks his disciples, his friends, to tarry and watch with him. Even though they want to, even though they would do anything for their beloved leader and friend, they fall asleep. They cannot be there for him like he wants and needs them to be. The same was true of my friends. They wanted to be there for me in my darkness, but they couldn’t.

Christ goes back to them looking for emotional support and asks, “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” I have felt like that many times in my darkness. Could my friends not be there for me in that moment I desperately needed them? Could they not just stay with me for a little while until the pain had passed?

The part that affected me most though, was when the angel comes to strengthen Christ. During one of my suicide attempts, Christ was my angel. He came and strengthened me and gave me the hope to stop trying to die, at least for that night.

That’s what I want you to know about the atonement and suicide. Christ understands. He has walked the long and lonely road so that he could know how we feel. He won’t leave us alone because he knows what it’s like to face the pain alone. He knows the heaviness and weariness. He knows what it’s like to fall to your knees and beg for any other way.

“Because the Savior walked such a long and lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to.” He will succor us. He will be there for us. As someone who has contemplated suicide multiple times and attempted suicide more than once, I can honestly say that Christ understands and will be there for you. That’s what Easter means to me. It means, I need never be alone because there is one who will always understand.

Prayer

I gave a talk last week about prayer. I tried to talk about all of the things I wish I would have known or been taught 10 years ago, but that I have learned through reading, talks, and experiences since then. Anyway, I thought I would share those thoughts with all of you since you might like to know as well. I’m going to break up my talk into a few topics and multiple posts to make it easier to read and understand.

Promptings are a form of praying

One of my favorite definitions of prayer comes from the Bible Dictionary: Prayer is “the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.”

By this definition, promptings that we choose to follow are prayers because our will is brought into correspondence with God’s. In this sense, praying always is simply continually aligning our will to God’s.

Short disclaimer: Except for the quotes, all statements made and views represented are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect accepted doctrine. 

But if Not

Live freely. Live joyfully. Live like you know the plan God has for you.
But… Don’t be afraid to hurt. Don’t be afraid to break. Don’t be afraid to be lonely.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is where Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo say that the Lord is able to deliver them, but if not, they will still only worship God.

I think about that over and over with my trials. Sometimes, the answer is a pure and simple no. Sometimes God says something like, “No, you need this more than you need me to take it away.”

I know it’s hard to believe. I get it. How can something this hard or this painful possibly mean that God loves you? But I believe it. Yes, God could take away all my problems, but the fact that He doesn’t is not an indication that He doesn’t care or that He isn’t there.

I have asked for God to take away my autism, depression, gender identity issues, and health problems. So far, the answer has been no. I can’t explain how grateful I am for that though. I don’t know who I would be without all of these problems, or the good that I could do if I didn’t struggle with these things. However, I do have a glimpse of the good I have done because of my problems.

I know I have saved lives, changed people, given hope, been an example, and made a difference- all because I suffered. So, when I get a no answer, or when I ask for a yes, I’ll continue to say, “but if not, I’ll still believe,” because I know that God has a much bigger plan for me.

Life isn’t always easy. It gets hard and you forget how to breathe sometimes. But there is a God who loves you, and He can carry you through and lift your burdens so you can hardly feel them, but if not, know this… it will be for the good. Maybe not necessarily your good, at least not at first… but someone’s good.

Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18

This is one of my favorite scriptures. I have a lot of fear in my head. I fear people. I fear what they can do. I fear being rejected or hurt or yelled at or ignored by others. When I want to do good, my mind tells me that I should not because I fear being hurt.

I love this scripture so much though because it is the reason I keep doing good anyway. Even though my mind tells me all of the reasons I am not good enough and all of the reasons I have to fear, my heart tells me to love anyway. I keep doing good because I know “perfect love casteth out fear.”

I do not love perfectly. I do not love even close to perfectly. And I pray constantly and consistently to love more and to love better. Today in church we talked about this chapter and one of my favorite people commented about how she can understand God because she understands love. I thought about how I don’t understand love. I understand a glimpse of love. I understand the surface of love, but I struggle to understand what it means to love and be loved.

However, I have also been learning about compassion. “In the scriptures, compassion means literally to suffer with. I understand suffering. I understand what it feels like to suffer with someone. I am not sure if that is the same thing as love, but I know that I feel love when I show compassion. And because I feel love when I show compassion, I tell my fears to be quiet for the moment while I do something good.

I am still afraid of doing good. I still fear the consequences of being kind. But I remember to love anyway and that love casts out fear, even if just for a minute while I do something good. I cannot love perfectly right now, but I can love right now. I can do good right now despite the fear, and I can let that love cast out fear for a moment until the day where the fear will be dispelled with perfect love.

A Broken Heart

There are times in my life when I have been so incredibly happy that it seems nothing can bring me down. I just love life, and I love people, and everything is good. During some of these times, I have wondered what it means to have a broken heart as it says in the scriptures. How can we have a broken heart when we are happy? How can we feel broken when we have become whole? I can’t explain everything I have learned about this concept, but I will explain what I feel pertains most to us in the world right now.

I think having a broken heart doesn’t mean that you feel broken all the time, but rather that your heart is capable of breaking. I think about when Christ wept with Mary and Martha because Lazarus died. He knew that it wasn’t permanent and that Lazarus would live again, but he wept because his heart broke with theirs. He had compassion. He suffered with them.

I think about all of the bad things going on in the world right now. The terrorist attacks all over the world, refugees fleeing from their homes, shootings that happen every day break my heart. I cannot think about all of the bad things that happen every day. I do not listen to or watch or read the news and I avoid it for the most part because I cannot handle my heart breaking that much.

The beautiful part about all of this though is that we go to Christ with a broken heart, not because he wants our hearts to be broken but because he wants to make us whole. Christ came to Earth, lived, and died so that we can be whole. Yes, we sacrifice to God a broken heart and a contrite spirit, but not because God wants broken hearts. God wants whole hearts, we just sacrifice the brokenness of them.

I hope that this Christmas season and all year long, we will be willing to not harden our hearts to the bad things in the world but instead let our hearts break and take that brokenness and sacrifice it for the one who understands all brokenness. May your heart be made whole as you allow it to be broken for the suffering of the world. And in the breaking of our hearts, hopefully we will allow the healer of all hearts to help us heal and help others. Hopefully, we choose to allow that brokenness to move us to do good and to be better, and maybe one day the sacrifice of our broken hearts will have helped many hearts become whole.

Accepting Help

When you allow others to serve you, you are being Christ for them.

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40

Serving is being Christ-like. Receiving service is acting as a representative of Christ to witness to another person’s goodness.

I believe that one day I will stand by Christ’s side when all the people who have helped me come to be judged, and I will witness to them and to Christ of their goodness because of how they served me.

good_samaritain2

Short Disclaimer: This is a personal belief or thought based on how I understand Matthew 25:40. The purpose of this post is to encourage people to accept help because accepting help is just as important as giving it. If you don't agree with my interpretation, please keep in mind that everyone deserves respect even if they're wrong.  

Painting of Christ

I have been planning and practicing a painting for the last few months and I finally finished it last night. It’s a painting of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The idea to paint this came when I was looking at other paintings of Christ in the Garden. I noticed that most of them had Jesus kneeling. I couldn’t help but reflect on my own desperate prayers. When I have prayed in my most desperate moments, I am generally on the floor with my head in my hands. I know that Christ is better than me and that He wasn’t a normal human being, but I just couldn’t see Him kneeling perfectly upright while suffering for the entire human race.

Then I thought about how hard it must have been for Heavenly Father to watch His only begotten Son suffer and not be able to go to Him. I imagined that He would be embracing our Heavenly Mother and comforting her while sorrowing Himself. And I imagined that everyone else in heaven would be sorrowing with them.

Next I thought about the angel that God sent to comfort His Son. I wondered what I would do if I had been sent to strengthen Christ. How would I comfort Him while knowing that I would be part of why He suffered? And the only thing I could think of was that I would cry with Him. That’s what Jesus did for Mary and Martha. He wept even though He knew that everything would be okay. Even though Christ knew that Lazarus’s death would eventually bring hope and joy to everyone who believed in Him, He wept because He had compassion. And I think that the angel sent to comfort Christ would have done the same thing.

The last thing I thought about was Jesus’s apostles. I can’t tell you how many times I have fallen asleep while praying. Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray. I think that they were trying to follow His counsel and were praying, but couldn’t keep their eyes open. As Jesus said, “The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” His disciples wanted to be diligent, but they had taken in so much that day and in the previous weeks that they fell asleep.

So… here’s the final product. I hope that it makes you think about the Atonement as much as it has made me think about it.

Christ in the Garden

Giving Thanks and Helping Others

Recently I got a message from someone I talked to in an online support group a few years ago. They thanked me for talking to them and helping them and told me that they’re doing better now and helping others. It brought tears to my eyes reading her message to me and reminded me of the story of the 10 lepers.

During my second year of college I went through some health issues, both mental and physical, that kept me at home and in bed most of the time. I didn’t feel like I could do much of anything so I was on the computer a lot. I ended up joining a lot of different support groups online. I started out with autism groups and telling my story there. It gave so much hope to people that I joined more and more groups. Eventually I ended up joining groups called “To Write Love on Her Arms” or TWLOHA. If you haven’t heard of TWLOHA, I encourage you to check out their mission statement here.

Anyway, I talked to hundreds of people through these support groups. Not all of them talked to me back and most of my interactions with people were limited to a single conversation. I knew I was helping people and possibly saving lives, but I couldn’t continue doing the same thing when I recovered because I just didn’t have the time anymore.

I have often thought about that time in my life and all the people I talked to and have wondered how much of a difference I really made. So it was nice to get that message and to know that someone noticed the change in themselves and realized that I was a part of that.

As I was thinking about all of this, I thought about Christ and the one leper that went back to thank Him after He healed 10 lepers. Christ says, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” I know how much it meant to me to know that someone recognized that I helped them and thanked me for it. I think it would mean a lot to Christ for us to thank Him for helping us and healing us. God definitely wants us to go out into the world and help others like He has helped us, but to turn back and give thanks is what sets us apart from the others that have been helped.

Christmas is a time to give and help others, but I think Thanksgiving comes before Christmas because we should give thanks for the help we’ve gotten before we go out to help others. I know that I can definitely give thanks more often and I will try harder to recognize Christmas as a time to give, but also as a time to give thanks.

Christ’s Suffering

We talk about Christ’s suffering in terms of blood, the cross, and death. But in reality, Christ’s suffering was our own suffering.

I have often thought about the scripture that says Christ bled from every pore in the garden of Gethsemane. I used to think that that bleeding was Christ’s suffering. That Christ’s blood was the price of our sins and that through His blood He atoned for our sins. Now though, I realize that it is so much more than that.

Christ didn’t just suffer by bleeding. I have come to realize that bleeding may not have been part of the suffering at all. Jesus bled because the suffering was so great that it caused him to essentially sweat blood. The blood was not the pain he endured, but rather a way for his body to release the pain he was enduring.

For example, if you scrape your knee, the bleeding itself doesn’t hurt- the scrape is what hurts. It’s not bleeding that causes pain, but rather the pain or injury that causes the bleeding. That’s why sometimes people can be bleeding and not even realize it- because we don’t feel the pain from the bleeding itself.

So, considering that, it’s easier for me to realize that Christ really did suffer for me. His suffering wasn’t a price of blood that was paid one drop per sin or sorrow. His suffering was actually the experience of my suffering. He suffered for me in a way that only God can. And because that suffering- the suffering to understand the pains and sins of every human being -was so great, His body bled to cope with the pain that He felt.

Christ didn’t just bleed and die for me. He suffered for me. He suffered to understand me. He experienced my pains and sorrows so that He could know what I go through and so He could know how to comfort me. And because He suffered for me, I don’t have to suffer like He did. I can be comforted through Him and know that I will never be alone as He was because He is always willing to be there with me. And when I fall into the depth of despair, I know that He understands and will weep with me and rejoice with me when my trials are over.