Tag Archives: Discipleship

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.

This is the Christ

There are some spiritual experiences that cannot be recorded. We feel them. We hold them. We treasure them. Then they leave us, sliding like water through our fingers. But we remember a glimpse of that feeling. We remember bits and pieces of the precious moments we spend with the Savior. We remember a portion of the burning of our hearts, a part of the love or joy or comfort we have felt.

Tonight, I cannot express the least part of what I feel. But what I have felt, I know I must share. Tonight as I experienced Christ’s life in a new way, in a sensory, emotional experience, I was filled with renewed love and understanding of my Savior.

I saw him as a father, holding out his arms to greet his little children. I saw him laughing and hugging the little ones that scrambled for his attention, just to be close to him and feel his presence.

I saw him as a friend, reaching out to comfort someone in need, giving counsel as necessary and love at all times.

I saw him as a person, a human in his pain and suffering. I saw him struggle to bear his burden, to fulfill his purpose. I saw him plead for any other way. I saw him ache for comfort, for relief. I saw him trying to take his mind off of the pain as they beat him over and over again.

I saw him stumble under the weight of his cross, so exhausted that he could not hold his own weight, let alone the weight of his cross. I heard him gasp as the nails pierced his hands, wrists, and feet. And I cried as he forgave the Roman soldiers that took part in his crucifixion.

And then, as I felt the power of the stone being rolled away, as I rejoiced with the angels at his resurrection, I felt that he was not holding out his arms to reach out to me, but rather running with arms outstretched to welcome me home. This was not a passive moment. This was not Christ allowing me to come to him, but rather him running to me, as he has always done. This was Christ running to greet me, to love me, to comfort me, as he has done every second of every moment of my life when I have needed him, or wanted him, or asked for him. No, Christ would not wait to hug me when I see him again. He would run to me. And I would run to him because I cannot bear to be away from my best friend.

This is the Christ. This is the Christ I know. He is not a passive being. He is not one to wait. He is one who seeks. And as he seeks me, I will seek him because there is no one who makes me happier than Jesus, the Christ, my savior and redeemer, my hope and my salvation.

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The Sabbath is a Delight

I have always enjoyed Sundays. Other than having to wear a skirt, it was a day that I looked forward to for learning and relaxation. I did good things on Sunday like spending time with family, listening to music or talks, and watching church produced movies and bible videos.

The problem was that there was always an element missing from my Sundays, me. Sundays were about tuning out more than tuning in. They were about getting out of the world, taking a break from cares of the week, allowing myself to breathe. They also included service and learning and spiritual growth, but those were side effects rather than results.

I have not been well for a long time. I have fluctuated between health issues and depression for as long as I can remember. If I wasn’t suffering from one, I was struggling with the other. Sundays were a break from the week, but also a reminder that I was not okay. The quietness of a Sunday afternoon accentuated the loudness of my mind and body. I had time to realize just how bad I really felt and to get it out before having to face my week again.

Feeling the mental clarity I am now experiencing was an anomaly if not an impossibility. I needed Sunday to recharge. I needed Sunday to process what I was going through and handle life. I needed Sunday to be my escape. Sunday was a day of rest, but it was not yet “a delight”.

However, now that I am feeling better, I have discovered a whole new level to Sundays that I was unaware of before. I have discovered why Sunday can be called “a delight”. I have learned how to be present in my Sunday rather than a casual observer or catatonic absorber.

Sundays are not simply days of relaxation. They are days of action. There is much to be done. I have a million goals for my life, books I want to read, people I want to get to know, things I want to experience. Sunday has become a day to work towards those good things, to become better, and to form more meaningful relationships with God and others.

Sunday is not simply meant to give us a break from the world. Instead, Sunday should give us a new way to experience the world. Sunday should help us see the beauty in the little things, the brightness of someone’s countenance, the need behind someone’s distance.

Sunday isn’t just a day to rest; it is a day to experience THE rest. It is a day to feel what we don’t feel during the week because we don’t have time to notice or we just don’t think about it. Sunday is a day to experience the rest of the world apart from school or work or other demands. It is a day to be. It is a day to live.

I have read lists of ideas on what to do on Sunday, but I think the key is really what to be on Sunday. Are we being present? Are we experiencing our families in a different light? Are we engaging in a spiritual dialogue with our Savior and using that dialogue to make connections and gain personal insights? Are we being seekers of truth, doers of the word, lights unto the world?

I believe that making Sunday a delight consists of being rather than doing. It is a frame of mind, an attitude and perspective, rather than an adherence to a set of rules and regulations. Sunday is a delight, not because of what the day is, but because of what I am in that day. Insert yourself in your Sunday, engage in everything you do, and be fully present. Then I think you will find that Sunday is indeed a delight.

My Short Service Mission

If you haven’t seen Elder Holland’s pre-Face-to-face video, I highly recommend watching it by clicking here.

I’m grateful that Elder Holland talked about those that can’t go on proselyting missions at all.

I served a seven month service mission. It was not in the plans. I was supposed to go on a fulltime, 18 month proselyting mission. I was supposed to return from that mission and get my doctorate in clinical psychology. None of that happened.

For a long time, I felt inadequate. I felt like I was not enough because I couldn’t go on a regular mission. I wondered if it was because I was unworthy. I wondered if I had made different decisions, if I would have been able to go. I wondered if I was letting someone down somewhere because I wasn’t going on the mission everyone thought I should be on. I wondered if I chose the right service mission. I wondered if I should have pushed myself more or tried harder to step out of my comfort zone. I wondered if my service was adequate and if my efforts made a difference. I wondered why I was given all the challenges that prevented me from serving a fulltime mission.

I don’t wonder anymore.

It has been a year and a half since I ended my service mission early to start fulltime employment with the church. In the past 18 months of employment and the previous 7 months of my service mission, I have grown exponentially. I still feel like I am on a mission. I still have that same spirit with me and the same motivation to serve and to give my best to the Lord, possibly even more so now than while I was a set apart missionary. I am a better person because of my mission and I am continually becoming better because of the effects of it.

My service mission was a miracle, and so many things after it have been miracles. The fact that I chose the Humanitarian Center, and that I even found the Humanitarian Center. That once I found the center that I chose to serve as an office assistant. That after 6 months of service, the admin assistant job opened up and that those 6 months gave me just enough experience to qualify for that job with my previous job experiences. That the week after I got my first paycheck, I found out my best friend was homeless and could afford to help buy her food. That I was able to meet wonderful friends here that have changed my life. That I am now able to help other service missionaries and early returned missionaries at my job. That I have been able to serve in the various positions I have held in the church, including being a temple worker. That I was able to serve as initiatory coordinator for a year during my temple service. That I was able to be present for all of my nieces’ births. That I was able to forgive and love people I never thought I could. That I was able to discover a new career path that I am excited about and that I never would have considered otherwise. That I was able to prove residency for college tuition because I had been employed nearly exactly one year from when I applied for school. The list goes on.

The miracles that have come because of my service mission are innumerable. But I still believe that the greatest miracle of all has been the change in me. I don’t know if I would have changed so much for the better on a proselyting mission. I don’t know if I would have been humbled as much on a proselyting mission. I don’t know if I would have discovered who I am or become what I am meant to be.

We all serve differently. My service mission is no less noble than any other mission. It may have been short. It may have been relatively small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it was significant to me and to my family and to those I served and am serving.

There is no small mission. There is no insignificant mission. There is no insufficient mission. There are simply different missions. I served with faith and love and diligence, and I hope to continue to do so. My mission is not over, and neither is yours. We are simply continuing our more significant mission. We do not serve for a couple years or a couple months. We serve our whole lives, we simply wear a name tag for that long.

Spending Time with Christ

We had a lesson in church about Christ-like attributes. The teacher said that we become like the people we spend the most time with, so to imagine what we would be like if the person we spend the most time with is Christ. I have been thinking about that a lot since then.

Naturally, I am not very Christ-like. I believe in justice more than mercy. I do not love very easily or forgive very quickly. I am often selfish and afraid. But, especially recently, I spend a lot of time with Christ. I pray all the time. I listen to music and talks and books about Christ. I read and write about Christ. I try to do what he asks and act as he would. I try to consistently give him all that I am. And slowly, but surely, I have noticed myself becoming more Christ-like.

I want you to know that becoming more like Christ really is as simple as spending time with him. Praying is my favorite thing in the world. Talking to someone I know loves me and wants me to be better and understands everything, is the best feeling I know. God is listening. He is there for you. He loves you. Spend time with him, and I promise you will find yourself becoming more like him.

Becoming Amazing

I went to a retirement party last week for one of my friends from work. It was interesting to me how no one really talked about what she did at work or about her work ethic. Instead, they talked about her Christ-like service and love and the way she kept the spirit with her. I couldn’t help thinking, “I want to be like that someday.”

There are amazing people in my life, and there have been amazing people in my life. I always wondered what it took to be like them. I wondered if I could ever be like them and how I could work towards that goal. What I have realized is that it is the choices people make that make them amazing.

It is my belief that there is nothing inherit about a person that makes them amazing, at least no more so than the rest of us. The fact that we are alive and breathing is in itself an amazing thing, but what is it that makes us look up to and admire others? It is their choices.

The people I admire most have chosen to follow God. They consistently make or have made choices to serve God and those around them. When I see that service and I see their love for those around them, I just think, “I want to be like that.”

The truly amazing thing is that I can be. By consistently choosing to follow Christ, by being observant and responding to people’s needs, by relying on the strengthening and enabling power of the atonement, I can be like the people I most admire. And more importantly, I can become like the person I admire most, Jesus Christ. And you can too.

Praying Always

Prayer is a relationship. Our prayers are not singular events or single moments of getting on our knees. Prayers can and should be a continuation of our daily conversation with God.

I believe that praying always is more of an attitude than an event. Praying always doesn’t mean opening a prayer to God the Father and closing it in the name of Jesus Christ. Praying always is living your life worthy to have Christ’s spirit with you. It is having a friendship so close with God that when we say our prayer at the end of the day, it’s like we never stopped talking.

Praying always means that you have a continuous conversation with God- consistently aligning your will with His. It is following promptings you receive and asking God throughout the day what else you can do. It is being observant of others and their needs and acting as Christ would.

Praying always is creating a two-way relationship with God, showing God that you will stop to listen when He tells you something or gives you an answer you have been searching for. We cannot expect God to be there for us when we need Him if we haven’t put in the time to get to know Him.

God is our father. He is your father. I think He must have become emotional as He gave His final counsel before sending us to Earth. I imagine the conversation to have gone a little like this:

“My dear child, I am sending you to Earth because there are things you need to learn there that you cannot experience here. But the world can be hard and I am afraid you will forget me. Please don’t forget me. Please seek me. Please pray to me, because I will miss you.”

Don’t make God miss you. He loves you and wants to hear from you. He wants to develop a relationship with you. He loves you. Please pray to Him. I promise He will listen.

Continue in Prayer

Sometimes we feel our prayers aren’t answered even though we’re praying for good things. Sometimes this means we need to change our prayers, and sometimes it means we need to pray for other things while we wait for God’s timing.

Two examples in my life illustrate these points.

The first was praying for a friend. I prayed for 15 years for a friend who would spend time with me. I had people who were friendly towards me, but no one who would consistently spend time with me. I wasn’t invited to birthday parties. I wasn’t invited to sleepovers. I wasn’t invited to come over after school. And I didn’t feel welcome when someone took pity on me and did invite me to something.

So I prayed over and over for just someone that I could feel like wanted me around. And it took 15 years. It took 15 years for that prayer to be answered. But it has been answered over and over again over the last 5-6 years. And every time I think about it, I’m not bitter that it took so long. I’m just grateful for how miraculously it was answered and for how grateful I feel now because of how long it took.

The second example illustrates the need for changing my prayers. I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for as long as I can remember. I have prayed for depression to be taken away. I prayed for life to not be so hard. But I was answered that depression would not go away for me. Instead, I was prompted to pray for things like strength to not listen to my suicidal thoughts, peace despite the whirlwinds of anxiety, patience in my trials, and perseverance to handle it all.

No, not all of our prayers will be answered with miraculous healing or changing of our situation. Sometimes our prayers are answered by us changing instead, and perhaps those are the most miraculous answers of all.

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.