Tag Archives: God’s love

Gratitude for Trials

As hard as it is to talk about ourselves or give personal details, sometimes we need to tell the stories of our lives to show “how great things the Lord has done” for us.

This past year, I went through some difficult trials. It was hard to have hope during these times because things were not improving. Every time life started to get a little easier and manageable, another trial would come. But I held on to faith and hope and love. I clung to them because they seemed to be all I had left. Although the trials have not ended completely, and I am still navigating the aftermath of some trials and struggling with other trials that will likely never end in this life, I have been able to see some reasons for what I went through.

I began 2016 with the scheduling of an endoscopy and CT scan because I had been in severe pain for months. I was not finding relief, even though I had tried to eat healthy and limit my intake of acidic and fatty foods. There were no answers from either procedure, and I had little direction about what I should or should not eat. After a few months, I was finally referred to an allergist. She told me that I had no allergies but probably just had trouble processing certain foods, and gave me dietary guidelines to follow.

Meanwhile, my doctor had put me on medication for anxiety because he said that anxiety contributed to acid production and it might help with my stomach issues. The medicine did help with anxiety, but it also made me more depressed. In fact, it made me so depressed that all I saw was darkness for months. I couldn’t seem to smile, and getting out of bed every day was exhausting to the point of being painful. I did not realize that it was the medicine that caused these feelings, and calling to schedule an appointment with my doctor was more difficult than I could handle. So, this went on for about 6 months. When I finally was able to call the doctor and get off the medicine, I felt that a great weight had been lifted off of me. I started taking another medicine soon after that helped relieve my anxious thoughts, and I felt like all was right with the world again.

A week later, I was going to pick up my friend from the airport when a car made a left turn in front of me. The crash totaled my car and deployed the airbag, which broke my thumb. I got a rental car and within a week, I had a flat tire. At this point, I just laughed. It seemed only appropriate that after all I had been through, I would have the luck to get a flat tire on my rental car.

The point of all of this is that about two years ago, I said a very important prayer. In that prayer, I told God that I was incredibly happy and that I was so grateful for the happiness and joy I had found, but that I was willing to give it up to become better. I was willing to give up my happiness and the easiness of my life to draw closer to God and to become a better person. I did not expect all of the trials that followed, but when they came, I knew in my mind that as bad as things were, my prayer was being answered.

Last week, my brother backed into my car while pulling out of the driveway. A year or two ago, I would have been upset. I might have even yelled or cried or said something inconsiderate. But I had become a new person. I looked at the car, made sure that the doors could still open, and told my brother not to worry about it. I didn’t even feel upset because it was just a car, after all. The car wasn’t important. The way my brother felt was important. I was more worried about how upset he was with himself than I was about the dent in my car.

That’s how things have been lately. I don’t get upset like I used to. I don’t yell at people. I just understand. I understand what it is like to have a bad day or a bad week or month or year. So I can forgive people for their bad days and for their mistakes. I have been able to help and serve others with dietary restrictions because I understand their needs. I still struggle with depression at times, and I still have pain from my car crash, but I have hope. I could write an entire other post about all the ways that God has blessed me and helped me through these trials. This post though is just about seeing the good that comes from our trials.

I am looking for a new job closer to home that will allow me more time to go to school and spend time with family and friends and take care of myself. I am not sure if I would have made the decision to move on from my current job if I had not gotten in that car crash. I know that I have not seen all of the blessings from the trials I faced in the last two years, but I am grateful for the ones I have seen so far. As bad as things were, they will probably end up being the greatest blessings of my life and influence the type of person, and wife, and mother that I will one day become.

Do not despair. Do not give up. It is okay to cry. It is okay to feel broken. It is okay to not be okay. But cling to hope, cling to faith, cling to love. One day you will see that all the brokenness led you to greater joy than you could ever have imagined.

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.

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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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.

Condescension of God

To fully understand this post, you should read 1 Nephi chapter 11, especially verses 13-23. You can access it by clicking here.

Today at church we discussed 1 John 4:9-10.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

This verse reminded me of 1 Nephi chapter 11. In that chapter, Nephi is trying to understand a dream his father had. He sees the tree of life with fruit that is sweet above all, but doesn’t understand what that tree or the fruit symbolizes.

He is shown the virgin Mary and asked, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” He responds, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” Nephi then sees that Christ is born and understands that the tree symbolizes the love of God.

It is interesting to me that after seeing Christ come into the world, Nephi immediately understands that the most precious thing available to us is the love of God. That event is so important because of everything that happened because of it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.”

The love of God isn’t just precious because of what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ did for us, but also because we can spread that love to do good to others.

Christ coming to Earth was a condescension because he gave up the glory of being God. Coming to Earth was not a step down for us. It was a step up, an ascension, because Christ stepped down to lift us up. We came to Earth to become like God. He came to Earth to become like us. So that he could understand us and love us, and to let us know that he understands and loves us.

So how can we condescend like Christ did for us?

By helping others up. Going to their level, having compassion, suffering with them to show them love.

In this Christmas season, I hope you are reminded of how much God loves you. I hope you are reminded that Christ’s birth was the ultimate symbol of God’s love because it led to the ultimate sacrifice because of that love. I also hope that you spread that love. Christ came to give us hope, to give us purpose, to give us a reason to keep trying. I hope that we can do the same for others.

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.

Give Me Your Eyes

I was listening to this song on the radio the other day called, “Give Me Your Eyes”. It talks about seeing all the people around you the way Christ sees them. As I was thinking about this, the thought came that we see through Christ’s eyes by going through hard things. When we go through difficult things, we have the opportunity to see the difficult things other people go through.

Asking for eyes like Christ’s is being willing to accept the challenges you need to go through to sympathize with another’s pain. Then, after we’ve been given the gift of understanding another’s pain, we need to pray for the courage to act on that understanding.