One Right Answer

So I used to think there was one right answer for all kinds of situations in life.  Like there’s an ideal way to do this or that.  Sometimes I saw the answer as the way I did things, and often I saw the answer as something that felt so out of reach for me.  I would think how much I needed to change or be different so I could meet this ideal.

As I’ve been learning how the Holy Ghost feels, I’m learning how unique the answers are for various situations.  Things are often not as they seem.  When I think I have something or someone figured out, I discover how much I didn’t know.  I keep learning time and again that I need to turn to the Lord.  He will “show me all things which I should do” (2 Nephi 32:5).

There are times to speak up, times to listen.  Sometimes I crave running and sometimes I go for weeks without-wondering if I’ll ever run again.  When I received an answer for my struggles with food, I wanted to know why and how it would all work out.  I feared all the consequences of what would happen if I really embraced the answer.  And the answer I was given seemed to go against what I had always thought.  “But what will people think?  But how can I explain this to anyone-wouldn’t they think I’m nuts?  But this goes against everything I always thought…”  And on and on I worried, but I knew deep down what I needed to do.  And I really wanted this answer to lead me to what I wanted for myself-to what I thought would make me happy.  But I keep discovering that following the Holy Spirit leads me to something better than what I had thought was best.  God’s ways are not my ways and He keeps blessing me for listening-wow does he bless me.  But I have to let go of my one right answer.  And I don’t know where this will lead, but I’m learning to trust in the Lord-after all, he’s all-knowing.  If the answers in life were obvious, then I wouldn’t need faith.  I keep smiling as I discover how unique the answers are for me and my worries-it’s just not what I thought!  And I smile as I learn how custom-made the answers are for each of us.

I love the example of the Israelites manna from heaven-they received it day to day.  They couldn’t store it up but had to rely on the Lord each day to provide for them.  I’m learning to live day to day, “not knowing before hand the things I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6).  There are times that I am doing something and it feels totally fulfilling-so if it was right before, it will be right again…and again.  Yet I find it might be right again another day, and it might not.  Sometimes I get an answer from the Lord and want to cling to it-I fear losing the light he gives me and I often try to apply this one answer to many things.  But it doesn’t work that way-I’m learning he wants my faith.  Life changes so quickly.  There’s just not one right answer.

If everything changes-where is the stability?  The course of the Lord is one eternal round.  All truth is found in Him.  Yet everyone’s life, situation, personalities, gifts are all so unique to each individual.  I just look at my kids and am amazed at how unique they are.  I’ve learned what is right for one child isn’t right for another.  What helps one of them shine, might make another feel confused or discouraged.  It doesn’t mean one is greater or less than another, they just have different needs, worries, and talents.

I have to rely on the Lord.  What he tells me is right for me is not the answer for everyone.  And often that is the trial of my faith.  When the Spirit tells me of things I should or shouldn’t do, I sometimes hear the opposition say, “but what would people think…you know what so and so will say…”  And if I listen to the devil who wants everyone miserable like himself-I might feel resentful or bothered.  And any of that doubt, misery, annoyed feelings come from the opposition and keeps me from fulfilling the measure of my creation.  This also reminds me to withhold judgment when I see people doing things that I don’t understand.  I’m reminded of how unique we all are and what’s right for them might not be right for me and vice versa.  What we do is between ourselves and the Lord.  The beauty of it is how unique each path is that leads to our Savior.

So there isn’t one right answer, or maybe there is…turn to the Lord:)

 

 

Mercy

This morning I was taking my son to school and pulled up behind a couple of cars at a stop sign.  The car in front of me couldn’t wait for the person in front of her at the stop sign-so she just got out of line and ran the stop sign.  And I was annoyed.  I judged her.  I thought, “Seriously lady-can’t you wait your turn?  We all have to wait.  What’s so important that you have to do that?”  Then I watched her quickly pull off the road in front of the fire station and run and hop in an ambulance and drive away with sirens blaring.  I went from annoyed and critical to humbled.  I suddenly felt a rush of love and concern-for this woman rushing off to help someone and for whoever was involved in this emergency.

I really felt so humbled-and loved.  I smiled heavenward and thanked the Lord for yet another lesson in mercy.  The Lord is so loving.  He teaches with love and I learn so much when I’m taught this way.  I might have told myself, “ya dumb jerk!”  But with the Lord, I hear something that shows me how I’m wrong and I feel inspired to change.  “Melanie, If you only knew.  If you knew what they were going through, you wouldn’t feel this way.”

Over and over I keep having experiences that are teaching me mercy and love.  When I get annoyed and judge someone and smugly think my smugly thoughts about things people do…I often find myself doing almost the exact thing I was annoyed with.  This happens so often to me lately that sometimes I catch myself judging and smile heavenward knowing what’s coming.  While I can’t say I run a stop sign to go jump in an ambulance and be a hero, I do other things that teach me to have love for others.  A little boy was screaming in the store the other day and I was trying not to be annoyed at what I thought was a tantrum.  Instantly I thought of the day I was in a store years ago and my 2 year old had a complete meltdown.  He saw a play set he wanted to play on and it was up high on display.  It was the tantrum of all tantrums.  He cried and screamed and nothing I could do was calming him down.  He got so angry he even took off his shoes and threw them at me!  I felt so helpless-all my previous tactics that had worked with store tantrums did nothing.  He just got angrier and louder.  I felt exasperated and helpless.  I grabbed a toy and gave it to him.  I wanted to get out the store quickly and quietly and I was desperate.  I bought a toy to keep him quiet!  So when I am tempted to get annoyed with a screaming tantrum in the store, I am reminded of that day and how people could use understanding and love, not smuggy judgments.

I’m learning to quit thinking or saying, “I would never do that” or “how could they be so foolish?” Like the old saying goes, until I’ve walked a mile in their shoes…

Lately I’ve been struggling to feel mercy and love for people that seem mean and harsh.  It has been really hard for me to understand how someone can yell, lash out in anger, belittle another, etc.  Try as I might, I’ve struggled to stop judging and feeling angry and mean towards what I see as angry and mean.  Hypocritical I know-I’ve really wanted to stop feeling this way.  I really, truly wanted to stop these hard feelings that I knew were wrong and tied me up in knots.  The Lord truly grants the desires of our heart.  Over a few days, I experienced such feelings of awful bitterness that are hard to explain.  I felt completely empty.  I struggled to feel the Spirit and find the love the Lord had been filling my life with for months.  I pled with the Lord to please deliver me.  To go from feeling so amazing to totally awful was devastating for me.  I kept apologizing and wondering what I did to feel this way and what I could do to feel better.  In the midst of feeling so awful, I struggled to be kind.  It became so hard to even just tolerate people.  A strong impression came in the midst of this that I will never forget.  The feeling burned inside me, I needed love.  I felt like the most undeserving person in the world to be shown love, but I knew I needed it more than anything.  No willpower, no lecture, no punishment could save me from how awful I felt.  I knew love was the answer.  Since this experience, I have witnessed what I consider miracles in my own life.  I have been able to feel love in situations when before I would feel annoyed at best and totally bitter at worst.  I will be forever grateful for the many things I learned through this experience.  I’ve been able to feel mercy and love at times I previously thought impossible.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”  (Matthew 7:1)  I know I’m far from perfect.  I’m learning how everyone has their “stuff”.  We all have trials, sins, and weaknesses, yet we’re all on the same team.  And we all need love.  Especially when we feel like we least deserve it.  Love heals.  Love has incredible power to change.

“I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”  This is a gift.  This is freedom.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7)  We need mercy!

We’re On The Same Team

When I was first married, I got my feelings hurt-A LOT.  I kept feeling bad about things my husband would say or do.  I would get sad, then annoyed, then just angry.  When I finally couldn’t take it anymore and the steam was probably visibly coming out my ears, I would tell him what was bothering me.  (Though I was so sure he already knew-wasn’t it obvious?  Can’t he read my mind?)  I thought what he said or did was intentional and I took things personal and felt hurt often.  One night I recall a moment when he said something I can never forget.  He said, “We’re on the same team.”  These words spoke deep into my heart.  I’ve never forgotten them and how I wish I could say I never get upset, this was a major eye-opener for me.  We’re in this together.  We’re on the same side.  We are here to bring out the best in each other-to cheer each other on.  All of us.

A friend sent this quote to me the other day from Jeffrey R. Holland, “Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that he loves each of us – insecurities, anxieties, self image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks. He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin not each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness, ready and waiting for everyone, robes made white…in the blood of the lamb”.

“The race is against sin-not each other”.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and it calms the tension and worry.  With everyone.  People and life can be painful and sometimes I get hurt.  But I’m learning to look at things differently.  I should say, “the Spirit is helping me see things differently.” When I remember we are all (EVERYONE) on the same team, then I feel more love.  I see people as well, people.  Not as threats to my ego or a plus or minus to my self-esteem.  This is helping me see past hurt feelings, little annoyances, and to look at the big picture.  This magnifies the goodness in humanity.  There is so much good out there.  This reminds me of moments I have been in total awe at the amazing things people can do.  I recall staring at the space shuttle and all the technical space machines (I’m sure they have specific terms and I obviously don’t know them:)…and imagining people actually traveling through space-to the moon!  And back!  It was a very touching moment to stare at these machines that hundreds of thousands of people worked on to create and make it all possible.  To have so many people united for a common cause and to bring about miraculous things-wow.  I recall moments where I’m caught up in beautiful music-as it fills my soul and makes me so darn happy!  Or photography, or a really good book.  People can do incredible things.  I love how others talents uplift and bless my life.

Bishop Gary Stevens mentioned the following in a recent General Conference about a Christlike display shown by Australian snowboarder Torah Bright to a fellow competitor in the midst of the Olympics:  “She noticed that American snowboarder Kelly Clark, who had a bad first run in her final round, appeared to be nervous about her second run. “She gave me a hug,” Clark recalls. “She just held me until I actually calmed down enough and I slowed my breathing. It was good to have a hug from a friend.” Kelly Clark would later join Torah on the winners’ podium as a bronze medalist.

When asked about this unusual act of kindness toward her opponent, which could have put her own silver medal at risk, Torah simply said, “I am a competitor—I want to do my best—but I want my fellow competitors to do their best, too.”

That’s so beautiful.  I love the thought of us all cheering each other on.  Wanting everyone to do their best.  Holding out a hand to those that have fallen.  Giving a hug, a listening ear.  Being His hands.  “To mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort.” (Mosiah 18:9)

GO TEAM!

 

Voices

I hear voices.  This is normal, right?  Does everyone hear them?  They can come as thoughts, impressions, and feelings.  And the words flow into my mind.  Sometimes they’re great things to hear.  Sometimes I hear thoughts filled with love, excitement, and gratitude.  Like I’ve got my own personal cheerleader.  Sometimes I hear answers to concerns I’ve had that weigh heavy on my mind.  I love how answers to prayers can come anytime-if I’m paying attention I can feel the Lord guiding me along and bringing truth to my mind.  I’ve been learning to recognize the Holy Spirit in my life and what this feels like.  Comforting, calming, a whisper, a thought.  If I’m too stressed and not perceptive, I can ignore these whisperings and I miss out.  But sometimes they come again-and I realize God has been trying to get my attention.

Over many years, I began to fear the “voices”.  I mistakenly feared some of the negative voices were either who I was or that God was telling me something. I was afraid that God would ask me to do hard things that I didn’t want to even think about.  Small things, big things, whatever.  I feared the “voices” so I stayed really busy so I wouldn’t hear what God was trying to tell me.  I thought these guilty voices that told me I was never enough and that I should do this or that were from God.  I felt bad about all kinds of things and of course I just wanted to feel good.  So I would hear the voices and act out of guilt-just to try and feel good.

I would make mistakes all the time-and the voices often pummeled me.  “You are so stupid.  Here you go again.  I hate myself.  You are pathetic, dumb and an idiot.”  I could go on and on but it breaks my heart now.  It fills me with sadness to remember how often I heard these voices-they would come out of my own mouth!  I heard them so much, that I started to believe them.  I thought it was me.  When I heard this dialogue in my mind for so long, I believed it.  I told myself again and again how pathetic I was.  How very sad.

Then the coolest thing happened.  I heard the good voice telling me these guilty voices are not God. And these cruel, mean words are not me either.  This was all the devil trying to convince me that I’m a total loser.  These awful, depressing voices were not from God nor were they reality.  This started as a whisper of truth-but it spoke to my heart and I knew it was true.  Yet the pathways of my brain have been so stuck on this automated system due to my habits, that I had to consciously focus on rejecting them.  At first I had to fight these words all through the day.  I realized how often I was fed these lies and how destructive this was.

I’ve been discovering how very precious every soul is in the eyes of God.  He has been so tender, loving, and everything awesome.  I can’t find the words to say how incredible our Heavenly Father is.  When I hear a bad thought about myself coming on-my habits have gotten to where I know it’s the devil and I can’t let it in.  Not even for a second.  When I do, then I wrestle with it, question, rationalize, and start to believe the lies.  Then my light dims.  My hands pull back and I live inward-not wanting to share the love.

I’ve learned the true source of all these voices.  The Holy Ghost, me, and the devil.  The Holy Ghost is the sweet, comforting spirit that fills me with messages from God.  Sometimes I feel a prompting and I fear or worry-but I’ve learned to recognize the way His spirit feels.  Love is present.  It feels right to my heart even if I don’t fully understand it.  The fruits of the Spirit show me that it’s from God-I want to do good, I feel inspired, I feel love, and I want to reach out.

My voice is me:) The person that makes me who I am-with all my gifts, strengths and weaknesses.  I am unique and divine as we all are.  If I am filling my thoughts with love and light-then I can see the truth and clarity of the other voices.

The devil is anything evil, negative, hateful, cruel, etc.  He’s a sneaky little bugger so sometimes he tries to get me to do “good” things out of guilt, that I’m not even supposed to do.  When he tries to tell me to do things, he backs it up with, “do this or you’re (negative adjective).”  “Do this or people will think (fill in some horrible opinion people will have of you).”  Any insulting thought is the devil, as well as threatening and fearful thoughts.  He loves when I act out of guilt and fear.  Much of my life has been ruled by guilt and fear so this has been so enlightening and liberating for me to learn their true source.  Oh and I can’t forget pride, any voice that tries to make me better or less than anyone is of course the devil also.

Negative self-talk is of the devil.  Kick him to the curb.  These words aren’t reality.  We are amazing and incredible.  The devil can’t have us believing all the wonderful things we really are.  He loses his power over us when we see these mean messages for what they are-garbage and lies.

The good voice-the Spirit shows me my weaknesses, yet I feel hope and trust in the Lord.  The devil uses our weaknesses to drag us down to the gulf of misery and endless woe.  The Savior uses our weaknesses to make us strong.  He shows me everything can be for my good-everything.  His voice is filled with love and courage.  And that’s the voice I want to listen to.