“Oh That I Were An Angel…”

O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! (Alma 29:1)

Over the past year, I’ve felt the power of the words, “Oh that I were an angel…but when Alma says he wants to cry repentance unto every people, well I didn’t understand the last part-about crying repentance.  If it was scripture from me, I would have said, “Oh that I were an angel, I would tell the world how much God loves them.”  But lately I’m beginning to see the connection.  I was wanting to type a post on how repentance is about love.  I’m beginning to see on a deeper level, how the gospel is all about love-especially repentance.

Recognizing and then following the Lord’s Spirit in our lives is key to coming unto Christ, and being perfected in Him.  Over many years, I began to think God was harsh and punishing.  But I was wrong, His Spirit is loving, peaceful and inviting.  Anything that makes us fear God and not feel worthy to approach Him, does not come from Him.  God is love.  “I cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” (D&C 1:31)  And “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10) is because he loves us.  Sin is bondage.  And our Father in Heaven, out of love, wants to keep us free.  The devil wants all men miserable like himself, and God sent His Son-to save us.  “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).  I want to shout, “MEN ARE THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE JOY!!!” The gospel is a message of love and the pathway to joy.  It’s forsaking the ungodly things in our life for something much better…

I can see for myself in life, some things have been hard to let go of.  Some things I didn’t want to let go of, and other weights and burdens I gladly give up.  “I don’t want this-I’m so glad I don’t have to carry this anymore!”  And I gladly stop carrying the burden.  Some weaknesses and temptations take superhuman strength to overcome and may be a process of giving up-again and again.  The enabling power of the atonement is how we can overcome.  Line upon line.  The Lord loves us so very much.

The other day I was beating myself up for having made the same mistake-AGAIN.  I was feeling all those thoughts of, “It’s just too hard…why can’t I be done with this…” and I felt ridiculous to have to come to the Lord and repent-AGAIN.  The words came to my heart, “I will forgive you.  However many times it takes, I will forgive you.  Just keep coming back to me.”  I felt peace and love.  And I knew I wasn’t in this alone.  I don’t have to be better to come to Christ-HE makes me better, He makes me stronger, He makes me a new person…again and again.

There are no little things…  Recently I was checking something on the internet that leaves me with that mind-numbing feeling.  Deep down I felt like it’s not only a waste of time, but that I needed to stop doing it.  Over the past year, I’ve been able to see how reading certain blogs and checking certain sites actually kept me from feeling a strong spirit.  I’ve noticed how one by one, the Spirit has helped me stop reading things that were not enlightening.  As I checked these sites and blogs less and less, the Spirit was stronger in my life and I was less distracted.  There is a lot of great stuff out there, and then there is just waste of time, distracting stuff. I noticed how much more I was enjoying my life when I would try to focus on reading the things that brought me closer to Christ and improved my life.  But there was this one thing that I didn’t want to stop spending my time on.  And I would get the deep down feeling that I should quit wasting my time…”But I need a balanced life…but this is so harmless and silly to think it matters…” And on and on the justification went.  Then the Spirit got my attention.  The words came clearly to my mind, “This is keeping you from fulfilling your mission and purpose here on earth.”  And I put it down.  I got it.  I was reminded that there are no small things and the promptings and invitations we receive from the Spirit are because He loves us.

I can look back and see the difference in trying to overcome without and then with the Savior.  For a long time, I struggled with something that was a big stumbling block and thought I needed to overcome it by myself.  With the help of the adversary, I was convinced that the Lord didn’t need to be bothered with this and that I needed to overcome it to be worthy to come before Him.  Oh how wrong I was!  When I tried to overcome it by myself-this would just transfer the stumbling block to other things.  I wasn’t getting to the root of the problem-nor could I even see the root of the problem.  Then with the Savior’s loving care, He showed me how.  He shed light on the whole issue.  And through His power and love, he freed me.  He guided me through and I was amazed.

Repentance is about love.  It’s about freedom from bondage.  It’s about forsaking our sins and not letting anything come between us and Christ.  Seeking the Lord’s forgiveness and help with sins and temptations is how we are purified.  “No man can serve two masters” and God wants us focused on the most wonderful, loving and perfect master of all-His Son.

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!

 

Choose the Light

When I first met and fell in love with my husband, I saw a man who was brave, confident, not afraid to speak his mind and seemed able to fix anything.  I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have him.  When I get annoyed with my dear husband, I see someone who is overconfident, speaks without thinking, and wonder why he has to try and fix everything.  He’s the same man.  It’s what I’m choosing to see.  He is still an amazing person whether I want to see him that way or not.  And I’d rather be married to the courageous, outspoken, awesome, fix anything guy.

A few weeks ago I was with a woman and her kids and I told her how much I admired their confidence and willingness to speak up.  She laughed and said how she feels like she’s always saying too much and wished she and her kids could be more quiet and reserved.  Which is funny because I’m on the quiet side and people often say they admire my peace and calmness-and I often wish I could be more outspoken.  Funny how that is.  We all have these unique gifts to offer the world.  What makes us great can also be what drives us or others crazy.  When I see mine and others gifts with the Spirit, I see remarkable people.  I look at others and see a husband who is determined to succeed and will ask anyone anything-he doesn’t see any good that comes from holding back.  And I learn to be genuine and honest.  I see his sister as someone who is courageous and strong-an amazing teacher filled with insight and inspiration.  And I learn-oh how I learn.  I see my sister that loves the Lord as a true follower of Christ-when you get to know her, you get to feel the Savior’s love and concern for all of God’s children.  I see my mother who taught me by example-the choices she made (big and small) continually taught me that she loved the gospel and she chose God.

Lately I see people and I want to tell them how I love this or that about them.  Sometimes when I share something I love about them, they don’t seem to believe me-whether they say it or have that look in their eyes, I sometimes hear, “you don’t really know me.”  I understand because at times, I say and feel that too.  And in some ways we’re right-the only one that really, truly knows us is our Savior.  But we can see what’s great about each other.  We can try to see from the heart.  And I don’t think I’m naive when I see something extraordinary about someone and I tell them.  They say, as I have too, “if you really knew me, you wouldn’t think that…”  Yet, the more I get to know someone’s heart, the more their gifts stand out to me.  And the more I want to hold them up for all the world to see.  “You guys see this person!?  You know how lucky we are to have you in our lives?”  And I find myself wanting everyone to know these awesome people the way I’ve gotten to know them.  I want to get rid of any fear that keeps us from lighting up this world with who we really are.

There’s a saying that “you find what you’re looking for”.  So true.  If I want to be disappointed and annoyed with people-I can.  And life and people can be a big fat pain.   And if I want to see the divinity in myself and in all of God’s children who are in my life every day-I can find that too.  And that’s what matters.  That’s what inspires.  I need God’s help with seeing from the heart.  His Spirit sheds light on everything around me.  My husband, my kids, everyone, nature-the gorgeous mountains out my window.  I can look out my window and see the dirty window and water spots, or I can see the gorgeous view of the mountains.  I can look at people and see what (I think) is “wrong” with them-or I can see the awesome.

With six kids I get plenty of learning opportunities.  With my oldest son I was struggling to try and change what I saw was a problem.  I thought that if he would just stop doing this and start doing that, then we’d all get along great.  But until he would change, I couldn’t get past the problem.  I went to a Seven Habits seminar for a few days with my husband.  My heart towards my son changed.  I saw him in a different light.  I came home and was excited to see what a great kid he was!  For a brief moment I thought, “How did he change so much while I was gone?  Then I realized I changed.  He was always an amazing kid and all my nagging and trying to change him was the problem.   I was trying to make him be what I thought he should be, not seeing him for who he really is.  When I see what’s great about someone, the negative stuff isn’t a problem anymore, or it becomes so small that it just doesn’t matter.

This keeps happening to me.  When I see others (and myself) in a negative light and if they could just be different, then there wouldn’t be a problem.  Time and again the answer is the same-I need to change my heart.  I need to choose the light and see what’s so great about people, myself included.  When I get so focused on what I want to change about me-my problems become bigger, I lose self-confidence and I don’t want to reach out to people.  This is the same with my children.  When I see what’s so great about them, they shine.  And the little dirt I saw on windows often turns out to be a little dirt in my eyes that I just needed to get rid of.

 

Honeymoon’s Not Over

The title may sound like this is about marital bliss-but it’s really about life bliss.  I was reading “Yearning for the Living God” by Enzio Busche-one of my favorite books.  He grew up in Germany during World War 2 and shares his upbringing and conversion to the gospel.  As a young boy, he studied Goethe and other philosophers of the Enlightenment.  He says in his book, “something that Goethe wrote had a profound effect on me later, when I was seventeen or eighteen years old.  I learned that two years before Goethe’s death, when he was about eighty years old, he made a statement that the times in his life when he was so happy that he wanted that moment to stay had only lasted a few seconds.  I remember being shocked by that statement because I had always harbored the hope that one day I would receive lasting joy that would penetrate my whole being to the point that every minute of life would be enjoyable…When I learned of the feelings expressed by Goethe, who literally had achieved everything in this life that a person can achieve-in academics, in reputation, in opportunities to travel, in wealth, in love and admiration from myriad people-it brought a feeling of discouragement into my life.  I repeatedly asked myself, “What chance do I have to be filled with joy when even Goethe did not have that opportunity?  Not until I became embraced by the light of Christ as a member of His Church did I learn the truth-that as children of a loving Heavenly Father, all human beings might have joy.  As explained in the Book of Mormon, ‘Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy’ (2 Nephi 2:25).  Early in my Church membership, this truth penetrated my soul, and I came to realize that true joy comes only through developing the reality of closeness with the living God.”  

This has been on my mind since I read it the other night.  As I look back on my life, the times of sheer joy have come when I feel very close to God.  When I was eighteen, I went to China for a few months.  I brought my scriptures with me and decided to read the Book of Mormon for the first time.  I couldn’t put it down.  My life lit up with the light of Christ.  The Spirit filled me with hope and joy.  I grew closer to Christ than I ever had been.  I believed in Jesus and Heavenly Father before this-I knew they were real.  But I felt the Spirit in my life stronger than ever before.  That was a turning point in my life and was the first of (hopefully many) reborn experiences.  This helped me at a time when I was making many decisions that would affect me forever.  I look back and remember feeling on top of the world-for quite some time.  Then I started to get busy.  I believed in the Savior and the scriptures, but I just got busy over the years.  Scripture study became a checklist item to get it over with so I could go about my day.  I would often save “spiritual time” for the end of the day or just not get to it at all, blaming it on exhaustion.  Tomorrow I’ll take the time.  Tomorrow I’ll pray long and sincerely.  Tomorrow, tomorrow.  I kept going through the motions.  I didn’t doubt God’s existence in my life, but without taking the time to really know Him and feel close to Him, I started to believe the deceptions of the devil.  When my whole day was spent just getting through and desperately wanting to be somebody, I couldn’t see that I was already someone great.  That I had a wonderful life and it was right here.  That God loved me deeply and being close to Him could help me shine and bring beauty, love and joy to my life.  But I wouldn’t let the Spirit in, “Not now,”  I would say, “I’m too busy.  Wait until life calms down and I have a minute to breath.  Wait until I take care of this or that.  Then I’ll take the time for spiritual.”

Then God got my attention.  I am so grateful he got my attention!  I wish I could say I came to Him and put down all my worldly treasures that were really just dead weight.  But I was compelled.  And I will forever be grateful for Him compelling me to listen.  He told me I was enough and that all the fear, guilt, shame, and inadequacies came from the devil.  His message to my heart started out with a glimmer of hope-a ray of light.  I wanted to believe it and deep down I knew it was true.  But I was deceived for so long into thinking my worth came from anything and everything else.  I compared myself to everyone.  I wanted to please everyone.  God showed me that He loves me and everyone no matter what we are choosing.  I just needed to come to Him to see things as they really were.  His message has been growing within me ever since.  I see how much I love Him and need Him.  I praise Him and thank Him and just can’t get enough of Him!  I can’t save Him for the end of the day!  That was crazy-I need Him all day.  The Spirit isn’t an afterthought-it can be in every thought.  I want this joy all the time.  For years my life felt hard and discouraging-with moments here and there of sheer joy.  Now I feel joy so often-that the moments here and there of discouragement aren’t consuming me anymore.  But I know I have to come to Him.  The deceptions start so small.  I want to be wrapped in His love so He will keep me focused on why I am here, and what really matters.

There’s a saying that “we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.”  As I immerse my life and thoughts in the spiritual-this really resonates with me.  Life is so much more than the mundane and the distractions.  I’ve found it can be deeply meaningful and filled with love.  When most of my thoughts and time is spent on the spiritual, the negative things in life are so small.  Yearning for God has helped me free up a lot of time and energy I spent on things that just don’t matter.  I was so afraid to let go of what I thought made me someone.  Afraid to let go of what would (eventually) make me happy.  Yet God has been giving me happiness now.  We can have joy right now and every day-I love it.  He is teaching me to let go and have faith.  We are here to have joy.

 

Body Image

Talk about vulnerability!  This feels like the easiest post to type up, yet the hardest to publish.  In fact, I typed up a post on this as soon as I started this blog.  It was one that came to me in the middle of the night so I got up and typed it all up…then saved it.  Then thought about it once and a while, wanting to post it but chickened out every time.  It’s time.

My husband and I LOVE going to Lake Powell.  Many years ago, we went with a group of folks I didn’t know too well, but we all love Lake Powell so that’s enough for a great trip, right?  I looked at these beautiful young moms in their bikinis that were with us and noticed a common theme.  They all had plastic surgery.  They were actually quite open about what they had done and talked about it.  By the end of the trip, I felt ugly and uncomfortable.  I looked at my body and what having children has left me with and felt sad.  I wanted to “fix” my body so I could look good too.

Any time the thought has come up, I knew I couldn’t do it.  I felt unsettled about it and knew it wasn’t right for me.  I tried to justify in my mind all the reasons that it would be ok for me…you’re just trying to feel better about yourself…no one needs to know…you’re just fixing what age and children have left you with…  But I would always feel that unsettled feeling that I’ve come to know I have to follow or I end up with regret.  I was disappointed but I let it go.  Then I started to look at women who had work done and feel bothered.  I’d wonder…why do they have to do that?  Can’t they see this is making it harder on the rest of us?  Why can’t we all just live with what we’ve got?  I said these thoughts out loud to my awesome sister in law one day and she taught me a valuable lesson.  She told me she doesn’t see that when she looks at these women.  She doesn’t see body size or beauty when she sees someone-she just looks at them as a person, a child of God.  Whether people surgically enhance their bodies or not doesn’t make them more or less of a person.  She taught me a valuable lesson that day.

I used to love watching Biggest Loser.  I love watching people change their lives and look so thin and happy by the finale.  But I felt so bothered when I’d watch Jillian yell at people.  It was hard to watch people get yelled at like that.  Eventually I lost interest in the show.  It just didn’t inspire me anymore.  I was also sad that so many people from the show still struggle with their weight and a high percentage of folks put much of the lost weight back on.  I felt troubled by this.  Lately I’ve begun to see just why I lost interest for the show, or for before and after pictures, or even for any diet talk.  For many years I put my worth on how I looked physically (among many other external things).

As I’ve discovered my divine worth with God, I look back and can see what was happening in my life so clearly.  I was so unsatisfied with my appearance and thought if I was disgusted enough with myself that I would change.  If I felt enough shame about my habits and my body that I would be “inspired” to change.  So I stared at my flaws every time I passed a mirror.  The self-talk was brutal.  When I sat down, I just looked at my extra fluff and felt so annoyed that I couldn’t get it together enough to lose the fluff.  I would see skinny, toned women and just felt like a troll around them.  So I would avoid them.  Or try really hard to hang onto my confidence-trying with all the will power I could muster to just see them and not their intimidating beauty.  Pools were rough places to be-I just saw skinny moms in bikinis and by the time I went home, I was ready to quit the junk food.  I love how my husband says, “Women check out women way more than men check out women.”

I thought I would be happy once I had the body I wanted.  But it was never enough-there was always something to change, strengthen and fix.  Then God spoke to my heart.  Little whisperings over the years that I heard and in fact, will never forget.  I stopped listening to the world and listened to my Heavenly Father.  And He told me I was enough.  He has been telling me I was always enough and that nothing on this earth or anything I do will affect the love He has for me.  “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart”  (Samuel 16:7).  He loves me no matter what!  He taught me that I had to love myself.  I wanted to eat and look a certain way for years, but over time, I felt increasingly unsettled with anything that told me I would be happy if I ate and looked a certain way.  I heard the Spirit telling me that I must love myself right now, with the body I have exactly how it is.  Gasp!  How could I possibly do that?  I tried to ignore the message-not wanting to be “stuck” with how I looked.  But the message kept coming back and I didn’t want to be ashamed of myself anymore.  Shame doesn’t uplift and inspire.  Love does.  I knew I had to love me right now and not put any conditions on this whatsoever.  No more “I’ll be happy when…”

Nothing the world has to offer will make me more or less of a person.  I am a daughter of God and I’m finally letting God’s love fill me and give me everyday joy.  As I’ve found this love for myself, I quit letting the voices in that were telling me I couldn’t be happy until…

Now I am seeing people.  I went to the pool a few weeks ago and saw people!  Not as women with large or small bodies that would affect how I felt about myself.  But I saw moms with their children-playing and laughing.  I wanted to know them.  I wanted to join their laughter and know what is unique about them.  In order to see people with love, I had to see myself this way.  I am loved no matter what I look like-we all are.

Thriving or Barely Surviving?

A friend asked me a question the other day that I’ve been thinking about.  He asked who I could think of that’s really happy.  He specified that the answer couldn’t be children (because they can often be totally happy and live in the moment!)  We talked about how a lot of people are having a hard time.  It’s not like they’re downright miserable, but maybe they just aren’t really happy either. I have noticed the same thing.  There are a lot of people I care deeply about and I have wondered if they are thriving.  When I look someone in the eyes, I sometimes see laughter and joy.  But sometimes I see pain and worry.  When I see sadness, I want to lift them.  I want to know how I can help.  I want to lift the heavy load that is weighing them down.  I may not be able to lift the burden, but our Savior can.

I used to think the Savior and His Atonement were for the big things.  The tragedy in our lives.  For big sins, trials, and adversity.  I thought the every day stuff was for me to deal with and manage.  And honestly, I was often afraid of taking a problem to the Savior, worried about what the answer might be.  I was trying to do it myself-not realizing how much lighter life is with the Savior.  I would be afraid of what He would ask of me.  Afraid I might need to give of my hopes of having a better body, or that I might be spending too much time exercising.  I feared I would have to live a sack cloth and ashes life and lose everything I thought made me happy.  I knew Heavenly Father and Jesus were real but I feared what was God’s will for me.  I was hung up on my will being the source of happiness.  

Then God got my attention.  His truth had been whispering to my heart to come to Him.  To set aside my worldly worries and kneel before Him, ready to listen.  Ready to find peace and healing.  He is gentle and will not force me to follow.  But I was having a rough time like I do sometimes and I thought coming to my Father would make it even harder.  It was my will, not His.  Then the spirit spoke to my heart.  I felt peace.  He brought to my mind how often I’ve struggled and never felt like enough-He helped me see this was never Him.  He was never the source of my worthless feelings.  He brought to my mind times of great strength and deep joy-He showed me this was Him with me.  I could look back on my life and see everything happening for a reason.  Everything.  I could see the purpose and growth from all my experiences.  I only regret I didn’t put down my guard, and come to Him sooner, ready to listen and follow.  I thought I was keeping Him at a safe distance-just enough to do what I wanted to without making life too uncomfortable.  Oh how I was deceived!  The joy I’ve found each time I practice even my little amount of faith leaves me in awe.  It brings me to my knees with deep gratitude and love.  The more I listen and follow, the more I am blessed!  The answer is often not what I thought it would be or should be, but it’s always better than what I ever thought!  Saying, not my will but thine, is becoming so much easier because I’m seeing the love and joy I receive from Him.  

When I see someone that’s barely surviving, I want them to thrive!  I want them to see the beauty in themselves and find love and mercy in our Savior.  I want all who are “heavy laden” to find rest.  The Savior died so that we might live.  He is for everyday life, the big heartaches and the little details.  Everything matters.  One of the greatest and life changing truths I’ve discovered the last few months is that the Lord cares about everything and everyone.  I’ve tasted of this incredible love and have found healing and peace…His hand is stretched out still.