Forgiveness

The past week or two, I’ve been feeling on edge. I couldn’t put my finger on it until last night. I had been feeling as fragile as glass and was quick to feel hurt and offended. I knew how I was feeling wasn’t right but I couldn’t seem to snap out of it.  I had been praying for help and was reminded last night how Heavenly Father hears our prayers. The answer may come after a lot of prayer and pondering, but the answer will come. He wants us to work through it, to help us learn and grow. Living through it has taught me priceless lessons. The key is to work through things WITH Him, not to try and figure it out alone. He wants to help us-and in eternal ways.

I’m on the sensitive side.  I can be hurt easily and I’ve tried to overcome this in life.  Someone once told me she chose one day not to be offended and since then she never is.  “Wow” I thought.  I couldn’t even imagine that. I’ve tried really hard to not let things get to me.  I’ve sadly even tried just living defensively-putting up walls so I don’t get hurt. Sometimes I’m full of love and nothing seems to get me down.  Yet sometimes I’m as fragile as glass and every little thing wears at me.

So I’ve been feeling easily hurt lately and last night my husband said something.  I quickly said, “What’s that supposed to mean?”  Feeling hurt before he even answered.  Poor guy.  And I looked at myself and thought, “What is wrong with me?! Why are all these things bothering me that before didn’t bother me at all?” And I wondered yet again why the past several days have felt heavy and achy.  Then my answer came.  It came and has been coming ever since.  There has been many “aha” and “oh yeah” moments.  Here I was trying not to feel hurt at what I thought was rather hurtful-then a thought came to my mind…”you’re trying to forgive all these wrongs-but what if there is nothing to forgive? What if you rewind to before you even feel hurt and remember there is nothing there to forgive?”

And I was reminded of a conversation I had with someone earlier in the week.  She asked how I didn’t have issues with someone over something that happened many years earlier.  For the most part, this wasn’t a problem for me.  I knew distance was best.  That I could feel love and no hard feelings at a distance.  But the moment I felt hard feelings-that was a problem.  It was clear to me that I would only be fooling myself if I harbored any resentment.  When I thought of “forgiving” this person, I even felt uncomfortable with it.  Because then I would be saying they “wronged” me and I couldn’t say that.  I felt compassion and concern for this person-and when I didn’t, I knew I was wrong.

I realized I had been feeling “wronged” the last couple of weeks.  The littlest things were bothering me, even old memories about a comment some guy made at a baseball game over a decade ago was bothering me! Left and right I felt hurt, it was like a snowball affect and when I would feel offended about one thing-there would be a dozen more things to feel hurt about.  Life was feeling so hard and painful. What I really needed to do was seek forgiveness for the resentment I was feeling.  I kept feeling hurt and wanted people to know how mean they were.  People need to know the suffering they cause!  I was trying to be the one to judge and exact justice-but only the Savior can do that.  He asks us to forgive all men always. He is the only one that knows everything about everyone.  He is the kindest judge there is, and reminds us how much we need to have mercy for others because oh how we need it ourselves.

Over the summer I had been thinking about forgiveness a lot.  And I believed there was nothing people could do that would justify me feeling bitter and withholding love and forgiveness-and I know feeling this kind of love toward people is a big reason why I experienced so much peace for a long time.  Yet I started to forget…I started to feel bad about this or that.  When I focus on how I was “wronged” I tie myself to it. And then I have to “forgive” to be released. That’s the hard way-the times I never feel wronged at all is sweet peace. When I think I’m taking the high road and mercifully forgiving someone-what I really need to do is ask for forgiveness for the resentment and unkindness on my part. The best way is to not even go to the hurt, resentful and feeling wronged place I go to. This helps me focus on the humanity of people-and keeps me feeling the love.  When I focus on how someone hurt me, the peace disappears.  That peace departing is the Spirit leaving, because I’m giving into the temptation of being offended and judging others.

Here are some quotes that have helped me on my journey, they come from “Bonds That Make Us Free”.  The chapter on forgiveness in this book is really, really good.

“As long as we see others as needing our forgiveness, we will continue regarding ourselves as their victim and will remain accusing still.  We live free of bondage of accusing, afflicted feelings only by ceasing to find and take offense.”

“Of all the initiatives people can take who feel a devastating wrong has been made them miserable, one stands above all others in effectiveness.  It is actually seeking forgiveness for having refused to forgive.  I have observed that when individuals have struggled for years to escape the effects of abuse and have tried everything they can think of to forgive their abuser, they rarely succeed.  The reason is that the forgiveness they aim to produce is a counterfeit to real forgiveness.  It could not be otherwise, because they continue to believe they have been offended.  But when they recognize that the wrongdoing has been theirs, good things start to happen-but not until then.”

“Forgiveness cannot be done from self-concern. It must be done for the truth’s sake, or to right a wrong, or out of compassion for those we previously condemned by our refusal to forgive.”

“We need to note one more element of genuine forgiveness.  Just prior to forgiving someone, we will have been finding him or her offensive.  But with forgiveness comes a realization of the offensiveness of this.  How accusing we must have appeared to that person!  Whatever he or she may have done that we previously found offensive has changed our memory of it…the past is not what we had thought.  Recently we had wondered whether we could forgive that person.  Now we wonder whether he or she can forgive us.”

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!

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.  

Saving Myself

I used to think I had to save myself.  I thought everything I said and did would determine God’s love for me and if I would get to live with him again.  I often ran around feverishly trying to do a whole bunch of good things.  Read, pray, family scriptures, be nice, volunteer.  If I missed prayer and scriptures, I would start back up worrying that if I didn’t, I wasn’t a good person and that God wouldn’t bless me. When I’d pray I had to make sure I asked for blessings on everyone I could think of that needed blessings.  I thought if I didn’t, that somehow God would withhold his blessings. This often felt like too much.  So I would detach.  I would back away from God, not realizing I was trying to save myself and that was impossible.  No wonder I felt overwhelmed and discouraged.

Jesus saves.  No amount of anything great I do will save me.  I will NEVER save myself.  What an enormous weight lifted off of my shoulders.  When I started learning this, I thought, “If I really believe this, that’s like saying I don’t have to do anything.”  But I knew I had to embrace the fact that nothing I do will ever save me, Jesus saves.  This enlightening truth changed how I lived the gospel.  I used to read scriptures and pray to make sure I’m a “good” person and keep me in line.  But sometimes I didn’t want to feel guilty-yet I would feel guilty when I did (feeling like I was never enough) and I felt guilty when I didn’t because I knew I should.  I could spend my whole life trying so hard to do good and love everyone and serve, serve, serve.  And I still wouldn’t save myself.  As it says in Mosiah 2:4, we could spend our whole lives doing service and giving thanks to God and we would still be unprofitable servants.  I can’t pay back the gift and grace of the Savior.

He died so that we might live.  I just need to come to Him.  He saves me.  He saves me now on a daily basis-from the devil’s attempts to pull me down and deceive me into thinking the world will make me happy.  I have found true, eternal love and joy in feeling my Heavenly Father’s love.  I don’t have to work my way to heaven!  What a relief!  Now I’ve been praying to thank Him every day for showering me with blessings.  For hearing my prayers and fulfilling my righteous desires.  I have been coming to him with such gratitude and I feel so undeserving of what my little faith has led me to.  When I’m confused or struggling with something, I plead with Him.  I plead to have His help and He hears me!  He is teaching me to trust as His answer to prayer is His will, not mine.  And looking back, His will is better than anything I was coming up with on my own!  He has loved me all along and wanted to fill me with His love, but I had to learn the devil was keeping me from feeling God’s love.  God wasn’t withholding his love from me-I was deceived into thinking that all my little actions-good and bad-would determine His love.

Now I read the scriptures to feel His love and light.  It’s not a checklist anymore but a deep need to feel His spirit in my life.  I need to cling to the iron rod (word of God) or I get confused.  I have to see things for what they are and God’s word-whether his Spirit to me personally or through studying scriptures has been clearing up so many deceptions.  I thought I had scripture study ADD as I’ve opened them to read a passage and my mind wonders all over the place.  I find all these answers and it feels like truth is flowing into me.  The fog clears and I find an unexpected answer to prayer, a different way to look at something or someone.  I feel light and love.  I would read the same verse over and over, telling myself to focus on the story and prophet I’m reading about.  Then I learned that heaven is teaching me in these moments.  These distractions that were teaching and enlightening me were the Spirit! I love it and now I pay closer attention to these experiences.

Obedience has become a blessing, not a burden.  Oh how I need his light and love in my life.  He will carry our burdens-they are too heavy to carry alone!  He gives us strength. I am so thankful I don’t have to save myself!  Jesus saves us.  What a beautiful truth.

 

Amazing Grace

IMG_6882

“I feel that guilt is based on fear, and godly sorrow is based on love; guilt makes a person want to hide from God, while Godly sorrow makes a person want to approach God; guilt puts the focus on the problem (ourselves), and godly sorrow puts the focus on the cure (Jesus Christ)…”(Cheyenne Brashear) 

A couple of months ago my husband and I were asked to speak in church.  The topic was the Savior’s Atonement, Grace, and Mercy.  Despite not loving to speak in front of large groups of people, I felt good about it and knew the Lord would be with me.  Then my journey began.  It wasn’t ten minutes after accepting the call to speak that an old familiar feeling of guilt came over me.  I know guilt.  Guilt looms over me.  It follows me around constantly like my own personal raincloud. I often feel insignificant, small and worthless.  I can feel guilty for anything and everything.  Guilt feels so awful that I would do whatever it takes to not feel guilty.  Sad to admit, but guilt was behind many of my motives for doing good.  I thought this was normal.

The feeling intensified.  I started to feel despair.  Small things, big things-it doesn’t matter.  I can’t put into words how dark and horrible I started to feel.  The feeling grew over the next several days.  I felt so hopeless.  So depressed.  I couldn’t understand why this was happening now.  I desperately needed the Lord so I could prepare and give a talk in church.  When I start to feel bad like this, I eventually pull away from God or at least try to stay a safe distance.  I thought he was the source of my guilt.  He wanted me to change, to be better, to try harder.  Guilt had distorted my view on the world and had me feeling bad about good things.

The gospel has been such a source of joy in my life.  Yet it has also been the source of pain-or so I thought.  Often times when I felt on fire with my faith and the Spirit, the guilt would work inside me and eventually defeat me.  I thought this came from what an awful person I was, from my lack of obedience.  I sensed the Lord was teaching me something through this experience. Wow-did he teach me.  What I learned completely changed my world.  Rather than turning it upside down, he turned it right side up.

Looking back on this experience I can’t imagine learning this any other way.  The intensity of guilt was hitting me with enormous force-like a big boulder I could hardly keep from crushing me. It’s hard to put into words the despair and darkness I felt.  In the middle of it all, I instinctively knew that I was going to learn something big that would change my life and that I needed to share with others.  I had to try to work this out with the Lord-I desperately needed His spirit to be with me giving my talk.  I just needed to function.  I needed peace!

Deliverance

In my desperation for peace, I asked my husband for a blessing.  I couldn’t find a way to feel better and thought it was all from my lack of obedience.  I hoped for the black cloud to lift, to just feel good again.  What happened next was better than immediate deliverance.  The Lord showed me how to overcome this stumbling block for good.  My husband left for work and I sat alone, feeling defeated.  I googled lds & guilt-hoping for an answer.

In my internet search I discovered guilt has been the source of such pain and suffering for so many-some even leaving the church over it. I have known this church is true for a long time.  I know Jesus is my Savior and I know the Book of Mormon is God’s word.  Turning away from the gospel was not the answer.  My heart ached as I read these women’s stories.  I could feel the bitterness in their words.  I knew they were missing out on so much but they didn’t want to feel guilty anymore so they left something so precious in their search for relief.  Then I found what saved me and changed me.  I searched guilt on a blog I have enjoyed reading and found a discussion on guilt from readers:  http://unblogmysoul.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/feeling-guilty/ “Satan commanded Cain to make an offering unto the Lord because he knew what would come of it. I feel he does the same thing today. I feel that Satan tries to get us to do “good” things all the time, but he tries to make us do it out of fear, guilt, obligation, or pride. When a prompting comes from the Lord, it not only sounds right to the mind, but it feels right in your heart also. When God speaks, it appeals to our spiritual nature within us. I feel Satan is completely content when we give gifts to God as long as it’s not our hearts.

“I think a lot of times people confuse guilt with godly sorrow. It seems to me that guilt comes from the adversary, while godly sorrow comes from God. In the scriptures, Satan is called ‘the accuser of our brethren'(Rev.12:10). Jesus Christ is the judge of the world, and yet he says, ‘for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.'(John 12:47).

“I feel that guilt is based on fear, and godly sorrow is based on love; guilt makes a person want to hide from God, while Godly sorrow makes a person want to approach God; guilt puts the focus on the problem (ourselves), and godly sorrow puts the focus on the cure (Jesus Christ)…

“Godly sorrow is a gift from the Spirit and comes through exposure to the Spirit. Godly sorrow manifests the goodness of God and His great love for us. It seems to me that the sorrow comes in because we feel great sadness when we sin and seperate ourselves from the goodness of God. After awhile we grow tired of anything that seperates us from everything that is good (our Father in Heaven, and His Son, Jesus Christ). In short, godly sorrow leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).” (Cheyenne Brashear)

This spoke to my heart! A light came on.  I felt hope rising within me.  I knew this was my answer.  I didn’t fully understand it but my I knew the Lord was telling me something. This was real and while I didn’t quite know how-I knew this would change my view of the world and my Heavenly Father.  At first I almost felt like it was too good to be true.  No way can this be real-I wanted to embrace it whole-heartedly but Satan had deceived me for so long that this change wasn’t immediate.  I sent this quote to my husband and said this is it!  This is my answer.  He agreed.  Poor guy has been trying to help me understand this for so long but I just wasn’t getting it.

Through reading, studying and prayer-I learned this horrible guilt has never come from my Heavenly Father.  These feelings have never been from God.  He has allowed me to feel them and to be tried and tested. But he has not been the source of these feelings.  There is opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2:27) and the adversary will work on us and do anything to keep us from God. We are here to be tested and use faith and come unto Christ-to deny ungodliness (guilt) and be perfected in Him (Moroni 10:32).  The guilt, despair and hopelessness came from Satan.  When guilt would hit me hard, my go to move was often backing away from God.  The Lord showed me how much he wanted to bless and help me but I turned away time and again not realizing God wasn’t the source of my pain and that He really wanted me to heal me.

I could see and feel the difference.  With the destructive guilt cycle I had been going through over and over I felt sad, desperate and angry.  I was ashamed and wanted to hide from God.  Godly sorrow was different-it involved love.  When I felt godly sorrow I wanted to change and rise above.  Godly sorrow brought me to my Heavenly Father and instilled a desire to be more like Him and leave my sins behind.

When my husband and I were asked to speak, we were encouraged to use the September 2013 Ensign which had some excellent articles on the Atonement, Grace and Mercy.  One talk in particular by Brad Wilcox titled “His Grace is Sufficient” was excellent. https://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/09/his-grace-is-sufficient?lang=eng  I read it over and over feeling like this was the talk I needed to learn and speak about.  Yet I still felt so bad and knew I was missing something.  I would get hung up on “doing my best” knowing that I was never really doing my best and that I could always do better.

The Lord continually taught me some very important and life-changing lessons during this time.  I learned of my inherent worth.  How anything I say or do does not change my divine worth.  I was previously worried that if I really believed this then I would be accepting mediocrity and just excusing my weaknesses and sins.  I was wrong-thank goodness I was wrong! As I’ve been learning of my (and everyone’s) unconditional worth, I am bursting with joy and happiness.  I am aware of my weaknesses and I’m sad when I mess up, but I don’t get hung up on these things.  I know in whom I trust (2nd Nephi 4:19).  I learned more of grace:  “Grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now.” (Brad Wilcox)  With God’s grace I could rise above my mistakes and weaknesses.  I mess up daily and but I am continually trying to follow the Savior.  This has been a winding road with often two steps forward then a step or two back.  The weaknesses and sins are just part of the refining process and have shown me how very much I need my Savior.  His grace has allowed me to feel immense joy and love despite my troubles.  What glorious news-that I will never save myself but that my Savior will.  A huge burden started to lift.

I saw the light.  This light grew within me and yet I still felt held back by something.  I knew instinctively that the feeling I was having came from Satan.  It was as if there was a dark hand on my heart and it felt heavy like I wasn’t yet free.  I knew that because this was such a huge stumbling block in my life and was crucial to my progress (as well as something I needed to share) that the adversary was doing all he could to keep me down.  I was confused and wondered why I felt this darkness and what could I do to lift it.

I talked to my sister (who is amazing!) and she sent me this talk that seemed to be the last piece of the puzzle in preparation for my talk: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=251.  The talk comes from Elder Bednar and is about the enabling power of the atonement.  Wow-the Lord knew exactly what I needed to read and when.  I learned of the daily strength the atonement gives me.  I knelt in prayer asking for the Lord’s power to lift this darkness and to please save me.  The darkness left.  The Spirit brought to my mind times that the Lord’s strength was with me (having our 6th child, being called as young women’s president, sharing the gospel with someone dear to me).  These were things that I thought would be so hard but they weren’t-they were a great blessing to me.  Then I saw times in my life when the Lord wasn’t with me and I was left on my own (when I was engaged to the wrong man, going on a trip when I felt uneasy but ignored the feeling, sharing something with others out of guilt, and other times when things felt so hard-like I was walking through tar).  It was clear these were the times I didn’t have the Lord with me.  These were times I was doing something contrary to His will.  Sometimes they were “good” things, yet I realized they weren’t what I was supposed to be doing at the time and I forced my way through it-these experiences ended in disappointment and regret.

What a transforming experience the Lord gave me.  I look back and see He was guiding me all along-despite my fear and unbelief.  He has been showing me the truth and light in my life and how this all comes from Him.  He has also been showing me what does not come from Him.  What sweet relief!  I could earnestly pray again and open up to the Lord.  I wasn’t afraid.  I have been receiving His love and truth line upon line (Isaiah 28:10).  I receive according to the faith I have.  Perfect love casteth out all fear (John 4:18).  My love and faith is nowhere near perfect-but He is.  And I know in whom I trust (2 Nephi 4:19).  His grace is truly amazing.