“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.

The Only Way

I recall one day years ago, feeling like I had exhausted all my options.  I had a problem that weighed so heavy on my mind.  I felt like a failure, and why can’t I just have this problem fixed?!  I don’t want to deal with this anymore!  And I would try to just get over it, just try harder, have a good attitude, and all those things.  Tomorrow I’ll do better, tomorrow, tomorrow.  I thought I knew what the Lord wanted me to do here.  It seemed so obvious yet it also felt so impossible.  I had ASSUMED that I knew what to do, and I continually felt defeated.  It’s funny how some things seem too silly to pray about.  Here was a problem that was like a big brick wall, and I thought it wasn’t something to go to the Lord with.  I’ll just climb over the wall…and every day I would try to climb it, and every day I was tired.  FINALLY, when I talked to someone about my struggles-she asked if I had prayed about it.  Hah!  Prayer?  I already know what I need to do, just buck up and do better.  I kept thinking the Lord was so disappointed in me and wished I could just get over it already.  Oh how wrong I was…He wanted to help me.  But I hadn’t asked for the help yet.  Plus deep down I knew part of the problem was letting go of my wants.  I wanted His help as long as it would lead me to what I wanted:)

I finally prayed for help, and I can look back and see how he led me along-guiding me to lasting help.  I can also look back and see when I would go in circles-as I would hang onto what I wanted-not wanting to really let go.  But His answer was the same, I often heard in my heart, “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?” (D&C 6:23)  So over time I would try my way less and less, and follow Him more.  And I felt like He was loosening my chains.  As quickly as I would obey, he would help me.  I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise. (D&C 82:10)  He didn’t just lift me over the brick wall, He led me around it-showing me a totally different way, something I hadn’t even thought of.  And I thought I wouldn’t be happy unless I got what I wanted-yet He showed me amazing joy in giving up my wants and casting my burdens on the Lord.  Give Him all of it-the sins, worries, heartaches, obsessions, anything heavy.  HE ALREADY SUFFERED THESE THINGS-SO THAT WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO SUFFER.  But we have to go to Him.  His hand is stretched out still and always will be.  I see myself searching all around, trying to fix things, do things my way-or what I think I’m “supposed” to do.  Yet when I go to the Lord, He shows me a better way.  But I have to ASK.  He wants to help-we just need to ask…He is the perfect one to ask, since He knows everything about us-He has felt all our pains.  He knows us better than we know ourselves-so He is the ultimate source for deliverance.  Prayer is a powerful thing.  We can call on heaven and He will send His angels.  Not in our way, but in the Lord’s way.  When we give Him our hearts, our will-He will bless us in profound ways.

The devil tries to keep us off our knees and out of the scriptures.  Eternal joy is found in our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  He is Living Water.  I was noticing how often joy is mentioned in the Book of Mormon-particularly as His children taste of and share the love of God with others.  I love how sharing in His love and joy increases my own.  It tastes so good-we want to share it.  As I’ve found relief from sorrow in our Savior, I see others troubled and I want to lead them to Him.

2 Nephi 31:21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

Christ is the only way for true healing, peace amidst the storms of life, and forever joy.

Poem by Francis Thompson…

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years…

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with unhurrying chase,

And unperturbed pace, 

Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

They beat-and a Voice beat

More instant than the Feet-

‘All things betray thee, who betrays Me.

This song shares this message so beautifully:

Don’t Take the Poison

I recall a story someone shared that I think of often. This man related a story of early on in his marriage when his wife was angry with him and told him so. She said something like, “You make me so mad!” He replied, “since when did you give me control over your emotions?” My first thought was, “Oh I bet that really fueled her fire.” But this story has stayed with me.

I know no one can make me do or feel anything negative. And nothing I do in my life isn’t my own choice. No more, “but I have to do this.”  Because when I’m honest with myself-I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. Everything is a choice-including being angry and every other negative emotion. I’ve known this for years but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve found out how it can be done. I tried to will through before and have tons of self-control and all that. But it was so HARD! People made me so mad sometimes! “But see what I have to put up with? My situation is different…until they change this or that-how can I possibly be happy?” And I would allow outside circumstances to determine my happiness.

These are all “natural man/woman” responses and it’s all a lie. The devil is in the details and he had me fooled. When I blame my misery on someone or something else-it’s the devil luring me in to wrap his cords around me. And I allow myself to be tied to this “impossible” problem and feel like it’s hopeless. When I do this, I’m following satan’s lies. And he is successful at bringing misery. It’s all a choice. And the more I follow the Holy Ghost, the more I see the devil’s lies and how they destroy happiness. He wants anger, fear, and all those miserable emotions and he wants me to think solutions to my worries are based on what others say and do. That I can’t be happy and have peace until they change. And when I believe it I feel tied to others and ready to pounce on what drives me crazy (not the good crazy) about them. I’m quick to be offended and I can feel the yucky emotions start to stir.

But the spirit has been stopping me-and warning me that this isn’t them or reality. That if I go further and give in to temptation then I’ll be following Satan. Situations that have usually left me all wound up-stop. I feel the spirit saying, ” stay with me. Don’t take the poison.”  If I go down the road of offended and hurt or angry feelings, I indulge in Satan’s lies. Nothing anyone does determines my peace and happiness.

FREEDOM!!

At first I realized that I had been wanting to wallow in it sometimes. I didn’t fully want to let go-because then I would also be responsible for how I felt. I had to own up to the lies and the sin on my part. That it was truly a temptation for me that I had to let go. It was sinful for me to take the poison and allow satan in. And it was miserable! But how can I not feel hurt? How is this done? Yet the Spirit says, “stay with me.” And when we make it through and I look back-I feel like I witnessed a miracle. Wow. But that always left me a mess before.  And I don’t feel the residue and pain left behind that I normally do when I let the poison in, then try to just forgive or get past it and move on. There is nothing there to forgive. When I don’t take the poison, I don’t have to get it out of my system!  Only a freeing journey that keeps me from giving into satan and temptation. I don’t even have to go there to begin with!

How is this possible? Through Jesus Christ. I understood the concept of no one “makes” me do anything-but before I had to concentrate so hard and try to will through. Now I’m realizing how strong I am in Christ. Seriously. He helps us move mountains. “Stay with me.” He carries me through and life is AMAZING!  I am in awe that I can feel the joy under so many circumstances. But what about this…what about that? Isn’t there ever any justification for bitterness? No. Any time I believe that I’m taking the poison. Christ suffered for us.  I don’t have to suffer! He loves us so very much and can save us from misery. I wish I had the words of an angel to express it the way I feel it-Jesus is our SAVIOR!

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

 

It’s Not About the Food

Or the debt, or whatever tangible, earthly things might be consuming us and causing guilt.  I love the Dave Ramsey analogy of money being amoral-like the brick.  A brick (or money-or food etc.) is amoral.  Meaning it has no morals-it’s neither right or wrong.  These things can be used for good and they can used for evil.  It’s what we do with them.  He says we can build a house with the brick, or destroy and throw it through a window.  Food can be fantastic!  Or it can be a weapon of guilt and shame.

I gave food power over me.  I looked at food as good or bad-and I was good or bad depending on what I ate.  Good girl for having a “healthy” day and eating a salad.  Bad girl for eating too many cookies.  Food consumed me.  I connected this obsession with food to the problem with those last ten pounds that I was always disgusted with.  I couldn’t possibly be happy until they were gone.  When I looked in the mirror, my eyes went straight to my flaws.  I only saw flabbiness and a belly that refused to leave.  If I could just be fit and thin… Size isn’t the issue here.  I have a petite frame and people might laugh at me when they hear me say I struggle with fat feelings.  It’s not about the size.  The key is that I thought I would finally be satisfied and happy if I could just lose a little weight and look more athletic.  It’s not about the food and it’s not about those last ten pounds!  There are plenty of miserable people that are thin and athletic looking. There are also plenty of thin, fit folks that are wonderfully happy. There are plenty of overweight people that are miserable and there are plenty that are happy and content with life.

This is about our souls.  This is a spiritual issue.  Over time, I have come to understand that God loves me enormously and doesn’t want this to consume me anymore.  If it’s His will for me, and a righteous desire I have to be healthy, then He will lead me to healthy.  God’s ways are not our ways and healthy to God may not be what we consider healthy and see on the front of a magazine or when we turn on the T.V.  God has been teaching me to let go of the good food/bad food and good girl/bad girl cycle.  I sometimes feel totally silly that I have to keep hearing the same message from God over and over and over.  He is so gentle and inviting, yet I still hear the world (although the world’s voice is diminishing and God’s is growing with this love and compassion that fills me).  The diet voices are fading.  I am seeing them for what they are.  A big obsession to pull me away from why I am here. A deception that fools me into thinking my appearance provides my worth and will make me happy.

I have given food power over me for so long, that I still reach for  a cookie and have to stop and think about it-wondering if I should really be having that cookie.  I LOVE cookies!  Love, love, love a warm chocolate chip cookie.  When I am at peace with God and I hear His voice, you know what I hear when I wonder if I should eat a treat?  “Have the cookie.  It doesn’t matter.  I love you and if a cookie is what you want then have the cookie, or the ice cream, or the chocolate.”  I know he wants food to be a conscious thing where I sit down and enjoy my food-cookie or salad.  Just enjoy.  Be grateful for this body and the tastebuds you have that give eating pleasure.

We are here to find and follow God.  Through faith and obedience, we will find Him.  He wants us to find Him!  These two opposing forces in our lives will be with us through our whole mortal experience.  This life is a test and trial of our faith.  He is our Father and in order to become like Him, we must have these trials, temptations and all the adversity of earth life.  He wants us to overcome and we can, but only through the strength of the Savior!  We need His strength.  I have had all sorts of things consume me and bring me down in life-to where I could hardly breathe.  He will not give us more than we can bare.  But we must come to Him to lift our heavy load.  To carry our burdens.  It’s too hard to do alone!  All the willpower and self-help books in the world weren’t helping me.  They just kept me consumed.  I knew I had a problem and I wanted to fix it.  “I” is the problem here.  When I listened to Heavenly Father, He showed me the way.  He showed me I was trying to save myself and fix my problems.  He showed me that I will never save myself.  Jesus truly does save us.  He is the way.  The only way.

I began to let the light in.  It wasn’t what I wanted to hear at first.  I wanted to be skinny AND have peace with God.  I had to let go of my appearance worries.  I had to love me right now.  I had to be happy with myself and truly love me right now-no matter my size.  But then I would be saying it’s ok that I have extra weight!  Then I would be settling and I’ll never lose it!  Then I’m saying it’s ok to eat junk all the time and junk is evil.  (Hello shoulder devil!)  That is not what’s happening.  I am loving myself.  I am loved no matter what I look like.  I am feeling how food makes me feel.  I can eat all sorts of wonderful things-and it’s great.  I’m not obsessed.  I’m not a “bad” person because I eat dessert too.  And I’m not “bad” if I have a cookie for breakfast!  I may feel yucky physically and look for something that makes me feel physically better after.  But I have been disconnecting food to my worth and source of happiness.  Food is great.  But it’s just food.  Enjoy when you’re eating, then live your life!

The deception is that we need to look a certain way.  That we will never be happy until…  That is a lie.  Satan is the father of all lies and he wants us to be consumed with ANYTHING that keeps us from God.  I was caught in a vicious cycle of food worry and I really beat myself up over it.  Actually, Satan fed me lies and I believed them.  I would feel guilty that I ate junk food so I figured I blew it and I’m bad…so then I ate away the day.  I would always vow to do better the next day.  This happened for years!  Years of my life I was so worried about being “healthy” and fixing me that I wasn’t able to feel God’s love.  I didn’t let it in because my thoughts were so consumed with being thin and overcoming this habit.  “If I could just stop doing this, I could like myself.  God would be pleased with me and I will quit disappointing Him.”  “Ha! Pray?  Yeah right.  Like you’re worthy to pray.  You let God down and the last thing you need is a beating from Him.”  Lie, lie, lie.

The truth is, there is nothing I could do that would make God love me less.  I look back and see how much I was hurting.  How often I avoided beautiful women because I felt inferior.  How I compared myself to others.  How I didn’t open up and love nearly as completely as I could.  I look back and imagine God wanting to hold me.  To wrap me in His love and heal me.  To guide me and help me see how amazing I am.  To show me this world surrounding me that has so much good to offer.  But I don’t have to imagine-I may not see it with my mortal eyes.  Yet I feel it in my heart-and that’s powerful.  That’s real love.

Tolerance vs Love

Tolerance vs Love

Tolerance.  I don’t know what to think about this tolerance word. To tolerate someone reminds me of putting up with someone that’s totally different than me.  Someone I couldn’t possible see eye to eye with, but we both live on the same planet so I have to make the most of it.  Let me just tolerate you then I’ll flee your presence and wash my hands of you.

When I think of tolerate, I think of putting up with someone or something.  Like sitting through a very boring meeting that I “have to” attend.  Or listening to someone rant and rave about something because I “have to” listen.  Or even when I put up with my kids and their accompanying chaos-just trying to endure the day.

I often feel like I’ve tolerated life.  Knowing this or that situation/person is temporary and I can’t wait till it’s different in some future time.  Whether it’s looking for relief in 10 minutes or next year.  There are all sorts of ways to tolerate. When I tolerate, I endure misery with the hope that my situation will change.  Happiness is out there somewhere…as soon as (fill in the blank) happens.  Living like this makes people obstacles.

What about love?  If my motive is love, this changes everything.  Love is right here and now.  Love is genuine.  Love is listening to understand.  Love has no agenda.  Love is seeing people as fellow members of a giant earthly family with God as our Father.

Everyone wants to be happy.  I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t want peace and happiness, yet I see a lot of people suffering.  Consumed with worry, guilt, loneliness and adversity.  But we all want to be happy.  I have learned for myself that my happiness comes from following the Spirit and submitting to God’s will.   I used to think God’s will for me would be painful and hard.  I viewed it as something foreign to my dreams and wishes.  Well it is foreign to my previous thoughts and to what I wanted. Only it’s better than I ever imagined.  There are still struggles to live with and problems to work out-but I have peace.

Before I would find fleeting happiness in things I thought would make me happy.  But deep down I felt unsettled.  I ranged from unsatisfied to downright miserable at times.  I just wanted to be happy!  The peace and joy I find with God can’t compare to any fleeting moments of temporary happiness.  I just had to lay aside what I thought the answer should be.

When I live with this love, I see people.  I love living and interacting with all these people around me.  I’ve tolerated too many people for too long.  As my sister in law says, “people are beautiful”.  With love in my heart I can listen to and love each person I am with.  Loving people doesn’t mean I need to agree with what everyone says and does.  It’s trying to understand and know their hearts.  My heart aches when I see someone struggling-especially someone close to me.  Many of God’s children are suffering.  We can help heal one another with love-we are the Savior’s hands on earth and what He does with them is better than anything I do on my own.

I see a lot of people searching for happiness in ways that won’t bring it.  I can’t force love and change on anyone.  Heavenly Father is the ultimate parenting example and I know he values agency.  He has given us choice, knowing we need to use faith to find Him.  He will never force this on His children.  He invites us to come follow Him.  I love that.  Not coerce or convince, but invite.  I am so glad we are free to choose!  I choose God and I choose love.