Convictions

I’m all about following your convictions.  If I’ve learned anything over the last year and a half-it’s to follow your heart. Follow that inner voice, the compass, the Spirit-and be true to your convictions.  I didn’t realize how often I was ignoring that inner voice before-sometimes because of perceived outside pressure, after all-everyone’s got an opinion and I would often feel tossed to and fro with what to do, what’s best, what brings happiness, and on and on.  But I found the voice-and I’m trying to follow it.  And I feel more like myself than ever before-I feel happy and life’s good.  But what about those times where people each have their convictions-and these convictions seem to be at odds with each other?  Well I feel like that’s when the magic happens.  I haven’t always felt this way-I feel the Lord teaching me a better way-a 3rd alternative that I really never thought of.

So before this 3rd alternative-I would process everything through  a filter…”hmmm, is this right, is this wrong…how does this fit with my view of the world?  And while I embraced a lot, other times I would often ignore information, ideas, and people thinking “that’s just nutty.”  And I would interpret the world around me this way.  This is different than personality traits, food preferences, and what you like to do in your spare time.  I can understand how people prefer different things and that’s great.  What I’ve been pondering on goes deeper.  It’s no coincidence that a few things came up all around the same time that really shook me-to the core.  Yet I felt invited to search and discover, and I pondered over a lot of things that have changed my heart and mind.  I found myself in a situation where I was just so sure I was right-like I felt peace about it and everything.  I was dead-set.  Only thing was, this didn’t involve only me.  There was another person that was part of this decision-and they felt the opposite.  I felt so set on my convictions-and they were just as set on theirs.  Funny thing is, I pled with the Lord to change their heart-to help them see the light.  Ha!  It’s funny to me now cause I had a lot yet to learn here.  But I was so sure THEY had a lot to learn.  I honestly felt like I was coming from a good place, but it was really a “Oh bless their heart-they just don’t know…”  Which is really like saying, “It’s too bad they don’t know what I do, but someday they will…and hopefully sooner than later cause this is wearing me out!”

But there was this feeling, like a whisper to my heart, “There’s more here…keep searching.”  I knew I was missing something.  But I didn’t know what.  Then one thing after another came up that made me rethink my whole view of the world.  “This is beyond right and wrong.”  I have heard that phrase come to me more times than I can count.  But with some things, I really felt like, “Nope-this is right and that’s wrong and that’s it.”  But I kept hearing the phrase, “This is beyond right and wrong” and I felt like I was being invited on this search-which involved big stuff, deep down stuff.  I kept asking God, “What’s right and wrong here?”  And the answer was the same, “Put down your right/wrong view of life.”  But I kept coming back and asking, “No seriously, who is right and wrong-we can’t both be, it doesn’t make any sense.  Aren’t some things a right/wrong issue??”  Finally, after asking so many times and sensing the same answer, I felt like He was laughing.  Which helped me lighten up-and I knew I needed to trust Him.  And then I realized this is all related to releasing judgment-and in determining right/wrong-I’m being the judge, which can really be annoying.  Eespecially when people near and dear to me don’t see it the way I do and we have to decide together!  Cause I can try and love em into changing and making good choices-but then I’m missing a real, pure love.  How about loving them without judgment-with no strings attached, “I truly love you just the way you are.”  God doesn’t give us truth and light to judge others, but to love others.

I’m learning the value of following convictions.  And I know it’s no coincidence that answers to some big problems in my life have been out of the ordinary.  I can look back and see it so clearly, though in the middle of discovery, it’s really a search…with twists and turns, a stop (or several) while I throw my hands up…a really rocky road to the answer.  But it’s such a road worth taking.  The answers are often not what’s typical, not what the experts say…but I know in my heart what I’m feeling and what brings me peace.  Yet I would start to feel the tension rise within me, when my convictions don’t jive with someone else’s-and we have to work together.  I’ve had to learn something about convictions-I won’t get convictions for someone else.  And the beauty of it is in the differences.  “But how can they think this and I think that-we can’t both be right?!”  We are supposed to think differently-and we are all supposed to follow our heart.  And that won’t lead us to the same destination-or maybe it will in that we are all realizing our potential.  The more I follow my own unique path, the more I feel free to encourage others to do the same.  It’s unique and it’s supposed to be.  The issue isn’t who’s right and who’s wrong-and it never will be.  It’s learning unconditional love.  It’s no coincidence that the earth is filled with all kinds of ideas, passions, cultures, religions-We have been given so much good on this planet, but when the focus is on right/wrong and our differences, we lose our power as a great big family.  I’ve been learning right and wrong is irrelevant.  And guess what happens when I quit worrying about it-from what we like to eat, to our deepest-held views of the meaning of life…I find love.  I see people.  I feel free to love them with no walls, no conditions, no “bless your heart you’ll see the light someday.”  I feel free to learn from some pretty incredible people-and they’re everywhere!

If I could put into words my conversations with God through this experience, it would look something like this.  (Although the impressions came as feelings to my heart and mind):

God:  “It doesn’t matter…either way is ok.”

Me:  “Really??  But I’ve worried so much about making the right choice!  It seems like it matters-like a lot.  How could this not matter?  I don’t want to do the wrong thing…make the wrong choice.”

God: “This isn’t an issue of right/wrong, this is about love.  Your life is so full of opportunities to learn love.  You think it’s a matter of making all the right choices so you can be with me….It’s beyond that.  You’re here to learn love, to feel joy, to be happy!  And to share this kind of love with others.  Fill your life with this love and you’ll feel me with you now…not just after this life.  (Then He brings to my mind times where I was doing my own thing and He stepped in to prevent me from making some choices that really were a big deal-letting me know not to sweat the small stuff.  And He reminds me that people feel passionate about all sorts of things-and that it’s ok. That’s the grand design.  And in our differences we can learn love, compassion, joy, and see the world anew.)

Me:  “No way!  Really??  It’s ok either way? But this seems too good to be true…wow, if this is true, then I don’t feel all stressed, worried and fearful.”

God:  “Exactly-those feelings don’t come from Me.”

Me:  “Sweet!  Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!”

And the gratitude keeps on going…and the burdens keep on lifting.  And I realize how many things I’ve been worrying about that I can let go of.  I’m finding a lot of “it doesn’t matter” stuff and it’s great.  I know I haven’t lost any weight over this-but I feel so much lighter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 Are Here To Love

“You are sent to love each other, not judge each other.”

These words have come to my mind over and over and over the last few months as I’ve struggled to feel comfortable around other people.  When I look at someone and see what’s “wrong” with them, I hear this gentle reminder.  When I get caught up in explaining myself and hoping I’m understood, I hear those words.  When I feel annoyed or the inevitable pain of mortality and relationships, these words come to mind. I know this is the Spirit reminding me why I’m here and to replace my judgment or fear with love.  “Perfect love casteth out all fear.” (Moroni 8:16)  Don’t fear people-love them.  This keeps me reaching out rather than running to hide and feeling like a fool.

Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to understand people and have myself understood, that I get all worked up and stressed out.  When I’m flustered, tied up in knots and just want someone to listen and accept me, I’m often reminded of God’s love for me.  It’s all about love.  “Just love them.  Don’t worry about what they think of you, just love them.”  “Don’t try to figure everyone out and hope they accept you, just love them.”

I feel like I’m on a mission these days.  A mission to share the love of God.  I’ve tasted of this love and it is sweet above all that is sweet and pure above all that is pure…when I am filled with this love, I no longer hunger and thirst for earthly acceptance (Alma 32:42).  I want to share this love with others.  This requires faith.  This requires vulnerability.  I have to continually be reminded by the Spirit that this is my righteous desire and my purpose here.  It’s powerful.  Sometimes it’s so strong I could almost reach out and touch it.  Yet sometimes I feel empty and alone and question what’s going on.  Faith, just keep the faith.  And the love returns.  The love always returns.

We all have a mission and purpose here.  The way we find and share the love of God will be a different path for all.  But everything is centered on this love.  We are here to fulfill the measure of our creation (D&C 88:19).  We are created in God’s image.  God is love (John 4:16).  I am finding freedom and peace in God’s love and trying to forsake my weaknesses.  In this process I am opening my heart and sharing this journey in a very real way.  I’m not celebrating my problems and wallowing in them, but I’ve found healing in my Savior.  Part of sharing this love is sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned.  If there is anyone who has had heartaches, addictions, whatever it is-if sharing my journey could help one soul, it’s all worth it.  I was lost but now I’m found.  God is so good and I want people to know!

I sometimes laugh at how different we all are.  There are billions of people on earth and we are all uniquely different.  But in a beautiful way.  Every piece of a puzzle is what makes it so beautiful-so complete.  We all have gifts and talents.  There is no one right way.  We need each other.  These rich and diverse relationships teach me love.  I feel like God has given me a desire and love in my heart to reach out to someone-often someone I previously thought was too different for me to open up to.  All these amazing people around me that were here all along…when I see myself with love, I see them with love.  And they are extraordinary.

My path in fulfilling my purpose will be unique to me.  All of God’s children are unique and different-yet we all want love.  We search for worth and can only find real worth in God.  We must learn Christ like love with one another.  This mortal journey is the only way.  A world full of differences yet we all need love.  Our differences can add beauty and mercy to our lives.

I feel this yearning to be open and be myself around people that I previously haven’t.  Before I was guarded and living what I considered a “safe” life.  I didn’t have to share my pain and weaknesses-but then I missed out on help and love.  I thought it was safe to only show people the part of me that was acceptable.  I knew very well my struggles and sins and I didn’t want to be judged.  Sometimes I was so desperate for help with something that I would finally talk to someone.  Sometimes I felt ashamed and wondered why I dared open up (hello Satan and deceptions!) But sometimes I felt love.  When love is present the Spirit will speak to our hearts and help us help each other.  Love leads to healing.  We are Christ’s hands on earth and we can help one another and comfort those who need comfort (Mosiah 18:9).  Not with excusing our sins or validating our wrongs, but in reaching out with love and leading others to the Savior.

I want to share the love.  I may be rejected.  I may never know how or why I felt compelled to open up-not in this life anyway.  I can’t worry about how I appear or I withdraw from people and find “safety” in avoidance.  I feel alive when I feel love.  There is a risk in following God’s will for me.  He is teaching me to trust in Him.  My little faith is rewarded and my cup runneth over (Psalms 23:5).

I feel like I have so much to share, like “my tongue is loosed”.  God says, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.”  As I have sought to obtain God’s word and His will for me, I feel His Spirit and power guiding me.  I’ve found I must speak from my heart and follow the Spirit-then carry on.  I can’t stress over saying what people will want to hear.  Then I focus on glorifying myself rather than the Lord.  I have to speak from my heart and let it go.  Come what may, I must live from the heart.

We all need each other.  We need to reach out and love one another.  I was previously very careful about sharing myself with others.  There aren’t too many people that really, truly know me.  In fact, the Savior is the only one that knows EVERYTHING about me.  All my pain, heartaches, sins, mistakes, joy, love, worries-He knows it all.  He is the only one.  In desperation I sometimes seek for validation.  I say to my Heavenly Father, “This felt right and I knew I needed to do this or share that.  Why? Why does it feel like it was all in vain?  Why do I feel like a fool when I’m just trying to follow thee and do thy will?”  He reminds me I’m worrying about the judgments of man.  Keep the faith and just keep loving.  Like in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”  I  hear, “Just keep loving, loving, loving.”  Love heals.  Love teaches.  Love calms a troubled heart.

Let It Go

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My daughter showed me this beautiful song from the movie Frozen.  Let it Go.  I can’t stop singing those lines in my mind.  I was held down for so long with guilt, despair and sorrow.  The Lord showed me he wasn’t the source of this heartache.  He has been showing me who I really am.  He is helping me to shake off this guilt, fear and worry and helping me to really shine.

We are all so loved and so very precious to our Heavenly Father.  He loves me as much as he loves anyone who has ever lived.  He loves me as much as someone sitting on death row.  If only we all knew how amazing we are!  Not because we have a college degree or because we are beautiful or thin or have a bunch of knowledge or that we can exercise or have a blog or have children or have a career.  Whatever!  That is not what makes us have value.  We are amazing because we are created in God’s image.  We are His precious children and have enormous value simply because we are here-simply because we are His children.

I was deceived.  For so long I believed Satan’s lies about me.  I lived so small-like the period at the end of this sentence. Yes-that tiny little thing is how I often felt.  The Lord helped to me see how Satan will do anything he can to keep us from our Savior.  He will try anything!  I love Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis because it exposes the many different ways we can be deceived by the devil.  Satan knew he couldn’t convince me to not believe in Jesus.  I knew Jesus lived and came to save this world.  So the adversary attacked my worth.  He had me convinced I was pathetic and small and who do I think I am?  Then I began to see that I am amazing no matter what I say or do.   I am loved unconditionally by my Heavenly Father.   My value is not dependent upon anything other than I am valued because I am a child of God.

Let it go.  Whatever is holding you back from shining-let it go.  Recognize that Satan is the source of anything that keeps you from our Savior.  What a sneaky little devil!  Whether it’s being too busy, too sad, too caught up in trying to prove our worth.  Let go of whatever is keeping you from our beloved Savior.  He wants to heal you.  He wants to shower you with His love and joy.