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Monday, February 20, 2012

Shafts in the Whirlwind

Woof. The atmosphere of my life right now can be summed up through the phrase I've been repeating in my prayers all week: Please let this be the last of it, God.

Now, I know we're always being refined in ways that try and test us, but the main test of this particular trial is the duration and repetition. Though the packaging changes, I'm very well acquainted with this trial, so much so that I surprise others by my familiarity with their mindsets and desires. I feel like I'm running my head against a wall and no matter how much I learn and work on coming out of the situation, I end up walking into another situation just like it. This time, though, things sucked a little bit more because I felt like I had a glimpse of what I'm supposed to be reaching for, and then things shifted. I feel like I'm at the end of my rope in this trial. I'm throwing up my hands and telling God to find me when He's ready to change course. I don't have the stamina to do it all over again.

However, my deepest fear is that I will do it all over again. And again. And again. There are some trials that we'll endure until we're stretched beyond what we think we're capable of. And then we'll surprise ourselves by our strength to overcome them... so that we can overcome something harder.

But I have to thank my Father in heaven for helping me prepare for this trial. I was at stake conference yesterday, all of the talks surrounded doctrines of the temple, and I realized in the middle of it all that this craptastic situation of mine isn't worth the stress and strife it's causing me. There are so many better circumstances out there. That's how the Lord motivates us. I've often felt the need to set this current trial aside because it's caused me so much frustration and discouragement, but the one thing that motivated me to stand up and move on for good was knowing the potential for something better. The Lord doesn't motivate us through discouragement, but, rather, through revealing our own potential to ourselves so that we'll stretch ourselves to reach it.

I would love to take this current situation and make it into my future, but there's that agency I was talking about in my last post that gets in the way of always getting what we want. Yet agency is a beautiful thing. It causes us anguish, and it also causes us the most satisfying joy. When we finally reach our best potential selves, we are even happier because we chose that potential and took the steps to get there. Eventually, we can become like God and we'll have chosen our path to get there, which will make us infinitely more joyous than if it were decided for us. It is such a blessing. (A good talk to look up on this topic is Neal A. Maxwell's talk, "Free to Choose.")

Neal A. Maxwell's other talk, "But For a Small Moment" is another source of guidance for me in this lowly time. He talks about several traps we can fall into when we're enduring trials. I'll share a few with you:

"a major [trap], is the trap of self-pity. One man has said that 'hell is being frozen in self-pity.' Indeed, at times when we think our lot is hard or when we feel our selves misunderstood, it will be so easy for us to indulge ourselves in feeling some self-pity."
I can tell you right now that the lowest moments in this trial are when I stop and think how sad I am. This does me no good. I cannot progress if I soak in the swamps of self-pity. I think that is why it's described as a freeze. We cannot move on if we keep focusing on our wounds.

"A seventh trap, brothers and sisters, is that some of us neglect to develop multiple forces of satisfaction. When one of the wells upon which we draw dries up through death, loss or status, disaffection, or physical ailment, we then find ourselves very thirsty because, instead of having multiple sources of satisfaction in our lives, we have become too dependent upon this or upon that. How important it is to the symmetry of our souls that we interact with all the gospel principles and with all the Church programs, so that we do not become so highly specialized that, if we are deprived of one source of satisfaction, indeed we are in difficulty. It is possible to be incarcerated within the prison of one principle. We are less vulnerable if our involvements with the kingdom are across the board. We are less vulnerable if we care deeply about many principles--not simply a few."

What great advice! When we depend on one thing too heavily, we are more injured when it does not succeed. This contributes to the broadening of perspectives I've mentioned in a previous post. When our perspectives broaden and are illuminated with truth we banish fear and sorrow, not because our circumstances change, but because we see them in an eternal perspective and can emphasize the important elements under our control. The more perspective we gain, the more we become like God.

"An eighth trap to be avoided, brothers and sisters, is the tendency we have--rather humanly, rather understandably--to get ourselves caught in peering through the prism of the present and then distorting our perspective about things. Time is of this world; it is not of eternity. We can, if we are not careful, feel the pressures of time and see things in a distorted way. How important it is that we see things as much as possible through the lens of the gospel with its eternal perspectives."

I have to remember through all of this that Heavenly Father is aware of my needs. He weeps with me and yearns for my happiness. He hears my cries and shares my heartache. He shares my frustration and pleads that I not belittle myself or become disheartened. Maxwell said, "A vague creed is fitted only for a vague God. We have a Father who loves us specifically and gives us things to do and, because he loves us, will cause us, at times, to have our souls stretched and to be fitted for a better world by coping with life in this world."

This is my shaft in the whirlwind right now. I would love to take a break from this life and just sit with my Heavenly Father. I would love to ask Him, "What else should I be taking from this repeated attack on my heart and soul? What lessons have I yet to learn? What am I supposed to be doing about it now? When will I receive the righteous desires of my heart?" But I know, even now, that my Father in heaven has great plans for me. It is that knowledge that motivated me to uproot my life as it was and have faith in something better. I cannot see it or feel it now, but I know it is there, and it will be a sweet release when I finally receive the answers to these questions.

I came across Helaman 5:12 today, and it has become my current motto. I know very little about the direction I'm headed in, but I know that if Christ is by my side, I will have peace, joy, and strength.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yeah, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Patience

Hey all,

Sometimes life is fantastic, and sometimes life just sucks. I think this all links back to agency. When we choose good things and make our own way back to our Heavenly Father, we are filled with so much more joy than if we were to be forced onto the path. Similarly, when we get impatient and want to push other things into our molds, we are met with agency that might not be on the same page as ours, and that is incredibly frustrating.

Neal A. Maxwell says, "Patience is not only a companion of faith but is also a friend to free agency. Inside our impatience there is sometimes an ugly reality: We are plainly irritated and inconvenienced by the need to make allowance for the free agency of others. In our impatience--which is not the same thing as divine discontent--we would override others, even though it is obvious that our individual differences and preferences are so irretrievably enmeshed with each other that the only resolution which preserves free agency is our patience and longsuffering with each other. "

Overall, I feel rather crappy today. I've made the choice to take some steps that I feel good about, but it doesn't feel good to take those steps. In addition, I've got some other life goals of mine that are being postponed. I think the Lord is teaching me a big huge lesson on patience right now.

Patience is not apathy. Actually, it is caring very much, but deferring your will to a Being infinitely more knowledgeable than you. That's what Maxwell says, anyway.

I'm not good at being patient. I don't know anyone who is. I've always been someone who knows what I want and then I go out and get it. This will take a little more time. I guess the important things always do. In the meantime, though, I don't want these circumstances to discourage me. I will keep on with my eye single to the most important things in this life and will remember that I am moving forward, no matter how much my circumstances might seem to be sliding back.

At any rate, I thought I'd share a little blurb for you all on patience. Learn to desire what God would desire for you and you will fall into the rhythm of life that feels most sweet and comfortable because it's right.

Anywho, just dinkin around on Garageband yesterday and came up with a little ditty.
See Me

Love you all,
Whit

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Potent Lessons in February

My, it's been a while. But, even though much time has passed since I've written, very little time has passed since I've had something worthwhile to say.

This is a post of all the lessons God's taught me in the last few weeks. They've all been potent and permeated with spiritual confirmations that they are true. Be prepared. It's long, but it's potent.

First off, let me share my notes from a VERY powerful fireside I attended a couple weeks ago.


Happiness and Light:
How to Become a God
A fireside by R. Scott Strong

Happiness is the object and design of our existence. Anything we think we desire is a misinterpreted path to what we truly desire—happiness.


We can only be truly happy if we have bodies. There are 4 seals that make up our eternal happiness: 1. Sealing to the body. 2. Sealing to the family. 3. Sealing to Mankind. 4. Sealing to God (Psalms 16:11—being sealed to God will give us ultimate joy).


Joy is the only thing that makes life meaningful. (2 Ne. 2:27)


D&C 84:45Word is Truth is Light is Spirit 
They are all the same thing.
D&C 131:7-8—All Spirit is Matter.
Truth is not figurative. It is real. It is literal. We just cannot see it unless our eyes are quickened by the Spirit.
D&C 93:36—The Glory of God is Intelligence.
Thus, Word = Truth = Light = Spirit = Matter = Glory = Intelligence.
Gal. 5:22—This matter produces LOVE, JOY, and PEACE.
D&C 88: 6, 7, 11, 13—Truth is light. God’s power is light. God became God because He filled Himself with LIGHT.


Our physical eyes only see light. We don’t see people or chairs or paper and pencils, we only see light reflecting off of them. Light is what fills our mind with intelligence, and our souls with experience.


D&C 50:24; D&C 88:67—If we follow God, our whole bodies will be filled with perfect light (Meaning that with this light, we will comprehend all things. We will see everything because we see and understand with light)


Moroni 7:48—Pray for this light with all the energy of heart. God bestows on us His love. His love and glory cannot be created. We cannot create love for ourselves. It must be given to us by Heavenly Father, who is full of perfect love/joy/peace. This is why we need to develop strong relationships with Heavenly Father. Without Him, we are incapable of feeling love, joy, or peace because they all come from Him.
JSH 30, 31—Gods are clothed in light (Psalms 104:1-2).

Mormon 9:5—God is clothed in Glory. If I’m unjust, I will see my nakedness. The filthy don’t have this light.


2 Ne 9:14—Guilt, uncleanness, nakedness (wicked). Robe of righteousness (righteous).


The 7 Principles of Gods and Light
Gods are clothed in light.
Gods dwell in light.
Gods travel by light. (Orson/Parley P. Pratt note that God’s light travels at the speed of thought.)
Gods create by light (D&C 29:31-33)
Gods destroy by light (D&C 5:19)
God lives in fire, not Satan. Because God’s light is too strong for the wicked to withstand. Only those righteous enough can withstand His brilliant presence.)
Gods communicate by light (Enlightenment)
Gods sanctify by light.


How do we get this light?
D&C 93:28 Keep the commandments
How do we lose this light?
D&C 93:39 Disobey


As you are filled with light, you will be better able to discern light.


Brother Strong then told a personal story about his family. He has nine children, but a few years ago, his oldest son was in a junior Olympic volleyball championship in California. He and his wife drove out to California to see him. When they returned to their hotel, they received a call from the head neurosurgeon of the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake. Brother Strong said that his blood ran cold and he thought of each one of his children, wondering which one the surgeon had called about.

“But,” Brother Strong said, “the surgeon hadn’t called about one of our children. He had called about six of them.”


Six of Brother Strong’s kids were riding in a pickup through the canyons, and the pickup truck drove over the side of the road into the river below. Two of Scott's children had to be life flighted to Primary Children’s, the rest were sent to other hospitals so that all could get the most immediate care possible. Their youngest daughter, who was three at the time, wasn’t expected to make it through the night.

Scott Strong and his wife drove back to SLC through the night and visited the Primary Children’s Hospital first. Their daughter, Casey, was still alive, but when they came into the room she was in, they could not believe the sight. Casey’s left eye was gone, as well as the left side of her jaw. Hundreds of tubes were woven through her, and her hands were tied down to keep her from pulling them out.

Brother Strong called her name and said that her mom and dad were there. Casey looked toward the sound of Brother Strong’s voice, but she couldn’t see anything. Her one eye had been swollen shut. Then she tried to call their names, but she’d had a tracheotomy and couldn’t make a sound. Finally, she tried to lift her arms to her dad, but they were tied down to the bed. Brother Strong made his way over to the bed and put his little finger into the palm of her hand.

“As she squeezed onto my baby finger,” Brother Strong said, “I felt a surge of power rush through me. There are days in this life when we can see through the haze Lehi mentioned that distracts us from our mission. We can see clear on to forever. That day, I saw the true importance of sealings. I saw the love of God in giving us these sealings and I was filled with love, joy, and peace. I knew that regardless of what would happen, my family would be together forever, and I thanked my Heavenly Father for giving me a plan that would allow that. A plan that would fill me with His love, His joy, and His peace.”


Anywho, this was a fantastic fireside. It made me re-realize that every step I make every day is a literal gathering or dissemination of light. I can either keep my eye single to the glory of God and make each day count, or I can squander my light in search of other things. Regardless, there is only one way to obtain true happiness in this life, and it is through the accruing of light.



There have been a few trials I've dealt with again and again and again in love and dating. It's hard not to feel discouraged or bad about myself when I keep experiencing these trials, but I'd been doing my best to keep my head above water. I went to the temple last Thursday and, while waiting for baptisms, I opened up the New Era. Inside was Elder Bednar’s talk on tender mercies of the Lord. This talk is several years old, but the New Era reprinted it for this month’s issue. I read through it, and the article itself was a tender mercy. It talked about how the Lord is always willing to bless us with exactly what we need, but, as it says in 1. Ne. 1:20, He bestows these mercies onto His chosen children. We choose whether we are chosen or not. It is up to us to qualify for these tender mercies.

Then it hit me, I’ve been so focused on what’s going on with this whole dating life because I think that that's what makes me happy. But it’s not this situation itself that makes me happy. Just like Brother Strong talked about in his fireside a few weeks ago, we all have different ideas of what makes us happy, but these ideas are all just means to an end. What really makes us happy is when we’re coming closer to Christ and becoming more like God. THAT’S what I want! That’s what will make me happy. The whole experience with love and dating is great, but it’s only purpose is to bring me closer to Christ and to help me become a god. That’s all there is to it. So then I realized that with this perspective, it doesn’t matter what happens. I might date this person or not date that person, but either way, it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m working to become like my Heavenly Father.

I talked to my friend Dana on the phone just now. We chatted for about an hour and a half, and I’m so glad we did. I’ve felt the need to remind her that I love her, and it was also good for me to re-realize how blessed I am to have such wonderful people in my life.

We talked about many things. We talked about the idea of light and how when we gain more knowledge and understanding, we gain light. Light does not hide anything, rather, it exposes everything. But, when we have the perspective that Heavenly Father has, we can see everything as it really is, instead of with our limited perspective. Our mortal challenges will disappear after this life because we will have an eternal perspective, filled with light. Similarly, the hope we feel after going through trials is a very special kind of hope. Real hope is not a naïveté that expects everything to be wonderful. Rather, it is a full perspective of reality and seeing what has accumulated through trials and past experiences that will contribute to a perfect future.

We talked about acting on faith instead of fear. I came to the conclusion to make some decisions about my life right now, and  it wasn’t until after I got up and did something about these decisions that I’d had all of these wonderful feelings and motivations and confirmations that this was right. Heavenly Father never makes us do anything, but as soon as we receive a desire for ourselves to do what God wants us to, He has a store of blessings He can pour over us to strengthen us and help us to continue to make those decisions. Because, after building good experiences, revelations, and peaceful feelings on top of each other, who wouldn’t want to chase that and continue to act on what they know is right?

We talked about my dating messy poo. Dana had a lot of good things to say about that. In the same breath of acting on faith instead of fear, it is important in relationships to act on faith. Sometimes we come into situations that feel good and comfortable, but we don’t commit ourselves wholly because we’re afraid of closing doors, or we don’t pursue better options because we’re afraid of leaving something “safe.” However, when we refrain from acting on faith, we can’t receive all those wonderful affirmations from Heavenly Father that tell us we’re choosing the right. So, essentially, we’re wandering aimlessly, being bumped every now and then in the general direction God wants us to take. But when we choose to plant our feet firmly on the path He would choose for us, we can be overwhelmed by the power and love we receive from Him. It is a feeling I intend to chase wherever it takes me.

We also talked about the need to see ourselves how God sees us. Dana said that she felt strongly the need to tell me to pray to see myself as how me Heavenly Father sees me. I was very touched by that, and I think I forget sometimes in the middle of all this junk I wade through that, at the end of the day, my Heavenly Father sees me for who I am. He sees my potential, but he also sees all of the greatness I hold right now. Sometimes I glimpse that love and it fuels me for a long time, but it is important to continually pray for that. It is a mindset I will strive to obtain because I already feel the power that that mindset can have in my life.

All in all, this was a wonderful conversation. This has been a wonderful month already. I’ve gained so much insight into myself, others, and, most importantly, my Heavenly Father. I am grateful to my Father for marinating my life in truth and light.


I cannot wait to feel the full effect of these decisions when they play out.

Whitney-- OUT!