Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Of Puzzles: and Prayers

Part 2! ... again.

Remember way back when I posted about

Take Care of Spiritual Things First
I have found that before things can get better, before your life pulls it self together or "heals, there is a spiritual healing. Before this happens, things generally get pretty bad.

To start at the beginning, do you remember when I posted about starting to read However Long and Hard the Road by Elder Jeffery R Holland? Well, it turns out that whenever there was something I needed to hear, it was Elder Holland who said it. Even if it was a quote on Pinterest or in a class. There was just something about his words that was so spot on, it became a rather profound phenomenon.
I kept getting the idea to write to him. However, that's just weird. I had nothing special to say. And it's weird.
I put this off for a long time (months and months), and it kept coming. Another big way of holland helps came. It got to the point where I felt like he was a good friend of mine; telling me what I need to hear in a way that I will hear it. I decided to at least write the letter, expressing the sentiment. (Even though it's weird) I still wasn't sure if I was going to send the letter when I looked for the mailing address. I found it only because of some bitter angry person. It was at this point I knew I was going to send it come hell or high water. That's my friend! And if he's getting hate mail, he could use some kindness.
I sent it before General Conference and forgot about it.

A couple weeks later, I started having questions. Ridiculous questions. My testimony was beginning to waiver for no apparent reason. I was studying and praying everyday. I wasn't doing anything bad. This only add to the frustration. The sight of the temple still brought this bright home-like feeling. I knew that was true. But I was questioning pretty much everything else. (This became evident when someone started questioning me on the truthfulness of temples. I was able to honestly I had doubts but I was firmly certain of temples.) things get worse before they get better. Probably because of opposition.

I wanted to know. I needed to know. I fasted. Nothing happened that entire day. That night, I asked again. While praying I got a song stuck in my head, so I listened to it while washing my face. I happened to turn the water off at the exact moment a line was said. It impacted me so deeply, it had to have been just the song saying those things.
My first thought the next day was "So... is God real?" I shuffled my music while getting ready. You know when you're not paying attention to a sung and you suddenly tune it? Well I was thinking about how if there is God, then I have no hope. Then what would be the point of everything? My brain suddenly, almost violently, went to the music.
"So when you're heart's on fire/ But you know your desire/ Don't hold a glass over the flame/ Don't let your heart grow cold/ I will call you by name/ I will share your road" (Mumford & Sons "Hopeless Wanderer")
I guess my name is music. Someone was obviously trying to reach me. (Funny enough, this isn't the first time music has played an instrumental part in my personal conversion.) I wish I could explain the feeling. It happens way down where you can't reach it and surrounds you as if you could breath it and wear it.
My faith wasn't perfected in that moment, but there was a spark, and I wasn't going to hold a glass over it. There was still confusion, frustration, and so much noise.
Slowly, ever so slowly, it continues to grow.
(Watch the movie only if you are daring. 4 comics spoofing on genre music videos)

A couple days later I got a letter. A letter form The Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-Day Saints: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Was I in trouble?
I had almost forgotten about having written to Elder Holland. He wrote back! I was not expecting that! It was short. It was simple. It was powerful.
Wow! It packed the spirit! I never get tired of reading it and I feel the spirit just as strong every time. In it he promises that things will get better. Oh, have they ever!

When an apostles makes you a promise, you can count on it.

I also want to share that I know God is generous in his love and forgiveness. If you know me or have read this blog, you know He and I are no strangers to each other.
Imagine it like this. You slave to make the perfect feast for someone. All their favorites with some new and utterly delicious dishes! Can you imagine it? Then when the table has been finished and you asked how it was they say "What dinner? I don't remember any food." I know some people would never invite that guest ever again. However, the Lord is not some people. If you do so much as realize there is a table in front of you, He will bring you desserts.
I am completely shocked, awed, and surprised by Him.

"Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in his mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive." (Joseph Smith Jr)
It was a week after this musical epiphany and letter that my grandmas suggested the doctor. They have told me they weren't so sure, but both had the same thought at the same time and went ahead with it.

Remember how the doctor asked me what I love and I said "Music?"

After just the first session, I got a text from a friend to have lunch with her. I have seen scarcely anyone outside my family for the past year. No friends, because I'm too sick for them, and they have busy lives. After just two sessions with the doctor, I was able to laugh with her harder than I have in a long long long long long long long time. I was able to laugh without repercussions.

Also after the first session, my mom walked into my room. She had an envelope in one hand and was obviously trying to suppress excitement. In the envelope were too tickets to my second favorite band!
(Okay, for me to have a favorite anything is a big deal. They are a very very close second. I hold to number one for loyalty reasons) She had briefly mentioned to her friend I loved them, but that I was probably too sick to go. Her friend surprised both of us with free tickets.
This for me was a big big deal. It took about 20 minutes for it to actually sink in. I kept thinking "But this is real life! This only happens in movies! My life isn't a movie!" I might have cried.

This post has no pictures because I'm writing before heading to the concert. Who knows what will happen there!

Healing, true healing, comes from the inside out. I promise you, everyone who is struggling, or even if life is good, it will get better.
You can bank on it.

Shocked, grateful, and awed,

I encourage you to listen and enjoy all of the Bastille acoustic songs. You have my permission to cry.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ether 12:4- Anchors Part 2

Sorry! Sorry! I know, it's another two parter. (Especially since it's another to do with the last part one. You'll just have to wait.) I just really feel like this needs to be revisited.

Anchors of Testimony
By James C Christensen

After the last post about anchors, I gained a new addition to my personal library. I highly recommend "Passage By Faith" By James C Christensen for everyone. It's been a game changer for me. It's an art-book that changes every time you go through it. Well, it doesn't change, but your perspective does.
Why I love this book is how it articulates thoughts, feeling, concepts, and experiences so well. Its all communicated through art and words. There have been few times I've read through one of his experiences and thought "You too! That perfectly describes what happens to me!" I understand myself a little better for the time spent with Bro. Christensen.

I bring this book up because of a thought he shares in relation to the art piece, "Epiphany".If you happen to see this book at a friends house, pick it up and find the story (page 9). He explains an experience in which he felt a revelation while taking out the trash. It was a Wednesday night and he was suddenly filled with love and light and warmth. (You've felt this too, no? I can remember when I've felt this very clearly.)

I heard these moments referred to once as anchors (perhaps general conference or elsewhere in Passage of Faith). They are anchors we experience every now and then, perhaps for no reason at all, that serve as spiritually, emotionally, and quite literally. They are reminders of God's love and personal awareness. I have felt them with revelation, as well as for no reason at all. I really wish I could find where I found it!

What I find most fascinating about this anecdote is that the paint has multiple layers of gold leaf and gold paint that cannot be captured by camera. They must be experienced in person. The moments are the same. We can listen and share and watch and read, but the true aesthetic comes when living in it.

You may take a pause here. Stretch your legs. Get some water. Take a bathroom break. Or perhaps just sit for a while and ponder anchors you have felt.

Because her comes two more examples of how hope and the gospel of Jesus Christ are anchors, respectively.
"Sometimes The Spirit Touches Us Through
Our Weaknesses"
James C Christensen

"It's the storm that will pass, not you." (A musical I can't remember)
Once upon a time, I went on a mission. Surprise! On the way to the MTC, my brother asked me if I had any questions. I didn't know where to begin! The only problem was that I didn't know what it was that I did not know. (Mull it over a bit, you'll understand.) So I shrugged, and he laughed. Just before the door opened he told me that teachers wouldn't speak English for the first three days. That was the last word of advice I got before embarking on my mission.
He was right! The teachers spoke only Croatian. Some missionaries really struggled with this to the point of almost giving up. I was lucky and was totally unhindered. I knew it would happen and not to worry about it.

Dr Ashleigh (my new doctor) told me that as I was recovering I would have good days and bad days. The good days meant my body was healing and the bad days are when my body can't quite pull it together. I didn't have a bad day until this week, and it was bad. However frustrating and awful it was, I was somehow okay.

With both of these examples, there isn't really a way to prepare. I knew it was going to happen but not how. Similarly, life with the gospel is the same way. We are told trails and challenges will come. We don't know when, how, or what they will be, but we know they will come. Just as my brother promised, as the doctor promised, and as Christ promises, these trails end.
"After Clouds, Sun"
James C Christensen

Knowing this does not make the storm any less wet, but when we think the storm will never end or that we will be washed away we have our anchors. Faith is believing the sun shines behind the clouds. Hope is believing we will see it again and feel it's warmth. Faith includes hoping in the flora that will come from the rain.

When we begin to think there is no end to life's storms, we can trust and believe in Christ. He will anchor us against the winds and bring to pass our eternal springs and summers.

If you ever need to feel that anchor, I encourage you to get on your knees and ask. I know now that the Lord is generous in showering His love and answers. I promise you He will answer.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Stay tune for...
Part 2 Of Puzzles and Prayers
What I believe is the last installment of this Ether 12:4 series (I still want to hear your insights on this verse)