Learning to Want What God Wants For Us

Learning to Want What God Wants For Us

Have you ever felt yourself at odds with what you want? Or rather at odds with yourself and then at odds with God? I’m sure I’m not the only one. Sometimes what we think we want,  or what we do want is so strong that it overshadows everything else. We are positive we want this more than anything in the entire world. We become hyper focused on it. Whether it’s wanting to find the love of our life, or whether its to have children or the perfect job or career, or whether its wanting an eternal marriage and family. We become hyper focused on it and we shut everything else out. We don’t notice warning signs or even other people telling us the warning signs they see. We just don’t see it. Because we are laser focused on this desire so much that we have tunnel vision. The problem with tunnel vision is it blocks the view of the big picture.

Tunnel Vision

Even if our wants and desires are righteous and good, sometimes they aren’t what Heavenly Father has planned for us. That is the hardest thing to accept. How can my righteous desire be ignored? Why do some people seemingly have it so easy? We ask a lot of why questions to Heavenly Father. Sometimes it seems he isn’t listening. Sometimes it seems he is just ignoring us all together. We know this isn’t true, but be honest, doesn’t it feel like that sometimes? Here is the other thing I have come to realize, what if our righteous desire isn’t really as righteous as we think? I know….mind bender right? How could it not be if it is a good thing right? It isn’t a bad thing or doesn’t seem to be to us. But what if in the midst of trying to control the outcome of our righteous desire, we overstep some boundaries? What if we are so hyper focused on our desires that we actually go too far? Maybe we justify some behaviors or ideas because it fits our “righteous desire” and it fits the narrative that “we” want? I think sometimes this happens, where we get so focused on what “we” think we deserve and “we” think we want that we actually take a few small steps away from the iron rod, from the straight and narrow. We try to cut through an ally or field to get there quicker but we find that taking that short cut just got us lost. I think this happens more often than we think and it doesn’t make us any less of a righteous or faithful person. It makes us human. It makes us vulnerable to the attacks of the adversary for sure, but it doesn’t make us unrighteous.

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Now this is just me talking. This is just how I see it. I’m sure people will disagree with me on that. I mean how can one stray from the straight and narrow and still be righteous right? Seems contradictory. Here is what I think. I think the Lord knows our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves and he knows whether or not our intent was to be unrighteous or if we just got caught up in a momentary lapse of judgement that carried us a little to far, ultimately he knows where our hearts are.  Does that justify our behaviors? No, it doesn’t, there are always consequences to any of our actions (righteous or not) regardless of our intentions. But I also think, that sometimes the sorrow and pain we feel after recognizing our mistakes, are often punishment enough. Often times the pain and anguish to our hearts and minds serve as the consequence.  Yes there are harsher consequences depending on what the action was but often times the Lord is very merciful. Because often times we are the only ones that know that pain and the consequence besides God, and sometimes that’s enough. I think we are way more harsh on ourselves and others than God is on us. Let me actually rephrase that, Satan tells  us to be harsher on ourselves than God is on us. Satan tells us that all is lost. That we cannot make it back, that we have gone to far. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are never too far gone. We have never strayed to far, righteous or unrighteous in our desires. God is always there, he never leaves us. We may stray or wander, but he is always right there, never wavering, never flinching.

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I think the lesson sometimes, is that God wants us to trust Him and His judgement more than our own. This is hard to do for probably almost everyone. So even if the thing we want most, we can see, we can feel, we can almost touch it but it’s just out of reach, maybe it’s out of reach for a reason. Maybe even when we pray for guidance about our desires or what we want, maybe it seems we get no answers or maybe not the answer we want because it’s not for us. Maybe it is not what God wants, or in the alternative, maybe he does want it for us, but not yet.  Or maybe he has other plans and then again, maybe what he wants most of all for us is to want Him more than we want anything else. Maybe once we realize that God wants us to want Him first, then maybe he will grant our righteous desires in His time.

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I have been in the temple many times,  praying for my righteous desires to be fulfilled. Thinking surely he cannot deny me this. I have felt in the temple actions I wanted to take, and felt that they were absolutely the right thing to do or that I would be granted these things someday. I have received (what I thought was revelation in those moments in the temple even) and they have been wrong. Well, maybe not wrong, but misguided. Because my request was based on my tunnel vision. My request and my prayer was based off of what I wanted so badly without being able to view the entire picture through my tunnel vision. So it can be tricky when sometimes even in the temple our own desires, our own way of thinking, drowns out what the spirit is actually trying to communicate with us. In short, sometimes, our tunnel vision makes us deaf, dumb, and blind, even in the temple.

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So what is the best thing to do? Do we stop praying, studying the scriptures, going to the temple? Of course not! But maybe we change our focus. Maybe instead of praying for what we think we should have or what our righteous desires are, maybe we pray for other people. We pray in gratitude and be grateful for what we have. We go out and serve others and forget about our so called righteous desires. Because if we lose our selves in service to others we just might realize that then we are wanting God more than anything else. We are serving Him if we serve others. Then, I think, our righteous desires may be granted (again if it is God’s will and not our own). For if we are in the service of our fellow beings we are only in the service of our God.  Maybe we should stop tying God’s hands with all our righteous desires. Let go, and get out of the tunnel, then we might see God’s whole glorious picture the way He sees it.

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2017, The Year of Me, Just Let it Be

2017, The Year of Me, Just Let it Be

I started this blog at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t sure why I was starting it. I was searching for something, just something to get myself out of the funk that I was in, I guess. The previous year had been a difficult year and I was just mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.  I was a shell of my former self.  So I started this blog, I think, hoping it would just create some sort of outlet for me to express myself, or hoping it would somehow fill that void. I was empty inside in every sense of the word. There just wasn’t anything left.  I know I haven’t written anything in about 6 weeks or so. I had tried to start writing something a couple of times but couldn’t finish them. I was trying to figure out why writing was so easy before and now it was just not there. I think the answer is that these last 4 months have been AMAZING! So much has happened and it’s happened so fast and there was almost too much to write about and of course some of it was just way to personal to blog about.

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As you may recall, if you’ve read the previous blogs, that I’ve taken a spiritual journey over the last 4 months. It’s been quite a ride. It started with a song and there is no end. The song was the catalyst that got the ball rolling and once the ball was rolling there was no stopping it. It just kept gaining momentum.  It’s hit a few bumps here and there, maybe got stuck in a couple of narrow passage ways, but it always broke free and kept rolling.

This year will go down in the history of my life as one of the best years ever. For one, a new President took office in January, one that this country really needed. A President who didn’t just talk the talk but walked the walk. He had a plan and started executing it on day 1. Hallelujah! Then of course there was the song that I performed with my dear friend Griffin, who is a genius with music, by the way. I started going back to my ward at church regularly, met with the Bishop, and now I have a calling in Primary. I seriously didn’t expect all of this when I agreed to sing the song. I had no idea that it would transform my life, like it did. I started reading the Book of Mormon daily and trying to pray daily (which is a bit of a challenge for me). Just doing these little things has made all the difference in my life. Fear has been replaced by Faith. While sometimes I do still worry and let fear take over, I find that I’m able to brush it aside much more quickly than I used to be able to. I don’t dwell on it too long anymore. That is the difference of faith over fear. You learn to just say that it will all work out somehow. If I do the things I know I’m supposed to and if I have done everything in my power to fix whatever the situation is, then at that point I’ve done all I can do and I can just let it go. Let it be so to speak.

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What I’ve learned is that the Lord never leaves me. Sometimes he doesn’t give you the answer you want or the answer you expected to get but he is always there and he always answers. Even if the answer is just no, and sometimes the answer is “let it be”.  I’ve learned that the power of the priesthood is absolutely a real thing. I’ve had more than one experience with the blessings received by the power of the priesthood. Who knew right?! I didn’t know, because the priesthood had pretty much always been absent from my home both as a child and as a grown up. So I didn’t really understand its true power until just this year. I’m so grateful for worthy priesthood holders who are willing to share their priesthood blessings with me when needed. It’s just been miraculous to see and to witness and to experience.

I realize that there is so much more to this gospel of Jesus Christ that I never really realized before. I’ve been a member my entire life and there are things that I didn’t understand until just this year. It’s like a light bulb came on and there it was. I have a testimony of the power of a Ward family who fellowships one another and who looks out for one another and who never turn down an opportunity to serve. Service is a huge thing that I think I was missing. I still don’t feel I have the opportunity to serve much yet, but I’m hoping to be able to serve more as time goes on. Accepting the primary calling is a start.

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I’ve learned that the Lord sometimes puts us in other people’s lives for a reason so that we can help that other person with something they are struggling with. It’s very divine and very orchestrated and once you stop and look back at it, there are no coincidences. Someone may be put in your life to help you or teach you something and you may be put in someone else’s life to do the same thing. It’s actually pretty inspiring to think about how God’s hand is in everything. I can definitely see how my life has been blessed this year. That’s not to say I haven’t had some very dark times or feelings this year, I have, but because people were put in my life this year to help me navigate that and to help me to not give up, I came through those brief dark times and gained strength and gained a testimony of the truth of the Gospel. I also gained a testimony of the power of the priesthood, the blessings of serving others, and probably most importantly that I am a divine daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and who never gives up on me and who wants me to be happy and healthy and return to him one day. I gained a testimony of the power of the temple and the blessings afforded by the temple. I currently don’t have a valid recommend now, but I’m hoping to have one, hopefully this year. But regardless it will be in His timing, not mine.

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This year has been a year of self discovery for me. I’ve discovered things about myself that I didn’t even know. I always thought I knew myself pretty well, but there were things that were pushed down so deep that I didn’t even know they were there. So this year has also been me purging all of that. Just letting it go and getting rid of it. All the negativity, all the junk, all of the self-deprecating thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, just purged. Does that mean I’ll never feel those things again? Probably not, it just won’t hurt as much, if at all. I’ll still remember them, cause unfortunately the atonement doesn’t erase minds or memories, but I don’t have to feel bad about them anymore, it’s like remembering someone’s memories that aren’t your own. You sort of see it from an outside perspective after that. You know it was your memory but you don’t feel the pain that goes with the memory, it’s just that, a memory. Almost like it wasn’t you, and that is very powerful. Because it frees you, you don’t feel the weight of it anymore.  In fact, you didn’t even realize how heavy it was until you let it go.

I can’t change my past. But I don’t have to live in my past anymore. Because this year is all about me! And when the Spirit tells you to let it be…..trust me, just let it be……

Blessings of the Atonement -Are they Real?

Blessings of the Atonement -Are they Real?

YES! End of Blog!

Just kidding….the short answer is yes. The blessings of the Atonement are real. Absolutely. How do I know? Because I’ve lived it. If anyone who has read my blog and actually knows me, they know that I don’t blog about things I haven’t experienced or that I don’t have some experience with. As my blog states, everyone has an opinion, here is mine. So my opinion’s are very much derived from life experience. Also, if you’ve read my blog, you have seen somewhat of the journey I have taken since January. Not necessarily the specifics, but you get the gist.

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Here is what I know about the Atonement and blessings. I know that Jesus Christ selflessly died on the cross for our sins so that we can return to our Heavenly Father one day. I know that Heavenly Father sacrificed his son to do this for all of his spirit children. That is the basics of it anyway. The short answer of how we have the atonement. But what is the atonement? The Atonement is more than just the act of Christ saving us. It is the process by which we come unto him with broken hearts and contrite spirits. The process of recognizing our weaknesses so that he can turn them into strengths. The process of letting go of our pride and giving it up to Him. Letting Him shoulder our burdens so we don’t have to feel them alone. The atonement is so much more than just sinning and repenting. When you truly recognize the spirit in your life, when you finally realize that you are not ever left alone if you just submit to His will, you feel of his eternal, unconditional love for you. You realize that He never abandoned you, but that you walked away. He never left. You did. Once you recognize that even if you left, he is still there eagerly awaiting your return, you can fully appreciate the sacrifice, the love, the yearning that He has for you to recognize your true potential in his eternal plan. His plan is perfect, His timing is perfect, and you are perfect in His eyes. There is nothing you have done or could do in the future that He will not forgive. He will always forgive you. All you need do is ask, with a sincere and humble heart and He will give it freely.

True-Blessings

Once we have come to this place of a broken heart and contrite spirit, and we submit our Will to His. The blessings are poured out. It will be impossible not to see them. At least it was for me. It was impossible to see all of the miraculous things that happened as anything but divine intervention. I mean, there are coincidences and then there are miracles. So what’s the difference, well, for me it’s the timing of things. It’s how things appeared orchestrated from above and there being no way that many coincidences could happen all at once. But mostly, it’s the spirit testifying to you that these things are true. It’s the spirit telling you that this is His plan for you. I promise you that if you align your will with His, that you will see it. It will be impossible not to see it. That’s the best way I can describe it. It will just be undeniable. Things that used to be so important to you, that were not aligned with His will, will no longer seem important and you will naturally steer yourself away from them.  It will just happen so naturally.

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I used to think the atonement was this abstract concept that sounded nice in theory, or even sounded scary a bit. It was because I’d never really tried to use it. I mean I did, a few years ago I went to the bishop and confessed 20 years worth of sins and I felt better. I even went to the temple in 2010. I’ll be honest, I thought I was converted at that time. I thought, I made it to the temple.  A place I never thought I’d go. Truly, I never thought I’d make it there. But there I was taking out my endowments. It was a blessed day. My mistake was that I wasn’t really ready. Yes, I’d gone through what I thought was the repentance process. I thought I’d done what I was supposed to do and that I’d arrived. So why did it not work? Well, it did, in part. I was forgiven for my past sins. They were washed clean and I didn’t need to worry about them anymore. That was absolutely true. But what I lacked was the rest. By that I mean, I didn’t understand God’s plan for me. I didn’t understand that he would always be there for me. I didn’t understand how to earn a blessing. I didn’t.

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The stark difference now, is that I recognize (through the help of dear friends and the spirit) that I was so much more to my Heavenly Father than I realized. That He cared about me personally. That He had a divine plan for me. That He allowed me to go through some things alone so that when I was ready, I could feel His full power, and the spirit in all it’s glory. Had I not taken a different path to get there, I would not have recognized it. Sometimes, He let’s us stray. I didn’t understand that. I always thought, why would He let me go so far off course without warning me? And to be fair, maybe he did and I ignored it. But I also think, sometimes He let’s us stray enough to see the other side of things, so that we recognize the truth more when we see it. It’s kind of like when you tell a child not to touch a hot stove and they reach out and touch it anyway. Why? Because a hot stove to a child is an abstract concept. They don’t know what hot is, so unless they touch it and feel that hot burns, they don’t get the concept of “hot”. I think it’s the same with our Heavenly Father, sometimes, He let’s us touch the stove because then, we know for ourselves and the idea isn’t abstract anymore. But, just like when your kids burn themselves on the stove, they come to you to heal them. To make it better. Heavenly Father does the same for us. He heals our souls when we have touched the stove and need to be healed. The atonement is the healing power. The blessings are that, while our Heavenly Father grieves with us over our pain, He doesn’t say, I told you so. He just applies the healing power of the spirit, and then blesses us with peace, with support, with all the things we need to get better and to stay better. Those blessings are absolutely real.

I know that these things are true. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and blesses my life daily. I feel his love for me. I feel how He is rejoicing for me right now for finally not touching the hot stove. For turning to Him so he can heal me. If you haven’t felt the blessings of the atonement in your life, you should try it! It absolutely works and I have a testimony of that. I know the stove is hot now! Don’t touch it!

Being Converted through the Atonement

Being Converted through the Atonement

What does it mean to be converted? I suppose it means to most having a testimony of certain things and of the gospel right? A testimony that you are living your life the way Christ and Heavenly Father would want you to live it and to know without a shadow of a doubt that these things are true. Sound about right? Well, in a nut shell. So, how do you know if you have reached that conversion point? What are the signs? In short, we are all converts to the Church. Meaning, even if you were born and raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you may not have been converted. Thus you are a member, but not a convert. At some point anyone who is a member of this church or any church for that matter has to become converted to the truth of what they practice.

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Hi, my name is Desiree Ryan, and I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for my entire life. I am almost 43 years old and until recently, I was not a convert. I thought I was at one point, but I think I was just borrowing someone else’s testimony. I am not sure, even now as I write this, that I can say that I have been fully converted to the gospel yet. I think I’m closer than I have been in the past. Here is what I know, my testimony as it is at this point. I know that Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins so that we could all return home to live with our Heavenly Father, I know that his Grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before him. I know that I have made many mistakes and will likely make many more but I also know that his Grace has already saved me, but that being saved is not the question. By virtue of his amazing gift he already saved everyone. However, Grace without works is just an unused gift. Jesus paid the price, he gave us the gift, but if we don’t use it, it doesn’t make the gift any less ours, it just means that it is like a wrapped present that we never open. What good is a wrapped present that we never open? If you don’t know what the gift is and how it works, how will you be able to use it? The gift of the Atonement was meant for everyone, but we have our agency to choose whether or not to use it. Regardless, the gift is ours.  I’ve used the atonement once in my life, well, twice now. But once that is complete. It was like taking 20 years of rocks accumulated in a bag and setting it down and walking away. Leaving it there and then asking myself why I carried it for so many years. Was it scary? Maybe a little but mostly it was peaceful and you realize that you didn’t know why you didn’t unwrap that gift sooner.

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So why do we wait so long to set that bag of rocks down? Do we find all that crap we lug around to be somehow our identity? I think that is what it is. I think at some point we start to feel like we are beyond redemption. That somehow his atoning sacrifice didn’t apply to us? It’s so illogical when  you actually think about it. Of course he didn’t leave you out of the atonement. He didn’t say, “this gift applies to everyone, except Desiree Ryan”. I mean really, that would be silly. So knowing that the gift applies to everyone, why is it so hard to actually go through the process? Well, in short because the process is hard. It isn’t easy, and it’s not meant to be. If it was easy, you’d just sin and then repent and then sin and then repent, and then sin again and it would be endless because it would be so easy right? I’m reminded of Laman and Lemuel in 1 Nephi where they go through that cycle repeatedly. Sin, repent, sin, repent, sin repent….ad nauseam. They would sin, then Nephi would chastise them and they would humble themselves before the Lord, and then be forgiven. It sounds easy when put in simple terms like that. But really it is not. It’s a process by where you feel bad about what you’ve done, you don’t desire to repeat that action, and you humble yourself before the Lord and are willing to submit to his will and not your own and that you will be willing to do anything that is asked to make the situation right if at all possible. Sometimes that is just a simple apology, sometimes you need to truly be penitent and go through steps to show how truly humble and repentant you are for the action. It may take time, but the healing will be worth the time and energy, and maybe even heartache you endure to be able to finally say that you’ve done all you can do and the Lord has forgiven you and he remembers it no more.

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A lot of times it is our pride that keeps us from repentance and from true conversion. I love the idea that the Lord will make weak things strong unto us and his Grace is sufficient for all men. My favorite scripture is Ether 12:27 which states: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  All we need to is come unto him, open the gift and use it, and you will see amazing things happen in your life. The Lord cares for all of his children, and he truly desires that we all return unto him. He knows we will make mistakes. He knows it will not be easy. But I have a testimony that his timing is perfect. Everything happens in his time. I don’t question that now. Sometimes we don’t know why we have to go through certain things before he shows us the light. Sometimes, we think, why does so and so have it so much easier? Why did I have to suffer through what I did before I was shown the truth and the light? Because his timing is perfect, and when you reach that perfect timing, you realize, this is why. This moment right here, is why.

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Over the last 5 or 6 weeks, I have seen the Lord’s hand and timing in my life. I have seen the fog lifted. I have felt his divine hand in everything, and yes I have suffered. I have heard the spirit speak to me and felt it in my soul. I have received hard and fast answers that even, pray as I might have before, I never received,  not like this where the clearest answer was just plain as day. I always wanted to receive answers like that before and never could, and it wasn’t because I wasn’t righteous enough, it was because I wasn’t ready enough. It was because it wasn’t the right time.  It was because the right people hadn’t been put in my path yet.  When you receive, undeniable proof transmitted into your soul, you have then been converted. You then see things differently.

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My conversion story starts with an invitation to sing. Something so simple, a small seed. Something so benign. It is planted with a conversation. It starts to grow with friendship and fellowship. It flourishes with the testimony of others. It blossoms with the Holy Spirit and promptings. It blooms and grows with humility and grace. It holds steadfast with repentance. Through the love and help of others, through the Grace of God, through the Atonement of Christ, I am converted.

Hello, my name is Desiree Ryan, and I am a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.