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.

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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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Life’s a Journey, Not a Destination

Life’s a Journey, Not a Destination

My life can best be described as me rushing to get to a finish line that doesn’t exist. You know what I mean? You have a goal in mind, whatever it might be, and you think to yourself, once I reach that goal….then…..then I’ll be finished. Then my life will make sense. Then I will be happy. Right? Is that just me or does anyone else do that? So what always happens is I get to that goal and then I think YES! I’ve made it! I finally arrived! I can relax cause I’m done right? WRONG! Because life is a journey and it’s ever changing and there is no destination. The only destination that exists is the fake one you created in your head. So what I have been trying to do this year is enjoy the journey. Which is hard for me, because there is a deadline right? I have to get some where after all! It must be working with attorney’s for 19 years and working under deadlines that has probably hardwired that thought into my brain. Although, that work never ends either. There is always another case, another file, another client to work with right? It’s never ending. Kind of like life. It’s never ending. Well, until it finally ends and we die, but then that isn’t the end either is it?

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What this awesome year of 2017 has taught me is that life is so much more than just going to work, earning money, and paying bills. It’s about enjoying the journey we are all on. It’s about making time for your family and making new friends and throwing conventions out the window and just enjoying what’s in front of you. The reality is this life sucks sometimes, and it isn’t fair most of the time. We get let down, we get hurt, we get frustrated and angry at our situations but those situations are temporary.  This life is temporary and beyond this life is so much more that we can’t even really comprehend at the moment. This life is about learning to love ourselves. Learning to love each other. Learning that even if we get knocked down we can get up again and move on. That we don’t have to carry all of that weight with us. There are so many things that I can look at in my own life and just think….this isn’t fair. Why did I have to go through that or why did someone I love have to go through that? Why did my brother have to be in such pain that he took his own life? Why did his daughter, my niece, get ripped from our family by her mother? Why did those things happen? They are truly heartbreaking things. But you know what I’ve learned is that there is a plan, and we don’t know the entire plan. We don’t know what God knows. Will I ever see my brother’s daughter again in this life? I don’t know. But…..after this life we are promised that if we endure to the end and keep the Lord’s covenants that it will all work out after this life! What?! Seriously!  I mean, yeah, it sucks right now….and we wish to be with loved ones now but this life is very temporary and very short in the grand scheme of things.

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Basically, everyone has different trials they are faced with in this life and no two people have the exact same trial and even if it is similar, no two people have the same reaction or solution to that trial. Sometimes the answer is to just be patient. Sometimes the answer is that a particular blessing isn’t meant for you in this lifetime. Sometimes the trial is accepting the fact that you didn’t get what you wanted when you wanted it. But it doesn’t mean you go without forever. I’ve spent a lot of years feeling sorry for myself for one reason or another because no matter how hard I tried, things just didn’t connect like I wanted them to. The problem was that it was what I wanted, and I didn’t stop to think that maybe it wasn’t what God wanted at the time. Maybe, I just needed to be humbled enough to where I could actually see the Journey and not focus on the destination. I needed to take a certain path that really was quite hard to take before I could see the beauty in the journey.  When I was shown that path, when I was humbled enough to look outside myself, in the blink of an eye, I saw the light. I saw the journey, I saw the miracles and the blessings. We spend so much time worrying about what we don’t have, we don’t stop to look at what we do have.

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If we look to God in all things, and rely on His wisdom and spirit to guide us, we will find that while the journey might be long, and hard and unfair sometimes, He promises that He will make it worth it if we endure to the end. There are so many things that distract us from the journey. When we are worrying about those things we are thinking about the destination and not thinking about living the journey. However, focusing on the journey of life, on the gospel, and enduring to the end, will bring you everlasting peace and happiness for eternity! Eternity, so I hear, is a very long time….much longer than this temporary state we are in. So, Are we there yet?

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……

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.

Finding Strength in Unholy Places

Finding Strength in Unholy Places

I started this blog around 5 weeks ago. As stated in my first blog, I wasn’t sure why I started it. I am still not sure. I think it was a need to get my thoughts out instead of holding them in to fester. For some reason, typing them out was easier than just talking to someone in person. I think because if I suddenly spewed all of these thoughts out on a person they’d be overwhelmed or at the very least, avoid talking to me again. I’ve probably over shared in some of my posts, inadvertently. You see, my posts are very much just an idea that my stream of consciousness runs away with.  I’ve learned recently that I should at the very least, not publish all of my thoughts. Live and learn right?

So back to my current thought, finding strength in unholy places, I’m sure that title seems strange. It is, in the sense that unholy is subjective, but the strength is real. So what do I mean by that? Well, I mean that my life is very much unorthodox when it comes to most LDS, married women’s lives. I’m sure I’m not the only one with my circumstances, but I’m the only one I know of.  I haven’t always found strength, in fact until recently I would just buckle. I suppose that was easier, or at least I thought it was. Quite frankly, it only seemed easier at the time.

 

As I sit in my living room, the night before fast Sunday, fasting for the first time in years, my thoughts are on strength. I’m looking at the pictures on my walls, which is a Hodge-podge of pictures such as: a gorgeous picture of Christ with a child on his lap with the quote from Matthew 28:20 “For Lo, I am with you Always” inscribed on it, family photos, a picture of the Manti Temple and the Las Vegas Temple, posters from the suicide prevention website, “To Write Love on Her Arms”, my brother’s eulogy, the Proclamation to the Family, Football memorabilia, Motorcycle paraphernalia,and a large painting of a motorcycle club that my husband belongs to, among other things. I realize the things that are important to me. My family, first and foremost, Christ, my deceased brother’s memory,  music and the biker lifestyle. Pretty eclectic right? I have always felt comfortable (at least after I got older anyway)  in most situations. I am adaptable to most things. I can be comfortable sitting in church on Sunday by myself and also comfortable  hanging at the bar later on. I am comfortable listening to (and I love) rock and roll, #aerosmithisthegreatestrockbandever, country, punk, alternative, underground bands, etc. You name it, I am probably comfortable hearing it. I don’t flinch at curse words the way some people do. I am comfortable letting strangers sleep on my couch (well, strangers to me, my husband usually knows them or knows someone who knows them) but still strangers none the less. So when I say, strength in unholy places, I mean places where the spirit generally doesn’t dwell. My house for example. The spirit dwells there temporarily, but never permanently, by virtue of external factors that may come into my house.  I love the life I have. I think maybe a few months ago I might not have said that. The lifestyle catches up to you at some point. But, having reevaluated how I deal with the situations, I find that I do love my life. I love the bikes, and the noise, and the friends/family, the smell of cigarette smoke and whiskey. I love the loud music and the lyrics and the feeling. I love the company that stays at my house at a moments notice. I love riding on the back of my husband’s Harley in a pack of other Harley riders, heading down the road with the wind in my face and tunes blasting in my earphones.

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What I have found, is that I can stand alone in these places, in these situations, and I can still be me. That I don’t have to buckle under them to make things easier. I used to think I did. But now I know I don’t. So I find strength every time I go to a bar and I stand alone. I find strength every time I find the joy, the pleasure, and the fun in the situation that others may find cringe worthy. That yes, I can even laugh, dance, and make jokes, and that I don’t have to buckle. The strength comes from within me, regardless of the holiness or UN-holiness of the situation. What I lacked before was the faith in myself that I could stand alone. I always stated that I didn’t lose my faith in God. I really didn’t, it was faith in myself that I lost.

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I get that it isn’t a lifestyle for everyone, and not everyone could exist in it. But this is my life, this is where my journey took me and it’s chaotic at times, and it’s loud, and it’s atypical, but it’s perfect. Yet, I also find strength in the scriptures, in the church hymns, and the talks and lessons in church. I find strength at the temple, just walking around the temple grounds. I find strength in friendship and in music. I find a lot of strength in music I think. It grounds me, regardless of if it is rock and roll or if it is a beautiful piano solo of a well-known hymn. I think that everyone should find what brings them strength and figure out how that fits in your life regardless of how typical or atypical it is. I truly believe that the Lord understands each of us individually and understands that different things strengthen different people. I don’t feel like there is a one size fits all recipe to finding strength in the gospel. So whether you find it at church in a pew, or on the back of a motorcycle, or in playing music or singing music, or however your strength is revealed, remember that you can find strength in any situation because the strength is within you because the light of Christ is in all of us and we all have the ability to feel that strength. We just have to reach inside ourselves and find what triggers that strength in us. You can always stand in holy places, even if you stand alone and even if the external environment is unholy because the holiness and the strength lies within you.

All Roads Lead Home

All Roads Lead Home

I was lying in bed this morning and suddenly I just started thinking about how all the roads I have taken have led me here. It seemed miraculous really. So I started thinking, what if all roads lead here? What if no matter what road I’d taken, I would end up exactly in this place. Exactly where I’m supposed to be. Lying in bed next to the man I love. What if no matter how much we screw up. How far off course we get, we still end up back home, meaning back with our Heavenly Father. What if?

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It’s an intriguing thought, again this is just my opinion, and I’m not spouting doctrine here. But honestly, the thought came so clear to my mind this morning that all roads lead home. That was such a comforting thought to me. I think, well, rather I know that sometimes we all get bogged down in this quagmire of life and trying to live the gospel and do the right thing. Sometimes we get so focused on doing the right thing and following the path we think is the right path, that we forget there is more than one path. It’s true, there are many paths before us and sometimes we get so caught up in following someone else’s path that we forget we have a choice and can follow our own and that taking that path may not necessarily be wrong.

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I know, that sounds crazy right, but stay with me here. If any of you have followed my blog you’ve been clued in somewhat to my journey. So what do I mean by taking another path might not be wrong? Well, if you grew up LDS like I did, you likely were told that there is one path, maybe not in that way but basically you probably got the idea you go to church every Sunday, you pray every morning and every evening and before meals, you read your scriptures daily, you get baptized at 8, you go to young women’s or young men’s meetings and all of the camps and functions provided. You graduate high school and go on a mission or go to college for a year and then go on a mission. You go to BYU! You then marry a returned missionary in the temple and you start a family within a year. Am I close? Yeah, that’s the path right? That is the only path that can get you back to Heavenly Father. Right? Wrong! Okay now before I start getting messages from people who did follow that path saying how wrong I am, stay with me. Your path was not wrong. I’m not saying that. I’m saying, that path isn’t the only path. I’m saying that for many people who chose another path, that their path leads to the same place. So I’m not saying your path was wrong. I’m saying your path isn’t for everyone and there are many path’s that will lead back to salvation and back to Heavenly Father.

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So, I know, I kind of give Utah Mormon’s a hard time, for that I’m sorry. But, I feel like being a Utah born and bred Mormon that I absolutely have the right to point out some of the flaws. In other words, I’m not some outsider who never lived there. I grew up there. So, forgive me for being a little harsh here, but suck it up because while it doesn’t apply to every Utah Mormon there are enough Utah Mormon’s that it does apply to who warrant having it pointed out. Furthermore, if the idea that I’m pointing this out bothers you, you might want to ask yourself why you are offended by it. Is it because you are from Utah, or is it because deep down you know it’s true? Either way, it isn’t meant to be malicious, it’s meant to make people take notice of the fact that people are leaving the church, leaving the gospel because if you take a different path than the standard path mentioned above, people make you feel like you are less than worthy somehow. It is a real problem in my opinion and again, this is just my opinion. So if we as faithful members of this great church can recognize that maybe we get a little to self righteous, that maybe we get a little to judgemental, so much so that people would rather leave their faith than be in a church building with us, then maybe we need to think about teaching or speaking about the plan of salvation and about the plan God has for us in a much different tone. One that includes everyone and not just the one’s that follow the standardized path to exaltation.

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Okay, so now that I’ve offended half of Utah, again sorry, but not sorry, let’s talk about how every path leads back to Heavenly Father. It really does because I can’t count how many different paths I’ve taken. Too many to count, and yet I end up here. I end up writing this blog and realizing for myself that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us unconditionally. Think about what that means? Unconditionally? Meaning, he doesn’t care how we got here. I’m sure he shed tears for us and was concerned for us on our Journey, but the point is it is our journey. He let us find our own path for a reason. One could argue if I had taken the clearly marked path ahead of me with all the signs and followed the herd so to speak all the way to the pearly gates without deviating that I would have had a happier life. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. We will never know. But I want to disagree, for me, I don’t think that my life would have been happier doing it the standard way. I really don’t. Because I wouldn’t have known what real happiness felt like, because in order for me to know what that felt like, I had to feel real pain and real sorrow and real regret so that I’d recognize it when it finally arrived. I had to take all those paths so that I would recognize the right one as the right one when I got there. I think this is true for more people than not.

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All roads lead home because God did not design a plan where most of his children would be destined to fail. Heavenly Father is a genius of epic proportions. He is perfect in his love and he is perfect in his judgement and he is perfect in the plan he designed. So, the good news is that there are many roads home and most of us will likely make it there. Imagine that. Most of his children? That is a lot over the history since Adam and Eve and beyond. All of us will take our own paths, we will make our own ways, and some of us will figure out a lot of it here on earth but a lot of us will not until after we are gone, but the paths continue after we are gone, so even though we take some paths here, we will still be taking our journey after we are dead and this is where, all roads lead home!

Amazing!

Amazing!

Have you ever just woke up feeling amazing? If you haven’t then you need to figure out what in your life is missing because I just realized I’ve spent far to many years not feeling like this, and guess what? I’d rather feel amazing. How did I get to this point in my life? Well, to put it bluntly, by doing all the wrong things first! Now, that is not a strategy I recommend to anyone, if you are able, please figure it out sooner and then you’ll be happier sooner. I’ve always felt like I have a testimony of the things I believe in. For those of you who are LDS, you know what I mean. I believe that this church is true, I believe that we have a prophet on the earth today who guides us. His name is Thomas S. Monson. I believe that Joseph F. Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of the Holy Ghost and restored the true gospel to the earth in this dispensation. Yada, yada, yada. Right? Everyone has heard that testimony. That is the testimony I have, the fundamentals. The other part of my testimony was gained by doing all the wrong things and then figuring out after the fact that I was wrong. So in other words, the hard way. But you know what? I really don’t think I would change how I got here. Even if I look back at all the decisions I’ve made all of the things that have happened in my life, all of the heartache and suffering, I really don’t think I’d change a thing.

I am almost 43 years old. I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints my entire life. Born and raised in Utah, no less. So how does someone who is born and raised in the church, parents married in the temple, given a blessing at birth, baptized at 8, went to Seminary, etc, all the things that every good “mormon girl” does in Utah, and well everywhere else I guess, how does that person go astray?  It’s simple, you can be born a member, raised a member, watch countless members abide by the culture that appears to be “Mormonism” and yet watch them not really live the gospel. So as a young adolescent, seeing that even in my own home, starts to make you think, I don’t want to be a part of this hypocritical crowd. Like how fake, right? I used to joke that I had to come to Sin City to find true LDS people. People who walked the walk and talked the talk, because from where I grew up, I just didn’t see it. Now, I’m not saying every LDS person in Utah is fake. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I haven’t met every person in Utah so how could I say that? I have members of my family who are very faithful members of the church. So I don’t want to paint all of Utah in that light but, quite honestly, there is a mormon culture in Utah that just is very different from the rest of the country or world. It’s true. I think just because so many people in Utah grew up as members of the church that it was sort of expectation. Sort of a given that you would be this very faithful member of the church just by virtue of being from Utah. That is not the case. Every person, whether born in the church or whether becoming a convert later has to be converted in their own right. You can’t coast on someone else’s testimony for your entire life. It just doesn’t work. But I digress.  So I sort of consciously but unconsciously chose to become in active as a member when I was probably 16 or 17 years old. I just saw this hypocrisy within the realms of my small existence, my small little corner of the world, where I determined that was the whole of the church. Obviously a very immature and adolescent way of thinking.

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I went about my life, thinking, I am so independent and I don’t need anyone’s help in life, because I’ve got this. Fast forward 3 years and I had just ended a long-term and long distance relationship when I met my Husband, Bob. This was after I graduated high school and I’d just turned 19.  We got married in 1995 after living together for 2 years. I was still in active and my husband isn’t a member of the church, but one would argue, if I had not went on the path I went on, I never would have met him. I’m so glad that I did because my life wouldn’t be what it is without him. I remember driving home from work one day and thinking (mind you I had not been to church or done anything church related other than get married in a church) since I was probably 17. I was now in my 20’s probably about 24ish I’d say. So I’m driving home and I get this thought that just comes to my mind that was a question really. My thought that just randomly entered my mind was, I wonder where a LDS church even is in this city? Like very weird out of nowhere. I thought nothing of it, when I got home there was a voicemail on my answering machine from someone in the Cedar Creek Ward saying “hi, this is so, and so, from the Cedar Creek Ward, I just wanted to let you know that we received your records and wanted to make sure you knew where the church building was and what time we meet?” So he proceeds to leave that information on my answering machine.  Whoa! Right? I had literally just had that thought driving home. So next thing I know I have a visiting teacher stop by my house to introduce herself and she invited me to a relief society function. So that is how I ended up coming back to church. Back in the sense, I went every Sunday, or as many as I could. Then I found out I was pregnant with our daughter probably a year or so later. I remember deciding I was going to raise this baby in the church because it was all I knew.  So I went to church more regularly. Still never quite converted myself, but I went. I remember walking up at the temple grounds while I was like 6 months pregnant, just pouring out my heart saying that I promised the Lord that even if I never fully repented or fully came back I would raise my daughter in the church.

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Fast forward a few years and I moved into the Palmyra Ward. Mikayla was 4 years old and a very rambunctious, loud, toddler. I remember that I loved the Cedar Creek Ward so much because I saw what real LDS people behaved like. I saw that they weren’t fake and that they lived the gospel as best they could and were just really great people.  So I was a little afraid of moving into a new Ward. But the Palmyra Ward turned out to be even better. I remember first thinking, I don’t belong here because all these people seem so together, like they have it all figured out and as funny as it sounds, I noticed the manicured hands and pedicured feet on the women, thinking, wow, I don’t belong with these people, they are far to classy. But I couldn’t have been more wrong, because they have all been super wonderful to me and my family. As you can see, my progression was just very slow. I did what I could at the time. I didn’t actually go and see a bishop to start any kind of repentance process until probably 2009 or late 2008, not sure. It took that long. Meanwhile, Mikayla was baptized in 2008, my brother passed away in 2009. I finally received a Patriarchal Blessing in December of 2009, and then in 2010 I got my temple recommend, which I have previously talked about before. Pretty miraculous right? Obviously I’m leaving out a lot of gory details about my own personal journey, but that is because those details don’t matter really. They are just events and things that happened in my life that are part of my history but don’t make up who I am as a person.

So yay! I made it to the temple, took out my endowments and went to the temple that first 2 years as often as I could. Then, in probably 2014 middle of 2014 I’d say, I made a choice to step away from the church again. I know, what? Why? It’s simple, and I just figured it out. I wasn’t fully converted. I wasn’t. I had walked the walk and talked the talk, but inside I didn’t feel it. Not really. I had problems with feeling the spirit except maybe in the temple which I always did, but it’s like the spirit didn’t speak to me personally all the time. I couldn’t feel it. It was hard for me to determine what was the spirit and what wasn’t. I didn’t fully understand that myself then. I didn’t understand that until recently. I had repented, received a patriarchal blessing, went to the temple, and I couldn’t feel it. Something was just missing still. It was a personal testimony of the Holy Ghost, of personal revelation. I was missing the point really.

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So over the last 4 years, I went astray and went back to my old life. I remember a few years ago a friend of mine saying “I don’t understand how someone can grow up in the gospel and basically have the same up bringing I did, and yet they totally went a different direction and didn’t stay in the church” (something to that effect). Since I have personally been there, I said, it’s easy really. I think she didn’t really understand that because she’d never really strayed. But if you have strayed, let me tell you how easy it is. It’s as easy as breathing, or walking. The reason it’s easy for some, is because they don’t feel it. It’s easy when you don’t have that amazing feeling with you all the time. It’s just easy. It was just easy for me, even after going through the temple to say, yeah, I’m just going to not do this anymore. I’m going to go back into the big and spacious building because I just don’t feel it and at least in the big and spacious building there are lots of people there. Maybe I’ll feel something over there. It really is that easy.

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So now, today, in this moment I feel alive, I feel the spirit, I just feel again. I finally feel what I think I didn’t feel before. Have I made my way back to the temple yet? No, have I made my way back to the Bishop’s office yet? No. Will I? Probably, but what I also know, is that I took that long road there before, and I’ll likely have to take that long road back and I’m not in a rush to do it. Not because of fear or anything, because I feel like there is a process for myself. I feel like it has to be the right time, much like it had to be the right time last time. I believe that maybe I was meant to go to the temple in 2010 for various reasons, and I also feel like I was meant to step away again. Because the Lord knows that for me to learn a lesson, I have to actually live it. I can’t just be told to do this or don’t do that, I am actually someone who doesn’t learn that way. I learn by doing. By living. By sometimes taking the wrong path and having to back track my way back. If I didn’t do those things, I would not be the person I am today. I would not feel the amazing feeling I feel right now. I would not be writing it down in this blog, completely unashamed of who may or may not read it. This moment was orchestrated. The people I’ve met were supposed to meet me. The people who’ve entered my life were supposed to be there. The people who left my life were supposed to leave at the times they did. Nothing is by accident and it’s all part of a plan. Does this mean that I won’t take a wrong turn again? Of course not. Does this mean that my life will be easy now that I feel this way and I know these things? Of course not. Because I don’t do things the easy way. But that is the beautiful part about it, it’s my life! I choose freely how to live it with the Lord as my captain, but I still have the wheel. I’m still steering it, but I know, no matter what direction I take, he always has my back. He always has a plan for me. Don’t worry, because it all works out in the end and it’s Amazing!