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.

See no evil

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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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!

Hello Darkness my Old Friend

Hello Darkness my Old Friend

So this is literally what I felt like upon waking this morning. Just endless thoughts of what is the point of my life. Not just that but just this sick, unrelenting feeling and these sick unrelenting thoughts of doom, and despair, and just darkness that were all swimming in my head.  I have no idea why. I had a perfectly fantastic weekend in the trenches of the Supernatural Convention 2017.  Saw some great speakers, spent way to much money, pictures with the super awesome, super gorgeous Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. So why wake up to this feeling right? It makes no sense, much like me sometimes. I just make no sense. I am this strange complex person who, apparently is fine one minute and filled with darkness the next. Yay Me!

So what’s my point? I wish I knew. I wish I could give this feeling a name, or a description. I guess darkness is the closest thing to an accurate description I can think of. I want to be so quick to just say, oh it’s the adversary filling my head with this stuff, but I think that would be a mistake. I think it would be a mistake to just blame it on Satan and be done with it. It seems to easy to just do that. I have written a lot about some very intense and trans-formative feelings I’ve had recently, mostly in a spiritual and light-hearted way at times. But I feel like I just can’t get their today. Like I can’t just spin some spiritual thoughts and poof I’ll suddenly see the light again. I’m not sad. I’m not mad. I’m just here.  Like in the song “Amazing” by Aerosmith (greatest rock band in the world by the way) it says “in the blink of an eye, you finally see the light.” I keep blinking today but there is no light. I have a wonderful husband who loves me. Sure he has his faults but so do I. No one is perfect. My daughter is absolutely amazing and she is perfect just as she is. So why can I only see darkness today?

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Like have you ever had the thought that you just didn’t want to be here anymore. Like you just wanted to go away or run away. Think about it. What if I just woke up one morning. Packed a bag and left? What if? It’s a horrible thought for sure and just even typing that out is hard. It’s hard to read back. I wonder though, how many mothers or women in general just feel like enough already? Like I said, I have no particular reason to feel this way at this particular moment. I had an awesome weekend. My husband got home from his trip last night and everything is good. So why? Why feel like running away? Why feel like you wish the end was here? I think that’s why I thought of the song “Sound of Silence” because it starts out “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” It sort of perfectly sums up my feeling. And why is darkness my friend?

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Maybe it’s a feeling that things are going good and so you think to yourself things shouldn’t be going good, let me look for my old friend darkness so I can feel horrible again. But I don’t think so. I don’t think I sought it out. I think it’s just there. Always lurking in the shadows, waiting for me to feel good so that it can come and claim my soul for its own. I have no idea what I’m saying and I’m fairly certain this blog is taking a very dark turn and probably will cease to be interesting anymore.

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Here is the thing about me. Most people who know me, know I am a very optimistic and generally up beat person. I’m not Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh who is perpetually sad, dark and gloomy. That just never was me. Today, I feel like Eeyore. Like it all just doesn’t matter anyway so why bother? That is just my general mentality today. I hate that I feel that way, it isn’t at all a comfortable feeling for me. Some people who have that general gloomy disposition most of the time might find it comfortable in the darkness. I myself prefer the light. So when I wake up feeling drowned in a murky cloud of darkness it leaves me perplexed. It leaves me unable to really function well. Now, normally, I’d blame something like this on hormones or whatever. But it doesn’t feel hormonal. It doesn’t feel like what that roller coaster of emotions feels like when you are in that state. This feels eerily calm. Like I’m not freaking out needlessly or just riding that roller coaster of imbalance. I’m calm and yet I’m enveloped in this darkness. I think it’s the calm that bothers me. The fact that I’m in this state and I don’t care. The fact that I can have some of the very dark thoughts I’ve had and still be calm. That it could not faze me in the slightest.

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So, now that everyone who might read this blog is thoroughly depressed now, I suppose I should stop bringing the world down. I don’t know what any of this means. I don’t know why it’s happening. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. But hey, here is this blog right? I guess I’ve disturbed the sound of silence enough. Maybe silence is better.

Change

Change

People always say change is a good thing? Is it? I mean I suppose it can be. Depends on the change. But I think people say change is a good thing because if nothing changes, then nothing changes. Meaning everything just stays the same all the time. Day in and day out, no changes, just the same old same old. That would be kind of boring right? But change is also hard. Because we get comfortable in our complacency. We are comfortable in our surroundings and our lives and changing something means we would have to be uncomfortable for a time until we got comfortable again.

You might say we have a love/hate relationship with change. Because, while change is good, it leads to personal growth and maybe new possibilities, we also don’t like the growing pains we feel while the change is happening.  Think about it, we get stuck at a job we hate because it would be too much effort or too scary to go out and find another job that we might love. We stay in failed relationships or marriages because leaving would mean we would have to find a new place to live, figure out how we are going to pay for things, and also means you have to put yourself out there again after you’ve grieved that relationship. All scary stuff. We don’t like things that we can’t predict. If we can’t predict what we are going to do tomorrow or what the plan is tomorrow, don’t we freak out a bit?

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Now, not every change has to be life altering. You can make little changes to yourself as a person that doesn’t involve something big like moving, or finding a new job, or getting out of a relationship. Self reflection can bring about much-needed change in your life that maybe just helps you to focus, or to feel better about yourself or to strive for something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that is just for you.

I was reading in another article today about overcoming challenges. Sometimes we don’t try to overcome them because the tasks seem so daunting. It seems like you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because the task seems so hard. But what if you broke that task down into small steps. Small accomplishments that are easy and attainable but all of those tasks were working toward an ultimate goal? The analogy in the story used was going on a long hike and at first you were fine but then as the hike got harder, it seemed like you couldn’t make it to the finish line because you were tired and thirsty and wanted to rest. Well by all means, rest then, but don’t get so comfortable resting that you stop progressing. Because you certainly won’t finish that hike if you stop where you are indefinitely. So the idea was to count 100 steps and along the way while you are counting you notice the beauty around you, you find things to look at and admire that are fun. Maybe you even sing a song. Before you know it you’ve reached 100 steps. Then you start again, okay let’s do another 100 steps. So if you break the goal down into attainable smaller goals eventually you reach the ultimate goal.

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I think we decide to stay stagnant and complacent because we are afraid that the goal is too big. That we can’t see the finish line so we give up. So, maybe instead of picturing the finish line, you just picture the next 100 steps. Believe me 100 steps isn’t that many, I have a fit bit and it counts your steps, 100 is pretty small. You don’t realize how many steps you actually take in a day.

Now why am I bringing this up? Because like most of you, I get scared, I get comfortable and complacent and I get afraid to make even small changes that will most definitely make my life better, but I fail to do them because the finish line seems so unattainable. So maybe I will stop thinking of the end result and just start focusing on the next 100 steps. I can do that. I’m reminded of a saying, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey we take to get there, and the journey is beautiful. The journey is life. We go through ups and downs and hills and valleys and storms and all sorts of obstacles, but if we stop the journey, if we just sit down and wait because we are scared, are we living? Can we really call that life? If we don’t take the journey, we never experience all that we could have. If we stop taking the journey, we die.

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So change really is a good thing. We should invite the change, we should embrace the change, and yes, as Gandhi put it, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  But remember, you must change from within first and it starts with just the first 100 steps.