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.

Short cut

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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Does it Really Matter?

FeaturedDoes it Really Matter?

I’ll admit, the last 2 or 3 weeks have been both very spiritual and very challenging. On June 6th I officially received my signed Temple recommend again. I haven’t had a valid one since 2014. On June 9th me and some friends went to the Las Vegas Temple to do an endowment session. My first in about 3 and half years. I was so excited to go again and a little scared. You see, on October 9th 2010, I went to the temple and took out my own endowments in the Manti Temple. Consequently, it was the same day that we were doing the endowment work for my deceased brother, Ryan, on that day as well. It was a special day. So many people came down for the session. It was a full session and to boot, the temple was closing after that day for 2 weeks to be cleaned so it was a packed temple all day that day.  So on June 9th, I went back to the temple with a small group of friends. It was so wonderful to be back. Just like in 2010, I thought, Yes…..I’ve arrived. I made it.  Sounds amazing right? Well, for most people it would be, and for me, don’t get me wrong it was amazing. My closest friends met me in the Celestial room and hugged me and welcomed me home. It was so surreal. I imagine that is what heaven is like, when we pass away we are greeted by those who have passed away before us and they give us big hugs and welcome us home. They’ve just been up their waiting for us to return.

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So that was the big day, I didn’t even make it out of the dressing room into the chapel before having the spirit hit me so strong. Already tears in my eyes but trying to hold it together. During the session, I cried more. This will become a theme for the next few weeks. Crying. It’s like I have a faucet in my head that just turns on whenever it feels like it. Here come the water works.  I’ve never been so much of a crier before. I mean, yes I cry, but seriously, this was getting ridiculous. I went to the temple 2 more times after June 9th, and each time was more special than the last. However, in between these special temple visits (I’m going again tomorrow by the way), I have felt a deep depression. It bothers me that I can have what I worked so hard for and be able to experience these miraculous blessings for myself and on behalf of the dead, and then feel depressed the rest of the week. I find that notion unsettling to say the least.

 

I think this happens to me often. I never really analyzed it before, but I have spent months preparing to go back to the temple. I’ve been laser focused on it. Now that I’ve achieved that, it’s like I have a bit of a lack of focus. Maybe that’s kind of the same thing that returned missionaries experience when they come home from missions. They’ve spent all that time devoted to serving others and then they are supposed to integrate back into their former lives. I’m sure it’s not quite the same, but maybe it is similar. I spent all that time just focused on this one thing and then when I achieved it, it was like, great! Now what am I going to work towards now? So I think that is a bit of the issue, and it’s not that I don’t have things I need to still work on and progress towards and fix, we all do. It’s that there isn’t that focus. There is so much you could work on and progress towards that it’s almost like, what do I do first? Where do I go from here? Does it really matter?

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Does it really matter? What an odd rhetorical question that is. Seriously, everything matters right? Here is where I think some of my problem lies, I think everything matters now. Okay maybe not everything. I can make decisions about what to eat or what to wear without praying to see if I’m right. However, I find myself in a position of what if I make the wrong choice? What if I turn left and I should have turned right? What if I take the wrong job? What if I close my business and it’s not the right thing to do? What if I choose one debt management solution over another and I choose wrong? What if I make a decision for my family and it’s wrong? Literally the what if’s can go on forever. So the thought I had tonight is….does it really matter? Does all of that really matter to God? Am I just needlessly stressing myself out? Am I praying about things and not getting clear answers because God literally doesn’t care which of the what if solutions I choose? So the thought that came to me is it doesn’t matter. It makes no difference to God if I take one job over another. It makes no difference to Him if I pick one company over another. What matters to Him is that I make a choice. That I make that choice based on the information I have on hand. What I’ve been doing is waiting for Him to make the choice for me.  I’ve been being passive and hoping he’d tell me if I was right or wrong. I’ve been so afraid to make a wrong decision (because let’s face it, I’m good at wrong decisions) that I haven’t made any decisions. I’ve just, instead, resorted to standing still instead of moving in one direction or another. Waiting for the path to carry me in one direction or another as if it was some large conveyor belt that could move me. Driving my friends crazy with my indecisiveness.

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In the process of me standing still and waiting for answers to come, I’ve become paralyzed. The adversary is using my new-found spirituality and prayer against me. Making me think that I am somehow doing something wrong because I’m not getting the answers to my prayers. The truth is, I’m getting them, I’m just not understanding them. I’m not understanding that no answer, possibly means that God is saying, eh….do it if you want to, it is inconsequential to me or to you whether you do or you don’t. As long as you are living righteously and providing for your family, I care not where the funds come from, or as long as you pay your debts, I care not how you pay them.

My depression probably has some other things tied to it as well, but I think the lack of action on certain worries is a part of it. I’ve failed to act out of fear of making the wrong choice, however, in not making a choice, I’ve just failed to act which doesn’t get me anywhere but stuck. I think the Lord doesn’t care which decision we make over another as long as the choices are both righteous choices. It doesn’t really matter to Him.

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Finally, I’ve determined that what does matter is serving others. Serving our families, our friends, our communities, our country, and yes even our ancestors by doing temple work for the dead. Heavenly Father cares not about how we earn our money as long as it is legally earned and he doesn’t care much about how we spend it as long as we pay our debts. I’m sure he cares a little how we spend it but not really that much. What he does care about is if we have served. If we have helped another in need. If we have committed to doing temple work for those who passed before us. That is what really matters to him. Henry B. Eyring stated in the First Presidency message for July, 2017 the following:

“In the Master’s service, we come to know and love Him. We will, if we persevere in prayer and faithful service, begin to recognize the hand of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life. Many of us have for a period given such service and felt that companionship. If you think back on that time, you will remember that there were changes in you. The temptation to do evil seemed to lessen. The desire to do good increased. Those who knew you best and loved you may have said: “You have become kinder and more patient. You don’t seem to be the same person.”

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The idea is that we are all here to endure to the end, but the message of President Eyring is how well do we endure? Anyone can endure but do we endure well? Me, not so much. So that is definitely something to work on along with my patience, service, and of course continually moving forward and not staying stuck. I think the combination of those things might be the spiritual balance I need to avoid the ever-present spiritual hangover I get after coming off of an extreme spiritual high only to crash to the depressive low. I want to strike that perfect balance and maintain the perfect spiritual buzz and just ride it all the way to eternity.

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So basically, my major epiphany is that whenever I make a goal, I go full force at it until I reach it and then after I reach the goal, I have this void in its place that causes me to come crashing down to this low point until I find something else to fill the void of that goal. Usually another goal, but what happens is eventually I get burned out on the high/low yo-yo existence and I just crash for an extended (seemingly permanent) vacation. This is usually where I hit the “screw it” button and go off the rails. So this time, I feel like I need to perfect not just enduring, but enduring well. Get outside of myself, get outside of my head, stop thinking that I have to be so laser focused on one goal. Maybe the answer is to make smaller goals that don’t require quite so much energy. Also, the other epiphany was that God does not concern himself with every decision I make in my life, and it’s okay to make some of them without waiting for him to tell me “yes” or “no”.  Because sometimes it doesn’t really matter.