Here I sit alone in my office at work surrounded by things that are left to be cleaned up in the aftermath of yet another #LDSConf weekend and despite the fact that I have worked more than 30 hours in the last three days and feel absolutely exhausted, it hit me a second ago that I feel unbelievably grateful.
Warning: Before you continue reading, I should warn you that my thoughts might not be completely coherent at this point.
For those who don’t know, twice a year the LDS Church holds a general conference where members around the world attend, watch or listen to nearly 12 hours of talks given by church leaders. I am employed by a news organization in Salt Lake City that is owned by the LDS Church and during conference, we create content to circulate the messages shared in conference via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and our own website.
Today, the last image quote I made during the afternoon session of conference said, “The fact that we can repent is the good news of the gospel.”
I am grateful for a job where I get to share the good news. In a world where jobs in journalism are difficult to come by, I am blessed with the opportunity to do what I love by writing. I am thankful that in a world where good news is hard to come by, I am able to write about it every day.
But it hit me today that more than anything else I am just grateful to know that there is good news.
In his talk this afternoon, Elder David A. Bednar said something that struck me.
He said, “We often testify of what we know to be true, but perhaps the more relevant question for each of us is whether we believe what we know.” This statement caused me to reflect on things I believe and why I believe them. Why is sharing the things I believe so important to me? In thinking about it, I realized that my beliefs are the sum of experiences I have had and experiences others have shared with me. They are the precious things that I know because I have seen too much evidence to deny them but they are also things that I believe deep within my soul. They are the things I feel.
These things I believe are based on little experiences that may not seem much by themselves but when added up they sustain me, keep me going and bring me happiness.
I had one such experience earlier this week. I was sitting out in my backyard reading one of my favorite books, “A Quiet Heart” by Patricia Holland, when I decided to pray. The scriptures talk about praying in your secret places and on Wednesday afternoon, I guess mine was on a blanket in my backyard.
About a year ago, I really thought I had my life together but on Wednesday afternoon I was sure it was crumbling around me. So I said my prayer in the backyard.
I walked God through my life (as if he hasn’t already been watching the whole thing), thanking him for my blessings but then I got to the present and I expressed to him my frustrations and the things that I didn’t feel were going right. I told him that I was sorry if I had done something wrong that had caused what seemed to be this crumbling of my life and when I was done, with tear stains on my cheeks, I laid back down on my blanket and started to read again.
“There have been times in my spiritual life when I have felt as settled and immovable as the rock of Gibraltar (see Morgan in October 2015). And then comes an upheaval, a mighty change,” I read. “Sometimes the upheaval comes from outside circumstances, and sometimes it comes from within. Often it comes just when I’m feeling that my weaknesses are forgiven, that they are finally becoming strengths, just when I feel my current opportunities for service have put me right before the Lord. That is when it seems the Lord chooses to shift my circumstances, and everything seems to tumble around me like a large set of dominoes.”
“Yes!” I wanted to scream there alone in the backyard. An upheaval, dominoes, whatever you want to call it, THAT is what has been happening to me. I kept reading.
“At those times, my first thought is often, ‘He is angry with me. What have I done wrong? What sin did I commit? Why have I been moved out of my comfort zone, and how can I get back in it?’ But I am getting older now—we all do that—and I am growing out of those reactions,” Sister Holland writes. “I am not seeing God’s stretching of me as punishment but as reward because it has always led me on to a higher level of spiritual understand and always—always!—has brought me unanticipated and seemingly unearned blessings.”
The questions I had asked in prayer minutes before were being answered.
“It isn’t God’s anger that allows change and upheaval and, from time to time, suffering in our lives,” she continues. “It is in fact his tenderest love that allows it. Through all of this I am learning that God doesn’t want me to take much notice of external things, doesn’t want me to try to find rest in outward circumstances and the vanities of the world. We are forced to keep looking beyond those, especially when they disappoint us or let us down. We are forced to keep looking to him.”
In that moment I believed completely. Have I had moments of weakness since then? Sure. Have there been and will there continue to be times where his answers are not so instantaneous? Of course. But in those moments I will remember the time he answered my backyard prayer and I will keep trying to share the good news of his gospel.
He is the best news and I am just a girl who gets to deliver it.
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