After writing my last blog post, I think I felt so relieved that I finally got the things I’ve learned recently down on paper because it meant that my brain finally had capacity to absorb more (I’ve got a big head but a small brain). As a result, I’ve been reading a lot.
Over and over again recently I’ve been reminded that life is hard. We’re all dealing with stuff. For some, it’s feeling like they didn’t succeed as parents. For others, it’s struggling with infertility. For me some nights, it’s loneliness. Point being, we’re all dealing with pain in some shape or form and sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. My pain may be different than your pain. You may struggle to understand mine and I may struggle to understand yours but sometimes I wonder if we would benefit from uniting as people who suffer rather than focusing on our differences and maybe if we could find unity in that, we could also find comfort in understanding the necessity of suffering.
I started studying suffering this week and while it started in a somewhat deep place, it ended with a middle school commencement address. And I felt like it might be worth sharing because maybe you’re feeling some of the same things I’ve been feeling. If not, it’s totally fine. It’s not you, it’s me.
Without getting too deep into LDS doctrine, as Mormons we believe that prior to this life, we chose to come to earth. We were presented two separate plans. One, Satan’s plan was that not a single soul would be lost because we would have no ability to choose. But we chose the Savior’s plan which was that we would come to earth and would be given the opportunity to choose for ourselves. We believe it is as we make choices and overcome opposition that we are able to become more like our Heavenly Father and that this becoming is the point of our existence. As Francine R. Bennion said, “Nobody is manipulating every human decision that would affect every human experience. If God did, we would have the kind of existence now that Lucifer offered permanently.”
We chose agency and as a result, we, in a sense, also chose suffering. We understood prior to coming to earth that in order to become what we were meant to become, we had to make decisions, learn from both the good and the bad, and respond to the decisions of those around us. In short, it’s this agency that makes life so dang good and also so frustrating at times.
Sometimes our own personal decisions make life hard and sometimes it is the decisions of others that make our lives hard but regardless of the cause, suffering is part of this life.
But why? How can a God who loves us bear to watch as his children suffer? Does he not care or is it because God himself has suffered and understands the value found in suffering? I’ve already mentioned Francine Bennion once, but this week, I read a talk she gave in the book, “At The Pulpit” and it absolutely blew my mind. The talk addresses this subject of suffering and while personal experiences sparked this exploration for me, Bennion’s talk fanned the flame. Bennion tells of a conversation she had with a group of BYU students who were discussing Voltaire and “the best of all possible worlds,” when one suggested that heaven will be a place where “everyone will be—happy. There won’t be any unkindness. No one there will be rejected or abused, or laughed at, or ignored.” Bennion then asked, “Oh, are you suggesting that God experiences none of these things now?” To believe this when we hear people take the Lord’s name in vain on a daily basis or when religious beliefs are mocked worldwide is asinine.
No, I think it is because of personal experience that God knows the development that occurs amidst our suffering.
This week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts spoke at his son’s ninth-grade graduation, and while he spoke from the perspective of a loving earthly father, I couldn’t help but think that his words seem to echo divine truth.
“Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty,” he said. “Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.
“And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”
Suffering is what we came here to experience. It is through opposition that we discover the true goodness and beauty of life. It is through our own pain that we develop empathy and other Christlike attributes.
Spencer W. Kimball said, “Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.”
Certainly we will experience heartbreak as we suffer the consequences of other’s decisions but I trust in the promise found in “Preach my Gospel” that “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” We may not be able to understand how it will all play out but it will be made right in a way that we can’t currently comprehend. I have always heard that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite but I don’t think I really understood the significance of this statement until I read the following statement by Bennion, “As I think of the Atonement of Christ, it seems to me that if our sins are to be forgiven, the results of them must be erased. If my mistakes are to be forgiven, other persons must be healed from any effects of them. In the same way, if other persons are to be released by the Atonement, then we must be healed from their mistakes.” This is not scripture but it rang true in my heart. The Atonement of Jesus Christ will make everything right. It will cure all pain. Maybe not in this life but eventually it will. On and on, forever and ever, the Savior’s Atonement will go on healing the suffering that we experience.
So what do we do in the meantime? Maybe we try to love a little better and a little more. Maybe we could try harder to remember that everyone around us is dealing with some pain and God’s heart aches for them. We can show our love for Him by loving His children. In a talk called “Latter-day Saints and the Problem of Pain,” David Holland tells of advice his father once received from Neal Maxwell, a former leader in the LDS Church, who said after reading a draft of a talk Jeffrey R. Holland had written, “Jeff, there is one place in the talk where you have been insufficiently careful of the pain in people’s lives. There are scars that go unnoticed, but you must see them. You must tread with caution on the hallowed ground of another’s suffering.”
I think our becoming will depend not only on our ability to cope amidst our own suffering but will also come as we see the scars that are not visible to the eye, as we seek to relieve the suffering of those around us. I guess ultimately my hope would be the same that Francine Bennion expressed before I was ever born:
“God is love, and our becoming so is what matters. I pray we may gain courage and faith to affirm the choice we made, to remember that we are active and alive and meeting suffering because God knew we could and because we believed we could. ...Let us love each other, mourn with each other, and sacrifice fear for courage. Let us seek reality and truth, forgiving ourselves and each other, learning to help ourselves and each other as we can. Let us become more like our God, who is good.”
On Monday, I will turn 28-years-old. This is somewhat of a freaky thought for someone who still feels like they should be 12. But I’m grateful for birthdays because I think they always allow an opportunity for introspection and reflection. This week I have been thinking about the last year of my life a lot. This year was honestly one of the hardest I have ever had. There is no one reason that it was tough but a lot of little difficult things that seemed to add up and still as I thought back on this year, I realized that I wouldn’t change anything about it.
This year taught me to feel and to process. It taught me to trust and to learn. And oddly enough, these lessons I’ve discovered along the way have made 27 one of the years that I think I will look back and cherish most in the years to come. I read a quote once that said “we write to taste life twice” and while 27 was a little bittersweet, I think I may want to taste it again at some future date so here are 27 lessons I learned from being 27:
1. Give God time to work things out
My roommate recently told me that she was telling her dad about a situation she was concerned about and her dad said something like, “You just haven’t had time to see how God makes it all work out.” If there is anything that I have learned in the last year, it is that somehow even when a situation may seem irreparable, He really does have the ability to make “all things work together for good to them that love God.” So we pray and we believe and we trust that if we are doing our part, everything will work out.
2. You will never regret the decision to be kind.
There was a time this year when I was starting to reconsider this statement but you can now take me to the bank on it.
3. G2G protein bars are everything.
This week my boss told me to never say anything “is everything.” It is now my goal to work that phrase into everything I write but really, G2G. I’m not kidding. They’ll change your life. And no, this is not sponsored.
4. Feel the pain.
Things will hurt. They will break your heart. Feel the pain. Acknowledge it. Ponder what you’re learning but don’t ignore it and don’t allow yourself to become numb. I heard someone say this year that “suffering is hard but it’s where it leads us that makes it necessary.”
Orson F. Whitney said, “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.” Along the same lines, Virginia Pearce said, “If our troubles can take us to God, we can be thankful for them.” I can keep the quotes coming if you’d like? No? OK, moving on.
This year, I have done yoga three times a week on average. I’m pretty sure it has saved my sanity. Namaste.
6. Drive your bus
One of my favorite things I learned in the last year was at a conference I went to back in March. The speaker said that she likes to think of our lives as a bus. She said that we decide who gets on our bus and where they sit. For example, if we want them to be the voice inside our heads, we make them a higher priority and they sit next to us on the bus. So drive your bus, put the people who deserve it in the best seats and reserve the right to kick people off your bus.
7. Learn to be OK with being alone.
One of my favorite quotes I read in the last year says: “The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person--without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.” -Osho.
I don’t know who Osho is but to him I say, “Preach."
I would add to what he said and say that I believe God is best able to communicate with us when we are alone. I also think that it is in moments we feel lonely that we are best able to understand the love of our Savior.
8. “Why not speak of the Atonement of Christ?”
I recently read a scripture in the Book of Mormon and a simple question within the verse struck me. It says “For why not speak of the Atonement of Christ?” It hit me that I should talk more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is the thing that saves us, the thing that gives us hope and yet, we only talk about it at church. We’re all struggling. Everyone is going through something. Life is not the highlight reel we see on Instagram. Life is tough but fortunately, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not just for sin, it gives us strength to recognize our weaknesses, to forgive and to believe. What would happen if instead of trying to outdo each other, we instead shared our experiences with the Atonement? I think the world would be a lot cooler but maybe that’s just me.
9. This life isn’t about having fun. It’s about finding joy.
I went through a little phase where I was having a ton of fun. The past year hasn’t been as fun and at first that was hard for me but then I realized that we aren’t here to have fun. On the contrary, we’re here to learn and ultimately to find eternal joy but that joy comes after opposition, it comes as we learn from the pain. I’ve learned that joy is so much better than fun.
10. Be a friend. Show up.
Brooke Romney, a columnist I work with, wrote a piece this year about the importance of being a friend rather than just being friendly. She said "Real friends call on birthdays and stop by just to say hello. Real friends watch out for your children and have your back when no one else will. Real friends do what is inconvenient, they make time for you and make you feel wanted. Real friends cry with you and want the very best for you. Real friends watch you make mistakes and forgive you. Real friends know you, really know you, and they love you anyway." There is a difference. I learned that this year. So take time to listen, go on walks, give rides to and from the airport, go to the baby shower you don’t feel like going to. Be a real friend and you will always have real friends.
11. Miracles happen and the greatest miracle may be a heart-changing.
I’ve heard that the greatest miracle may be a heart changing. I always thought when people said that they meant a heart changing and choosing to repent but I’ve learned in the last year that Heavenly Father can work miracles in our hearts by softening them, allowing us to see things from a different perspective or by allowing us to forgive. Nothing is cooler than feeling your heart change and realizing there is no way you could’ve made that happen on your own.
12. Take time to be holy.
One of my favorite hymns is a song called “Take Time To Be Holy” and there is a line that I have always loved that says “Take time to be holy, the world rushes on. Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.” In January, I started working in the temple and I feel like that is what it does for me. It gives me a place to get away from the world, to be still and to take time to be holy. Two words: game changer.
13. Country music concerts and hikes in the summer are never a bad idea.
Just trust me on this one. I'll even loan you my roommates if you want an enhanced experience with both.
14. Write down a list of what Heavenly Father thinks of you.
Back in March, I wrote down a list of what Heavenly Father thinks of me and threw away my mental list of what I think everyone else thinks of me. His opinion is the only one that really matters anyway.
Patricia Holland said, “Problems can be painful and dark and disappointing—but we are not painful and dark and disappointing. We are children of God and must see ourselves as God sees us, recognizing the positive in ourselves, the part God loves so much.”
15. Be an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ
My parents attended a funeral for a relative’s husband this year and at the funeral they talked about how he was an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ and how everything he did was in an effort to come closer to God. I hope that someday, someone can say that about me.
Boyd K. Packer said, “I’m not ashamed to say that … I want to be good. And I’ve found in my life that it has been critically important [to establish this intention] between me and the Lord so that I knew that He knew which way I committed my agency. I went before Him and said, ‘I’m not neutral, and you can do with me what you want. If you need my vote, it’s there. I don’t care what you do with me, and you don’t have to take anything from me because I give it to you—everything, all I own, all I am—; and that makes the difference.”
I want to intentionally do things that will bring me closer to Christ.
16. Value your experiences
The Bible says that “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” I believe that as we have experiences in choosing to follow God, the experiences are deposited away into a bank we can draw from when we need reassurance. In Malachi, God says in reference to the law of tithing, “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” He essentially says, “Just try it and see what happens.” I believe that as we try to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will have experiences that we can withdraw from our bank when we need something to believe in over and over again.
17. Everyone has a story.
I write people’s stories for a living. I love hearing other people’s stories but have never felt like my story had much to offer anyone but this year, my friend Chelsie started getting asked to speak at firesides. She asked me if I wanted to speak with her and at first I was reluctant. Let’s be clear, Chelsie has a really cool story. Mine is a lot less cool but in telling it, I’ve realized we all have a story to tell, even me.
18. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Confession: I was having a hard time coming up with the 27th thing for this list and my roommate said she would tell me something she thought I had gotten better with in the last year. And I feel relieved that she thinks that. In reality, some things just aren't worth stressing over as it turns out.
19. Heaven is a lot closer than we might think.
My grandma, Momel, passed away just over a year and a half ago. It’s interesting how often I have felt her. I’ve felt her at concerts, at church and on my drives to work in the mornings. One of my aunts said at her funeral that if one of Momel’s kids or grandkids were going to raise their hand in class, Momel wanted to be there to see it. It’s true, she tried to be everywhere and I think she’s taking full advantage of her current situation. The other day I was driving to work and had the thought that Momel was telling someone, “Morgan’s going on another first date, wanna watch?” It made me feel good to know that I was providing some entertainment. Here’s hoping she helps a sister out in that department...soon.
20. Be nice to everyone even when you don’t feel good
This year I flew internationally for the first time by myself. I was really sick with a bad cold on the day of my departure and got called up to the terminal counter to check my passport. I was nice and made some jokes to the guys at the counter and they must have been able to tell that I was sick. When I boarded the plane, I realized they had bumped me to first class. Here’s to being nice and to the airline ticket counter guys who were beyond nice. #FlyDelta
21. Life is unfair. Be grateful.
I was driving to work one day about a month ago when I looked out my window at the homeless people I pass every day on my way to work. I was all of the sudden overwhelmed with the sense that life is not fair and that I needed to be grateful for the life that I have. Since then, I have reflected on this thought over and over again. Things can change in the blink of an eye. Be grateful right now.
22. Forget yourself.
My dad has always taught me that if you want to be totally miserable all you have to do is think about yourself all the time. This year, it finally started to sink in. It can be really easy as a young single adult to fall into a “me” mentality because at this point I haven’t really HAD TO worry about anyone but myself for almost ten years. It actually takes an effort to not just become completely self-absorbed but I'm fighting it with all I have.
23. Get out of your comfort zone.
In the words of the Jillian Michaels exercise DVD we watched every morning on my mission, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I am the most cautious person on the planet but there is something super exciting about pushing yourself to do something that scares the heck out of you, knowing you could epically fail but also knowing that if you succeed, it could be pretty sweet.
24. It’s okay to be lost.
I can’t spoil a feature story I wrote that is going to be published this week but just know there is a really awesome quote about this point in that feature. I know you’re riveted now.
Have difficult conversations. Be honest. Don’t allow feelings of frustration, anger or resentment to fester inside of you. Don’t allow a perfectly good relationship or friendship to become ruined by words unspoken. When you really love people, you are willing to have difficult conversations at the risk that they may not like what you have to say. It may take some time but they will eventually realize that you said these things because you love them and they will appreciate having someone in their life who is willing to say the difficult things. Help the people around you feel confident that you are a person who stays and doesn’t run when things get tough.
26. Put first things first.
Charles Penrose said, “Why waste your time, your talents, your means, your influence in following something that will perish and pass away, when you could devote yourselves to a thing that will stand forever?”
Very few things will stand forever, make sure you are placing focus on the things that will. Remember who you are and make decisions based on that divine destiny. Don’t sell yourself short.
27. Love your people
A friend of mine recently said that years ago she asked her best friend, who is also a good friend of mine, if she should hide her "feminist tendencies" and her friend, who is pretty conservative, responded, "Are you kidding me? It's one of your best qualities." She then wrote, "This woman loves her people for who they are." I want to be known as a lover of my people. Thank goodness we're not all the same. And thank goodness for people who take us as we are and love us for who we are while we're learning what we came here to learn. Heaven knows, we're all just trying to figure this thing out.
Last fall, my husband and I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Taiwan. One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting a black sand beach. The beach was gorgeous. We took many beautiful pictures of the scenery.
What the pictures don’t show is that just 50 yards away from the ocean’s edge, there is washed up trash – lots of it. When looking at the pictures, all you can see is the beauty of the black sand, rocks, and ocean.
On Sunday, while looking through these pictures, I thought about how these pictures are just like life. Often we look at other people’s lives and see only beauty. We don’t see the trials and the struggles that others are dealing with in their lives, but that doesn’t mean they're not there.
At different times in people’s lives, they face trials unseen to the world around them. They need support; they need love; and they need compassion. Just like my pictures don’t show the trash 50 yards away, we can’t always know who is going through an unseen struggle.
We must strive to treat each person like the Savior would. He knows their hearts; He knows what we can’t see; and He always responds with love.
I just finished reading the book “The Shack.” In it, the main character Mackenzie (Mack for short) comes to know the Godhead after experiencing great tragedy and suffering that has caused him to have a bleak outlook of the future. In a conversation with Jesus Christ, Christ says to Mack, “Mack, do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?”
This question posed to Mack struck my heart. Often, I get anxious when I think about the uncertainty of the future. After reading this question, I realized my anxiety is caused because I too don’t always picture Christ in the future with me.
Based upon conversations throughout my life with friends and family, I think anxiety and fear of the future are very common feelings. Whether fear and anxiety come because of uncertainty or because of past heartache, Christ has the power to help us have hope if we remember to picture Him in our future.
If you’re fearing what lies ahead for you, my invitation is to remember to envision Christ in your future with you. He will be there and can cast our fear.
Where is God in this?
I asked myself, while lying in a hospital bed hooked up with IVs, feeling the blood pump back into my veins. It was excruciating. Every aspect of it was the opposite of my expectation.
It came on a rainy day in July, during the middle of a thunderstorm. "I think my water broke" I muttered at 4am to my husband. The pregnancy was much easier than my first, why wouldn't the delivery be just as good or even better this time around?
My first nurse stared at the computer screen for over an hour, unable to remember the password. This was the person who wanted to hook me up to meds, which I refused after seeing her dazed state of mind. This was the beginning of mishaps that would only increase through my two day hospital stay.
From a nurse with a stroke, to a nurse who couldn't find my veins over and over again, to an epidural that made my entire body numb only to stop during transition of labor, to 2 liters of blood loss (that no one figured out happened until day 2), to my doctor not signing off on pain medication after delivery.
I delivered a baby naturally, lost 2 liters of blood and had a transfusion, and went thru the first 24hrs after delivery on only IB profine. And during this, my basement flooded so my husband had to leave the hospital over the first night.
The delivery felt like actual torture, for no reason I could understand. I had a healthy, easy pregnancy, this was my second child and the first had a very easy delivery at 8.7 lbs. This one was a week earlier than planned and smaller. But if something could go wrong-it did.
I came home, mind reeling, and traumatized. But atleast it was all over right? Well two weeks later, more bleeding, ER visit, D&C surgery, and being told I was now high-risk for next pregnancies and... oh yeah if anything like this happened again would need a hysterectomy.
Wow, so much, crazy, but atleast it was over right? Due to the bleeding I was put on birth control right away, it was at this time that colic seemed to begin with my new baby. After three months of long days and nights full of crying, a Lactation visitation, and no improvement, we started formula.
I felt cheated, that if I weren't on birth control then my milk would have worked for my baby. I tried every other diet to help and felt inside it was the medicine affecting her. So, again, an expectation blown to pieces. And I thought, at least we switched to formula and now everything is going to be all right.
And for the most part, things are better, but I still have a difficult child who cries much more than my first. Leading up to the delivery I prayed, I worried, I had blessings that everything would go smoothly. I told Heavenly Father- I need your help, please be there with me during this, please make everything go perfectly.
It didn't. None of it. And it even got worse after coming home. Where was God in this? Where?
But I'm here. I survived all of it, my child is gorgeous and smart and amazingly agile. I delivered a baby naturally and it really wasn't that bad! My mom was here through all of it and my husband by my side. God was there, allowing bad things to happen (not causing bad things to happen) because He knew I could do it.
He knows us all, and times when we feel He has forgotten- I think He is right there next to us-wishing we didn't need these experiences to grow. But I need to grow. I need to be better. I need to become. Someday I hope to live with Him again, and in order to be able to do that I need to do things that will stretch me-body and soul. And in the end I still love Him and will serve Him all the same.
If you are wondering- where is God in this?? He's waiting for you, making room for your mansions above, and allowing you to do what you need to do in order to become like Him.
We are never truly alone, there is such a thing as the enabling power of Grace. This means we are blessed with what we need to get through- maybe it's family, friends, resources, or peace.
I know that God was there, I know He's still here, and I know that what I went through will somehow help me in my journey back into His presence.
I've always wanted to learn to ski. However! My family never went when I was younger (despite living a majority of my life near pretty excellent ski resorts) and I never wanted to learn by myself. I often put off skiing until something else would happen, like - I'd be able to learn with a friend, or maybe even a husband, or take my own family to go skiing, etc.
This winter - I decided I'd had enough of putting it off, and I signed up for ski lessons. I borrowed some stuff from friends. I put on the coats I had that might work? (I was looking reeeeeaally boot leg) and headed off to the mountain! Most of the people in the class were there with friends or family members... and then there was me. A few different instructors began gathering up students that morning. The oldest one there had a tag on the front of his helmet that said "Bear" and I decided he was the instructor for me. We got outside and while everyone else was walking around on one ski and learning "pizza", Bear told us a few basics and then had us start going down the hill. To be clear, we had NO idea what we were doing. As we started down the hill, one-by-one, he'd start shouting out instructions of how to stand or what to fix. He was teaching us in the midst of us actually DOING what we had come to learn, how to ski. At the end of a couple hours, I was going down green runs, making turns, and successfully not killing myself (which I am told is quite a feat). I attribute this to my teacher and the way he taught us - which was so radically different than everyone else who at the end of two hours were still quite literally walking around in circles with one ski on and one ski off.
Where is my point and gospel tie-in you may be wondering? Here it comes :) I have been thinking a lot since that experience and also with many of the things going on in my life right now that what God asks of us is to TRY. We need to try. And not half-heartedly, or just say we will do it one day, but strap on the skis, start going down the hill and REALLY commit to trying. I do not think God can teach us as quickly or as effectively if we've resigned ourselves to the sidelines and are more concerned with hypotheticals than what is actually happening in our lives.
I am now the number one cheerleader for trying. Try for a promotion at work. Try to get into a program or school. Try to be in a relationship and TRY TO LOVE OTHER PEOPLE :)
We have so much to gain from trying, and not a whole lot to lose. That uncomfortable edge of not really knowing what you are doing and still giving it a shot is a place we should take up residence. Admittedly, I almost didn't get out of my car at the ski resort. I sat in the car thinking of what a stupid situation I'd just gotten myself into. I almost didn't move once I got to the top of the ski lift and saw that the mountain suddenly seemed so much steeper than I thought it was (like could I somehow butt-slide down it? is that an option or even what it's called?). I hated doing it by myself and wished I had someone there with me. But! I didn't :) So! I got out of my car. I started down the hill. I fell a few times, but didn't seriously injure myself or others AND happened to learn a lot along the way.
Ultimately - I don't know that I absolutely loved skiing. It was still pretty terrifying to me thinking of going down a mountain with pieces of plastic strapped to my feet. But! I loved the learning and sense of accomplishment I felt afterward.
I want all of you to be encouraged to try! President Uchtdorf said that we live so far below our privilege, and I think that can mostly be attributed to being scared to give anything our full efforts for fear of failure. When we act in fear, we cannot be simultaneously acting in faith.
At this moment - if there is anything I could SCREAM back at the Sara of ten or 15 years ago, it would be to just try. TRY. And more often than not, things will work out better than you could have ever imagined.
Finally - I can't get this primary song out of my head - so I'll leave you with that :)
Jesus once was a little child,
Love you all too much!
I'm out there everyday- like you. Seeing the world, hearing the birds chirp, pulling my sleeve ends tight from the breeze. Lately I've been feeling grateful for all of it.
Just out of the blue and like a snowy day in March it came over me- a feeling that settled inside and made itself a home- gratitude. I don't know why, no cataclysmic event has sent me searching heavenword, no outward praise has sent me inward- all I know is that it distilled as soft a London-morning dew and was given as easily as a gift from God.
It happens like that, gifts from God, they just show up. Windows of heaven opened for keeping the simple commandments. Sometimes we don't even realize the moment but see the results later on. The spiritual gift of gratitude is blessing me, I feel it overwhelm my days with peace. I cannot describe what it feels like exactly, but right now I see my life at a high level perspective and see arms around each aspect, grasping me inside, holding me close, being my Savior.
The windows of heaven come from the faintest prayer, please help me be a good mom today. It is my daily morning prayer. Help me to be the most important thing in the world today, one more day, help me to do it again.
I love God. He knows us all, we are His children. His prayer to us would be- help me to be a good Father to them today, help me to be the most important thing in eternities.
And He lives, is real, and cares so very much.
Living over 2,000 miles from your family is an interesting thing. At some point you realize that almost everyone in your day-to-day life has never met the most important people in your life. You catch yourself telling stories (some would say too many stories) about them in hopes that the people around you will understand just how wonderful they are to come home to. It may seem like you’re talking them up, but you just can’t do some people justice.
Such is the case with the man we call, “Frankie J.” I must do a pretty good job of making him sound awesome because it is not uncommon for people to say, “I’d like to meet Frankie J.” And they should want to meet him. He doesn’t disappoint. He’s the greatest.
When I was a baby my mom wrote in my baby journal that one day she overheard my dad in my nursery talking to me in my crib. “If I had known what you were going to be like, I never would’ve wished for a boy,” he whispered. And ever since then, we’ve been best friends.
I sometimes think about how he was just 22-years-old when I was born. That’s five years younger than I am now. He was a baby! And yet, when he became a father he didn’t miss a beat. He was what every little girl should have in a dad.
You see, it was my dad who told me stories and sang me primary songs every night until I went to sleep. It was my dad who taught me the Articles of Faith when I was 4-years-old. It was my dad who took me with him to a college basketball game when I was 5 because he got offered tickets but had promised me a daddy-daughter date and he didn’t want to let me down.
It was my dad who taught me how important it is to keep the Sabbath Day holy by getting up at Midnight to study for Monday morning exams in law school. It was my dad who taught me about priorities by coming home almost every day to have lunch with us and by almost always coming home from work by 6 p.m. It was my dad who taught me how a woman deserves to be treated by always opening the car door for my mom and by always having her back.
He’s the guy who drove 20 minutes almost every night for months to take me to play practice so that I could be in “Annie,” even though I only had three lines in the whole play. In the end, we could quote the entire play together.
He is also probably the only grown man who read every book in a series called “Silver Blades” about teenage ice skaters just because he wanted to spend time with me. It was my dad who played countless games of one-on-one in the driveway with me. It was my dad who cried with me when Kelly Clarkson won “American Idol,” and who took me to see her in concert at least four times. But his love didn’t stop with his kids. It was freely given to everyone around him. I’ll never forget watching him make highlight films of the girls on my AAU basketball team in high school, which he then mailed out to colleges in an effort to help them get scholarships.
I never doubted that my dad loved me and my siblings but my understanding of his love changed when I was a senior in high school. My little brother, Spencer, had just measured in at over 6-feet-tall, a day my mom called the happiest day of her husband’s life, when he hurt his ankle and subsequently learned how to play the guitar. Basketball, the sport my dad loves almost as much as us, was immediately history as music became Spencer’s love. I expected my dad to be disappointed but I will always remember the night he drove 10 hours round-trip just to watch my brother’s band perform their first gig: a church dance.
Perhaps the greatest thing my dad has taught me is how much our Heavenly Father loves us. My brother Spencer was very small for his age as a little boy (hence my dad’s joy over his high school growth spurt) so when he went to his first midget football practice, it was a less than enjoyable experience. Poor Spencer could hardly do a jumping jack and the other boys were twice his size. After giving the first half of his first practice a valiant effort, Spencer came over to my dad’s car and said, “I don’t think this is for me. Let’s go get some milkshakes.” My dad told him he didn’t want him to be a quitter and to get back out on the field. My brother continued to make his case for why he didn’t think it was a good idea for him to play and why he really thought milkshakes sounded like more fun but my dad told him to go finish the practice and then he did the unthinkable. He cranked the car up and drove away.
It wasn’t until years later that my dad and Spencer compared notes on this experience. Spencer felt like my dad was being totally insensitive and that he didn’t care about him but he was left with no choice but to return to field. My dad explained to Spencer that driving away and leaving him there was one of the hardest things he had ever done. He told Spencer that he didn’t actually leave, he just drove to a spot where Spencer couldn’t see him and watched the rest of the practice just to make sure Spencer was OK.
Sometimes our lives are kind of like that. We feel like we can’t go on. We’re done with football practice and just want to go get milkshakes and yet, our Heavenly Father tells us to get back on the field. He tells us we can’t quit and sometimes we feel like He gets in the car and drives off, leaving us alone. But the truth be told, sometimes He is just parked somewhere we can’t see Him, making sure that we’re OK.
I wish every little girl in the world could have an earthly father like mine. I recognize that not everyone does and just thinking about that makes my heart hurt. But I do know that we all have a Heavenly Father who lives and loves us. Anything that is important to us is important to Him. He always has time for us. He will never leave us alone. We are separated from him for a time but nothing can separate us from his love. For now, it is up for us to tell others stories about Him so that they will want to meet him. He is the greatest. He will not disappoint.
When I came home from work today, I got down on my knees and prayed. My heart was feeling heavy for others whose trials I know are great. Then I curled up in bed and finished reading the last chapter of “The Magnolia Story.” It’s a book by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the husband and wife duo of the show Fixer Upper. I want to share with you the final paragraph from this book.
“Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt and in times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning – and He will be there until the end,” (page 182).
Wow. Just moments after offering a prayer expressing to God the heaviness of my heart, I stumbled across this gem. I am grateful for men and women of faith, like Chip and Joanna Gaines, who express their belief that God is always in the journey with us and will be with us until the end.
I too believe that God is always there. Even (and maybe especially) in those times when things feel dark and hearts feel heavy. We must keep believing, keep dreaming, and keep waiting for His hand to be revealed.
Messages of Faith
Our blog contributors will deliver consistent messages of faith to try and help all of us come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Subscribe and receive an
e-mail update every time we post!