Saturday, March 14, 2020

Faith Starts Today

This morning, I was contemplating the crazy and unsettling state of the world when this calendar notification appeared on my phone: “Faith, starts today.”

I have no idea how “faith” got scheduled into my calendar. But, there it was.

I live in Washington state. People in our state and my own county are sick. Our school district is closed. Seminary and Church meetings are canceled. Our temple is closed. People are rushing to stores. No one knows what to expect.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the craziness of it all.

But despite it all, “Faith starts today.” This is a mysterious and sweet reminder for me that faith is needed always. Today. Because I’ll be honest, things are getting kind of scary around here.

In the scriptures we read that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). And the Lord Himself tells us numerous times to not fear but have faith (see John 6:20 and Doctrine and Covenants 68:6).

But this begs the question: If I am afraid, do I not have faith?

I mean, I’ve heard it said that faith and fear cannot exist at the same time. Yet, I know many faithful people who are nervous, even afraid of what’s happening in their lives. Are faith and fear mutually exclusive? Does this mean those who are afraid don’t have faith at all?

I don’t believe that it does.

Imagine for a moment a completely dark room. Now, imagine a flashlight is turned on in the middle of it, shining one solid beam of light towards the ceiling. Within the beam of light, there is no darkness. It is the one space where light and dark cannot exist at the same time. Light wins.

But what of the room itself? In the room, there is darkness and light, even if it is dim, from the flashlight beams. At the same time. Does this mean there is no light at all?

No. It doesn’t.
In the expanse of our minds and hearts lie imperfections, doubts, and yes, fear. We are children who lack eternal memory and are learning to be gods in a fallen world.

The Lord knew we would have some fear. This is why He so often comforts us. Because He knows that within perfect faith, fear cannot exist, but within our imperfect minds and hearts they can. He wants us to know that simply because we experience fear does not mean we don’t have faith.

Our task at hand—our command from the Lord—then is to replace our fears with faith, one by one.

But how?

First, we recognize the source of fear. President Gordon B. Hinkley counseled us to “recognize that fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness.”

Next, we choose where we look. Where we look determines how—and if—we live. The Book of Mormon prophet, Alma, taught his son to “look to God and live” (Alma 37:47). When we take focus away from God, we distance ourselves from Him. Fear is a faith and soul-killer. This is why President Hinckley said, “Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly.” Satan wants us to look away from the light and cower in a dark corner of the room. He uses fear to control us, to keep our focus on him away from God. The Savior beckons us to “look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). He wants us to live in the light faith offers.

Lastly, we walk in the faith we’ve chosen, and keep walking. What does this look like today? It is focusing on the covenants we’ve made, saying our personal and family prayers, feasting upon the scriptures through studying the Come, Follow Me curriculum, seeking Priesthood blessings, and more. It is choosing to walk around our fear and follow Him.

We need to stay strong and choose faith again and again, even when the fear creeps back in. In the book of Mark, we find something interesting that’s not recorded anywhere else. Jesus led His disciples into Jerusalem and, “as they followed, they were afraid” (Mark 10:32). This was after they sat with Him during the Sermon on the Mount, after the Mount of Transfiguration, and after only five verses after the Savior said, “with God all things are possible.”

The beam of faith in their lives was bright, but still, there was fear. And yet, they chose to follow Him, step after step. Their faith, not their fear, led their footsteps.
I was talking to someone about fear the other day. I said, “As long as I’m scared in motion, I’ll be okay.” I think a better way to put it is to be faithful in motion. Elder Neil A. Anderson said it this way: “When we choose to follow Christ in faith rather than choosing another path out of fear, we are blessed with a consequence that is consistent with our choice.”

Yes, we do live in perilous times, and we don’t know what lies ahead. We might be afraid, but we can still have faith. We have the power to recognize the source of fear. We have the power to look to the light. And we have the power, with God’s help, to grow our faith through our choices again and again.

In the face of the unknown, I choose to believe that God is leading us through His prophet right now. I choose to believe that I can have peace in the chaos. I choose to focus on the light and will continue to do so until there’s no more room for darkness. I chose faith yesterday, and according to my calendar, my faith starts again today.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Experience of Gratitude

Despite what this may seem like, this is actually a happy post. 😊
Not gonna lie. It’s been a rough week but things are looking up.
Image may contain: one or more peopleImage may contain: Michelle Wilson, closeupLast Wednesday I had a cracked tooth extracted after fighting an infection in it for a over a month. There’s still pain and residual swelling (plus stitches). Then, this Wednesday I was bitten by a cat on my hand. It became infected despite the antibiotics I’m on for my tooth. The infection quickly crawled up my arm. I was admitted to the hospital and put on IV antibiotics. The meds were able to get me out of the danger zone, so I was able to come home last night. Yay for me! I’ll continue IV antibiotics as an outpatient until I’m better. So, all is well.
Still, it’s hard. I still hurt. I’m still a little nervous. I’m still tired physically and emotionally.
But there is more good here than bad, for which I’m grateful.

There’s definitely value in feeling gratitude and appreciation. 
But without expressing it someway, 
gratitude seems more of an observation than an experience.

For me, the question isn’t whether the cup is half empty or half full. The question is, which flavor of shake is in that cup and where’s my straw because it’s not going to waste.
In that light, I’m going to express gratitude for just a few of the many good things the past little while.
I’m so grateful for my family. I’m grateful to live in this time of modern medicine. I’m grateful for good friends. I’m grateful for prayer. I’m grateful my laptop has voice to text so I could still write 2,500 new NaNo words. (not gonna lie, with voice to text and pain killers, about 2000 of those words are nonsensical crap. But they still count.) I’m grateful for pain medicine. I’m (almost) grateful for hospital food. I’m grateful for the wonderful ER nurse that made me feel at ease. I’m grateful for baggy hospital pants and unlimited ice cream. I’m grateful AMC ran an all-day Hunger Games marathon yesterday; It made my problems feel small compared to Catniss, who spent the entire day fighting, crying, pondering, or yelling while somehow maintaining a shallow character arc. I’m grateful for ice packs and chapstick and chocolate. I’m grateful for some quiet time where people brought me food and warm blankets. I’m grateful for an adjustable bed. It was magical. I’m grateful for socks with sticky bottoms. I’m grateful for the sweet music that played in the hallway every time a baby was born; It reminded me of the miracle of life. I’m grateful for people to dedicate their life to helping other people in the medical field.
And most of all, I’m grateful I’m home. It was a close call.
There still a ways to go, but right now I’m off for my first outpatient IV treatment this morning with a grateful heart and I smile on my face ( Which, by the way, is 95% back to normal. And, the swelling in my hand has gone down as well.)
There are a few pictures in the comments for you weirdos that like pictures of that sort of thing.
Now go and be grateful. And don’t just feel grateful, express your gratitude someway. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Mountains to Climb

Today was a rough day. Most of it was fine, even good. But, then, something happened. It was unexpected and it was hard. Really, really hard.

I've spent the afternoon making dinner, reading Come Follow Me with my family, and having family home evening. I was calm and could even smile, but there was a storm beneath the seemingly placid surface. Inside I was crying out. I was scared. I was tired. And my hope was waning.

Then, I watched this video as I prepared my seminary lesson tomorrow morning. It reached below the depth of my pain and lifted it up to a place I could reach it and hand it, or part of it at least, to God.

I will be okay. This is just a moment in time, and this particular part of the trial will pass.

And perhaps the situation might never completely resolve and perhaps this is simply my lot in life. Perhaps this trial will be one that will never leave.

But, I know that with His help, I can have the power to rise above this trial, to look down on it on my life and see it for what it is. I can walk a higher road and learn. I can be supported. I can trust Him.

I love this Elder Eyring. I love God's timing.

I'm not ready to say I love my trial yet, but I love that I know I can be okay now, even in the midst of it.

This can't be true for only me. I believe this is an eternal truth for all of us.

So, if you are having a rough day, if you feel you are climbing a mountain and you're tired and weak and slipping down a rocky slope, or if you feel like me--like a giant boulder has been thrown at your head--watch this video.

You can climb this mountain. God can help you make it through.

You can and will be okay.

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