29 September 2013

I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live. -Psalms 116:1-2

Unfortunately, in life, people hurt us. Life hurts us. And it's a life-long journey to learn how to deal with that hurt in an appropriate way. It's hard, and it won't come easy. Forgiveness is a challenge, one I have had to consistently work on. And today, in church, a friend said something I desperately needed to hear.

We were talking about forgiveness, and I told her of a situation I was in, and in this situation I was - and am - looking to find that forgiveness somewhere in my heart. She asked what I was doing to obtain the mercy I am seeking for someone else. I told her that I constantly and seriously pray and ask for charity. I ask for charity and love not just for this situation, but in all situations, with all relationships I have in my life. I pray for love. I pray to find love in my heart. And very simply she said, "you don't need more love. You need His love."

It all made sense. In those few moments there was clarity, and there was understanding. Tears filled my eyes and this burden, this ridiculously heavy burden I have tried so foolishly to carry on my own was lifted. 

I am not perfect. I am very human. My weaknesses are very real. My difficulty finding love in a situation I'm in is not fault of my own, because I do everything I can to find that love. And foolishly, I try to take care of it myself. I try to forgive this situation on my own. 

In that moment, with my whole soul and my heart I asked the Lord for His love. It is only through His love I find enough love for others. I cannot obtain that love any other way. I know - because I have tried. I explained to Him I have done my part. I have done all I can do. I have done as much as I can. And I told my Father in heaven and my Savior, that I was leaving the rest to Them. 

We can't do it on our own. I can't do it on my own. This life-long journey isn't my journey, it is a journey the Savior has so lovingly planned for me, it is a journey my Savior has so willingly felt, and a journey He has already perfectly walked through. This isn't my journey to be walked alone. And there will be times I can't walk any further, and sometimes I forget that my Savior can carry me for a little while.

I am so grateful for the ongoing, patient and perfect love my Heavenly Father and Savior have for me. I get frustrated with myself, for not being better, for not forgiving more easily and completely, and I know with every part of me my Savior understands. He's telling me it's okay. He's telling me it's not always easy and He's telling me He will carry the load. He is enough. His love is enough. I am enough.  And what I offer is enough, only through and because of the difference my Savior has already paid. 

My heart is full. My heart is at peace. And that's enough.

14 September 2013

"I know now, Lord, why You utter no answer. You, Yourself, are the answer." -C.S. Lewis

Yesterday at work I had a pretty neat experience. Without saying too much, I was struggling with a couple of things. Nothing of a too serious nature - but it was there. An elderly woman came into my work (yes I know, I love elderly people!). She didn't look like she needed help finding anything, but I asked her anyway. Little did she know it was me who needed to find something.

She was looking for Book of Mormon picture books, made primarily for children. She was on her way to visit her 89 year old husband at the care center, who suffered from dementia, and couldn't retain much more than those picture books. She was dealing with cancer, which made her unable to take care of him. She said the only thing her husband remembers is her (thankfully), scriptures, and hymns. I told her that was pretty incredible evidence of the kind of man he was. She began to tell me of his service in the church. Twice a bishop, once a mission president and a patriarch, with over twenty years of faithful service in the stake presidency. She couldn't recall a time she had ever seen him watch TV, or read anything other than his Book of Mormon. I told her again, what incredible evidence that served as to the kind of man he was. 

At this point she began to cry - and a little out of nowhere said, "always stay active in the church." It was fairly out of context within the conversation, but it struck me to the core. I have never considered becoming inactive, or falling away, but there was something about the wisdom in this woman's tone of voice that spoke to my soul. There was a knowledge she had of the gospel that was so intense. When she spoke, her conviction and her testimony was bone chilling. This woman had the faith of 88 years of life; a life of struggle, love, of pain, and of pure, unadulterated joy. 

I walked away with the overwhelming assurance of two things. 1) There are terribly good men out there who serve and love the Lord with their whole heart. There are men who love their wives, and there are wives that adore their husbands. There is an eternal Christ-like love and happiness that exists. 2) The only real source of light and happiness in this life is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't imagine how hollow my life would be without that faith, and through whatever trial in God's goodness gives me, that resounding truth will never leave me. I have felt the love of my Father in heaven and His Son too many times to ever doubt. My testimony of this gospel is my one forever-and-always constant. 

I'm grateful for the goodness in this world. I'm grateful for the ability to see that goodness - which is primarily possible because of the things I know. I'm grateful for God's ever watchful care, the angels He places in my path along the way, and the perfect wisdom He has in allowing me to experience what I do.

02 September 2013

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." -Khalil Gibran

The most beautiful woman came into my work today. It was her son's eighth birthday and she was buying him a new pair of scriptures. As our conversation continued, she began telling me more and more about her life. I noticed her arm was discreetly hooked up to an IV, when she told me of the stroke she had suffered six months prior. Despite her broken sentences and inability to find adequate vocabulary, I was totally entranced by this conversation. 

She went on to tell me a few years ago she had a daughter pass away, and then told me three out of her seven children had brain tumors. Her humor and strength in the midst of her situation absolutely amazed me. She ended the conversation by saying, "Because of the things I have been through, I am who I am, and I really like who I am."

I, in no way feel comfortable comparing my trials to hers, but the love she had for her trials; the love she had for herself - not even in spite of them - but because of them, simply resonated with me, and in my very small and limited capacity, that is exactly how I feel. 

This woman is a hard-working mother to seven living children, and a mother to a young deceased one. She is a wife of fifteen years - fifteen years that I can only imagine have been very trying. She, with her messy hair and fast pace - in between speech therapy sessions and grocery shopping - was buying her eight year old boy a new set of scriptures, and as she walked away she turned around and sweetly told me she loved me.

The only sufficient way to describe this saint would to be to call her a Woman of God. She, to me, perfectly emulated a righteous woman, who no doubt will be rewarded in the next life for her character and grace. How grateful I am for examples like her - who - when I least expect it, remind me of all that I should be.