Not Always As Planned

Things don’t always go as planned.

A long time ago, there was this young girl who thought she had life pretty much figured out. There she is, barely twenty years old with a baby living in Alaska and set to show the world she could do it on her own without any help from anyone.

Yeah, she was a stubborn idiot.

And then she met a guy. A kid-like herself-who just wanted to have a good time and hey! So did she! Fun during those allotted three hours a week she wasn’t working and taking care of her baby.

Three hours a week they spent together-somewhat-because he was young with no responsibilities and she had tons of other things that took precedent over any social life.

She took what she could get, because love is a very peculiar thing.

Some have suggested she settled, but even now-after all that has happen end, she refuses to agree.

She didn’t settle. She just fell in love.

And of course, so did he. So they decide to marry, refusing to accept their blatant differences.

One had faith. The other didn’t need it.

One was optimistic and made plans. The other succumbed and gave up.

And now…many years later, the couple perceived by many who would live happily ever after…are no longer a couple.

 

I took a long break from this blog-not because my faith was wavering-but because the circumstances in my life had changed. How to write on this blog now-which was meant to be uplifting and encouraging for others… well, I couldn’t do it. Not when I couldn’t encourage myself.

2012 began with the ACCEPTANCE of my marriage unraveling. It is a private issue, obviously, and there are no need for specifics. It wasn’t an overnight decision, nor was it the result of one incident.

There’s no hate…and I doubt there ever will be.

Today, I received a letter from a sister in my ward which I’ve paraphrased and shorten to keep her anonymity.

“Jaime,

I heard about your separation and I am sorry. I don’t know the details, (and I don’t need to) but I wanted you to know I am praying for you and your family. My heart breaks for you and I pray for the best possible outcome.

I hope my letter is not offensive to you as we do not know each other that well. If it is, please forgive me and know  it is given in the spirit of love. Forgive me if I cause more hurt.”

With her letter she attached an article regarding The Atonement and how it helped someone survive their divorce. I cried as I read it, because somehow in the midst of all these months, I had forgotten I didn’t have to deal with this alone.

It’s been almost five years since the beginning of the demise of my marriage-and I’ve kept it to myself. I prayed, fasted, cried…and I told no one. Not even my closest friends knew anything was wrong…

And now here we are.

Now here I am…

The tone of this site will change somewhat as now I feel the need to write for myself and I can’t promise regular posts. What I can promise is I will always write with the Spirit.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

 

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Prayer

I have had difficult few months.  Not difficult in the sense of anything truly bad happening to me, but just months in which there are a lot of little things I’m dealing with and a lot of time spent wasted with being worried, instead of being productive.

I’m mentally tired and cranky, feeling as if I’m at a point in my life in which I’m just wading in the water, not really going anywhere. In truth, I’m really not at all that happy. I can’t really explain other than I feel as if I have hit a huge boulder and can’t find a way around it. There are a lot of things I’m dealing with in which there are no immediate solutions.

My prayer life hasn’t been great lately. When I sit down to meditate and have my time with God, I find myself uncharacteristically speechless. My prayers are something out of a Valley Girl dialogue. “Like, yeah, God, you’re like so awesome, like you know, all awesome like. And like, you know, I am like grateful for you and stuff.”  Granted, I do know there is the option of keeping still and communing with our Heavenly Father without words, but I find myself having a double dialogue inside my head which adds to the insecurity of me losing my mind- for reals this time.

Faith is a funny thing. When we are dealing with struggles within our faith, an important question to ask, “Is it really our faith we are struggling with? Or is it what we’re doing-or not doing?”

A lot of my unhappiness has been the way I have dealt with life’s struggles. I have not been praying or even taking the time to look over my scriptures. I am an all or nothing person and if I can’t devote all the time I need for anything,  I tend to throw my hands up in discouragement.

In a moment of what I can only describe as Heavenly Father slapping me to reality (with love, of course) I remembered God is the literal Father to all of us humans. He loves us and is genuinely interested in our welfare and wants very much to communicate with us-if we are open to listen and to turn to Him. Despite all that may be going on in our lives, God tells us that no matter what-no matter how… we should always pray.

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (D&C 6:36)

We are all prone to sin. Yet, with that said, God knew all of our shortcomings beforehand, yet He sent His Son to assume responsibility in our place.

A huge part of my drawing a blank in prayer was due to the feelings of shame I felt when I prayed. Understanding and accepting the sacrifice of God’s Son and knowing God is a loving Father, I immediately felt at peace.

And I felt the glowing warmth of His love.

Luke 21:36

2 Thess 1:11

2 Ne. 32:9

3 Ne. 18:15,18

D&C 10:5; 19:38; 20:33; 31:12; 61:39; 88:126; 9:24; 93:49

Done

Ever just felt done? Done with people and relationships? This entire year of 2011 had been a troubled year of broken promises, relationships and the dealing with unexplained illnesses. Today, I took in a deep breath and muttered, “I’m done.”

Just done.

I have found I am more content inside my home, in my favorite sweats, hair in a bun, working on articles, school work or the never-ending manuscript. I love my daycare kids and working on our art projects and taking long walks. What I have come to loathe is the dynamics between groups of people and how and where I fit in. I never really thought about fitting in because my huge ego automatically thinks I do, so I don’t question it. It’s either that-or the hard truth that I don’t really care.

What happens when you are in a ward and the friendships aren’t real? Gossip is everywhere, hypocrisy is spreading, and the friends you thought you had only viewed you as a ‘project’?

A few months ago, a friend and I shared a day together which included lunch and shopping. Nothing specatacular happened, certainly not newsworthy, but of course, one incident has seemed to make the rounds. (Totally G-rated, legal and actually, boring.) I found myself getting my ghetto on last night when accused of something I didn’t do by a very well known pot-stirrer (I’ll never learn with this one!) and today I get a text by the friend that said  she looks back on our day with regret.

That hurt.

It isn’t only the gossip in which has gotten me down. It is also the hypocrisy.  Don’t do something you can’t own up to. You do it, own it. But don’t play it off as if the other people who have done it are less ‘Christian’ than you because they’re not lying about it.

I want to permanently remove myself from my ward. No longer do I feel a part of the ward family and I was quite comfortable with my decision. I began to bemoan the fact that unlike other denominations, I couldn’t just switch to another congregation. Across town. In another state, perhaps.

Of course, my phone rings.

Voice of reason on the other end.

“Take a break,” she says. “I get that. But do not let this rob you of your right to receive your spiritual time on the Sabbath. Don’t let it rob you of your desire to go to church. With or without hypocrites and gossipers.”

In every church, there is going to be your ‘drama’. It’s the Adversary’s way of creating havoc amongst God’s people. I know this, I get it. However, sometimes, even knowing the logic behind it, a person can only take so much before they finally say, “I’m done.”

Elder Harold B. Lee made a comment at a Branch Conference in a small town in Texas in November of 1942 which I stumbled across whilst writing this entry: He  said, “Be kind, forgiving and overlook the faults of others.”

The reality is everyone at one point or another says unkind things about others. (Raising hand! Guilty.) It does feel as if I’m being singled out (big ego) yet, logically, I know this is not true. I know by shifting my focus from this useless crappola of drama and focusing on the Lord and care only what He thinks about me, I’ll be a much happier and content person.

I’m done with the offensive ghetto-smack down attitude wanting to take down whoever pisses me off. It’s not worth it and it is simply not the legacy I want to leave behind.

Does this mean I’m going to be a doormat for people to stomp on? Um,  No.

It does mean I will treat people with kindness, rather than showing offense by things they say (or don’t say) and treat them in such a way that it  will merit their respect, not their fear.

Simply put: I’m done.

Straight Judgment

 I found myself extremely frustrated in Relief Society, causing me to bow out early. Usually, I’m pretty eloquent, but today, I couldn’t get my words to flow together when commenting. At one point the teacher completely cut me off as I tried to make ‘uh’ and ‘yeah’ into a sentence. I am pretty passionate about today’s lesson and thought I had resolved a lot of things I thought were ‘wrong’ within the Church’s doctrine. Turns out, I’m okay with the doctrine of the church, just not okay with church members’ attitude towards them

Today’s lesson was on chastity.

Chastity is sexual purity. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage.

Back in the early days of my conversion there was a huge concern which  weighed heavily on my mind: “What about the gay thing?”

I have never thought much about  homosexuality. I have gay friends who are dear to me and didn’t feel one way or the other about their lifestyle.  I have always carried the ‘Thou Shall Not Judge” commandment when it came to homosexuality, mainly because I didn’t feel human beings are perfect. My thinking is what makes one sin more detrimental than the other? (If in fact, you believe it is a sin.) I felt that if I became a Mormon,  I would be part of a belief system that said that there was something wrong with the homosexual lifestyle.

It gave me enough of a pause to rethink not only Mormonism, but religion as a whole. One of the reasons why I didn’t want to join a religion, was the fact that religions seem to take on some ‘holier than thou’ stance in which all who are not of that religion are doomed to damnation. And I didn’t believe it was my place to judge anyone when I was far from perfect- Mormon or not.

With that said, so much with the teachings of the LDS Church seemed true and there was no denying I was on the right path.However, I didn’t see how I was ever going to be able to justify homosexuality as being wrong. I do not feel right in saying Joe and Cindy’s relationship is more superior than Brad and David’s or Kelly and Samantha’s when the only difference between them was that Joe and Cindy are of opposite genders and had a piece of paper from the state saying they were “married”.

If God’s law is such  that sexual acts between two people of the same gender are always wrong, even if those same acts might be committed by a heterosexual couple with no problem, it sounded as if God has something against people who are attracted to the same gender and how can that be when we are all created in God’s image?

Today, in Relief Society, all of these thoughts resurfaced as I heard homosexuality mentioned and how wrong it was and detrimental it is to the family unit. It made me nauseous, and whether it was intentional or not, I found the comments to be judgmental and not at all loving.

And at the same time, I was also very much ashamed of the fact, I was judging the commenters for their thoughts because 1) I didn’t agree and 2) I wasn’t allowing my heart to actually hear past what I felt was a judgmental attitude.

My attitude towards chastity and sexuality is each of us should try to understand it humbly and respectfully. Targeting in on homosexuality-especially in a room full of straight people who can’t possibly understand the trials of what being a homosexual is like- is -in my opinion-wrong and not at all what I find to be helpful to one’s hope of salvation.

The thing is-and this is what I keep coming back to- is we each struggle with something. For heterosexuals to smugly promote homosexuals as deviants and they are wrong! wrong! wrong! is NOT what I find to be Christ-like behavior.  I can’t find the logic in how that is okay.

I doubt I ever will.

We all will stand before our God one day and have to be accountable for our actions. When it comes to being Christ-like and living in love and kindness, we do not get to say, “Hey, it’s all good!  I’m straight.” as a reason to justify our own sins.

“With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (3 Nephi 14:2-5).

When Your Spouse Doesn’t Believe

When I converted to Mormonism in 2009, it was to the disbelief and discouragement of many friends and family. None more so than my husband who was adamantly against my joining the church. When I first began studying with the missionaries, he didn’t say much, until he saw I was regularly attending church and talked about getting baptized. And then…

Well, he had a lot to say.

There were fights. A lot of them. At first he told me I was not allowed to go to church– which if you have known me for at least two seconds you would know how well that went. In fact, our marriage up to that point had been more than a partnership. We were a team. Neither of us told the other what to do and we each were confident with the other person. I felt I wasn’t doing anything different…as long as he had known me I had a thirst for spiritual knowledge and he had never not known me to study spiritual books or attend some type of church. He always said he knew what he was getting into when he married me…that Jesus was an important factor in my life. My joining a church shouldn’t have brought on the marital discord that it did.

To say it was bad is an understatement. He began to search anti-Mormon sites on the Internet, but as an atheist, he couldn’t find anything that didn’t dispel the church without bringing attention to a God. Finally, he laid down the law and said I could go to ‘that church’ if I wanted, but under no circumstances would he allow his children to attend. Period.

When I joined my very small ward, I came in with a lot of drama and fanfare. Not only did I accept the teachings of the gospel and felt like a lifelong Mormon, I did it loudly, something of which is not in my nature. A lot of people knew about the problems with my husband not allowing the children to attend and took it in stride. Maybe they’d seen it before…but being that I had been married to this man for ten years and had never been treated this way, it was a tough pill to swallow.

Things in our personal life were starting to unravel and the one person I had always leaned on wasn’t emotionally available to me. I felt stranded.

In August of 2009, I fell into such a deep depression I didn’t get out of bed for two weeks. I had my husband drive me to the hospital and drop me off at the front door. That speaks volumes towards how our relationship was then…it was to such a point I didn’t even want him walking in with me.

I was admitted into the hospital and for eleven days I had to put my faith entirely into Heavenly Father’s hands. I never prayed so hard and so much. My husband saw the visits from members of my ward stop by daily and I saw how this touched his heart. These people barely knew me, yet without judgment and without calling attention to their actions, they loved me enough to visit. They brought dinners to my husband and children. They called. He was overwhelmed with the kindness of strangers and this started the beginning of changing his heart and mind towards the church.

It didn’t happen overnight. There were hurdles and I foresee many more. When I took out my endowments a year in a half later, he wasn’t happy. (Again, major understatement.) He still calls my garments “magic underwear.”

He is still an atheist. We compromised and the children are allowed to attend church when they want to and neither of us are supposed to encourage them either way. I’ll admit this is difficult for me because I know the importance of the Sabbath. Whenever I think how difficult this compromise is…my mind goes back to two years ago and I remember things are a huge improvement.

My husband’s good friends are LDS. When my home teachers visit, he sits and listens to the discussion. The other day when my visit teachers came over, he pulled out the piano bench to listen. I’ve even caught him reading an article or two in the Ensign.

When your spouse doesn’t share your faith, it is a painful burden to carry. Yet, we must remember we all have our own individual spiritual journeys and even though you’re married, you won’t always travel down the same path. I can’t change my husband, nor can I change his heart, only Heavenly Father can and it is in faith and love I turn it over to Him.

When your spouse doesn’t share your faith or believe in God, these words of encouragement will hopefully help you as they have for me:

  • Pray: Prayer is the most powerful weapon to safeguard any marriage, especially one in which there is an unbelieving spouse. Pray and ask God to soften your spouse’s heart and bind the adversary’s control over his/her life. When I pray for my husband, I imagine I’m holding him up for God’s viewing and ask to open my husband’s heart so he can see how real our God is and how much God loves him. Never stop praying. (1 Thess. 5:17)
  • Stay Encouraged, Not Discouraged:Things do not always happen when we want them to occur. Do not get discouraged and give up on your spouse. If I had walked away from my marriage two years ago, I would have missed out on the blessings I have seen regarding my husband’s heart. I believe there are still more to come! You must remember your spouse has free agency and will respond to Heavenly Father’s revelation of his/her own free will.
  • Witness without a Word: Constantly nagging and preaching the Word of God isn’t working, so why not try something different? You can surely bet your spouse is watching you. You can witness without a word by practicing what you preach. Don’t stay home from church to sleep in, read your scriptures, and remember your own conduct and be an example.

  “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD” ~Psalm 27:14

His Glory and not Our Own

A few days ago I was studying my Scriptures and I started to feel antsy. My mind began to wander about how little I do in the Church and how unfulfilled I feel when it comes to doing things within our ward. I found myself dwelling on the fact that if only I could do this and this and oh yeah this then I’d be spiritually uplifted.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m walking an uphill battle in regards to spiritual things within my family and what I feel is important to help me grow spiritually in my ward. I find myself irritated with the thought that the entire universe is working against me.

As my mind was having this conflicted pity party, I suddenly had this thought that the adversary is working to lure people away from our Heavenly Father by placing these obvious great ideas in our heads. These great ideas that seem harmless and spiritual aren’t always working for the greater good…but to our own spiritual detriment.I believed this was what was happening to me.

Wait…what? How could something holy with positive actions NOT be good for our spiritual growth?

It happens easily and sometimes without us even noticing. I’ve witness it time and time again. Callings given to people sometimes take over their identity and they feel as if their calling defines them as a person. There are parents and spouses hardly seeing their children and sweethearts because of their over-involvement in church activities which they feel is bringing glory to God.

But is it really?

As a convert, I know this isn’t strictly within our faith, I’ve seen it in other religions. I know the over involvement in church activities isn’t always a good thing if you’re doing it without your family members. I know the adversary works on me continuously as I use my writing and speaking engagements to share the gospel with others. This isn’t a bad thing, yet if I allow it, I can be lured down a path of faux holiness. In my busy moments to do ‘God’s work’ I can become edgy and temperamental when interrupted by family members because I’ve convinced myself it was going to bring so much glory to God. I want to simply be left alone to do what I want- which if I’m honest with myself- isn’t really what God wants for me or my family.

With my natural disposition to be busy, it is easy for the adversary to have me focus on some big project and neglect the people I love in the pretense of doing God’s work.

So what are we as Christians supposed to do?

Heavenly Father is a loving and gracious father and He has set for us clear and easy instruction for our daily lives. We know Heavenly Father would never have us do anything that would mean being neglectful to our spouses and children. He would never have us involved in spiritual activities in which we are beginning to feel resentful towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we feel as if these things are taking over our spiritual work, it is time to evaluate what we’re doing and make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons.

Leaning on Heavenly Father and giving Him complete control over my life has allowed me to be sensible in deciding which duties I’m involved in. The moments in which I have felt frustrated with ward members-and even God- were the times in which I was trying to glorify myself. I’ve also noticed when I’m thinking of only myself when involved in projects, it is those projects that usually never work out. Yet, when I’m obedient to God’s instruction and work my projects in accordance to His word, I’m astounded to see His hand opening more doors for me.

Remaining obedient to God when deciding on what projects to accept has been completely liberating. I’m not plagued with the thoughts that I’m not doing enough in service. I’m doing what I’m capable of doing and keeping harmony in my family life. I also know the difference between ‘holy’ inspirations and ‘selfish’ ones. Having the inspiration to read my Scriptures instead of playing on Facebook or even doing the dishes has never been a disappointment. If anything it makes cleaning the house or doing the most mundane tasks later a bit less daunting.

I’ve found a sense of peace in understanding God’s commands in my life and by doing His work for His glory (and not my own) my family and I will continually be blessed.

 

Dealing With Anger

I’ve been pondering over the subject of anger. I’m not sure if most of my issues with anger comes from the fact that deep down I’m really a spoiled child with Puerto-Rican genes or I’m just a naturally selfish person. My tendency towards becoming frustrated seems to be geared from not getting my way which often leads to anger.

We are down to one car right now as our truck has decided to go into a coma. It’s been a rough week, because I’m completely home bound. I’ve taken to long walks with toddlers-which let me tell you- is fun for about two minutes. Yesterday, it took an hour for us to even make it out the front door and by the time we made it to the Stop sign at the end of the road, I was cursing my husband in my head for not having our vehicle repaired in what I felt a timely manner. In no time, I was miserable… overcome by a state of disquiet and agitation.

Having four kids of my own, dealing with babies and toddlers all day,  running my writing business, attending school, and still maintaining the role of a good wife, often puts me in situations in which I feel out of control and unable to orchestrate things MY way. Having a serene disposition during the times of aggravation would be wonderful…but seems (to me) an unrealistic fantasy.

But it isn’t…

I was compelled to study and meditate this subject, not only for the good of myself, but for my family. (When Mom ain’t happy-ain’t NO ONE happy!)

The wonderful and inspirational President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote in the November 2007 issue of Ensign:

“Anger is the mother of a whole brood of evil actions.”

Think about that for a second: Anger is the mother of a whole brood of evil actions. How many times have we argued with a person out of anger, saying things we would only regret later? Anger stems from our own imperfections and frailty and by engaging with the devil of anger it becomes easier for it to embrace and overpower us. Rational becomes invisible and we can’t see past our own emotions/anger.

We may be justified in being angry. However, it is our behavior from being angry in which we need to take precaution. My anger over not having a working vehicle wasn’t justifiable anger. Frustrating, yes. Anger towards my husband for not having the vehicle fixed in the time frame I wanted…totally unjustifiable. (I know! I was distraught about this truth too!)

Discerning the truth during the heat of an angry moment by asking Heavenly Father to open our hearts and eyes to the truth of why we are angry can be the first step in dealing with frustrating moments. Being aroused by anger, not calling on God for aid, will be as if we were throwing ourselves into stormy waters. We won’t know if we’ll drown or end up somewhere foreign. The end result is questionable, but always unpleasant.

Making sure I schedule time in my day for prayer and meditation insures having a peaceful mind. Clearing the debris of chaos and strife from my heart and soul insures I’ll be slow to anger and frustration. This isn’t an easy fix, it is a daily struggle to remain calm during the most difficult of times. However, placing all of my trust in God softens the blow. I know I’m not doing it all alone.

I can’t think of a better way to end this article by using a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley who wrote: “So many of us make a great fuss of matters of small consequence. We are so easily offended. Happy is the man who can brush aside the offending remarks of another and go on his way” [November 2007 Ensign, Slow to Anger]

Resources:

Slow to Anger

Proverbs 16:32; Matthew 5:43–44; 11:15–17; Ephesians 4:31–32; Colossians 3:8; James 1:19–20; 2 Nephi 1:26; 3 Nephi 11:29–30; Doctrine and Covenants 60:2; 63:32; 84:24.

“Anger is [used] to control others. Some people have learned this art very well. They get what they want by becoming loud and angry. … Anger thus has the unrighteous goal of attempting to diminish the freedom of others” (Burton C. Kelly, “The Case Against Anger,” Ensign, Feb. 1980, 10).

“Jesus set the example in personal conduct regarding anger when, although he had been falsely accused and made the subject of railings and mockery, he stood majestically and completely composed before the perplexed Pontius Pilate. He did not retaliate in anger. Rather, he stood erect, poised, unmoved. His conduct was divine. What an example for all of us!“Listen to these marvelous words of the Savior, the master teacher:“ ‘Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.“ ‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ (Matt. 5:43–44.)” ( Elder ElRay L. Christiansen, who was an Assistant to the Twelve, Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 28; or Ensign, June 1971, 38).

Welcome Love and Kindness

Last night, my husband and I had dinner with another couple whom we hadn’t seen in a couple of years. All seemed to be going okay until the conversation shifted to mutual acquaintances. There was an abrupt comment made by the wife as if to basically shut the conversation down.  I was about to respond when I felt the immediate urge to close my mouth. In my mind I saw the sentence: “It isn’t about you. I was about to take her comment personally and counter-attack with lady like venom and prestige. (As you do.) Yet, having the immediate urge to not speak and take a minute-I saw the statement made from her perspective. It wasn’t towards me or my husband at all. It was a statement, pure and simple. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Creating drama in our lives with snappy words and harsh comments is a symptom of resistance. We are resisting relationships and are robbing ourselves from seeing the good in people. This type of drama is baseless and a waste of time. Words should always be spoken to lift others up, not bring them down. When we’re always ready to be on the offensive by what words are thrown our way,  it’s time to take a step back and think for a few seconds before reacting.

It isn’t always about you.

One of the things I’ve found to help me keep this thought always in my heart is to begin each day with a plan to love. If I’m about love and kindness then I will attract love and kindness. Even if I find certain words spoken by others to be rude or hurtful, by coming from a place of love and kindness, my first assumption would be that they too are coming from the same place.

It’s easy to find a way to twist words around and make them into something they’re not. If we resist love and kindness and strive for drama and chaos, then that is what we’re going to get.

Love and kindness are two wise attributes for a person to have. True kindness is described by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:32:

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

 

It is in kindness and love I write this post. If you do not get anything from this post other than the fact that you can finally say you are reading a blog created by a half Puerto-Rican, half Hillybilly who is a recovering alcoholic with a mental illness who converted to Mormonism and lives in Alaska…then I’ve done a great job.

You’re welcome.

*Charm and wit were also included in the writing of this post…and again…you’re very welcome.

Obedience

Today, I’m thinking about obedience.

Many people feel that the commandments are burdensome and that they limit freedom and personal growth. But the Savior taught that true freedom comes only from following Him: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). God gives commandments for our benefit. They are loving instructions for our happiness and for our physical and spiritual well-being.

Why is it so difficult to be obedient? I’m ashamed to admit I’ve always struggled with the act of obedience. I’m a natural rebel and question everything. It is a challenge for me to remain obedient. This may come as a bit of a shock to those who know me personally. (Sarcasm for those who don’t.)

I work very hard to always tell the truth daily no matter what. Telling the truth should be easy, but I often find myself wanting to tell ‘little white lies’ to spare someone’s feelings or avoid confrontation. (What’s the big deal of omitting exactly how much money I spent to The Husband?)

This thought appeared in my head when I was thinking of this topic of obedience and honesty: little white lies accumulate to such the point it will be difficult to differentiate from what is the truth. It seems as if it isn’t a big deal-these little white lies that aren’t hurting anyone-but in truth (irony) is it is inflicting damage to one’s soul.

Years ago, I saw this example about what lies-any kind of lie- can do to your soul. You take a glass of water which represents your soul. There is also a little bowl of black dirt which represents a lie. You have a regular teaspoon for your big whopper of lies and your first finger and thumb will be for your white lies in which you’d add only a pinch to the clean water AKA your soul.

Above the picture is of a clean glass of water. No lies have been told. Imagine adding only a pinch of dirt for one of those little white lies…only a tiny little pinch…would you still drink the water?

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. …”

~President James E. Faust (1920–2007), Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Aristotle said that wicked men obey because of fear and that good men obey because of love. (See Useful Quotations, ed. Tyron Edwards, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1933, p. 428.) Ask yourself: Are you obedient because of love or because of fear?

We  have free agency in which we can decide to be obedient in all things or not. I’ve found myself justifying my rebellious attitude by implying it is part of my genetic make-up as if can’t be helped. (IE: “That’s just the way I am, deal with it.)

Obedience is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom will come to the humble who are obedient.

The gift of wisdom comes to those who seek it with humility. “Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God … ;

“For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite” (D&C 136:32–33).

When I study my Scriptures, make time for prayer and listen to uplifting wholesome music, my demeanor is different from if I never read my Scriptures, didn’t pray and listened to music unbecoming for Christians. Our spiritual diet is as important as our physical one. If we eat bad foods that taste good more than we eat the healthy stuff…we have the instant gratification in the taste but have the long-term effects of what that junk food does to our bodies.

It’s interesting how easy it all really is…how if we do the things our Heavenly Father commands of us we will not only be in the act of obedience…but we will be exercising  faith and enjoying the wonderful blessings bestowed to us.

It’s so easy…

Yet, we still struggle, because as easy as it all is, we have the Adversary throwing down the hurdles and blinding us with harmful detours. It is not a matter of what is the right thing to do, it is the matter of doing what is right…easy or not. This is faith. This is wisdom. This is obedience.


(From LDS.ORG)

Feeling the Love of the Lord through Obedience

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Why are we such a happy people? It is because of our faith, the quiet assurance that abides in our hearts that our Father in Heaven, overseeing all, will look after His sons and daughters who walk before Him with love and appreciation and obedience. We will ever be a happy people if we will so conduct our lives” (“What Are People Asking about Us?” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 85; Ensign, Nov. 1998, 72).

How Can You Find the Strength to Be Obedient?

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985): “When we are inclined to think it is vain to serve the Lord, we should stir our faith, believe in the rich promises of God, and obey—and patiently wait. The Lord will fulfill all his rich promises. … To the faithful, lavish rewards are offered. Blessings beyond one’s understanding will come. … Great as are the blessings in mortality which follow righteousness, they are dwarfed beside those awaiting in the world to come” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 305–6).

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “You will need the help of heaven to keep the commandments. You will need it more and more as the days go on. … But you can bring the protective powers of heaven down on you by simply deciding to go toward the Savior, to wait on him” (To Draw Closer to God [1997], 98).

How Has Obedience Blessed Your Life?

Mosiah 2:41 : “Ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. … They are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “We can … know, through obedience, how much God loves us as his immortal children. It happens just as President Brigham Young said it would: ‘How shall we know that we obey [God]? There is but one method by which we can know it, and that is by the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord witnessing unto our spirit that we are His, that we love Him, and that He loves us. It is by the spirit of revelation we know this’ (Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 26 Nov. 1867, n.p.). If we can get that witness for ourselves … , then we can cope with and endure well whatever comes” (“The Pathway of Discipleship,” Ensign, Sept. 1998, 7).

Susan W. Tanner, Young Women general president: “Each week we renew our baptismal covenants to take His name upon us, to ‘always remember him,’ and to ‘keep his commandments’ (see D&C 20:77). We are steadfast in Christ when we do these things, and our spirits are lifted and our hearts are filled with love. … Covenants enlarge our hearts and allow us to feel the ‘love of God and of all men’ (2 Ne. 31:20)” (“Steadfast in Our Covenants,” Liahona, May 2003, 101–2).

John 15:10 : “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.”

Making Time to Feel It

A year ago, my then second grader was asked by her teacher why she had not done her math assignments for the week. My little blond soft-spoken cherub looked up at her teacher innocently and responded with, “I wasn’t feelin’ it.”

Yesterday, I was looking at the list of assignments I had waiting for me after my daycare doors were closed and felt immediate fatigue. It had been a long day and the last thing I wanted to do was more work.

I noticed my scriptures by my bed, they’ve been there for a few days untouched. And like everything else I ‘should do, I shrugged it off because well, I wasn’t feelin’ it.

How do we get past the ‘not feelin’ it’ syndrome when it comes to our spirituality? How do we get over the hump of our own fatigue of the busy life to nurture our relationship with our Heavenly Father?

It’s easier said than done but it comes down to priorities and setting goals. There isn’t a lot of time in my life right now for a lot of extras and this leads to a lot of frustration on my part. However, if I can make time to talk on the phone with a friend or play on Facebook, shouldn’t I be able to make time for prayer and meditation? Reading a few scriptures has never made me feel bad, praying has never made things worse, if anything…it brightens my day. So why is it so difficult to find the time to do it?

It’s funny isn’t it? How the things we know are good for us are often the first things we disregard because the adversary has impressed on us that we have other things to do that are more important? And of course, we’re just not feelin’ it…so we ignore it.

I’ve decided if it means I must start my day fifteen minutes earlier or take a little more time in the evening to study my scriptures, I’m going to do it. It’s my new goal, a goal in which should have been implemented a long time ago. I’ll keep you posted.

How do  you find time in your day to study your scriptures? What are some things that have worked for you?