Follow-Up to Post Straight Judgment

In regards to post Straight Judgment, I have received phone calls from a couple of women who were in Relief Society on Sunday. After I left, a lot of the points I brought up in my post were also spoken. The main consensus was we all are struggling with SOMETHING and we are all without sin. As Christians, we are to be loving and judge not. Only God is the final judge and what we know is God is a loving and just god.

In my post, I wrote I too was being judgmental and was very irritated with myself for feeling that way. I also was having a difficult time finding the correct words to express my feelings regarding the subject.

What is important for readers to know is I believe the LDS Church is true and I have a very strong testimony in regards to this. This does not mean I’m perfect and have all the answers, because if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know this is not true. This blog is not intended to argue or debate the teachings of the Church, but to chronicle my journey as a convert who is dealing with a variety of issues-as many people in any religion or faith are. This is my blog and my thoughts, opinions and perspectives.

What I’ve come to appreciate from my own experiences and trials, along with stories shared by readers and friends, is this: heterosexuals also face far greater challenges to live the gospel. Does this mean homosexuals who sacrifice to live the gospel as they understand it are being slighted? I don’t know. What I do know is we can’t possibly know one’s conscience as God knows it. An individual’s relationship with a person’s God is theirs and theirs alone. Selflessness is required of everyone and we should all follow the commandment of “Love One Another” as Christ has loved us. Gay or Straight.

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Temptation

I don’t know what it is, but when you’re struggling within your faith, it seems as if Heavenly Father reaches out to you more. The thing is-and this is vital-you have to be willing to listen. He knows your heart and knows what is going on with you. You may not understand it-but He does.

I’m struggling. Not just with spiritual things but in all things. I wonder when the things of the past few years that have crippled my mind, body and spirit will come to an end and I can walk away with some appreciation of the lesson(s) learned.

During this time, one of the things  I think I’m supposed to be learning is being more equipped to resisting temptation. I’m an impulsive person. I like to say I go by instinct, but the truth is… it is more out of my own selfishness.

What is temptation?

The word “temptation” is from the Latin root word tentare, to try or to test, its meaning deeply rooted in Judaism and the Old Testament.

 

Temptation is based on lies and distortion. It is an incitement to sin.  It is a confusing concept because on one hand, we  hear temptation as a good thing. Advertisers use this word to get consumers to buy what they’re selling. Here’s something else in which boggles my mind when it comes to temptation: we’re made in the image of God so we naturally desire goodness and beauty, however, what we may forget is we’re also prone to sin and we’re easily tricked. It is naturally easy for us to accept the appearance of goodness, to embrace it and want to be it, especially if it we think we have found an easier and painless way to achieve it. We want instant gratification.

Temptation is not itself however, sin.

I read somewhere once that those who find themselves beset with temptation on all fronts can probably consider themselves called to prayer and service even more. I know in my own life it is only when I’ve let down my guard or succumb to laziness when the urge to resist the temptations that are sinful is difficult. It is easier to do what is wrong without trying to do what is right.

Pride leads to sinful temptations

My short-term memory is damaged due to illness and this has caused many problems in my relationships. Mainly because of my own pride in not telling people that hey, I don’t always remember what the heck we talked about yesterday, so if I were to meet you somewhere-and didn’t- it is because of not remembering. This has led many to believe I’m not a good friend or not dependable, when it reality, it isn’t the case. I’ve been tempted to lie to cover up this problem and actually have. Pride is another virtue in which can lead to the temptation of sin.

This is what I know: When we decide (and we must decide this!) to live a life of building our faith by praying for strength and wisdom, see evil for what it is, and desire to have the clarity to be virtuous we will be equipped to see beyond the appearances of what seems to be good. We will be wise enough to see beyond the enticing promises of sugar-coated ‘easiness’ and sinful desires.

Be tempted to do good

We also need to remember that being children of God and wanting to serve Him will never be easy. When we have decided (again, it is a decision!) to diligently serve our Heavenly Father, the attacks from the adversary will be relentless. To conquer sinful temptation we need to be humble and trust in God. Let us not be arrogant and feel we are too confident to ask Heavenly Father for help to avoid sinful temptation.

Be tempted to always pray, to study our scriptures, to do good in our community, to love one another-even our enemies-strive to succumb to the good temptations.

Rely on God, not religion

Religion is not your safeguard. I don’t care what religion you are. The relationship you have with your God is your safeguard. Relying on Him-and not the practices of your religion-is of the utmost importance. Don’t get me wrong here-I’m not saying religion is a bad thing-I’m only saying it can’t be the ONLY thing and it cannot replace your relationship with God.

Accepting it will never be easy

Avoiding situations where the temptation to sin is great, should be a no-brainer. It isn’t rocket science, but still we will always struggle. It is in our nature not to want to miss out on what seems to be fun and an exciting time. Not allowing ourselves to fall into situations to begin with is the easiest way to go…

But whoever said life was going to be easy?

 

Priesthood Blessings and Joy

I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror this morning, and my haggard appearance made me want to gag. It also reminded me of how fatigued and achy I am. Most disturbingly, my usual optimistic mood had been already been replaced by something darker and pessimistic.

The last few weeks I’ve been dealing with medical issues. This past weekend it seemed to grow prominently worse. Being one who does not like  to ‘slow down,’ this new change in my life only brings out the worst in me. I don’t like for anything to change my schedule, do not like sympathy, and do not like to be viewed as anything other than capable. So you can imagine that dealing with any type of illness is somewhat of a buzz kill in my life.

Yeah, I know. Pride, much?

After a few freak-outs in my head (only because I was too tired and sick to freak out on anyone in person) it finally dawned on me to ask for a blessing.

It has been over a year since I’ve received any type of blessing. I hate to impose on anyone and whilst my logical mind knows better, this not wanting to ask for help is not in any way helping my situation. (Again! With the pride!)

After a moment of prayer, I received some clearing of the negative debris covering my mind. A sense of peace and clarity filled my soul. It became clear that not only did I want a blessing, but I needed a blessing!

A priesthood blessing is sacred. It can be a holy and inspired statement of our wants and needs. If we are in tune spiritually, we can receive a confirming witness of the truth of the promised blessings. Priesthood blessings can help us in the small and great decisions of our lives. If, through our priesthood blessings, we could perceive only a small part of the person God intends us to be, we would lose our fear and never doubt again. ~President James E. Faust

Priesthood Blessings

Wanting healing through prayer is not in conflict with  the miracles of medical science from one’s life. (It shouldn’t be.)  Brigham Young would ask those who asked for healing through a blessing, “Have you used any remedies?” When the individual would reply no because “we wish the Elders to lay hands upon us,” President Young replied: “That is very inconsistent according to my faith. If we are sick, and ask the Lord to heal us, and to do all for us that is necessary to be done, according to my understanding of the Gospel of salvation, I might as well ask the Lord to cause my wheat and corn to grow, without my plowing the ground and casting in the seed. It appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge, and [then] to ask my Father in Heaven … to sanctify that application to the healing of my body.”  (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 163.)

D&C 90:24 tells us to pray always and so whilst we are using wisdom and faith simultaneously, we should not deny ourselves the blessings God has bestowed to us, especially when it is because of pride.

The Apostle James taught that we should “pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” adding, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). When the woman who touched Jesus was healed, He told her, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). 3 Similarly, the Book of Mormon teaches that the Lord “worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men” (Moroni 10:7). ~Dallin H. Oaks

Last night, after 8pm, two members of the Priesthood from my Ward, came to my house and gave me a blessing. It wasn’t earth shattering, the walls didn’t shake, the Heavens did not open, nor did I instantly feel better. What did happen was that I immediately felt at peace, my fear of what is wrong disappeared and the worry I felt about my doctor’s appointment today vanished.

This morning, I feel better. Not 100%, but better, mostly due in part of feeling at peace and some of that negativity I allowed to erode my mind is gone.

My husband also got to witness the experience for the first time. This is a miracle in and of itself.

One of things I’ve learned since my conversion is this: Joy is something vastly different from happiness. It’s different from the surface of physical comfort. In my opinion, joy is divinely inspired and goes with the flow of our emotions. It’s a constant contentment during the most troubling of times. It doesn’t go away when we are facing challenges, yet because we mistake joy for happiness, we may feel we are joyless. My discontent in being sick made me think all the joy in my life had been sucked out of my life, but the truth is, my life is joyful. Before my conversion when things seemed to be the worst that they could be, there was not anything to bring me back to the feeling of love my God has for me. Now, I feel His love, and also the joy of knowing how intense and true that love is. Where there was once a sense of bleakness…there is now joy.

The more we know of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, the more joy we will have, no matter the circumstance. A friend once told me that life does not have to be easy to be joyful and I took her words for granted, not understanding the depth of truth she spoke.

I understand now.

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.

 

Being a Mormon is Being a Christian

“You don’t look like a Mormon!”

It could be taken as an insult, I guess. Depending on the context.  If let’s say I were at a club, shooting down shots of whiskey and table dancing to a hip hop song and someone mentions in passing, “Wow. I can’t believe she’s Mormon,” then perhaps that would be a wake-up call that I am not living in accordance with the Gospel and surely not being a good example. (Of course, my dance moves would be a great example of how I have skills. Just sayin’.) However, if it is stated: “You don’t look Mormon” simply because I’m awesome and have great hair, then yeah, that would probably be a tad bit insulting. (Not for me, mind you. But for all other Mormons.)

Interesting statistic, especially for those who are converted: 70% of Mormons worldwide were not born into the faith. (Accurate as of 2006.) What does that have to do with anything? Well, not much, except to show that the cookie cutter Mormons you may have imagined in your mind, simply do not exist.

Granted, as with all religions, there are those who may shed a poor light on the Church and there are those who give it a bad name. Each individual who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is unique, made up of the same complexities as any other human being.

What does being a Mormon mean?

  • There’s a Plan and I understand it.

The LDS Church  teaches that God has a plan for His children.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we believe life here on earth, is like a refiners fire.  If we turn to God in our trials, He will strengthen us, and ultimately through the atonement, purify us.

  • The Gospel being true, doesn’t mean life is easier.

To truly experience joy, we must also experience pain. Within our own experiences of tough times, we know we can appreciate and grasp the intensity of pure joy. I equate this to being a mother. Yes, I knew love before having kids. I loved my parents, my husband, my siblings, however until I became a mother, I never knew the intensity and complexities love actually has. It didn’t mean the love I had before was less so…far from it. If anything, it made my showing and receiving love more grand.

  • You may not think I’m awesome, but Jesus thought I was to die for.

I have a Savior in Jesus Christ who loved you and I so much that he died for us. This has always blown my mind, because the thought of it is complex and escapes human logic. I know the details, yet cannot hold it together. This was a human being…the Son of God…who is my Savior. His love for us and the love from our Heavenly Father knows no bounds and hearing it isn’t the same as feeling it. This is where faith comes in. My faith is stronger than the words and details. It overrides it in all capacities.

  • Knowing Jesus Christ and having faith

Faith is a choice. It’s also our choice to be willing to accept and receive the redemptive efficacy of Jesus Christ’s death on our behalf and it is still our choice to receive him into our own heart and soul. Being a Mormon is many wonderful things, things in which I didn’t think existed…but the biggest and greatest is that being a Mormon is also becoming a Christian. And whilst some may disagree with the assessment that Mormons are indeed Christian-I don’t wish to argue the point. I only know what my heart tells me and it is a heart who now knows how to receive and give love…one in which was taught to me by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Having a gift and sharing it

The Gospel is a wonderful gift, one in which I don’t want to keep all to myself. I share the Gospel with anyone who wants to know it, keeping in mind that I’m offering a gift, not wishing to convert for my own glory. That’s not what Jesus taught. He taught kindness and love and he did it with those virtues. Being a Christian isn’t about conversion, it is about love. When I extend the invitation for those to know Jesus, I do so with love.

13 Articles of Faith


1.
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3.
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4.
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5.
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6.
We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7.
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8.
We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10.
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11.
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12.
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

I’m a Mormon

 

 

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.

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?

Service Shouldn’t Be Stressful

I’m a little stressed. Ha! I kid, I kid. I’m more than a little stressed…I’m a lot stressed! There isn’t enough time in the day to get what I need done and by the evening I’m exhausted. I haven’t exercised in weeks, my house has seen better days in the clean department, I  have writing assignments, school work and there is a list here with a million and one other things that have yet to be checked off. Having a daycare in my home is a tremendous responsibility and I love it, but there isn’t  time for anything other than taking care of the children I’m paid to care for. People tend to forget this fact and think because I work from home then I’m not busy.

Which to be quite frank: Annoys the everliving crap out of me.

In the past, I would say yes to anyone who asked favors from me. Now, because of my time factor, I’m more likely to say no than yes. Which is difficult because it isn’t that I do not want to help people, I do, but there comes a time when a person needs to keep things in the proper perspective and realize-despite all the good intentions in the world-they can’t do it all.

When I do say yes and offer assistance it is after careful thought and prayer. It is a huge blessing for me to serve others, but I have to make sure I’m serving for the right reasons in which resentment and frustration will not overwhelm the blessings given when serving. When we burden ourselves with an overload of activities with the premise of ‘serving’ we can actually find ourselves depleted and tired. It isn’t about the people we’re serving anymore…it’s about us and our martyr facade.

There is a happiness through service, this I believe. I also believe with service there comes a responsibility. Taking time to pray to communicate with our God brings the spiritual power and wisdom for us to serve others properly. And in doing so we not only serve our God, but we reap the blessings of true service.

You Talkin’ To Me?

I have a terrible weakness when it comes to trash talking… especially regarding things I dislike. I can’t help but criticize things that are so obviously being done in the worst way possible. (Translation: Not my way.) I’m usually not judgmental towards people I know personally, but anyone in magazines, television and/or movies, you can bet I’m telling someone SOMETHING about how wrong they are.

Before becoming a Christian, this behavior didn’t seem to be something I needed to correct. I prided myself in being a positive person so I thought this mentality was okay, because after all it wasn’t like I was criticizing people I actually knew. That’s totally harmless behavior, right?

Since converting to Mormonism and even the few years before my conversion in which I studied spirituality with earnest, I found this mentality could actually crack open a door to full-blown TRASH TALKING/ALL AROUND GHETTO/POTTY MOUTH Plaza. You know that place we all visit from time to time…especially when we’re ticked off? (I had my own suite.)

I found when I dabbled (okay, not dabbled, but full-fledged body immersion) in trash talking of any kind, it became harder and harder to eliminate it from loved ones and friends. The more I found myself in this negative light, the easier it was to justify it to all other areas in my life.

It’s like once you decide to break your diet of not eating sugar of any kind and think: “Hmm…perhaps, sprinkling some brown sugar on my oatmeal isn’t bad enough to believe I’m actually breaking my non-sugar diet…” that keeping this mentality for so long (because you’re lying to yourself) the line becomes so hazy that taking a huge bite of chocolate cake seems perfectly reasonable. And before you know it…you’re eating brownies for breakfast, cake for lunch and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for dinner.

Yes, I know, the above example of the non-sugar diet and RPBC’s for dinner seems far-fetched, but think about it for a second: Is it really?

How often do we allow a ‘little bit’ of things into our lives that we know are negative and can cloud our judgment because it is only a little? Because we think we’re not hurting anyone?

When things become so annoying it is difficult for me to keep my mouth shut, I pray for the strength to ignore it. After all…I have been known to ignore Heavenly Father and His many blessings…shouldn’t ignoring the things that cause me the most annoyance and lead to bad behavior be just as easy to ignore?

Not always, sadly enough, but I’m working on it. Becoming more Christ-like has never meant more to me than it does at this point in my life. Perhaps it is because my children are paying more attention to the things I do and say…or perhaps it is because things are starting to make more sense in my ‘mature’ age.

The great thing about having free will is we also have it in us to will OUT the negative and will IN the positive. We just have to actually want to do it.

Learning Discernment

Article Posted on March 9, 2011 on All Things Diva.

Although, I live my life with a certain amount of censor and regulation-by choice– I am often filled with a tad bit of guilt and feelings of failure. The world of Christianity is perplexed and at times very contradictory. You have your devout Catholics with your devout Mormons with a mix of devout Evangelicals and someone in that group-no matter how devout- is doing it all wrong.

I have a wide range of close friends who are a mixture of religions and cultures. Very rarely do I talk about confusing doctrine to a non-member of my church nor would they voice their questions upon me about theirs. Yet, what we do have in common: our love for Jesus (and if not Jesus, our love for God or with my atheist, Buddhist and other religious friends our love for Grey’s Anatomy) we find a common thread in that we all experience some sort of guilt in our daily lives. Religious or not.

With my devout friends who are very religious, I am cautious to the point it feels as if I’m being fake. A few years ago, long before I joined the Mormon Church, I went to the movies with a few friends who were of another Protestant faith. I had chosen the movie and was excited to see this comedy that at the time was a huge hit.

About forty or so minutes into the movie in which I’m choking on popcorn because I’m laughing so hard, I feel a nudge on my elbow. “We’re leaving,” one of the ladies whisper. Thinking something was wrong, I followed them out. I learned that the reason for them leaving wasn’t because the elastic went out in their pantyhose BUT the movie  was bad enough to make Baby Jesus cry. (I’m not being funny here, that’s what she said to me: “Bad enough to make even Baby Jesus cry.”)

I had been so diligent in my research of movies! It was PG-13 with no sex scenes, no violence and no blasphemous dialogue.

Where did I go wrong?

And so I ask, “What was wrong with the movie? I don’t get it.”

To which she replied, “Are you kidding!!! It was the use of the F word! We hear it one time, we’re out.”

Was I so worldly that I didn’t even notice that the actors even used the F word?

Apparently so.

I get it from the other side too. I have my laid-back Jesus is great for funeral friends…and when I joined the Mormon Church I got an ear full of lectures and screams. ‘WHAT? NO COFFEE? NO BEER?!”

It’s always with the no coffee and no beer with these people.

If I casually mention seeing a movie with a particular group of friends, they become indignant as if they’re the Spiritual Police and scold me. “Aren’t you Mormon? No R rated movies for you.”

There are times in this life in which I do not feel as if I fit in anywhere. My Mormon friends are mostly lifers and I have yet to befriend a convert like myself. My husband isn’t a member of the church either and with the exception of my oldest daughter, I’m the only member of the church in my entire family.

Yeah, there’s pressure. On both sides.

For instance, my husband is constantly scolding me about my need for a filter. Once I was telling him a story in which the word “freaking” was used. Okay, so no…it wasn’t exactly G-rated verbiage, but certainly not R rated either. My husband looks at me and says, “What would your Bishop say if he heard you saying ‘freaking this’ and ‘freaking that’. You think he’d approve?”

Earlier today, I had a conversation with a friend who said she couldn’t comment on one of my articles because of a particular word I used. Whilst she admitted that it wasn’t that big of a deal, it was big enough for her not to comment if by chance one of the teenagers she taught saw her name by it. “I can’t let them think that  that’s okay.”  The article in question wasn’t (and still isn’t) anything for me to be embarrassed by or ashamed. However, being that I am who I am, I did begin to feel guilty. But not for the article itself (it was an awesome piece) but more for not feeling guilty to begin with.

What is wrong with me?

So there I am feeling judged by someone who is more Christ-like than me…AGAIN.

This whole Christian thing? Yeah, I suck at it.

As I do with feelings of doubt and pity, I took it to my Heavenly Father. As I was praying there was a word that kept popping in my head over and over again. The word: ‘Discernment.’

Spiritual discernment is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter.

I open up my scriptures and stumble on this verse in the Bible:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  ~ 1 Cor. 2:14

I pray. I cry. I pray a little more and feelings of blessings sweep over me. I am not a failure as a Christian. I am just me. A human being with all the complexities and contradictions all other humans have that make them who they are.

I am ME.

God’s Child. Imperfect, but loved just the same.

I realize in my life as long as I use discernment and rely on my own conscience, I can only keep doing the best I can. The lessons I have gained from my faith are a thousandfold and I must keep them to the forefront of my mind and heart. I must  accept that the ones judging me or more importantly my feelings of being judged are irreverent when it comes to my walk with Christ. With that being said, this doesn’t give me free reign not to use a filter once in a while. I do not want to be the cause of anyone stumbling in their faith.

Learning to depend on God and to trust in Him is a daily lesson. In my most solitude moments in which I feel desolation, I feel His amazing power as He fills my heart to the fullest…and I know He’s real. I know He loves me. He reveals Himself to me at those times in which I’m filled with doubt and insecurity.

I’m not perfect. (SHOCKER.) I will fall a lot more in this life, but everyday I will reaffirm my faith.

My walk with Christ? It’s pretty freaking awesome.