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.

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The Liberal Feminist Converted Mormon Chick with the Southern Accent


“What kind of Mormon are you?”

This question presented to me by a friend surprised me for a few minutes, because even though logically I knew I wasn’t (and will probably never be) a typical Mormon, it was a question that gave me pause. Isn’t Mormon in itself descriptive enough?

No. It actually isn’t.

I’m not your typical Mormon. Not by a long shot. This could be explained by the more conservative Mormons that I am a convert, so you know how those pesky converts are! Always trying to reinvent the wheel! But long before my conversion, I knew in my heart certain doctrine was true…I just didn’t have any idea it was beliefs held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I speak the language of the LDS Church. It is-despite the cheesiness of the cliché- feels like home.

I’m liberal. I accept gays and feminists. (I am a feminist.) I’m married to an atheist. I’m not a fan of Republicans and I will tell you I will not be voting for Mitt Romney. Ever.

I live in a small area of Anchorage which is mostly conservative and my ward is definitely filled with deeply conservative Mormons. However, I have to say my ward is very diverse and filled with the most loving of Christians I have ever met.

Being Christ-like is about being compassionate even towards things we do not understand. Each of us has a history-a specific history with responsibilities to live a morally good life.

 

Does this make me less “Christian” than my more conservative Mormon peers? I do not believe so, nor do I believe either side is wrong. The great thing about being a Mormon is the belief in free agency and the knowledge that every single one of us on this planet is unique.

I do not have all the answers and I’m still asking a lot of questions. I fail more often than I succeed in my spiritual journey and I am in no way the poster child for any Christian sect.

I’m simply…me. Someone who believes strongly in God and Jesus Christ. I know the Bible AND The Book of Mormon is true. I may have doubts here and  there about certain doctrine, but it doesn’t shake my faith in the overall teachings of the Church. I doubt it ever will.

Faith… is amazing.

 

 

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.

General Conference- Saturday Morning Session

I’m a day behind General Conference as I’ve been sick this entire weekend. However, I didn’t want to waste any time posting about yesterday’s morning session.

Watching the conference is awe-aspiring. We are listening to living day prophets and whilst this is difficult for individuals to absorb who are outside our faith…as a Mormon this is an added strength to our testimony. We are hearing and listening to actual living prophets of God! (Awesome, huh?!)

Quotes from Saturday morning’s conference that touched my heart:

Elder Scott on the Power of Scriptures:
“Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost.  Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing.”
President Packer – Counsel to Youth:
“It is not expected that you go through life without making mistakes, but you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Holy Spirit.”
“Youth today are being raised in enemy territory with a declining standard of morality.  But as a servant of the Lord, I promise that you will be protected and shielded from the attacks of the adversary if you will heed the promptings that come from the Holy Spirit.”
President Uchtdorf – You Matter to Him:
“Disciples of Jesus Christ understand that compared to eternity, our existence in this mortal sphere is only “a small moment” in space and time.”
“It may be true that man is nothing in comparison to the greatness of the universe.  At times we may even feel insignificant, invisible, alone, or forgotten.  But always remember — you matter to Him!”
“God sees you not only as mortal beings on a small planet who lives for a brief season — He sees you as His child.  He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become.  He wants you to know that you matter to Him.”

Truly a Gift

Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society has been written for you.  We hope you unwrap it, we hope you open it, we hope you read it.  This gift is a record of the legacy of women in the Church.  It also tells about how Relief Society is truly the restoration of an eternal pattern of discipleship.  It is a witness of the divine identity of our Heavenly Father’s daughters.  Daughters in My Kingdom contains inspiring examples and timeless truths, and we hope you have a profound personal experience with it.”

~ Julie B. Beck

Women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints should each have their own copy of Daughters in my Kingdom. If you do not have your own copy and would like to read it, you can read it online here.

I was excited to receive my own copy of this wonderful resource and introduction to the Relief Society this past Sunday. Sister Beck has encouraged us all to read this book cover to cover and I plan on doing just that. I will chronicle my impression and thoughts on this site.

I’m not sure why this video wasn’t presented in the recent General Relief Society meeting, yet, here it is below. Enjoy.

Atonement, Repentence and Addictions

Most of us know the scripture in Matthew 6:24 in which we are told we are not to slave for two masters. I have to always go back to that scripture daily…so I will always remember I was once a slave to two masters.

I am an alcoholic/addict.

As an addict, converting to Mormonism wasn’t easy. At the time, giving up alcohol wasn’t a huge deal. I didn’t believe or even consider I was an alcoholic. I believed this based on how I drank compared to others in my life who suffered from the disease. No, I didn’t drink everyday. I could go months without drinking with ease. Yet, when I finally became honest with myself and looked at the reasons WHY and HOW I drank…I knew I had a problem.

Drinking was my escape. Tequila was my outlet I used to ease my anxiety, cover my insecurities and lose my inhibitions. I’ve always been somewhat of a dork in a socially awkward way. I have a moronic laugh and I’m anything but graceful. That’s how I am sober. Apparently, I thought drinking erased my social quirks. Turns out…they only enhanced them…I just didn’t care.

Alcoholism isn’t a black/white disease. It isn’t the same for everyone. When I accepted I had this disease, I was already a baptized member of the Church. I had some slip ups and it was only after I fell into old habits that I had to come to terms with the truth concerning this illness.

Here’s the thing about addictions of any kind: you can not get help for your addictions until you accept and understand you’re powerless against them. You can not do it on your own.

As a Christian…you have to take it one step further: you must grasp, understand and accept The Atonement.

Atonement of Jesus Christ

As used in the scriptures, to atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind. Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life with God.

For years…without even realizing it…I was a slave to alcohol and prescription drugs. I thought I was okay because hello…LOOK AT ME. I do not look like a drunk. I’m little. And cute. And I speak with a southern accent.

Alcoholics surely cannot be little, cute and speak with a southern accent. Right?

In His loving and firm way, God showed me I was fooling myself. As a creator of false facades in many areas of my life, I convinced myself and others that I didn’t have a problem with addictions. I had somehow shifted and justified my sins in order to be a slave to the illness.

Why?

Well, because it was fun.

Drinking was fun…in the beginning. That stage of drinking most call ‘tipsy’ is exhilarating. I always wanted to stay in that phase…yet as my tolerance level grew…the shorter the tipsy phase would be. And because I always felt I had something to prove, I’d find myself in these situations in which I tried to out drink everyone. I think my reasoning was because I was little. And cute. And spoke with a southern accent.

The first time I spoke the words: “I am an alcoholic” was one of the worst and best days of my life. I won’t sugar coat it…I felt as if I was a failure. I didn’t want to admit to alcoholism and addiction. It didn’t seem fair I had to say those words and do the steps and go to meetings and then REPENT? I had to repent too? Are you kidding me?

I didn’t want to repent to God. I was really mad at God.

Being angry with God did not align well with repentance. I was angry with God for allowing my life to be so messed up. It didn’t seem fair He created me to have all these things wrong with me.

My anger with God led me toward a season of rebellion. I gave up caring and trying to  live a spiritual life. I felt as if I had given everything I had to be a good Christian woman and I kept failing. So what can a person do but throw their hands in the air and give up? May as well have some fun!

Alma 34:32-34 tells us we shouldn’t procrastinate repentance. We will all have to one day answer for our sins and be held accountable. My having the disease of alcoholism wasn’t the sin…it was my ignoring it and acting with a rebellious heart that was sinful.

The fun of drinking was long gone. I knew that, but I wanted it to be true again. What was fun about it? Who can really say at this point…most of those days are hazy. Drinking can only be fun for so long for an alcoholic. The fun never lasts.

To admit weakness is also not a sin. In the scriptures we can find many righteous and humble men who admit their frailties: Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Alma, Ammon…those are only a handful of examples. When we repent…we acknowledge regret for doing the things that separated us from God. Admitting our sins isn’t weak…it is the buildup of strength in which creates a stronger bond between us and our Heavenly Father.

Accepting The Atonement of Jesus Christ for me was a huge factor in my recovery. Elder Boyd Packer explained it best: “Atonement is really three words: At-one-ment, meaning to set at one, one with God; to reconcile, to conciliate, to expiate.”  The Atonement could cleanse me of sin…but only after the condition of my repentance.

It seemed as if I would never live the life Heavenly Father created me to live. I continued to make the wrong choices, made excuses, and honestly didn’t care…as long as I was having fun! Then one day, life wasn’t fun anymore and the things I was doing in the name of fun had turned ugly. Yet, I couldn’t repent because I felt as if I wasn’t good enough to be a daughter of God.

Then one day I realized I wasn’t that “great” not to be forgiven for my sins. Yeah, I’m little. And cute. And speak with a southern accent…but I’m not that powerful.

Here’s the thing that we all must accept: We will never be so powerful to be to messed up for our Savior to redeem.

Ever.

Faith

There is a thin line I cross when it comes to encouraging my children to attend church and forcing them (with bribery, threats, and evil glares) to attend church. I walk this line each week, cautiously, trying not to sway to the art of force. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating. There are many times I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. Is my being  Mormon worth the headache?  The Husband doesn’t even believe in God! How am I supposed to be a good example and prove the truth of the Gospel when he doesn’t believe God exists? And how do I be a spiritual leader to our children without causing friction between The Husband and I?

It’s difficult. It’s very, very difficult.

I have always had a strong faith in God, but when it came to religion, I couldn’t grasp why there were so many religions out there all claiming to be true. How do we know which one is right? How could I be right?

I believe God exists and I believe what the LDS Church teaches is true. (You can read my testimony here.) It took many incarnations and lifetimes for me to get to where I am today. During my moments in prayer, I have begun to understand why I converted and accepted what I know to be true two years ago verses ten years ago. There is a season for everything and when I find myself feeling frustrated about where my husband is on his spiritual journey, I force myself to remember that I wasn’t always in this place. I wasn’t always content in my faith.

However, today...this moment…what keeps me going…what keeps me coming back to church every Sunday… what has me continuing to pursue spiritual knowledge… is simply: faith. I feel the presence of God in my life. I know His existence is real and I know the Scriptures to be true. I’ve prayed for a contentment like this my entire life and in His time and in His wisdom and grace…He gave it to me.

Now I pray for the same contentment for my husband. For my children. And I know it will never be in the way I think it should be…in the manner of how it should be given…it isn’t my call. Yet, I have faith my prayers will be answered.

God shows Himself to those who are ready and want to receive Him. I pray my husband and children experience His love and grace. When we  experience the grace of God’s light…big or small…our lives will change drastically. Things are not magically easier, but we develop a wisdom we didn’t have before. Faith is funny like that…we don’t have to prove or explain…we are content within our hearts that what we know to be true… just is.

When we’re ready…God is there. Our eyes and heart are opened to the fact that He never left us. Ever.

 

 

 

Shine, Baby, Shine

Sitting upstairs in my bedroom, I began to think about Jesus. Simply, the man and who he was and how he lived when he was on this Earth. It struck me as somewhat ironic, that this man, the Son of God, who created numberless worlds and could have manifested himself in such a way that there would have been little doubt that he was in fact a god. The SON of THE God, no less. And yet, what did he do? He lived humbly as a carpenter’s son, barely noticed by his social and economic class.

He didn’t force anyone to hear his message. He was a man of love, of truth, of charity. Yet, his mission was that he would sacrifice his life for all of us…which he did. His purpose was clear and he stayed on his directed path, never faltering, even when he was faced with magnificent temptation. (Mark 1:9-13, Luke 4:1-14)

We all want to have our shot in the limelight. Who doesn’t think it would be fantastic to be popular and be noticed for our talents? Yet, how many of us are truly ‘popular’ as defined by the world’s standards? Have we found ourselves shifting gears and stumbling off our path in an attempt to be noticed? To be popular in the standards of this world?

I know I have. Many times. And each time I’ve detoured off my path, life gets amazingly harder and things are never quite right. Things I thought were important, (IE:Materialism) became less so as the different areas of my life crumbled.

As I pondered over my Savior, my thoughts shifted to my own life and what legacy I will leave behind. Will I be known as a gossip? A liar? The recovering alcoholic with the mental illness? My stomach dropped when I thought of every aspect of my life in which I’ve been rebellious and haughty. When my illness had gotten the best of me and my broken mind saw and caused things to be chaotic and painful…not only for me…but for my family and friends as well. These illnesses are not who I am…they are not what define me…they will not be the essence of my soul. I have these things…yes, for now… in this life… and I do what I can to control it. I will not allow these illnesses to control me. Heavenly Father knows my soul. It is with that truth I keep close to my heart, never allowing it to be the start of my drifting off course onto another path.

My light may not be noticed by the entire world, but it shines brightly by those who are near.

When you find yourself thinking you are not being of service to people, or are not receiving the opportunities to present your talents because of your own insecurities or that you may just be under the radar in your church, school or work…think about this: Jesus lived simply, but gave gloriously…in such a way that you and I will one day be able to live with Him again in perfection.

Live simply. Give gloriously…whether it be your talents, your wisdom, your sense of humor…you are a light. Never allow this world to define you. We know that it will end eventually. We have amazing things to look forward to.

Our light? Will shine on for all eternity…


Jesus: A Mormon’s BFF

It always strikes me as odd that there is this misconception out there regarding the beliefs that Mormons do not believe in Jesus Christ. People actually think Joseph Smith is our Savior! And if we really want to enter Heaven, then we must look like this:

The ‘official’ name for the church is: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not Joseph Smith’s Posse.

Yes, Mormons believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son. We are Christians and believe Jesus is our Savior. We do not replace the Bible with The Book of Mormon. It is also not a prerequisite for women to know how to sew, cook, sing and wear hot pink. If it were, I could not be a member of the Church. (I actually like to sing. However, people prefer that I didn’t.)

Mormons do not believe that only Mormons go to Heaven. There is no “If you’re not Mormon, you’re screwed!” doctrine. I find comfort with that and to be honest, I don’t think I could be a member of this church if that was a doctrinal belief. (Not that the slang term ‘screwed’ would be used to explain doctrine in any official church pamphlet. Felt the need to point that out.)

I’m not writing this to sway anyone to embrace Mormonism. It is an explanation…if you happened to have been curious. As this blog grows with more entries, you’ll be able to pick and choose from the categories. There will be a lot…because, well, I have a lot to say.