Being the stress-case that I am, I had another extremely stress-filled week to top off a very stress-filled semester. I’ve learned a lot about myself this semester. One, that I have not learned how to handle stress as well as I thought. (Not so good). Two, I have a lot still more to learn and work on. (Very good). I’ve discovered that trusting is so very hard for me. Now that I’ve recognized it, I can get started to working on it. Since the #lighttheworld movement, I was drawn to a scripture in Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”. Reading that gave me so much peace. It was such a small reminder that God is totally in control. Sometimes in the midst of our running around and trying to get our lives figured out, we should be still and wait for that hand of the Lord. Or at least trust in his hand, that he will guide us to the best. I’ve started to try this out, and it’s comforting to know that someone knows what they are doing, cause that’s certainly not me.
I have been struggling a lot this week with a lot of decision. It was one of those weeks where my entire life was played out in my head and I realized just how much I had to do. Thoughts of grad school, marriage, and jobs circled in my head and I just felt so overwhelmed by what was ahead of me. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t know what to do. What we talked about in Book of Mormon class really helped me. My professor talked about the ways that the brother of Jared received revelation in order to build the barges to cross the sea. He said there were three types of answers/guidance we receive from the Lord. The first type of answers we can get is like the answer he received about the steering. The Lord said he would guide them upon the waters, and they didn’t have to worry about that. The second type of answer we can receive was much like the answer he received about the air. He received step by step directions on what he should do to solve that problem. Sometimes I feel like I want that option more than anything. The third type is the answer to the light. The Lord left it up to him and his agency to figure that one out. My professor pointed out that the older we get, the more God expects us to rely on agency and make decisions for ourselves. Which is so scary in one way, but that the same time it shows that God trusts us so much and that he won’t let us mess up on the big stuff.
This scripture was shared to me by a friend. It calmed down many of my fears and gave me great comfort. This week was very depressing to me, mostly due to post election crisis and other personal worries and challenges I have had. It’s found in Ether 6:6-7
“And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
“And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did brig them forth again upon the waters.”
I love the promises here that no matter how many times we are pushed down into the depths of the waters, every time we raise our voices to God, he will answer us and brings us to light and to safety. Sometimes while we are in those deep dark waters, it is easy to think that there is no way God will bring us up again after how many times we have already asked for relief from out struggles. It is easy to get discouraged and distracted by all the pain we see and experience. It is hard to imagine a God at the same time who will lead us to such dangers, bringing families down at the same time, until we remember just how many times he will and does lift us up every time we call upon his name.
I think it is really important to remember these things and trust that the path that he is leading us down is long and hard and sometimes it’s hard to see the light. But, he will always lead us to light and safety when we trust in him and follow him and believe on his word.
In my Book of Mormon class we have been talking a lot about the different antichrists that we find in the Book of Mormon. There’s Nehor, Sherem, and Korihor, just to name a few. An antichrist is someone that replaces the need for Christ, or denies his importance or existence. When we take Christ out the equation, we loose so much. We lose redemption, joy, salvation, agency, just to name a few.
Contrasting that with the beautiful and praising passages from Alma 36, it’s hard to believe that someone would ever want to replace Christ or not have him a part of their lives. Alma 36 particularly resonates with me because I find myself often times in dark times of suffering as did Alma.
When Alma raises his voice and cries out to the Savior to be delivered from his pain, then and only then, did he receive joy and light as powerful and deep as was the pain he felt before. Anything we receive from Satan as a replacement of that will never fill the uttermost pains that we suffer here in mortality, whether it be consequences of our own actions and sin, or just part of life itself.
I know that my Savior provides true joy and true wholeness. We can be completely clean and free of whatever beset and tied us before. I know this because I have lived this. This chapter in Alma brings me so much peace because it is such a beautiful pattern on how to feel God’s love when we feel like we have done so much wrong.
Sometimes in our efforts to become closer to God and to know him better, we get a little confused. We get things wrong. It’s a completely normal thing. We are still figuring things out, as human beings. We’re not perfect yet and sometimes it takes us a bit to know what works and what doesn’t. Much like King Lamoni’s father, getting to know God, to receive the joy that comes from the gospel takes a sacrifice of ourselves and our desires. Sometimes we may make an offering of very external things. I’ll give up my tv shows, or I’ll pay extra tithing or fast offerings, etc. What the Lord requires sometimes is a little deeper. It has to cost something. Like King Lamoni’s father says in Alma 22, “I will give away all my sins to know thee.” This is the kind of sacrifice that takes a little bit more of ourselves. This is more eternal and personal.
For me, this is something that is a little harder and I’m not as willing to do, natural (wo)man that I am. But the times I do, I realize that my life is so much better and that I can feel much closer to my Heavenly Father than before.
“You need to trust Jesus more”
This line echoed through my mind as I thought about the tears that were spilt the night before. It was one of those weeks. Drowning in midterms. Figuring out what I was to do with my life. Typical mid-semester crisis with so many questions. Will I make it into PA school? Will I get married before I leave BYU? If so, where will I go to school? Where will I live? Why can’t I get a job? How will I plan my schedule next semester? How can I plan it and still have time to get a job? Will I even have time to work? What if I don’t get the grades I want this semester? etc.
As a friend lovingly reminded me, there is only so much we have in our control. The rest we leave to God to help us figure out. I’m a planner. I’m a doer. The idea that there are things I cannot do and plan sometimes drives me a little crazy.
But I love the comfort that comes when we can finally just let go and hand it over to God.
Sometimes the Lord tries us and doesn’t give us the big picture all the time. This tries our patience and our faith, as stated in Mosiah 23:21. When we put our trust in him, he will make us stronger to bear the things that worry and burden us. The reality of life and the trial may not go away, but we have an increased capacity to be able to do it all. Knowing this, it is a lot easier to say, look, “I can’t do everything by myself, but I am willing to allow thee to help me to get it done the way thou would have me do it.”
When we do this we see that the Lord “[hushes] our fears” to the point where the things that once so easily beset us now are burdens we so easily carry.
I loved what we talked about this week in our Book of Mormon class. We discussed the different roles of fathers that we have in our lives. Given that the definition of father is “one who gives life”, we discovered that we have multiple fathers throughout our existence. Of course we have our Heavenly Father and our Earthly Father, who are the fathers of our spirits and our bodies. There are some interesting scriptures that also refers to Christ as a father to us. In Isaiah, he is referred to as the “Everlasting Father”. In Mosiah 5:7, it reads that “because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and is daughters; for behold this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are hanged through faith on his name; therefore ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters”.
This doctrine can appear strange at first, because we are so used to hearing that Christ is our brother, and while that is true, when we understand how Christ is also our Father, our relationships with all of our fathers becomes heightened and sweetened. Because of the covenants we make, such as baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and other ordinances we receive in the temple, we enter into His order, and become members of His fold. He is the father of our spiritual rebirth.
With these ordinances, we are permitted to enter into the presence of God one day, and live with our family members, both physical and spiritual, for all of eternity. If we don’t accept Christ as our father, and without those covenants, our relationships with our Heavenly Father and earthly father are diminished.
What stuck out to me more, was the idea of our mothers as well. We know we have a Heavenly Mother and and earthly mother, but who is the mother in the rebirth with Christ? In the Bible it compares Christ to the bridegroom and the church as his bride. It is a beautiful symbolism when you think of the nurturing, guiding, counseling, loving nature that is associated with both mothers and a church. Embracing our parents (symbolically, of course) in this way, will help us along the path that will lead us to eternal life with all of our family members. To me this just goes to show on how important the family is to God, and how it is the most basic and fundamental unit that can exist and was created.