Sunday, May 3, 2015

I am weak. When will I be strong?

I've been thinking a lot about my weaknesses lately. I'm reading this book Weakness is not sin, today I read " the whole point of weakness [...] is to teach us humility and charity".

I felt very hopeless when I read that. I know it, it's in the scriptures, and yet it came to me different today.

I know my mental illnesses are weaknesses, not sins, I know that. But lately I've felt so lost when trying to find my way out of the darkness that comes with mental illness. I keep pondering how sin is straightforward, the way to relief and peace is repentance. It's laid out, and while it's not an easy process it is clear. But with weakness, there's no set way to overcome them- and it may not even be in our life that we will, perhaps at times we have to simply learn to live with them. And yet, that makes my heart ache.

When I read about how weaknesses are the way to learning humility and charity my immediate thought was, "am I failing at that too?"

I was so overwhelmed with the feeling that if I were learning humility and charity, if a small portion of my heart had already started to succeed with ose two Christ-like qualities, would I still be going through this crippling pain of mental illness?

For a moment I definitly equated my lack of mental health to how good of a desciple I am becoming.

I told a friend about this sorrow and feelings of failure I was having, if they were true. Their reply "I think these weaknesses are here to glorify God."

He lead me to St.  John 9:1-3

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

My heart calmed.

This is not my fault, nor my parents, or for any other reason than being a mortal in this imperfect world. The severity of my mental illness, the confusion and sadness that comes is not my fault or my own doing. My ability to love, have compassion and serve is not linked to my inability to feel happy at all times or cope with anxiety and bipolar.

I know I'll forget this truth from time to time. I am grateful for these verses. That sometimes our weaknesses hurt and delay our ability to see the hope in our lives. Yet the simple act of enduring these weaknesses manifest to the world that Christ's peace is real. That perhaps the way He needs me as His tool right now is to endure this period of trial and weakness, to be a testimony that it is possible.

I want to give away all my sins to know God (Alma 22), and I will most certainly try to endure my weaknesses that another may come to know Him too.

Maybe it's not a matter of when will I become strong, but how are my weaknesses manifesting His strength today?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Testimony Check

To be honest, for the first time in my LDS life, my testimony has been pretty weak. Over the past few months or so I noticed that my faith in my ability to endure was kind of ... gone. I was exhausted, sad, and quite confused. My days were far more than college worries. So much was on my mind and weighing my heart down and my body just couldn't keep up- and unfortunately I think that's when my spirit gave up a little too. Well, really I gave up on my spirit.

My body was hurting and some weird health things were happening. For example- I don't remember more than a few days of November. I don't know where it went. A friend even showed me a picture of something we did in November and I had no recollection of it at all. weird. Anywho, I was also struggling in school with my physical pains and mental lack of focus. I had some amazing teachers that cared for me far beyond a grade. I did pretty good surprisingly by the end of the semester.

The days were hard, sad, and long. One day I had driven somewhere to pay a bill and when I got back in my car my phone rang. I sat there and had a long conversation with a sibling that brought on tears for hours and hours. I just stared at the field in front of me and no longer knew what to do.

In my little life, I've learned that you don't give up on relationships and people. You fight, even if it exhausts you, you love until you're so tired only His love can propel you forward. Each individual has their own story and heart only He knows, that reality hit me recently.

I lost sight of the beauty and light of my spirit when I looked too deeply into my life at the moment and forgot how far I've come. How far He's brought me.

My heart hurts- a lot. There are things I want so badly to be as they were, but I can see and feel that they won't get to be. That is okay. It stinks, but it's okay.

I got to the point where I thought I allowed  giving up many of my hopes and dreams for my family and self and I didn't know how to endure giving up any more. I didn't know how to have faith through seeing or feeling anymore sorrow.   

 One day, a while ago, I was reading in Doctrine and Covenants 127 and verse 2 really touched me:

 "And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it."
 
 

I'm so grateful for the scriptures and for the examples of many who do endure and who truly and beautifully glory in their tribulations, I hope to be like them. I know sorrow is meant to be felt, without it we wouldn't know how perfect God's plan is.
 
Christ really does know me, and He knows every person I love too. He knows their hearts and He doesn't want them to be consumed in sorrow or anger. His heart must hurt so much for them, for you and for me. I know that our Heavenly Father and Savior feel our pain and joy and they don't enjoy watching us suffer. But they love us more than we love ourselves or each other. We are so quickly to want to impose on another's agency because it hurts us to watch them make mistakes, suffer, and live in loneliness- but they love us, they trust us, they know that through a tiny little belief we can make it back. I have no doubt that they'll work their hardest to welcome us all home and that the embrace we receive when we return will be instantaneously comforting to our souls.
 
Our growing little plant of a testimony may die a little from time to time, but that seed is still there- wrapped in His love.
 
Doctrine and Covenants 31:2- A promise for all:
"Behold, you have had many afflictions because of your family; nevertheless, I will bless you and your family, yea (...) and the day cometh that they will believe (...)."

Hard...but always happy days are ahead.

 
 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014

'Twas the night before Christmas a year ago when I wrote, He hath made me whole, a post about my hearache of 2013 and yet what I still knew to be true.

I'm so grateful for this past year even though I didn't get to experience it as I wanted to, as a missionary. I've learned more this year about the Lords will and timing than ever before.

There is a lot I could write about this year. It's been full of all sorts of emotions. But I think I'll keep it simple-

I still believe that Jesus Christ is the reason for my peace and hope. I know it's His Atonement that gives me a way to feel whole and my knowledge of who I am to God that keeps me going while I wait to feel at peace.

I know in whom I've trusted, I know who I love most.

I know our spots will fade with faith and repentance, and that we can feel ourselves becoming more like Him.

Families are meant to be together forever...and happy.

We are all loved. Each beautiful individual has their own unique story and life of trials and joy- it's our part to remind each other of the joy. You can feel His love, and you can choose to help others feel it too through you.

Choose love and kindness. It's the only way- because it's His way.

I love you. Merry Christmas.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"He hath made every thing beautiful in his time..."

A few weeks ago when I went to the temple I read in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, I'm slowly beginning to see how this chapter makes sense in my life. :)

Ecclesiastes 3:1 
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"

I do believe this, I know that we have seasons of our lives where we get to experience different things. We get to understand the spectrum of emotions as we learn who we are, who we want to become, and how we can love/serve others along the way.

I've been wondering, what is this season of my life? What's my purpose right now?

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 talks about various times in our lives "...a time to plant (...) and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (...) a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away (...) a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

I don't think any one season of our life is supposed to be filled with just one of these 'times' but instead a blend to help us grow and feel more deeply.

I reviewed some of my conference notes today and I loved something I wrote down under President Uchtdorf's Saturday morning talk, I don't know if it was word for word what he said or just something related but I had "don't judge the degree of another's light" written in my margin. How true is that?!

We are all on our own path and boy I wouldn't want my sometimes dim light right now to influence my potential to shine. We just can't assume we know anyone's story. We're all pressing forward as best we can with our various trials and mortal conditions, and God knows what degree of light we truly hold within us- to me, that's so comforting!

I'm so grateful for this season of my life and that each day provides me with more opportunities to see the light in others and to learn from them! I love my teachers and classes as well as the beautiful ladies I get to serve with in Relief Society :)

I love the translation of verse 11 "He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the eternal in their heart without which man cannot find out the work that God hath done."

I know there is a part in all our hearts no matter how fragile, broken, or full of pride they may be where our eternal nature and purpose is known. I know that part of our heart will guide us back to our Heavenly Father. 

How grateful I am to really and honestly understand that God does love every person and that in his time each soul will be made beautiful. 

I think It's a kind of beauty we don't quite understand right now- less of what we see on the outside and more of what our hearts are made of. 

I know we can see beauty in each person around us, no matter what factors are getting in the way- if we just try. Sometimes for someone to recognize they do have a beautiful heart that has potential to change their not so great behaviors, all they need is a little encouragement and love- some hope. 

As Ecclesiastes 3:14 says "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever [...]"

God made us :) 

So I've got a whole forever to know my purpose, figure out what's next, and accept/learn from what trials come and go. 

I'm just grateful to know that as life goes on my heart is continually being worked on, that each time of mourning and sadness is always replaced by a time of laughter and peace. 

I know that life will be made more bearable, reasons for trials will be made known, and families/individuals will be healed as we come to understand how we are personally being made beautiful in His eyes. 


little addition to our apartment :)
Remember it!






Friday, August 29, 2014

Why are there such things as tears?

I keep my thoughts and emotions silent often, which is a good and bad thing. Good because I don't bother or weigh down others, bad because well, it's important to address how you feel. 

So how do I feel?

That's a question I honestly don't think I know. On the day of a beautiful baptism here in AZ, one of a family I had taught and loved dearly- being surround by missionaries and people I loved this question came to mind.

How do you feel, Hunter?
Are you 'over' your mission ending far too early?
Are you angry that you can't be a missionary?
Are you happy that you get to witness this event?
Do you feel joy that you're reunited with some your greatest friends?
Do you feel whole?
Do you feel healthy?
Do you know where you're going?
and so on...

Since then I have humbly accepted that at this moment I have no idea what my heart feels anymore, but I do know that Christ understands and in time He'll help me to see and make sense of all things.

It's been a beautiful year, I've seen miracles a plenty. (slight Christmas reference, 17 more Fridays ;)
The blessings of this year will forever outweigh the pain and sorrow.

But it's also been a very confusing year. This isn't who I necessarily wanted to be. 

In the past few weeks there have been moments where my heart just felt completely broken. Luckily, I have this beautiful person in my life, Jesus Christ, who somehow seems to always find each piece and put them back together in their own due time. And I don't doubt once I allow Him to put it all back together my heart will be stronger than ever before.

But as I've sat and listened to the words of others, read emails, texts, received calls, etc... I found myself with a long list of problems, mainly reminders of hopes and dreams I once had now  brought down. 

I've said it before but, all I want is to bring my family with me to the Celestial Kingdom, to live with our Father forever. 

But instead I'm ending this summer with a little less hope in that coming to pass in this life. 

Count your blessings Hunter!
 One wonderful thing that throughout this is that I can now take my grandfather and 3 generations back from him to the temple. This will be the very first work done in my family. That in itself is enough to endure. I may not know how to help my 'earthly' family see and feel what I do but I can provide that experience for my ancestors. And if they so choose then boy! I am taking my family with me to the Celestial Kingdom, or they'll be there when I get there :) 

A beautiful quote I read today from Steven R Covey is:
"One of the most important things we can do as parents, teachers, and leaders is to affirm people- to believe in them, see their innate potential and treat them accordingly, to elevate them in their own eyes. Not only should we testify of their true identity, but in many cases we should ignore their inappropriate behavior and simply reassure them of their infinite capacity and potential."


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I've learned this summer...so far

June 7 I left Washington for a new adventure still unsure of the future and still a bit broken from the past.

Now it's nearing mid August and I have found what I lost for a period of time....my personal peace.

What a healing summer it's been. Not easy, but surely worth it.

I have learned that we have to hurt in order for us to become what He needs us to become.

Hurting isn't bad, it stinks and is quite confusing at times- but it is worth so much more than we see it. 

I've learned to love suffering. Not to enjoy it, but to love it. I know that's a weird concept but I promise you if practiced it will bring you peace.

Why do I love suffering?
Well let's turn to the scriptures for a moment (or two :)
1 Peter 4 will forever be dear to me:

vs 12-13

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

Trials are inevitable, necessary, and eternally important for our progression. 

But more than that- through trials I get to be, as these verses put it, a partaker of Christ's suffering. 

What does that mean to you?

To me it means that I, through trials, get to know my Savior more. I get to feel a small fragment of what He did and through acknowledging that I choose to love Him more, I choose to open up my heart more for His peace to come in and comfort me.

I choose to be His friend.

So, I can take the suffering as long as I retain the hope that it strengthens my relationship with Him. It's my part to remember that. 

Vs 8 of the same chapter holds another lesson of this summer for me:

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves(...)"

When I read this verse, what I get from it is that I need to have more charity toward myself as an individual, as a child of God.

I need to love myself.

yikes.

Above all things, love yourself.

I know deep within my heart that as I love myself more I bring myself closer to my Savior and Heavenly Father. And if I can't always do it for me, I can try my very hardest to do it for them. After all I am their creation.

Onward to Jude...

vs 22

"And of some have compassion, making a difference"

next lesson: love.

I was re-reading in my journal one day and in an entry I listed some things I really didn't like about myself...then I simply wrote: 

"But I like my heart."

That is true and it's time I let myself believe it.

My heart is tough yet at the same time it's tender, it feels and loves (sometimes being more sensitive than I'd like it to be), it forgives easily, it is patient, it is kind, it loves God, it yearns to be more like Christ. It's a good heart. 

I've learned this summer that compassion is a quality I hope I have and hope to be able to nurture more. 

Compassion is to suffer with or alongside, 

to bear another's burdens,

to not be quick to judge;

to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

A friend let me borrow this amazing book, The God who weeps, in it I've found so much beauty.

"A loving heart, like an exposed nerve, is by definition susceptible to pain."

But without that pain, how would we know how to love?

"We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love."

true statement. I think we all can agree.

so this comes to another gem I've learned this summer-

I've learned to love the Lord more than anything or any person in my life. Boy was that a hard lesson, but a needed one.

Does this love provide more and sometimes immeasurable amounts of peace? yes. But it also insures me a bit of unwanted yet still accepted suffering.

When we love other people we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and that opens so many doors for joy as well as pain. Often, far too often, we focus on the pain. We define others by what they've done wrong instead of what they've done right. 

Think about it...I bet there is someone in your life that you probably aren't treating as kindly as you ought to because you've chosen to define them. You don't get to define people, no- not even a bit. 

We are defined by who we are, who we choose to be, how we choose to act to/towards God and our Savior. 

In reality that simply makes us each a loved child of God, who may...who will...mess up sometimes. 

I've come to realize that my focus needs to be on how much I love the Lord rather than making sure everyone around me knows I love them (which I hope they do know). But! I've found as I've loved the Lord more fully, without distraction, I love others more. I love even when they're mean, even when they judge me or hurt my heart so much I cry all night. I love them. I love them because I'm letting my love for my Savior define my love for them. I'm reminded of their worth instead of being quick to judge, I see more of their sorrows and understand perhaps why they act certain ways, overall- I'm learning to love my brothers and sisters as the Lord would have me. It's a beautiful lesson that I hope to be going through forever.

As I would say to my cute EFY girls each week-
 Everyone has their story. 

We just need to keep in mind where all of our stories started- with Heavenly Father.

I love this statement made in The God who weeps:

"There could be nothing in this universe, or in any possible universe, more perfectly good, absolutely beautiful, worthy of adoration, and deserving of emulation, than this God of love and kindness and vulnerability. 

That is why a gesture of belief in His direction, a decision to acknowledge His virtues as the paramount qualities of a divided universe, is a response to the best in us, the best and noblest of which the human soul is capable."

I believe! 

I know as we allow our faith to grow- when we believe in our Savior, in our Heavenly Father and all that can be because of them- those are the moments when they know we love them.

I know as Romans 8 puts it (Another one of my favorites I recommend reading, click here.)

Nothing can separate me from the Love of God.
The same goes for you.

I can't even list all the tender mercies, miracles, blessings, love I've received this summer. It has been very apparent to me that the Lord knows me. There was one week that I didn't know was going to be as hard as it was, but the Lord did, and He put someone in my life to make those trials a bit easier to deal with and understand. I was blessed as an EFY counselor to learn from my youth, to be uplifted and loved in ways I didn't know were possible. I'll never forget those beautiful girls and the thoughts/testimonies they shared with me personally and in our group. I've been so surprised by the love and healing I've received since coming to Arizona, it truly is my home. I've had more personal revelation in this past week than in a long time! I've been loved each day, I've been able to experience and witness miracles. I've come to a greater understanding of who I am and God's plan for me. 

No, nothing will ever separate me from the Love of God because I know I am his child. 

I've learned so many more lessons this summer and can't wait to see what else Heavenly Father needs me to understand. 



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Two or so weeks ago I had a spontaneous and wonderful amount of energy and creativity and I did my best to use it up while I had it. A few things I created during that time were:

A 'study' binder for two YW in my home ward that I'm attempting to help learn the missionary lessons, I'm pretty sure they're already amazing and don't need my help. 







I also made a Christlike attributes page, hopefully some good advice in there somewhere!

And then to the most awesome and possibly happiest project I've ever done-

So pretty much I know this extraordinary missionary that deserved a package full of love, she's just too great! And while I was staring at the package to decorate it a thought came into mind- a box has 4 sides and there are 4 missionary lessons! plus a side for a BOM explanation and address label, perfect!

It's not in order, but enjoy!










my favorite :)







keep the commandments, say what?!


Happy Day, it was lots of fun!