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:
"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.
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...
"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 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.