Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wrapped in the Arms of His Love

It’s been a tough week. In addition to the hormones kicking in (oh, how I love PMS!), we have an awful lot going on right now. Our missionary leaves in a week so there’s that. But I also have some other stuff—stuff that I can’t really do anything about, but I keep worrying about it anyway. I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. As I lay there in bed, I couldn’t keep the fear from stirring around and around in my mind. I watched as my thoughts jumped from this worry to that worry and then back again. I hate that. It feels like this out-of-control merry-go-round. There’s no peace—just worry, stress, and fear fighting for control of my mind. Not a fun way to start the day.

So right there in bed before my feet even hit the floor, I started to pray. Started to beg, really. I know what happens when I get like this. All that crazy worrying follows me around all day and I don’t get a moment of peace. But thankfully I’ve finally learned exactly how to get out of that cycle. It’s only through the strength of the Lord. Only He can pull me out of that mental abyss and bring me to a place of peace and trust. So I took the whole mess and laid it at His feet, believing with Nephi that, “my God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss” (2 Nephi 4:35).

I’ll be honest—as I continued to pray it felt like a tug-of-war for a little while, with my thoughts trying to pull me back to the stress and my heart trying to pull me toward the Lord. But finally, the peace came. I immediately felt my mind settle down and the Lord’s love began to encircle my heart and calm my thoughts. It was a beautiful moment and it reminded me again why the gospel of Jesus Christ means so much to me.

Tell me: where else in the world can we find such all-consuming, all-encompassing love? Where else? It brings to mind another verse from Nephi: “the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. . . .Yea, and the most joyous to the soul” (1 Nephi 11:21-23).  I can definitely testify of that today. I tasted His love for myself this morning and it made my heart soar with love for Him in return. It was personal and intimate and soul-filling . . . and it made me want to stay in that beautiful place for the rest of the day. So rather than devoting my mind to worrying about things I can’t change, I’m dedicating it to my precious Redeemer and to living each moment wrapped in His priceless, unfailing love.

(After going through the temple with Kimball. He leaves for the Las Vegas mission on August 5th.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Confessions of a People Pleaser

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a people pleaser. And I made no apologies about it. I truly believed that’s just the way I was. Even as a child, I had a really hard time saying anything that would cause conflict or confrontation. Even the thought doing so would completely paralyze me. After I got married, my husband (who has no problem expressing his opinion) would coax me again and again to speak my mind rather than hiding my feelings behind an artificial smile. But I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t even sure why. I just said it wasn’t my personality style. That I was just too nice. I had no idea that my people pleasing went much deeper than that. And I finally came face to face with it one day when I was studying the scriptures.

Here’s the verse that hit me like a ton of bricks:

“But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them” (D&C 60:2).

Suddenly I saw that my people pleasing wasn’t a result of being too nice at all. Underneath it all hid a pretty compelling “fear of man.” In short, I really wanted people to like me. I desperately wanted to be admired and respected. So I made sure to never say anything that would offend or turn someone off. I smiled or nodded or laughed even though inside I was feeling completely the opposite. And I think the Lord had finally had enough. He didn’t stop with the above verse either, but sent me to scripture after scripture to show me the “fear of man” and its implications in our lives. It didn’t take long to see that it fit my personality perfectly (see 1 Samuel 15:24, Ezekiel 2:6, John 12:43, Galatians 1:10, and 1 Thess. 2:4 for just a few).

Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back. I found this in President Ezra Taft Benson’s classic talk “Beware of Pride”:

The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment (See D&C 3:6-7; D&C 30:1-2; D&C 60:2). “What will men think of me?” weighs heavier than “What will God think of me?” . . .  
    Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love “the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest. Jesus said He did “always those things” that pleased God (John 8:29).

With that, I knew I didn’t want to be a people pleaser anymore. I didn’t want to be paralyzed by a fear of offending others. I wanted to be able to speak my mind when the Lord needed me to….without fear and without hesitation. It’s a journey I’ve been on for the last several years. Though it’s been a challenge to learn to break this habit and trust the Lord in stressful situations, I’m finally learning to do just that. Through His grace, I can finally say I’m not paralyzed anymore. I’m slowly learning that the Lord keeps His word when He says, “open your mouths and they shall be filled (D&C 33:8). It’s actually been a really liberating experience.

I say all this because we’ve entered a new day where traditional Christian values are being challenged on every side. And it’s not enough anymore to do what I always did and let the bold ones (like my husband) do all the talking. We all must take part if we’re going to make a difference.  I got all fired up about this after reading the article linked below. Give it a whirl and see if it doesn’t inspire you to set aside your fears and join me in opening our mouths in defense of what we believe: