Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Miraculous Change - Part 1

My life has taken a miraculous turn. I will post these changes throughout the weekend. I first want to post an article I was asked to write for a friends Relief Society newsletter. It puts in a nutshell what I have been through. Here is my article.

The Road Back to a Growing Testimony

I’ve always had a testimony. That was never the question. What I didn’t realize is that if I didn’t keep it growing by doing, and by sharing, it would end up hidden on the back of a shelf somewhere. So over the course of 21 years my testimony found its way on a shelf collecting dust. I had chosen a harder road to travel in life (not on purpose) and the consequences became more than I could handle. It started out slow; I went from going to all my church meetings to going to sacrament meeting on Sunday and then going home. Then I started to miss a Sunday here and there altogether. I stopped going to the church activities and interacting with the sisters in the ward. I’d tell myself I was ok because I had a testimony…I was just semi -inactive. Then I began to feel inadequate and not worthy of receiving the blessings that the gospel and church membership brings. All of those blessings were for those better than me. It even got to the point where I stopped praying because I felt I wasn’t anyone worth listening to, so why would Heavenly Father? I stopped believing that I was redeemable. I had gotten myself into this mess and felt like I had to get myself out of it…alone. I didn’t know where to start.

The road back started with simple conversations with someone who I consider a spiritual giant. He taught me how to pray again. He taught me how to pray ‘Real’. So I started working on that. It felt strange at first. I wondered how Heavenly Father could listen to me. But as time went by I started to feel different. I started listening and I found myself praying all the time. I knew I needed to do more and that I needed to be in a place where I could do more, but where? The Lord answered that prayer too, sending me nearly 1000 miles from my two sons & friends back to where I grew up…Minnesota. I went home to Minnesota not knowing what was in store for me. But the Lord knew. He knew I needed reestablishment with long ago church friends. He knew I needed to start building relationships in a new ward. He knew that I needed to realize that, YES, I was someone of importance, YES, I was worth loving and, YES, I was worth saving. He also knew that this new road I was taking was not going to be easy. Going through a divorce is hard enough, but to lose my employment too….well, blessings do come in strange packages sometimes! I’m learning to rely on the strength my Heavenly Father gives me. I’m learning to ask for the things I need and to realize that if its right…it will be granted. I’m learning to do things the Lord’s way and not my way. I worked to get my temple recommend renewed and have enjoyed going to the temple quite a bit. In fact, I’m quite drawn to it. I find peace inside those temple walls. I’m finding that I read the scriptures more often. I have started devouring church magazines and church books. There are two sentences in a particular book, Believing Christ written by Stephen E. Robinson, that really stood out for me. He said,

“Not only must we believe that he is who he says he is, we must also believe that he can do what he says he can do. We must not only believe in Christ, we must also believe Christ when he says he can clean us up and make us celestial.”

Alma 32: 33-37 talks about planting a seed:

33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?
36 Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.

What was happening to me? I’ll happily tell you, I started believing Christ and was finding my spiritual self again. That person who I used to be so long ago was returning. I have found that seed and replanted it. I water it daily and watch it grow stronger & stronger. I have learned that I can’t take for granted that I have a testimony, I have to work at it daily. I do know that I am a daughter of God; that He loves me and wants me to succeed. I have learned that YES I am someone of importance, YES, I am worth loving and, YES, I am worth saving.

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