I have had some experiences in the last few months that is changing my way of thinking. The underlying theme has been, “See the way God sees, He looks upon the heart.” This perspective has really made an impact for me.
The first experience was a few months ago. We were in interviews and I was talking to a beautiful elder who I love dearly. When he was a district leader, early on in his mission, he was involved in some disobedience along with some other elders. He is a very good young man, but was probably caught up in a situation where he gave into peer pressure or felt afraid and went along with the group. His consequence was he was transferred and was no longer a district leader. The other young men involved later became leaders but up to that point in his mission he had never been given a leadership role again. He wondered why he wasn’t “progressing” and was beating himself up over his past mistake. In the interview he was expressing feelings of, “I made a mistake, I can’t forgive myself, I am not a good person, I hate that I did that, I just can’t get over it, etc.”
As I was listening to him I kept thinking about how great this young man was. He is a very humble person, very loving, very kind, wants to do good, and wants to be helpful. Everyone just loves him. He was trying hard to be strictly obedient, and was trying to not be a follower anymore. Yet he was being very hard on himself about what he had done and not being able to “progress” now because of it. (Missionaries do tend to base their value on the external show of numbers or leadership positions.)
I was wondering what I could possibly say to this young man that I hadn’t already said. He knew we loved him and thought the world of him. He knew he needed to forgive himself. He knew others think he is great. But he needed something that would touch his heart that would make him see differently so he could forgive himself and accept God and others love for him.
I felt these words come into my mind and expressed them to him, “God looks upon the heart. The natural man sees with worldly eyes, but God sees the thoughts and intents of our heart. Look at your heart Elder! If God is looking at that, don’t you think you should be looking at it too? Can you see your good heart? Your desires are so good, you’re so humble. You’ve worked hard even when you were discouraged and tired. You’ve been trying so hard to be obedient. You have such a kind and loving heart. You want to be good so badly. Don’t you think God can see that and knows that? Look at your heart and you’ll see yourself more clearly and understand how God feels about you more accurately.”
He looked so thoughtful, blew out this huge breathe, put his hands over his face and just kind of laughed. He did that a couple of times and then said, “I don’t need to talk anymore Sister Mullen, it’s gone, and I’ve never felt this good before. That’s amazing. I’m ok now.”
I knew God had given him and me a gift. (That is why I love this calling. God gives a lot and makes it good.) He needed to judge himself by his heart. When he looked at his heart it changed everything for him. When he understood that God was looking at his heart, not judging him by the world’s standard, he immediately changed. He saw himself differently. I found it interesting that the next transfer he was put in as a zone leader. Many times when we learn what the Lord wants us to, our situation changes.
The next experience was a few weeks later. This is going to be honest again. I had gone to a yoga class with my son to try to help his back become more flexible and heal. The class was ending and we were lying on our mats breathing. I had gone to the class to be supportive of Jordan; I looked over at him lying on his mat, hoping like a mother would, that he was feeling good. I saw him laying there and wished he wasn’t so short; he’s 5’3’’. What a hard life for a man to be that short. I wished he didn’t have flat feet; it limits him from doing what he wants to do and it’s hard on knees and feet to have no arch. I wished he didn’t have back problems; again it limits him and he is going to be in pain his whole life. I wish he didn’t have asthma and such bad allergies, I wish he didn’t have anxiety; it is all limiting him so much right now. I wish, I wish, I wish. These thoughts all occurred in a split second. And in that same moment the spirit opened up my mind to this thought, “You look at your children threw the worlds eyes; what will be easiest and most successful for them according to the world. You wish for them to have things that would make them popular, liked, successful, comfortable all according to the world’s standard. But God looks on the heart. God sees Jordan’s heart. Don’t measure your children by how the world would see them. If you want to see Jordan the way God sees him, look at his heart.” That enlightenment also happened in a split second. It was a little shocking to me. I realized it was true and I had been measuring my children by the world’s standard for a long time.
In that moment I determined to look and see. I thought of Jordan; who he really is inside. I could see his vulnerability, his desire to do good, be good, and his insecurity and fear. I could see his desire to be loved and accepted. I could also see his excitement for life and love for the outdoors.
I felt my heart change so much. Instead of wishing something different, I felt a deeper more eternal sight come over me. I felt happy and positive for him. I felt calm. I knew this was the right way and all the other external stuff didn’t matter. It was quite a spiritual experience for me.
I hadn’t realized for 25 years that I was looking at my children through the eyes of the world. I think I was sub-consciously asking all the time if they were smart enough, athletic enough, spiritual, cute, accomplished and productive enough. This was a little devastating for me. I didn’t know I was seeing them through the world’s view of what a successful child “looked like”. I wanted them to get good grades, get into BYU, be piano players, make the team, be the leader, etc., always thinking that was what would help them feel successful; being successful in the eyes of the world. In that instant I learned so much. God looks on the heart. I need to look on the heart. They need to look on their heart. I saw something and felt something so different when I did that.
Ok, the third experience. We are ending our mission. I have counseled so many missionaries at the end of their missions about questions they have about doing good enough on their missions. I know all the questions and have given all the answers I could think of: The Lord is pleased, you’ve worked hard, you’ve sacrificed a lot, done a good job, try focusing on the 1,000 things you did do, not the 20 things you didn’t do and-ask the Lord if you’ve done enough and listen to your heart for the answer. So I find it ironic that I’m asking the same questions to myself. I’ve been asking did I do enough, try hard enough, work hard enough, sacrifice enough, love enough, extend myself enough, etc. The other day as I was praying the thought came into my mind, “God looks upon the heart, why don’t you try that.” As I did I felt relief. God understands me and loves me, I am enough for Him and He is pleased.
Interestingly I don’t feel God’s love so profoundly when I look on the outside of me, but I do feel it when I look on the inside. I think it’s because when I look on the outside I am measuring me by the worlds standard, but when I look on my heart I am measuring me by the Lords standard.
God is our loving Heavenly Father. He is grateful and kind about whatever we offer or sacrifice for good. I don’t know that our offering is ever perfect. But he is a grateful God. He looks at our hearts, our righteous desires, our trying, our working, our hopes, our concerns, and our pain. He knows our fears and vulnerability. He sees us clearly because he looks at our heart. I feel I see myself more clearly and with love when I look on my heart. The world would confuse us as to what’s important, needed, and valuable. Satan would distract us and keep us thinking our value comes from our place in the world, measuring ourselves and others by what the world thinks. I thought I had already learned about this, but I am grateful for another layer.
I want to see differently, not as the world sees. I want to be more grateful, positive in my circumstance, firm in my mind, faith filled in the Lords ability to make things right. I have a new vision of seeing myself and others differently. It’s all in the heart. Love you. Thanks for reading.