Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hope changes everything

I remember growing up and having lessons on hope.  I never could get it.  I specifically remember feeling so much frustration that I couldn’t quite get it.  It seemed so obvious to me it was like, DUH, why are we talking about this; people breathe we don’t need to be taught to breathe, why are we being taught about hope?   I think as a child I had so much hope I couldn’t quite understand why we talked about it or what we were suppose to learn about it.  It was such a part of life for me.  It is ironic to me that learning about hope now in my life is probably one of the most profound learning experiences of my life.  Let me explain a little.

I am not really sure where to start.  My purpose in writing this blog is to bring others closer to Christ, by sharing my own experiences of coming closer to Christ myself.  Sometimes when you’re in the midst of a hard trial it’s not very enlightening or edifying to hear someone talk about it!  So I have not felt able to write anything.  I feel so sad that I didn’t write the first 2 years of our mission when we were in a little spiritual bubble, protected from the cares of the world, and felt so filled and full of the spirit constantly. I had so much I could have written about.  It would have been easier and less vulnerable for me.  But I am doing it now so I have to be grateful for what I am doing and not wishing for something else.  But the contrast is HUGE.  Life now feels like we are being hit from all sides and I feel vulnerable and exposed when writing because of all we are going through.  But I still feel compelled to write, so I’ll keep trying.

The reality of life can be hard and painful and it hurts to face trial and pain without the spirit’s healing power, buffering strength or calm assurance.  I have learned so much about how investigators feel, missionary’s feel and God’s children feel when they face things on their own without the power of God being carried by the spirit to help them. 

I think sometimes God carries us and I think sometimes we are allowed to feel the full force of life being thrown at us.  I don’t know if it’s God’s way of teaching us so sometimes he retreats, or if we do it to ourselves by drawing away from Him because of pain and hurt.  I suspect when I am in the middle of it I think God has abandoned me, but when I get humble, repent, and ask God to change my heart, I can see that I allowed fear, doubt, negativity, and pain to take me away from God.  I do know opposition teaches a lot.  You know I love the doctrine of opposition, 2 Nephi 2:  Feeling the difference teaches. 

So I have been having my ups and downs.  Someday I have felt carried and lifted, and some days it hits me and I can’t seem to get past the pain.  I won’t go into a lot of details but it has to do with going home, facing our yard after 3 years of renters, moving, finances, the reality of job hunting when were old, my mom and dad’s health, and Nathan and Jordan’s painful experiences.  Coming out on this mission was a real change of life in every way, but it wasn’t hard, it felt like so much meaning and purpose being led to that point in our lives.  Going home is changing our life in every way, but it feels like it’s more picking up the pieces of our life.  Not quite so meaningful.  We are so happy to re-new relationships with family and friends and that will be a bright spot.

So I tried to make that short, hope that was ok to express.  But now I want to share how the doctrine of hope has changed me and is helping me get past my fear and pain.  I was feeling really strong for about a month, a while ago.  I thought the Lord had gotten me through; I had learned some fantastic things and felt the spirit in my heart confirm that everything would be fine in the end.  Then I let some little negative thinking in, some fear in, some doubt and confusion in.  I found myself at rock bottom almost instantly. It think when you’re kind of fragile any little negative things can pull the rug out from under you.  Like: “I can’t see the way God sees, I can’t see how our prayers were answered, I can’t see blessings, I can’t see how this can turn to our profit and learning”.  These little negative thoughts can open the flood gates. I can’t really express the pain, I just know I had no idea how painful pain could be until this last year of my life.  I feel so much more compassion for others pain now.

Anyway my good and inspired husband wanted to teach the doctrine of hope for MLC at the beginning of the month.  I read the talk he wanted us to teach from.  It was inspiring.  Then I listened to it while I followed along with the words.  It hit my heart powerfully.  We taught it and I was changed completely.  I studied it again the next day and felt even more inspired.  Then I read it again 2 days ago so I could record some of the points in my study journal.  I have never felt more changed by a talk in my life.  I am so grateful for Elder Uchtdorf and his amazing inspiration. 

Also I studied Alma 58:10,11.  And understood faith and hope are gifts that the Lord blesses us when we pray for it.  He can speak peace to our souls and that is what He has done for me.  I feel at peace.  I can quiet my mind and trust my heart that everything will be ok and work out.  Once again I feel He has strengthened me and I feel I can have courage and hope for the future no matter what it is.  Going toward God is always the right answer!

Here are some of the things I learned about hope:
HOPE is an Infinite Power.  Infinite means without limit or boundary.  So hopes power is without limit or boundary.  Hope has the power to change our attitude, outlook, perspective, thoughts, and feelings. Hope works against the natural man inside of us.
Faith overcomes fear, Hope overcomes despair.  We must overcome the temptation to lose hope.  (I have never thought about losing hope as a temptation.  But it is.  It is what the natural man pulls at us to do.)

Hope leads to peace, mercy, rejoicing and gladness.  Hope is the foundation of faith; an anchor to our souls.  Doubt and despair lead to the temptation to lose hope.  Despair binds hearts and minds in darkness.  Despair drains us of vibrance, joy and leaves us empty!  Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul and deadens the heart.  It’s so true, despair kills everything, hope brings life.

Hope encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of Heavenly Father.  Hope is the abiding trust that God will fulfill promises.  It is believing and expecting our prayers to be answered.  It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm and patient perseverance.  I know that is so true.  Hope brings patience to bear afflictions.  Hope brings joy.
No matter how bleak this chapter in our life is, we may hope and be assured the book’s ending will exceed our grandest expectations because of Christ.

Everyone will go through discouragement and difficulty and the darkness can seem unbearable- but divine gospel principles we hope in can uphold us until we walk in the light again.
True hope is centered in: 1. Jesus Christ. 2.  The goodness of God.  3. Manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  4. Knowledge that prayers are heard and answered.  When we don’t have hope in these 4 things life can be filled with darkness and despair.  Hope is a choice!  We can believe and trust in these 4 things, or not.  When we do it changes everything.  That is my testimony.

In times of distress we can hold tightly to the hope that things will “work together for our good.”

Faith, Hope and Charity are like a 3 legged stool.  Disobedience, disappointments and procrastination erode faith.  Hope upholds faith.  (I thought a lot about why he said procrastination erodes hope.  I think it’s because faith leads to hope, hope leads to action, and action leads to personal knowledge and witness of the truthfulness of the thing you had faith in.  It’s like a circle.  Procrastination is inactivity so no witness is gained and hope is distinguished.)

Frustration and impatience challenges charity, but hope braces our resolve and urges us to love without expectation of reward.  The brighter our hope the greater our faith.  The stronger our hope, the purer our charity.

Here is Elder Uchtdorf’s talk in a link.  Listen to it, it is so good.  Print a copy of it and mark it up as you follow along.  There are so many good things in it:

Love You.

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