A Gospel of Abundance

One thing I love about being LDS and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ as best I can is the feeling of abundance.

That is the contrast of how the world wants us to feel. I'm sure many of us feel like we're living in scarcity. For example, how many of us feel as though we don't get enough sleep? Or we don't have enough time, we don't have enough energy, or we aren't good enough, or we haven't traveled enough, etc.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ provides the opposite feeling.

When we are baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Here are a few of the blessings promised:

  • If we are worthy, the Lord promises to pour out His Spirit upon us.
  • We receive the right or privilege to enjoy the continual companionship of the Holy Ghost. We can receive inspiration, divine manifestations, spiritual gifts, and direction from the Holy Ghost continually
  • The Lord promises that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.
(For more information, go here.)

I love the words used: pour out, continually, always. 

Words of abundance. 

Not only are we promised an abundance of the Spirit, but we also have an abundance of help and guidance on our journey to feeling an abundance of joy:
The only things we are limited to, as members of the LDS Church, is the fact that we can only take the sacrament once a week.

So, if you're not feeling that you are living in abundance, that's okay. It will come (and come, and come, and come).

Here are a few things that I did that have really helped me recognize abundance in my life:
  • First, I had to stop falling into the trap of scarcity. Scarcity, for the most part isn't real, it's a mindset.
  • Then I listened to this talk over and over.
  • And then I reviewed this talk
For me, it was the perfect place to start. 

Always remember that you are meant to feel love in abundance, hope in abundance, faith in abundance, the Spirit in abundance, and joy in abundance. 

I'd love to hear your journey to feeling a life of abundance!


 

The Purpose of Pain

A beautiful post by Miranda

I recently had my own “coming out”. I decided to share with the world my deepest secret: I was sexually abused as a child. There were many things that contributed to finally writing that blog post, but the biggest one is that I wanted to share with others that healing is possible, that pain can have a purpose.

Here is a portion of what I shared on my blog:
“Despite the awfulness of it all, [I have learned that] God was with me in it then and He is with me in it now. It would be easy to rage at God--and I have to admit that I have from time to time--that He didn’t rescue me, spare me. The how could you and why didn’t you questions have stormed my mind frequently and, for today, I have made peace with them, knowing that God does not allow us to experience pain in vain.”

What is all the pain and suffering for then, if it is not in vain? “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. …” (Orson F. Whitney)

Each of us is bound tight in darkness at one point or another in our lives. Trapped in a cocoon that threatens to suffocate us. A place so lonely, it's crowded with our blackest fears. Surrounded by a wall that keeps us from connecting with others. A place that hurts, causes every inch of us to scream in pain. And we sit there, paralyzed by it all, wondering why. Why doesn't God save me? Can't He see me here? What did I do to deserve this?

We are blinded by the void. We are so focused on the pain, the fear, the barrier we just know is going to crush us, that we cannot comprehend how we are changing: developing muscles we didn't have before, changing inside and out, growing wings. Our very nature is evolving into something graceful and elegant and breathtakingly beautiful, we are being glorified and we don't even realize it. And when we can't take it anymore, we begin to fight. We push and shove and bend and move anyway we can, attempting the impossible. We claw our way out of the darkness, feeding off an energy we didn't know we had. We're sure we'll die for trying, but we don't. We push through the pain. We call out for help, "Please give me the strength I need to get through this, Lord."

And He does.

We break through, our wings and muscles taut, begging to take off. So we do. We jump head first and soar.

That breathtaking moment of lift-off when we begin to fly, that is why God doesn't save us all from our suffering.

“[Furthermore,]” Howard W. Hunter reminds us, “the Father’s plan for proving [and refining] his children did not exempt the Savior himself. The suffering he undertook to endure, and which he did endure, equaled the combined suffering of all men [and women everywhere. Trembling and bleeding and wishing to shrink from the cup, he [finished the work and will of the Father.]”

Another thought from my original post:
“I think often that we assume that because Christ’s sacrifice and atonement can heal all things, that God will heal all things. Often, we (read I) become very grumpy when He doesn’t. However, I’ve learned over the years, that it’s okay that He doesn’t heal everything. Also, that, in fact, it’s best for me and my progression that He doesn’t erase it all, and, certainly, not all at once. It's taken me thirty-five years to be able to face the pain, I can't expect it to be gone overnight. We all, no matter what has caused us pain, occasionally experience echoes of that pain. Phantom pains, indeed. Even Christ still carries His scars.”

Sometimes, we allow ourselves to be lulled into the false illusion that if we are faithful to Christ and His gospel we will be spared from pain and affliction. However, we must realize that suffering is not conditional. In fact, as disciples of Christ, we should expect to suffer. All the scriptures and prophets have taught us such.

“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:23-24) Strait is defined as, “a position of difficulty, distress or need; strict, requiring principles.” (Dictionary.com) Therefore, not only should be expect pain and tribulation, but we should submit to the process of overcoming it.

Also, Paul said, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” (2 Corinthians 1:5-7)

I love this quote by Carlfred Broderick that perfectly sums all that I have learned to be true: “The gospel of Jesus Christ is not insurance against pain. It is resource in the event of pain.”

We must process our pain through the filter of the Gospel of Christ for it to have purpose in our lives. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh said years after the kidnapping and death of her baby, “I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” (Time, 5 Feb. 1973, p. 35)

I have been able to develop more patience and long-suffering in my trials and afflictions by learning to rely on the Lord and give it all to Him. It is through earnest and sincere prayer, honest study of God’s word, and submission through fasting that we can come to comprehend the purpose of our pain and allow it to transform us. Christ can heal us, little by little, if we will let Him.

An old proverb states: “Every flower and every tree must grow through the dirt.” So I have chosen to push through the dirt, and, from time to time, when I remember to, I glory in the dirt.  For it is in the back-breaking labor of pushing and digging that I gain my strength.  It is in the darkness, suffocating and alone, that I slough off the hard shell I've allowed to encase my heart, and, once my inner softness is exposed, I furrow deep with my roots looking for the Wellspring of Life.  It is the darkness that propels me upward, forcing me to claw my way up and out toward Everlasting Light.

It brings to mind these words: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1 Peter 1:23) To be born again in Christ.  Maybe that's what trials are: continual opportunities for burial and rebirth, each time increasing our faith, our strength, our patience and our fortitude as we dig our way back to the surface, seeking the Son.

To conclude: “So I am willing to remain vulnerable to those painful realities that inevitably come with facing the truth about myself, with learning, with growing, with loving, and with trying to be faithful. Pain of that kind helps me remember that I am in contact with life as it was meant to be experienced, thus preparing me more fully for that appointed reunion with those who sent me here—when, at last, my joy may be full.” (Bruce C. Hafen)

Sharing the Gospel Online

by Jess

I was asked to give a thought at a missionary night in my ward. It was a Relief Society activity where people shared about their missions and then made a dish from the area. My personal favorite was the girl who served in the Provo Utah Mission brought Jello.

It was a well attended, fun evening. All those who attended were touched by the sister who joined the church and then soon after went on a mission. She said in all of those she taught, she saw herself. She saw people who were skeptical, but over time their hearts were softened. She saw so many miracles, she even started thinking that one day, her own family might even join. She testified that God is working on each of us. He has a path for each of us and that we just need to look for His hand and we will see it.

For the thought before the activity, I was very honest in saying that I am really bad at missionary work. I'm terrible at opening my mouth. When I fly, I have my headphones in the entire time. I know it's bad, but I'm fairly shy and so it's just hard for me to do.

However, I love to share my testimony online. I love reading talks and finding little quotes that touch on something I've been thinking about and posting it as my status on Facebook. For a couple of years now, this blog has existed and I've heard little stories of posts touching someone's heart. And that makes me so happy.

One of the most amazing things about sharing the Gospel online, in my opinion, is the fulfillment of the scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 4: "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;"

I've thought about this scripture for years and now see how it applies better to my life. There are so many different ways of sharing this truth that so many of us love. And sharing it online fits my personality best.

For me, I want to make sure that those closest to me know that I believe in a God who knows us and loves us. In His Son who provided the greatest gift that applies to our lives in the biggest way and the smallest way.

I'm inspired by Abish in the Book of Mormon. When she saw the hand of God, she supposed "that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people."

That's what we can do. Look for the hand of God and do our best to run from house to house (or computer to computer) to share what we know and what we've seen.

My Prayer Experiment

Do you ever feel like your prayers aren't being answered? And this leads you to think that maybe your prayers aren't even being heard?

I've definitely felt like this. And I didn't like it. Mostly because I felt like I couldn't testify that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.

One night I was praying and I thought, "What's the point, my prayers aren't being answered anyway."

Then I felt my mind expand. I felt Heavenly Father say to me, "You pray for really big things that I can answer one day, but not today. Test me on some small things."

And I understood the prompting. My prayers at the time were solely focused on these things:

  1. Help with selling my house
  2. Where should I move when my house does sell
  3. That I will get married
  4. Help so and so heal from a life-long illness, etc.

Absolutely we should be praying for big things, but big things don't get answered everyday in our lives.

So this is what I did and I'll share with you my result.

I prayed for help in waking up a little earlier in the morning. I prayed for a small impression to help me know how to help a girl I visit taught. And I prayed that someone would invite me to attend the temple with them since I was having a hard time finding motivation to go.

The NEXT DAY each of these things were answered. Every. single. one.

A friend who lives out of town texted me the next morning saying she missed the Logan Temple and asked if I would go with her if she came down to do a session.

I was stunned.

I've tried this time experiment time and time again and it has worked every time.

While praying for big things also pray for little things.

I know God hears and answers our prayers.

A Quick Parable and A Change of Heart

There has been a story that has been on my mind a lot lately. It's not the easiest story to tell because it involves a mole--blech. Moles are gross to talk about and something that I generally shy away from. But, I feel like it is something that I should share, so here goes.

I was born with a dime-sized, dark mole on my back and one day my doctor recommended that we remove it. While I should have been happy to let this mole go, oddly enough, I was having a little bit of a hard time. I mean, I know moles aren't generally attractive, and they can cause health concerns. But for some reason I felt like the doctor wanted to remove something that was part of my identity.

It's weird to admit that I struggled with this decision for several days. Should I have something that is part of me removed? I was born with it. It's how I am. People would comment about it when we went swimming. Truthfully, I was kind of proud of this mole because it made me unique. I didn't know many others that had a mole on their back.

Hopefully you're seeing how silly I was being about this mole. I was holding so much of my identity in just one little teeeeny tiny part of me.

I finally allowed the doctor to remove my mole. After using the proper tools to remove it, she showed me so that I could have one last goodbye. Once this thing was removed I could see it for what it really was. Something that was concerning to my health, something that was ugly, and the doctor was the person who saw that clearly and had to nudge me towards becoming better.

This story has come to me time and time again when I hold on to certain aspects of myself that I know the Great Physician wants me to remove. It's such a wrestle because I think it's something that is part of my identity. The Spirit then helps me remember what my mole looked like to me after it was removed, when I could see it for what it really was.

We are children of God who have endless possibilities, I would encourage each of us to allow the Spirit to guide you to remove the mole you need to remove. I hope the Spirit can help you see these things for what they really are, not worthy of the person that we are meant to be.

We Cover Holy Things

Modesty seems like such a hot topic lately. Maybe it's because we are approaching summer time when we have to put away our boots and scarves and brave the heat. As many women know, summer does bring its challenges when being modest.

I've seen articles saying that when we talk about modesty to young girls we make them feel like objects. I've heard that girls can dress how they want and it is the guys job to keep his thoughts clean. All of these are interesting points to consider but I think there is a little more to it.

One group of people that I don't see represented in the dialogue are many men and women out there that choose to be modest for their own selves and their relationship with God. I am sure they have come to believe that modesty has nothing to do with anyone else. And everything to do with creating an environment within ourselves where the Holy Spirit can dwell.

Recently I was reading in the book of Numbers, and when the Children of Israel moved their camps, Aaron and his sons were asked very specifically by the Lord to go into the tabernacle and cover the holy items.