Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Inspiration Saved Me

Yesterday I got in to a car accident...on my way to the doctor. I've only shared this news with family and very few friends so far. I am sore where my seatbelt was and have more emotional scars than anything.

But yesterday as it happened and I saw them coming and something decided to speed up (and honk I think) to try and let them clear me and get into the lane behind me and during the impact and for the moment I was pushed into oncoming traffic and corrected and then stopped and when we pulled over to the side. It felt like it didn't really happen. The sound of the car crushing in the back door or the fear of seeing a car coming at me as I corrected and controlled the car to be safe again...all those feelings and sounds are echoing in my head.

While I was talking to a friend and relaying the details I realized that it was a prompting to speed up. That if I would have stayed at the same speed and assumed they would see me or something...they would have hit my car door and I would have been more injured or something. My door would have been dented in and who knows what would have happened. But I realized in that moment that the desire to speed up was one to save me. I think I knew they would either hit the car or end up in the lane behind me. Things could have been so much worse. I am grateful just the car was damaged, soreness and whatever bruising will go away with time.

I am grateful for a new friend who has been encouraging me to act in faith on things from the Lord. I know his words influenced for good as well in this situation though they were not consciously brought to mind at the time.

Anyway, the point is that part of my summer lessons have been to trust Heavenly Father more and act on promptings. There may be some that I am still having trouble with. But this one when the feeling came I acted. No questions.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kindness?

"Thank you for calling Enterprise Customer Care, my name is Katie. May I have your name please?" We've all heard it before, from countless companies, over the phone or in person, I just never anticipated being one of the voices that gets yelled at...almost constantly. A year or so ago I told myself I would be kind and courteous after witnessing someone lose it with a customer service rep. I didn't want to be one of those people.

I feel like I can write this now since my last day for the summer is next Wednesday. Since working here I have experienced some of the nicest people and learned a lot about being direct, brave in making comments and quoting people policy that they may not like. But I have grown. However, since working here I have experienced some of the meanest and most unkind people in their words and behaviors to me, a stranger. People are so interesting. When you take away the personal connection of a face, people tend to say whatever they want. Where is the kindness? Courtesty? Respect?

Over the past few weeks I have grown accustomed to the meanness and terrible people, how they treat me and how I shake it off later. It still makes me so anxious but unfortunately some people can just be so mean when their emotions are raised and they feel they have been wronged. I feel bad for some of these people but...word to everyone reading this: just because you call a 1-800 number does not mean they know everything. Or that they have authority. Or that they aren't people too with lives and heartache and real life problems.

I have made my peace with this experience. It seems like everyone I talk to has had some call center experience. Maybe its a right of passage for some souls? What prompted this post is a conversation I overheard yesterday of a few colleagues. They were walking out for the day and one said, "Does anyone else listen to self-affirmation  CDs on their way home, or is that just me?" They all laughed but there was so much truth, some hurt and some pain to it. I have seen more grown people with tears in their eyes while working here than anywhere in my life.

Next time you call a 1-800 number, please remember they are people too who feel and have needs. They deserve as much kindness and respect as you do.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Moments of Purity!

I was texting with my dear friend's daughter tonight (who is also a dear friend :)) while I was at work. She was telling me how the missionaries came over to their house for dinner tonight! We were chatting about each of the Elders and how nice they both are and I just asked her, well how was it? And she said it was amazing! Or more correctly "...ah-MAY-zing!" That was a moment of such great purity for me.

The Light of Christ that people possess has the ability to testify of familiarity of truth. The Holy Ghost provides the constant companionship which testifies of truth and prompts and provides direction from Heavenly Father. The power of the Priesthood that comes through ordinations that worthy males receive has the ability to provide protection and add light to the Spirit a person possesses.

My friend's daughter didn't explain it all to me, she said she would tomorrow night. But that one word of "ah-MAY-zing" had the ability to testify so much truth to me during a pretty hard day. Her sincerity provided me with affirmation that the gospel is true. That Jesus Christ lives! That the companionship of the Holy Ghost is worth every sacrifice of unworthy vices and every sacrifice to remain righteous. That missions are amazing! That a missionary has the ability to provide and add so much to a person's testimony by just being a righteous example and being in someone's home. Nothing formal has to be taught. Friendships can be made and the teaching is there. That the priesthood brings SO many untold blessings into the lives of those who allow their hearts to be open!

I am so grateful for missionaries and I am so grateful for the four wonderful Elders that the Lord has blessed the Alton/Jerseyville area with at this time. They are wonderful, wonderful young men.

OH MY SOUL DELIGHTS  IN THAT MOMENT OF PURITY!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Trust

This is such a surprising topic that came up this past week but after some things have finally calmed down I can really, really see so much in my life.

I have trusted so many people through the years. Maybe I gave it away too freely when I was younger. Trust is something to be earned, really earned and worked for. Maybe I trust because of the amount of people I felt like I lost while growing up because of being Mormon or overweight or who knows anymore. I just remember those two over and over again. I came to a point where I would not trust anyone with anything. Less pain, right?

It takes me a long, long time to trust people and when I open up...its huge! And when I open up, I expect a person as loyal and fierce as I will be for them!

But this past year I have been trying to find a balance of disclosure, trust and just when to be the "I'll tell you what you want to hear" person. This past Sunday was hard...mostly residual from the past week all leaking out at church which I hate bc people ask questions. Needless to say I thought, sure, why not. You've been getting to know this person slowly over the past year and a half off and on. Why not? Oh my goodness the conversation was great in the hardest way possible at moments. But I have  a tremendous amount of respect for a person who can be that straight up with me to my face even though it still today was a little eh to my soul.

Long story short. I am just trying to find the balance of trust in my life. Am I still offering it too soon? Am I too guarded? I have been burned too many times in too many ways that I am pretty sure I will keep a guard wall until...I don't know.

How and who do you trust? When do you open up?

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Transformative Power of the Atonement

This lesson keeps coming back into my life over and over in the most amazing and profound ways.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there can be a lot of stigma around certain things...sin and repentance for example. What is sin? What do you need to repent about? What do you need to see a Bishop about or what can you pray about on your own? I have sat down to write this hundreds of times over the past month but I really just wanted to put it in my journal. This is personal and painful, but the Spirit has prompted to share here. I hope there is a purpose in this.

Sin comes in many forms. It can be seen in the deepest parts of your weaknesses, something that you may have justified to be right because you want to do it. But deep down in our souls we know right and wrong. We have all been blessed with the Light of Christ; those members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the gift, privilege and constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. We have this gift so long as we consistently choose righteously. We believe that when we sin, we remove ourselves from the presence of the Spirit and by relationship, the presence of God. However, God is always there to welcome us back. He is there to call to us, to wait in patience and eternal love for us to decide when it is time to return to Him. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world to fulfill the atonement that would allow us to become clean again, as we choose to use it and believe in it. This atonement of Christ has the ability to change our very nature as we let it and consistently choose righteousness.

I have a deep personal testimony of the transformative power of the atonement. I have felt it in my life, I continue to feel it every day as I choose righteous and good things. For years I was trapped by the bonds and chains of addiction. (Addiction to what? I would prefer not to share but if this sounds familiar, reach out to me and we can talk.) It went into every aspect of my life and really changed my nature for the worse. I was a darker and harder person. I lived in secret from my family sharing this only with others who would "accept" it as normal and not wrong. As I grew older the need for it would fade but triggers would come and away I would fall. Spiritually I had gone to a place that was so distant that I didn't know who I was anymore. But, because of the duplicitous life that addiction can have for some of us, my family didn't know, people at church didn't know and neither did friends. I had become a master of lying to those I cared most deeply about. When you are in the sin that doesn't matter, lying was second nature.

I had a few 2x4 moments once I got out of high school. I guess you could say that my brother was my first saving grace. I had been so far in the darkness and double life and lying to myself for so so so long that it didn't seem wrong to me anymore. One night when he returned from his mission we were driving home from institute, he turned to me and said, "I can tell you are struggling. If there is something that you need to talk to the Bishop about, do it. I don't need to know what it is. But know that I love you. Our Father loves you." The next Sunday I went to see the Bishop. There was something in my brother's ability to see through the mask that really stunned me. The next two years were better but still tough. I had gained control over my addiction for months at a time and then a relapse would happen. When I decided to attend BYUI I had been clean for about 6 months and kept good for 97% of the next three years.

It wasn't until March of 2012 that I really had a hard look at my life because when I moved home after graduation it all came crashing down again. I was sitting in a fireside by Elder Bednar here in St. Louis next to a friend I was being reacquainted with and feeling like the biggest hypocrite on the planet. Right after that meeting I made a promise to myself that this time I would reach out to the Bishop again but seek the real, personal growth that is offered by the atonement of Jesus Christ. I knew better, I had three years six months! Numerous spiritual testimonies of truth and 'knowing' but that nature change hadn't occurred yet. I did go to see my Bishop and he responded in love and compassion, something I feel I missed with the previous one years before. This Bishop reached out as a friend and we set out on the road through the Addiction Recover Program set up by the church. For the next five months. They are some of the hardest months I have experienced spiritually and mentally because of the look I had to take at myself, the raw, honest look. That isn't a great thing to do even when you are ready for it, because you are never ready to look at your mistakes.

At the end of ARP, which is never really done, anyone who has worked the Twelve Steps knows it is a life long process, I moved to Boston. I felt such a closeness with my Father in Heaven. I felt this rebirth in so many ways. I still had troubles coping with the emotional fall out of all that happened, but for the first time in a really long time I felt a connection with the Father and my Savior that I had removed myself from. I felt that they had always been there, but they were waiting for me to decide to return to their presence. To decide to work on healing in such a manner that I desire and yearn for their presence.  I felt so much joy and hope!

There is  so much more to this story and the inward transformation I felt and still feel from the atonement. But, there is only so much space in a blog post. :)  The Lord has blessed me with a lot. Though I still struggle with some effects that have remained for now from years previous of addiction, the Lord is there. As the desires of my heart and soul remain focused on righteous desires, as preparing for a mission or marriage down the road and remaining worthy to attend the temple and consistently choosing good, the Lord is there! So excited and proud of the distance I have traveled in such a short time. With the Lord all things are possible, I so strongly and solemnly testify of that.

A belief in Jesus Christ has the ability to save lives, but I know with all my heart and soul that the gospel of Jesus Christ, as restored to this earth by the Prophet Joseph Smith from the days that Christ was on the earth, is the way unto salvation. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church on the earth today. I know it.

One gem I found from scripture study tonight. Alma 24:30 "And thus we can plainly discern that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things."

The Lord loves us all so much. He is just waiting for us to decide to return to Him and seek Him! It is never too late to return to Him. 

*please be kind if you disagree or have contrary comments. I welcome discussion, but with something this personal...please handle with care.