It is all about the journey….

Archive for the ‘Mountain Lessons’ Category

Learning From Moroni

I love how life works. I believe if, at our core, we are willing to be taught, there will be lessons in abundance. Most times, however, the lessons that will truly shape us are the ones that are not so obvious in the beginning (and sometimes middle and end). 

Most of the time my life lessons unfold for me when I am on the trail. It is my time away from the world and there is something cathartic about pushing myself physically. There is usually an opening within my heart and soul. Today was no different.

Let me back up a bit.

For the past few months I have been struggling spiritually, mentally and physically. It is as though there have been very specific attacks made on each level. Spiritually I have had more questions about where I stand before God, within my religion and my relationship with Jesus Christ. Mentally the struggles have been with clarity of mind (or the lack thereof), desires to move forward, and the strength to meet the challenges each day presents. Physically presented with sheer exhaustion and lack of strength to accomplish things that have been pretty doable.

The relentless attacks have definitely done a number on me.

Questions within my heart have surfaced. Questions like: what am I doing wrong? am I making so many bad choices that I am left unto myself? what is wrong with me? and am I really strong enough to do this?

Monday night our family was sharing some spiritual discussions, led by my 16 year-old son. He shared two verses of scriptures that he had been pondering and found an incredible tie between the two.

  1. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)
  2. “But behold, to their astonishment, the city of Noah, which had hitherto been a weak place, had now, by the means of Moroni, become strong, yea, even to exceed the strength of the city Ammonihah.” (Alma 49:14)

Moroni is a true hero in my eyes. This man was a spiritual giant, military genius and an overall warrior. His ability to see, prepare, strengthen, and fortify saved a nation.

As I was running on the trail today, my mind was pondering these two verses of scripture. I asked myself how od they relate to me right now? If I could have a sit down chat with Moroni, what would he teach me in this moment?

The answer came.

How did Moroni know that the city of Noah was a weak place? It had been attacked before. Just like this city, there are certain aspects of me that have taken some pretty brutal, specific attacks recently. The more I look at them, the more I want to shed them like a snake sheds its skin. These qualities are not strength, in fact they are weak and ugly, yet they are a part of me at this point in my life.

I needed to be acutely aware of these weaknesses, because, according to the Lord, they are opportunities to come to Him.

I have to be brutally honest here, this is not something that comes natural to the mortal part of me. Overcoming deep weaknesses is terrifying at a certain level. It is scary to give up fear when it feels like a crutch or let my heart open to love when I am not sure I want to. Yet, these weaknesses (and many more that I have discovered) are keeping me from becoming more.

Moroni taught me that in order to strengthen a weakness I have to be aware of it through attacks. He taught me that paying attention to this will allow me to develop strength within myself that I had never imagined I could have. He taught me that diligence and faith are far more powerful than any attack that is launched to bring me down.

Today, I am learning. I am repenting. I am overcoming.

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful Deception

Last week as I was running on the trail, I came around the corner for the first real descent. Every time I come around this corner and look up the canyon, it truly takes my breath away.

This time was no different.

The trees have begun to turn green at their own rate, creating a beautiful emerald canvas. It is truly God’s country.

As I looked on the expanse I noticed that the trees had camoflaged the next hill I run up. If I had not been so familiar with this area, I would have thought that it was one rise instead of a peak and valley. I giggled to myself as I know that this beautiful deception is actually a challenging portion of my run.

Running towards this deceptive place, I began to ponder the many beautiful deceptions in life. Things just like this little rise that are a challenge to overcome, yet incredibly beautiful at the same time.

I thought about the journey we have been on, one of discovery, setbacks, faith, hope, discouragement, love, sadness, loss, happiness and fulfillment. I thought about the countless times I have dropped to my knees pleading for direction when the path was truly obscure. I remembered the times that this darkened path was opened up, in ways that I never would have imagined.

It would be easy to focus on the hardship, pain and feelings of being lost. Yet, this focus would never yield the beauty that is the journey. These perceptions can be very deceiving in that they can blind our minds and lives to the beauty of growth and change. It is only through resistance that we can become strong. Yet, sometimes we fear the very thing that creates newness and power.

I then thought about pain. The pain I feel when I am running up the mountain. The pain I feel when my heart is about to break in response to hurt. The pain I feel when I don’t live up to my potential. The pain I feel when I am pushing through any physical, mental, or spiritual barrier.

Pain is beautifully deceptive, because it teaches us at such a visceral level. It teaches us that there is more after we push through the barriers it establishes. Pain shows us what is truly important to us. It is the great teacher of wisdom, character and power. The beauty comes when we see past the discomfort and inconvenience to witness the greatness that is within.

Heavenly Father is kind, because He allows us to experience these beautiful deceptions. He knows they will bring us closer to Him and develop those God-like attributes that will enable us to do so. He is kind in the ways that He strengthens us to conquer, because each time I do, I know He is there.

 

Fighting Fear and Failure

It is easy to let things that truly help and heal us get away from our lives. It is easy to justify utilizing that time elsewhere.

But in reality what does that get us? 

I have learned that it leaves me with an empty place in my heart.

Honestly I used to write all of the time in my mind. I would see or feel something and immediately create a blog post in my mind. Slowly over time that has begun to fade. Words have not come so easily for me and I miss that ability to share my heart and cleanse my soul.

Yesterday during a counseling phone call with my mom she asked me why I don’t write anymore. I didn’t have a good answer, not even a lame one. In response to this, she called me out and told me how much it would truly bless my life right now.

I have to agree with her (or else I wouldn’t be writing right now).

Over the past few months I have been facing a plethora of weaknesses and failure after failure. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I work at overcoming, they continue to rise up and try to pull me down. At first I felt strong, I felt totally capable of facing these challenges…

Now, not so much.

Each day brings a new set of challenges and failures to face.

And then there is the other thing…

There has been a shift within our life that has shown us changes on the horizon. This shift brings with it its own set of challenges that like to mix and mingle with the ones I struggle with, creating a cocktail of strengthening opportunities. 

So the battle within becomes a question of are my failures and weaknesses a result of something I am not doing or doing wrong…OR…are they are result of this shift?

I have had many chats with Heavenly Father, asking Him what my role in all of this is. What does He need me to do? How do I navigate these tumultuous seas? How do I stop letting people down, especially Him?

The only answer I could come up with came today as I visited my mountain. Because of this continual battling, I have felt a physical depletion. My capacity for exercise has decreased. Yet, I push on.

In my mountain I came across a trail that I have wanted to explore, but have never taken the time. Today I decided I had the time. The trail immediately begins to climb up the mountain, which is after a substantial climb to get to the second level. I identified a ridge I wanted to make it to and pushed toward it. It was as if there was a hand squeezing my lungs and pushing me backwards.

The goal made me push forward.

Keeping my head down, I focused on picking my feet up and putting them down in front of each other. Pushing through the screaming in my calves, the pain in my heart and lungs and the dryness in my mouth, I conquered that hill.

The view was stunning.

And then came the descent…with it came fear. Totally unusual for me, because of all of the time I have spent running trails, this should not be an issue. So I prayed. He answered.

Unfortunately, I could not outrun the fear. I was forced to face it as I climbed to my rock.

I love my rock. It is a place of inspiration, solitude and peace. Looking out from my perch one sees the vast expanse of the canyon. It makes me feel so small, yet significant.

“for God has not given me the spirit of fear….”

As I sat there I found a small level of strength. Just enough to get me through this day.

~This post is dedicated to my amazing mother who challenged me to keep writing as a way to express my heart.

 

What Are You Feeding Your Soul?

My mountain. Some days it takes a little bit more determination to get there, yet every time I step foot in that sanctuary I am blessed with inspiration, healing and renewal.

Today I fought within myself to get there. I completed my lifting and thought, “I’m good. It’s a little chilly outside. I should stay home and get stuff done.” On and on the discussion went in my mind.

Finally I realized that I ALWAYS feel better when I go, even if it hurts when I am there.

Today did not disappoint at all.

I have been doing a lot of research on living a fulfilling life. A life with passion. A life with purpose. There are more times than I like to admit when I struggle with feeling life my life has purpose. These feelings are pervasive and strike frequently when I am feeling a little blue. The aftermath of these strikes leave me feeling less than. Not a place I enjoy.

As I was on the trail today, I was pondering my studies, the moments when I struggle, and the inner reflections I have been participating in.

I have found that when I am outside, in the wide expanse of the mountain, my mind is able to wander to many different places, allowing pieces to fall into place that normally struggle to find a spot.

Two questions came into my mind:

What are you feeding your soul? Are you feeding it passivity or passion?

As I thought about these questions I began to draw a connection between our soul and our bodies. What we feed our bodies largely determines how we feel, how we move, how much energy we have, and how we heal. We are a reflection of what we eat.

Our souls are not any different than our bodies. 

Passivity is like junk food. When we are passive, we are not discovering, creating, building or strengthening. Passivity gives us momentary relief from the grind of daily life or the stresses we are encountering, yet too much of it leaves our minds clouded, our bodies lethargic and are souls empty. There is little to no healing or renewal in passivity.

I have spent a lot of time in that state. I have felt like I didn’t have anything to give. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to move, let alone move forward. My mind could not think clearly. It got to the point that I didn’t know what to do if I had a free moment.

Passion, on the other hand, is manna for the soul. It is full of the nutrients we need to grow, progress, move forward and discover. It is a renewable form of nutrients that give us creativity, energy and strength. We are able to push through the discomfort of stepping out of our safe zones. We are able to problem solve and think outside of the box. Our minds and spirits are clean.

The challenge at times is finding passion within life.

It is not something that can be found by passively. Passion is discovered through movement and searching. It is a deeply personal nutrition, because my passions are mine and yours are yours. It is contagious. Sharing passions allows others to find their own and live.

So today, what are you feeding your soul?

 

My Mountain

It has been far too long.

Each time I set foot in my mountain, I write in my heart.

Unfortunately, that is where my writings have stayed.

I have felt over and over again that I need to record the beautiful lessons I have been taught as I run the trails. Yet, words have not come so easy.

As I sat in Stake Conference this past weekend, one of the speakers shared a poignant, life changing thought. He said that every time he writes down a feeling or thought that comes, that feeling or thought becomes more permanent in his soul.

I want the gifts I have received in my mountain to become more permanent in my soul.

Almost three years ago we moved to the home where we live. It is located right next to the mountains. An amazing friend took me into the mountains and showed me the unique beauty therein. I have never been the same.

In this mountain I have learned that fear is nothing more than the adversary keeping us from our true potential. I have learned that God has not given us this spirit of fear, but of love, power, strength, peace and a sound mind. Time and time again I have leaned upon this knowledge to overcome something that is holding me back.

The mountain has taught me that falling down is scary and exhilarating all at the same time. The day I fell on the trail, I realized that the initial shock of losing control can be quickly followed by a wonderful sensation of freedom, only to be squelched by the rapid onset of rocks and dirt. Getting up from the ground, dusting myself off and finishing my run was a bit empowering. Sometimes we need to fall to understand that we are not defined by a tumble, but by our reaction.

I have learned that some days I conquer the trail with strength and energy and other days the trail conquers me. What matters the most is that I am on the trail. The same holds true in life. Some days there is nothing that I cannot accomplish and other days it is all I can do to get dressed. What matters most is that I am moving forward.

The greatest gift that I have received from the mountain is the unadulterated time I have with Heavenly Father in prayer and pondering. The rhythmic pounding of my feet on the ground allows my mind to relax and find that place of openness and reception. Inspiration has come bringing answers to questions and prayers. Peace has filled my troubled heart. Hope and faith have been restored. Time with Him in the mountain is a treasure.

I am forever grateful for my mountain. I love the way it smells, the beauty it shows me each day I am there and the sounds of the water cascading down. The blessings that I have received there are priceless. I hope to make them more permanent to my soul.

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