It is all about the journey….

Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ 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.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

 

Forward Is Moving

There are days on the trail that are more educational than others. Today happened to be one of those days. Due to a series of events, I got off to a really late start to my run. Thankfully, because I waited, the sun decided to emerge and warm everything up. It is not every November 14th that I get to run in a t-shirt. I will take these days as long as I have them, because I know they are short-lived.

There is a place in the run that, no matter how many times I run it, the incline is almost too much. By the time I reach the top of the Clay Pit, my lungs are on fire and my legs feel like lead. Every day I push myself 5 to 10 steps further than the day before. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don’t.

For a long time it would frustrate me that I didn’t seem to be making gains in my strength and endurance on this particular portion of the trail. I would think to myself so many negative thoughts that would definitely increase the incline and difficulty of the next hill to conquer.

I realized that all of this focus on gains, strength and negativity was ultimately drawing much-needed energy and enjoyment. It is this way in life too… the more I focus on gains, power and allow negative thoughts to rule my mind and spirit, the less energy and desire I have to reach outward and lift others. I have learned that where I focus my energy will determine if it is renewed or stolen.

Living in a world that has a great tendency to look for weakness and exploit it makes it easy to give space to the negative energy-sapping sources. Stepping out of this world and allowing Jesus Christ to create within us the person He knows we are meant to be is challenging, yet very rewarding. His ultimate goal is to give us the strength, path and means necessary to change and become.

On one particular place I found myself struggling to keep moving forward. It is truly a mental battle that strengthens me each time I step foot in the mountain. All of the sudden, the sound I have given to my son’s texts chimed on my phone. Normally I don’t stop to check them, but this time I did.

“Love you too!!!”

The mere fact that my beautiful 16 year-old boy would take time out of his day to tell me he loves me melted my heart. He does this often. He is a gift. Those three words boosted my energy, giving me the strength to finish the climb I was undertaking.

Another climb was daunting and challenging me…my daughter’s text chime rang through.

“Hi!!”

My sweet girl randomly will text me during the day to say Hi. She too is a gift from Heavenly Father. Our conversations are generally short (except when she doesn’t feel good), but very sweet. Once again I was given what I needed to climb.

I realized that Heavenly Father has given us so many people to give us the energy we need to make it through a rough moment in life. There can be plenty of them and these moments seem to come in bundles. Having and being the kind of person that can lift is such a gift. I do not have a lot of close friends, that is not in my nature. Yet, the ones that I am blessed with are exactly who I need. I pray daily that I am who they need.

Coming out of the canyon, it was a lesson to me that forward is moving in the right direction. Some days we have all of the energy and capacity we need to conquer the hills life throws at us. Other days it is not there. How blessed I feel to know that on those days Heaven is just a prayer away and the answers come through so many beautiful people.

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.

Submitting

Today I indulged myself a little bit by taking the time to read over my journals that I had written starting in 2012. This year will always mark the beginning of a sacred time in our lives. It is when Heavenly Father decided we needed to be taught how to fully rely on His love, mercy and guidance.

It is interesting what happens when everything that is perceived to be stable is taken from our lives. Many unimportant things and people begin to fall away and soon we see what is truly important. Our deepest desires begin to surface. The personality traits that we have buried deep begin to emerge… some good and some that need to be changed.

I learned quickly and repeatedly that man’s ways are NOT God’s ways. Man’s thoughts are NOT His thoughts. There were many things that I once thought important and vital for survival, however I realized were simply man imposed ideas.

And, I found out that giving our life over to God does not come without sacrifices at very deep levels. Submitting

These sacrifices have included pride, comfort, friendships, hobbies, time, pursuits, dreams and goals. I remember one point in our journey that I looked around and said to myself, “He has taken everything that I love to do from me. There isn’t much left of who I am and who I thought I should be.” I hate to admit, but I will, that these thoughts were not born out of humility, they were born out of frustration and impatience.

Many times during this season I have begged for the dawn to relieve our night. I have formulated plans that would propel us to the end. I have justified these thoughts and advocated our cause time and time again… yet, to no avail.

How grateful I am He didn’t shorten the growing season…even though it has been truly hard.

Submitting to His will has required faith in the little pieces of inspiration that aren’t long term solutions. Often we have had questions regarding a direction to take and the answers have given us just enough to move one more step, but no further. Once we had taken that step, we would find ourselves looking at a completely different path with a new set of questions. This type of journey has not been one of stability, only trust.

We also have found ourselves time and time again making decisions and acting on feelings that DO NOT MAKE SENSE. To anyone on the outside looking in, the choices we have made could be considered very irrational and a little (okay a lot) crazy. Yet, following the will of the Lord is rarely, if ever, going to make sense. I have looked to Noah for courage many times when Heavenly Father has asked us to build a proverbial ark.

I have also learned that fear, anxiety and frustration are poisonous to our souls, especially when we are doing our best to submit. Unfortunately, there are constant forms of discouragement that surround us. They whisper in our ears and minds those words of not enough, less than, not going to make it, not strong enough, and on and on. Failure and emptiness are the gifts they bring, leaving no support or strength in their wake.

I wish I could say that I travelled this path gracefully, but I cannot. I have found parts of my heart that are not pretty. I have found places in my soul that were dark and distant from Him. I have seen things in my mind that are shameful. And I know I am not done looking.

Maybe that is the beauty of it…at least I hope it is. For we cannot clean out what we have buried, hidden or turned our backs on. To submit ourselves to Him is to allow Him access to those things that do not allow us to be in His presence. The beautiful thing is, He draws our attention to them when we are ready to overcome (it is never when we think we are ready, it is when He knows we are).

I once thought I had not gained any courage, but after reading my thoughts from 5 years ago, I see that I can do things that used to scare me. I see that I can handle things that were once so overwhelming they would knock me to my knees. I know that it is through the Grace of the Atonement that I have grown stronger. I know it is only through constantly calling upon my Heavenly Father and Savior that I am who I am.

Submitting is a constant journey…one that I am grateful for.

 

 

Sometimes It Is Enough To Simply Believe

For the past 5 years the reality of faith within my soul has been tried, tested, refined, and strengthened…over and over again. It is one thing to read an inspiring quote that states faith will give us the strength we need to overcome and it is a completely different thing to believe and let faith take over.

believeI have determined that our lives have a unique plan and path. If we are living close to God, we can see that the path is one that is meant to shape our souls to become like Him. Sometimes it is easy to watch others on their paths and think that is where we should be. It can be so tempting to see their paths and think we should be there rather than where we are. In these moments anger, jealousy and frustration take root and create within our hearts doubt.

I have also come to realize that each of us on this path to Heavenly Father will be tried in our own crucibles that will break us down to the point that we feel like we are losing ourselves. Prayers that are uttered in our hearts or cried out in our souls will seemingly go unanswered. Every effort we give to move forward will be lost. Any step we take forward will result in a painful fall. Our hearts will break. Our spirits will yearn for relief.

Passing through these times in my life has brought every emotion imaginable, from hope to despair, faith to doubt, inexpressible joy to overwhelming sorrow, strength to weakness. The only balm I have found to soothe my weary soul is turning to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I KNOW He is there. I KNOW He knows me. I KNOW He loves me.

Yet, sometimes I doubt. Sometimes I don’t have the strength to look up and see Him. Sometimes I don’t even have the strength to call out His name.

In so many ways these times have left me feeling less than, unworthy and weak. How can I expect to have strength from faith if I doubt?

Last night as I read in the 3rd Nephi of the Book of Mormon my heart found peace. It is a time in their history when all of the signs that the Savior was to be born were being mainfest, testifying to the people He was coming. For anyone who had heard the prophecies, these signs were a renewal of hope. For those who chose not to see them for what they truly were, the signs were an opportunity to create doubt. Cunning words were spoken to destroy all joy and faith. It must have been exhausting to hold on to their faith as they were openly taunted and ridiculed. faith

As I read in verses 7-8 I looked deeper within the words:

And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. 

But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know thath their faith had not been in vain.

Here is what I saw…

I saw a people who had held on to whatever faith they had, watching for their Savior, feel the burden of belief and doubt take hold of their souls. What if? had crept into their hearts ever so quietly, creating within them feelings of sorrow. Yet, they held onto their belief. It was all they had. It was enough.

They watched. They held on. They did their best. Their faith was rewarded.

So it is in my life. Sometimes all I have is a belief that the fire will subside. Sometimes all I have is the belief that I can take one more small step. For the longest time I didn’t think that this belief was enough to qualify for the enabling power of faith. I know now I was wrong in that belief.

Sometimes… more often than I realized…it is simply enough to believe.

Tag Cloud