It is all about the journey….

Posts tagged ‘fear’

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.

 

Doubting Me

This morning was not a stellar faith morning for me. In fact this morning exposed aspects of my faith that truly need to be strengthened.

It all started out great. Got up with my son to help him get ready for the early morning shoot around that they have on game days. I love to iron his shirt, make sure his uniform is ready and get his lunch made. It is honestly a blessing that I am home to do this. doubting me

The breakdown of faith came when his ride didn’t show up…for a long time.

Unfortunately my truck is having some issues and there was nothing I could do to get him there. I truly felt helpless.

Backing up to last night as I was working on getting him a ride, I felt in my heart that it would all be okay and that she would be here for him. With that peace, I was able to sleep.

So when it was time for him to be there and he is still on the couch looking at me desperately to get him to the gym, my mind panicked. I wanted so desperately for a miracle to come and the truck to magically start. Not today. I wanted to do anything I could to get him there, but I felt so powerless.

The memory of the peace I felt last night struggled to find footing in my mind to calm me, however I would not listen. Doubt creates a very unfertile field in our minds and hearts, chasing out any seeds of strength, peace or calm.

When his ride came, I felt a little whisper remind me that I knew she would come. Gratitude washed over my heart, followed quickly by a heavy heart.

How many times have I done this very thing? How many times have I had His promises that everything would be okay and yet, I fear, worry and doubt? How many times has He shown me that He is in control when life is not?

Every time.

And still I doubt, because I want to be able to have the power to take action. I want to have control (at least some semblance of it) over life.

Yet, at the end of the day it is all about leaving my fear, doubt and worry at His feet, trusting that it will all work out.

Because it always does.

One day this aspect of my human nature will have conquered. One day this weakness will be a strength. One day.

Until then it is up to me to do my best, repent when I falter and look to Him to move forward.

Somedays my best is pretty good. Others? Well let’s just say today is that day and I have some work to do.

The Bridge

Towards the end of my trail run is a beautiful bridge that crosses over a little river running out of the mountains. It is one of my favorite places, because 1. it marks the final ascent on my run and 2. it has taught me many lessons about myself. thebridge

The bridge sits high up above the water. It is a very sturdy bridge made of solid wood and steel. There are no movements from the bridge as it is crossed, be it running or walking. Did I mention it is very high up?

Ever since I can remember, I have had a paralyzing fear of heights. There is no rush of happy adrenaline for me when I am high up, it is pure flight adrenaline. Some days I wish I knew what caused this intense fear, so I could overcome. For now, I will continue to live with it and learn from it.

The first time I crossed the bridge, I walked straight down the middle, my eyes focused on the other side. I counted my steps so that I knew I was making progress and would shortly be off the bridge. My fear of heights truly blinded me to the beauty that one sees and hears in that place. I could not look up to see the green trees nor see the river that was happily passing below. I simply survived that part of the hike, going and coming.

As I have thought back on that particular hike, I realized that fear truly blinds us to the amazing truths and opportunities that God has placed before us. Not trusting in the security of His love and our Savior denies us the ability to fully live up to our potential and see our incredible world.

Another lesson I learned came as I ran across the bridge the first time I conquered the trail running. On the other side of the bridge, I realized that I felt no fear. This moment was very powerful to me at this time of my life.

There have been many days that have felt heavy and very overwhelming. Uncertainty has cast a huge shadow over our lives and some days are downright scary. This fear is so acute when I feel like I do not have the ability to move, fix the situation or create what is needed to move forward. I lose sense of who I am and Whose I am.

Running across the bridge that day taught me that as long I am moving, trusting in the solid foundation of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fear cannot overtake me. The storms of uncertainty may rage and the sanctifying fires may burn, however I know I can overcome if I keep moving along the path They have given me.

changing treesA few times I have stopped my run and carefully walked across the bridge, taking the time to see, listen and feel everything around me. I have swallowed my fear, pushing it down to a place where it has little power over me. The sounds of the birds singing and the water gurgling fill my soul with pure happiness. Watching the trees change color and prepare themselves for winter is breathtaking. Feeling the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the canyon all at once is very renewing.

I learned that I have power over my fear. I learned that the creations of God are truly gifts to our souls, enabling us to become so much more. I learned that looking, hearing and feeling are imperative to recognizing how He works in my life. In all of our lives. I learned that He knows me, understands my fear and strengthens me as He teaches me.

This bridge has become a sacred place to me. It is a natural temple wherein I see His hand, feel His love and hear His voice.

 

The Storm

It is raining here tonight. It is the beautiful, cleansing, renewing rain…perfect for a heavy heart.

The StormI have been blessed with two beautiful children…they are the perfect mix of my husband and I. I am pretty sure they came that way so that we could understand them and they could teach us.

Right now I am learning from my sweet daughter. I see so much of me when I was her age, yet there is a wonderful amount of her too. She is strong willed, a bit sassy, full of imagination, and truly beautiful. She is always so willing to reach out and bless the life of someone in need. She has a gift to see things that are normally missed.

Yet….she is struggling within her heart.

I have found that there are times as a parent when I need to back down and let them learn and there are times when I need to say things that are honest and difficult. It is part of being a parent.

Over the past couple of days her struggle has created the necessity for both. Her struggle is fears that have engulfed her heart and created a belief that she can’t do certain things. As a result, she is stuck. On the outside looking in, I have thought how she just needs to ‘rip the bandaid’ and do what scares her. It would change her life for the good. It hurts to see her quit on herself because she is scared.

As we talked to her about this the tears rolled down her cheeks. She cowered because our words were truth and it struck her little heart. She wanted so badly to be anywhere but where she was, yet her spirit knew she needed to hear what was said. My husband shared with her 2 Timothy 1:7…

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Teaching her that she has the divine within her, the power of our Heavenly Father, was a moment I will treasure. It reminded me of who I truly am. Watching her slowly embrace that truth was beautiful. I know it is something that we will continually need to teach her, because it is something that I continually need to understand.

Watching her make choices that teach her lessons is so difficult sometimes. I have questioned whether or not I have taught her what she needs to know. I wonder if I have not given her the tools she needs to make the decisions that will lead her away from the struggles she currently lives with. It is difficult, because I see a different, better way….yet, it is not my decision.

I love her with all I have. I would do anything for her and yet, I can’t.

So I kneel by her bed while she is sleeping and pray to be the mother she needs me to be. I pray to understand her as He does, so that I can help her or allow her to be.

I have so much to learn and there are days when that feels very heavy in my heart. Today is one of those days.

I am so thankful for a quiet moment, standing in the rain, speaking my heart to Him. I know my words were heard through the song of the rain. I know He saw me. I know He will guide me to help one of His choice daughters. I just need to listen.

He Knows I Can

IMG_6495To say that we have been on a strengthening journey would be an understatement. The thing with strengthening journeys is to be strong, we must feel weak at times…a lot of times.

I will be honest, I haven’t been gracefully strengthened through it all. There have been good days…and bad days. Days that I have felt the peace that can only come from Heavenly Father and days that I could not breathe because of the anxiety in my soul. I have learned that peace and anxiety cannot coexist. Peace is only given when we let go of fear, anxiety and disbelief.

In my desire to understand and become who He wants me to be I have asked so many questions. I have wondered at times if I had made a mistake somewhere and the blessings we desire have been withheld. I have wondered if I am not learning what He is so patiently teaching me. I have thought that maybe I didn’t listen or misunderstood when a feeling presented itself to my heart.

Many days it has been quite difficult to kneel in prayer, because my heart felt so abandoned. I felt like there was a pavilion covering me, therefore my access to Him was difficult. It can be a little painful when all your heart desires is that overwhelming peace that only He can give and what you feel is quite opposite.

As hard as it has been, I haven’t quit turning to Him. Quite honestly He is the last person I talk to in my heart and mind and the first one I speak to as my mind begins to take hold of a new day. It terrifies me to think of how desperate and empty I would be if I turned away from Him. I have always known He is there.

Letting go of fear has been a challenge for me. It felt like if I let go of fear then I would let go of any semblance of control I had. Truth be told, I have not one ounce of control over any aspect of my life. I have control over my choices and that is it. Recognizing this took a lot of tears, counsel and humbling. Realizing that fear has done nothing to help me through my journey was a difficult, yet liberating moment.

As I let go, my mind was able to open up and see things a little differently. This situation, this journey has been something that was meant to be. It is not a result of poor choices I had made, not listening to the spirit whisper to me or a punishment. It is something that has been there for us to grow, to become.

Realizing this, I learned that He knows I can do this (even if I don’t). He knows that even when I don’t feel like I can go any more, carry the load one more step or even face the day…I have a strength far greater than I ever even realized. He knows who I truly am meant to become and this is the path that I need to travel.

I have found so much peace and strength in this…. He knows I can.

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