This Week has Been Rough…

I apologize for the hastily written and probably grammatically poor post…

Tonight I sat on my couch, my wife was playing stake volleyball, and listened to my kids sing and dance to music videos.  I had a sudden realization that they were so happy and that thought brought tears to my eyes. Why was I crying? I couldn’t tell. Luckily, they didn’t see me cry, as I am an adept cry hider, and they kept encouraging me to sing and play with them. I just pretended to laugh and encouraged them to keep playing and laughing.  My emotions haven’t been this frayed since my first son was born early with a heart condition.  I love my kids with all my heart, as I know so many others do.

When the church first announced the policy change I was discouraged, as someone who believes that the Lord wants us to have all kinds of people in the church, it seemed unnecessarily harsh, especially to children. However, I was not really able to process how I really felt about it because immediately I realized that I had many friends who were devastated by the news, my closest family members were upset and hurt. I truly hurt for them and also did not understand why the policy was needed, but I also found myself engaged in conversations, reading blogs, Facebook posts, and comments that were driving me to feel defensive about the church I love, and it’s leaders.  They are not bigots, they do not hate people, but the harshness of the policy confused me greatly.  The only thing clear to me was that many people I love were being hurt many others were causing hurt in all of these forums by their defense or criticism of the policy.  I love all kinds of people that were engaged in these conversations, whether in or out, leaving or staying.  I didn’t want them to feel like this pain, but what could I do? How did I even feel? It was frustrating.

Things sort of died down, even though I still felt numb and worried.  Later this week some professional fears came into my life that burdened me down even lower than I had been before.  My thoughts began to sink into irrational fear.  I lost sleep, and then today the church clarified the policy.  It alleviated some of my initial concerns, and I thought there was some hope others would feel the same. However, that hope was muted by the once again volatile dialogue I began to read online.  As my hope fled my professional and spiritual fears took hold once again.

During dinner tonight, while I ignored my family and read post after post, I started asked myself why do I even read these, why do I search Facebook for my friends who are struggling, or gravitate to people I don’t even know who are struggling? Why do I seek for those believers like me who also feel hurt by this situation but still have strong testimonies? I had no answer, so I kept reading, ignoring my surroundings, searching, trying to block out my fears: work fears, the cost of building a new home, not giving my kids enough of my time and love, not being as close to God as I should, confusion over the church policy, fears about how people I love were feeling, fears about others would feel about me not liking the policy, fears of so many things I couldn’t control.  All of these fears were there in my mind, some rational and some not, surrounding my consciousness.

Then I began to wake up…or rather my kids woke me up with their laughter and joyful, but rather poor singing (they take after me) and dancing.

I fought my tears back, and after my kids were in bed I laid down on the couch and instinctively grabbed for my phone.  My fears came back as I started reading again. I felt a distinct impression to pray now that I was alone, but I kept looking at my phone. However, before I could read much more and sink back into my fearful mind a call burst onto the screen of my phone. It was one of my bishopric members. He asked if I could fill in as a speaker at church Sunday, as the two scheduled speakers dropped out.  Without thinking, I answered “sure”.  This good brother told me the topic was “Gratitude for the Plan of Salvation”, or “Whatever the spirit inspires you to talk on.” I said “ok”, thanked him and hung up.  I started crying again and realized how low I was, how filled with fear I was.  I wanted to know things would be OK, and I realized I had been seeking hope that things would be OK from so many sources except One. Why wasn’t I seeking that assurance from God?  Was it because I was afraid there would be no assurance to give?  Was it because I had forgotten my faith that God cares about my professional life? Why?

Whatever my reasons were, I recognized at that point that God had been asking me to contact Him, He had been encouraging me to come to Him for refuge, for peace.  I had lost my way for a moment.  Then I sat down, just now, to write my talk and put my headphones on and started to listen to my favorite hymn.

“Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above

Shortly after I started writing, my wife came into the room and saw me in my headphones, with wet cheeks, and when I looked up at her and saw her “love” for me in her eyes, I started crying even more.  She embraced me while I cried and I knew my heart had wandered from love to fear. I finally felt God back in my life, I felt relief from my fear, and I thanked God for how much my wife and kids love me.  I thanked God for the fortunate life that I have.  I thanked God for good people all around me who I can trust and who love me.  I thanked God for my spiritual experiences, for my hard life experiences, and that is when I decided that my talk would be about this real time experience and what the spirit is helping me see right now.

Here are the things I believe helped me tonight:

  • Let yourself feel the emotions that are weighing you down, don’t ignore them.

My Emotions

I have always thought the best way to deal with crappy situations is to get comfortable with the worst case scenario first.  Then you can work your way up to what the ideal is and you create your plan of moving forward.  I still believe this, but sometimes it is hard to be that vulnerable, hard to let yourself get to that point.  What I realized tonight is that I needed to feel those emotions and not avoid them in order to truly see what the worst case scenario was and to realize that I still have, and will have, so many things to be grateful for that the worst case scenario cannot ruin that.  My kids love life, and they helped my emotions finally come out so I could truly feel something after a week of numbness.

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.” D&C 121:7-9

  • Do not shut out, ignore, or distrust those who love you most

Let me Love You

It is common when fear overtakes us, to sink into our own minds, to remove ourselves even from our most loving relationships.  This is even more true when we don’t want those who love us to know of our troubles, fear, or sadness.  What I believe is that opening up to our faults and our fears to each other allows us to truly feel love for each other and that is where God is most often found. Just as you feel the spirit of God when you help others who are in pain, they feel it with you.  The same goes for when you are hurt, the person helping you feels the spirit of God and you do to. I realized that I had shut out my wife, even though she has been hurt too.  I needed to be with her and feel her love.  When she embraced me tonight while I was crying I felt so connected to her and that was when I truly started to feel different.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:13-14

  • Take a break from conversations or interactions that stir up your crappy feelings

I'm out of here 2

I don’t think as humans we can easily tell when we are getting too much of something, whether good or bad.  Sometimes taking a step back, a refreshing period, is needed to clearly see what is happening and what is important. In the heat of the moment, or in the midst of contention we need to remove ourselves so we do not be consumed by those feelings and emotions.  I believe that contention is not of God.  Sometimes we don’t realize we are in the midst of contention when we are surrounded by those who feel the same as us, but really we are often contending with, “those people” who do not agree with us or feel differently, even though they are not present. Trying to understand, and truly love those with differing viewpoints, will include pointed disagreements at time, but the effort to remove ourselves and try to see their point of view will allow us to not be consumed in our feelings.  These feelings can be fuel to our hurt, even when we think they may be the cure.  I needed to put my phone away and take a step back.  The call from my bishopric member helped me step back and think about something else and that was a blessing from God.

“But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Galatians 5:15

  •  Seek God in Prayer

Prayer 2

It is both shocking to me, but not surprising that prayer is the thing we often abandon first when we are overwhelmed with pain and hurt.  Especially when that hurt comes from things related to God, like the recent church policy, or by loved ones rejecting the gospel, or by hurtful remarks directed at us or those we love in ‘the name of the Lord”.  I cannot express enough that prayer is truly the balm of Gilead (the ancient healing balm) that can bring us the peace we need.  I believe keeping us from praying is Satan’s key to keeping us from God and peace.  Many people who become lost, become lost as their source for information and guidance is more from blogs, friends, books, and less from God and His spirit.  I hadn’t had a solid prayer without distraction in a while, and while I listened to hymns tonight I prayed the words of the songs, and opened my heart to God about how I felt and I felt Him in return.

“For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” 2 Nephi 32:8-9

  • Trust in the atoning blood of Christ


Our primary focus of the atonement is in regards to all of us sinful individuals.  Our mortality brings with it pain and failure that sometimes is momentary, but sometimes lasts generations. We rightfully focus on how the atonement can heal us, heal others, and that with it all things will be made right that were wrong.  One of the most beautiful ideas behind the atonement is how it brings all of us mortals, in at least one small way, to the same place before God.  It makes us all beggars, needing His mercy and grace.  This, I believe, is meant not only to bring us hope in our own sinfulness, but to help us see others the way God does as people with pain, hurt, and sins just like us. This fosters love and compassion, and the spirit in our lives. I believe this “Infinite” atonement applies to not only mistakes of individuals, but of groups of individuals, including the church.  The original apostles were men of mistakes, but through their faith in Christ they were made mighty and brought much joy, and I am sure inadvertently pain to some.  I honestly do not know when the leaders of the church on the general level make mistakes, I don’t know when local leaders make mistakes, but I do know they happen and that they have ramifications that hurt people.  I also know that God has been the force behind things that have temporarily hurt his children before as well, even though I believe his purposes are good and holy.  In either case, particularly in the case of the recent policy, I believe that Christ will make right whatever things were made wrong.  I sustain the leaders of the Church and believe in their goodness, but I also love my gay brothers and sisters and want them to be a part of the Body of Christ, mainly because I want them to have what I have, if they want it.  What I have is hope that comes from the blood of Christ.  I have wandered, I probably always will, my fears and weakness overtook me, but Christ has strengthened me and I believe he will help me no matter what happens moving forward.  I want everyone to share this feeling and this Love.  I don’t have more answers now than I did this last week when enveloped in my fear, but I can say with certainty I feel peace and confidence now, that I didn’t before, and I believe that comes from God.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above