Seeing the Hand of God in My Life

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Two weeks ago at church I gave a lesson to my Sunday school class about the importance of keeping a journal. One of the things we discussed they could write in a journal are times they have seen the hand of God in their lives. I challenged them to try to notice, in the upcoming week, a time when they could see the hand of God in their daily lives. I told them we would discuss it in class the next week. Unfortunately I was sick last Sunday, so we talked about it at the beginning of class today. A couple of the boys shared experiences they had. They were little things, but enough to have left an impression. I, too, had noticed little things that week. I think most of the time that is how God manifests Himself in our lives, but sometimes—well, sometimes we need something bigger.

Back in November I wrote about my experience almost taking my own life when I was seventeen. I stood looking out over a cliff at Bryce Canyon National Park and almost jumped. Coming home from that beautiful place was hard. Figuring out how to deal with the aftermath of nearly committing suicide was also a challenge.

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A few days after we got home from our trip my older brother, who had recently gotten home from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England, and I got on the freeway to head to the nearest Walmart. The light at the end of the off-ramp turned red as we neared it, so my brother slowed then stopped—we were the first car in line. We chatted while waiting for the light to turn green, then once it did, he turned left—into the left-hand lane! I screamed, “What are you doing?!” He noticed his error, quickly swerved over through the other left lane, a turn lane and finally into the right lane, where we should have been in the first place. “I forgot I wasn’t in England anymore,” he said.

As he continued down the road, and my heart stopped feeling like it was about to explode inside my chest, I realized how amazing it was that we hadn’t hit into any other cars. That area of the city, and especially that very intersection, were always busy and full of traffic. I even looked back and could see a ton of cars. The fact that my brother had been able to quickly move over three lanes without even scratching another car was truly miraculous. It was no coincidence. I felt it burning deep within my soul. This was a message from God telling me that I wasn’t supposed to die yet. I look back on that experience now and still know that His hand intervened. It felt as though angels had been looking over and protecting me.

At the time I didn’t know why He had sent me this message. I didn’t know why it was so important for me to live, just that it was. Even now I couldn’t give you a specific answer. I’m no one important. I hold no influence over a great number of people. It’s not like anything I have done, am doing or will do will make any sort of impact or change in the world. But I have been able to live my life and learn, grow, develop . . . become. I gave birth to two beautiful, amazing, perfect little beings. I brought them into this world, and they are my world. I don’t know if any of that is why God wanted me to know—to know—that my time on this earth wasn’t meant to be finished at that time, but I’m grateful He gave me that witness. I’m grateful for the experience, as I am for so many of my experiences in life that give me the opportunity to learn, to grow, to develop . . . to become.

As a side-note, when we got out of the car at Walmart I told my brother to give me the keys because I was going to drive home. Still a bit shaken up from what had happened himself, he willingly dropped the keys into my hand with no hesitation!

Am I Enough?

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A Facebook friend recently posed a question about why it’s so hard for us to choose to believe we are enough. At first, all I could think was, “That’s just the way we are as humans.” But as I thought more about it, I realized there was more to it than that. Others responded in a myriad of ways, but for me it has to do with the way other people have treated me.

It’s hard to feel like you’re good enough when so many other people treat you like you’re not. It’s hard to feel that you have worth when so many other people tell you that you don’t.

In the last year and a half I’ve been told multiple times by family members that I’m a horrible, awful, evil person, that I’m a bad mother, that I’m going to hell, that I’m completely incompetent and that I’m wrong. Then there are the men that have been in my life since I got divorced. Every man I’ve dated, liked or been interested in has used me, lied to me, betrayed me, manipulated me, made me feel as though they liked me, cared about me, even loved me, and then rejected me because I wasn’t good enough, perfect enough—I just wasn’t enough.

Now, I know God loves me and cares about me. I know I am of great worth to Him because I am His child. I know I’m of worth to my friends, and I can even confidently say that I’ve made a difference to some of them the way they have made a difference to me. But does that mean I’m enough—in everything? How can I not feel worthless in some way when my own parents and some of my siblings—the people who were supposed to love me the most—hated me so much and felt such a strong need to tell me how bad and wrong I was? How can I not feel that there’s something wrong with me when people who act as if they care about me always end up rejecting me? If it happens over and over again that must mean there has to be something wrong with me, right?

It’s hard not to have those feelings and thoughts. It’s nearly impossible to not lose hope. I have lost hope. And I don’t know how to get it back, or if I even want to. Is it better to live hopeless or to constantly have your hope crushed? I still don’t know.

How We Do Easter

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I just wanted to say that just because the Easter Bunny came to our house this morning, left treats in the kids Easter baskets and eggs filled with candy hidden around our yard for them to find doesn’t mean the day isn’t about Jesus Christ and his atonement and resurrection. We watched General Conference, the meeting the LDS church holds twice a year, together as a family, listened to our church leaders speak and inspire, and we watched a video on the Savior. My kids know what Easter is about. If you were to ask my six-year-old he would tell you that Easter is about Jesus. He would probably also tell you how weird it is that commercials and stores try to make it about the Easter Bunny. Just because there were treats and egg hunts doesn’t mean we didn’t focus on our Savior, because we did. We do. Just like we focus on Him at Christmas time as well, even with the presents and lights and treats.

Filling Easter baskets, hiding Easter eggs, filling stockings and wrapping presents is one of my favorite parts of being a parent. It’s fun for me, and makes me happy. And seeing the wonder and joy on my kid’s faces when they come out of their rooms to see what has been left brings me even more happiness. These moments we share as a family are priceless. They are memories I treasure in my heart and in my mind. And that is good.

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The truth is that every day should be about Jesus and Heavenly Father, not just Easter and Christmas. Does that mean we stop everything else that we’re doing? Going to school, going to work, jumping on the tramp, playing at the park, getting a treat, laughing with friends, dancing, singing. No. Just because you are doing those things doesn’t mean you aren’t focusing on the Savior. We can, and should, take moments every single day to live our religion, to talk about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and how we should be living our lives.

So I won’t feel bad, I won’t feel shame or like I’m not a good mom because I let my kids find and eat treats on Easter morning. Instead, I will cherish the memory of this day and all that it held.

This Roller Coaster Called Life

Sometimes I’m amazed at how quickly our emotions can flip, flop, turn around and change. Saturday morning I was feeling sad and lonely as I thought about my first Christmas as a single mom, how my kids were going to be spending most of the next week with their dad. Then, that afternoon I took my kids to a Christmas party at my aunt and uncle’s house that my cousin had invited us to. They gave us a delicious meal, talked and laughed with us and even had presents for all three of us. I sat there, feeling so overwhelmed, holding back tears. I hadn’t even seen my aunt and uncle or most of my cousins and their kids in years, and yet, they welcomed us in with open arms, and I suddenly remembered what it was like to have a family, to be accepted as I am, to not be judged and condemned because of perceived imperfections. I left feeling so incredibly blessed and happy.

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Sunday was a good day, as well. I got to play a beautiful arrangement of What Child is This/Coventry Carol on my flute at church. That night my kids and I read a couple of Christmas books, then read about Christ’s birth straight from the scriptures. My six-year-old even shared his first real testimony of Jesus with us which had my heart swelling with pride and joy. I’ve always loved staying up on Christmas Eve to wrap “Santa” presents. Yet, after I’d finished and put everything under the tree and sat there looking at it all, I felt sad and alone again. I had no one to share in the joy with, no one to go to bed with. I felt cold and empty inside. Then I looked up at the picture of Christ above the tree and remembered my Savior, remembered all He has done for me. Again, I was overwhelmed, thinking of how blessed I am for the hope I have in my religion. I do believe that Christ was born for us, that He suffered and died for us, and that He lived for us—to give us an example of how we should live our own lives.

Some people might think that belief or faith in a religion will take something like mental illness away. It doesn’t. Just like it doesn’t take any difficulties in life away. Bad things happen in life—sometimes for no reason other than that that’s simply a part of life, just like sometimes good things happen for no reason. It is all a part of our experience here on this earth. But for me, my faith and hope in Christ does bring a sense of peace and comfort, a light and warmth that gives me reason to keep going even when I’m sad and lonely, even when life gets dark and depressing.

I think life is a roller coaster for everyone, full of constant ups and downs. Sometimes it’s a steady rise or decline, other times it’s a speedy ascent or sudden drop-off, but the one constant for myself is my Savior and my Father in Heaven. For that, I am always grateful.

God Speaks to Us

I’ve had numerous experiences that have taught me that God is aware of us, He knows us, and He speaks to us in ways we will hear Him. Those ways can be different for everyone.

I never doubted my religion, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even in the midst of my depression. Back in high school it was hard to always live it, to always do what I was supposed to, but I still believed it was true. I just felt so worthless, like I was such a bad, horrible person that I didn’t believe I deserved a relationship with God. But God was still there for me. He still spoke to me, reassured me, comforted me and gave me answers to questions I sought. One of the ways He did this was through music.

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My sophomore year of high school I discovered Classic Rock. It’s one of the things that turned me into a hippie! The music of these incredible artists spoke to me in a way no other music ever had. Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Rush, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Eric Clapton, Traffic, The Doors. The list could go on, but I’ll stop there. I listened to this music a lot because I felt a connection to it. When you’re a depressed teenager, feeling so alone in life, having a connection like that means everything. And God used this as a way to communicate with me. I’m sure there are some people out there who might think it’s blasphemous or just ridiculous, but there were times I got answers to prayers through lyrics in a rock ‘n’ roll song.

I remember this one night, getting home from work, but I didn’t get out of the car right away. I sat there and stared up at the gibbous moon above the mountains to the east, feeling lost and alone. I asked this totally general question. “God, what do I do?” And then Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man came on the radio. And I knew, I knew, that was God’s answer to me—that I needed to live life more simply. I was an emotional, dramatic teenage girl, and that made for a complicated life, but I was filled with such peace and contentment in that moment, knowing that I could take steps to simplify my life—that doing so would help me. It was God’s way of answering my prayer.

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There were also times I received comfort in the midst of absolute darkness and despair through the heavy chords of an electric guitar. And there were times I finally understood things about myself, others, the world—things I needed to know—through this music.

God knew what the music meant to me. He knew He could get through to me with it, so He used it. That sounds very believable to me. And it sounds like a God who truly cares about us as individuals. How has God spoken to you? Yes, I really want to know. Please, leave comments on my Comment page or Contact me here with your story if you would like me to share it in one of my next posts. Remember, we are all in this together, we can all help each other.