Monday, April 28, 2014

Judgement is of the Devil

I had a very interesting opportunity to teach one of my nieces a very valuable lesson last night.  Her Dad is my brother, and was very harsh and judgmental of me growing up. For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I was not always a member of the church. From the ages of 14-24 I was inactive, and didn't even tell people that I was ever member of the church. During this time I had a lot of family members say that the bad things that happened to me were because of the choices I was making. They never saw that if they would have just shown unconditional love, like the Savior taught, I would've come back a lot quicker.

As I sat with this niece allowing her to tell me all about her life, experiences, friends, and what's important to her, she made a comment that struck a nerve with me. She was telling me of a young girl (my niece is in 5th grade) that is choosing to "Go Out" with a boy.  She was telling me in not so many words that she was better because she was choosing to not "date" because she's not old enough. She then made a very revealing comment. She said, "This girl probably won't get very far in life because of the choices she's making." I about jumped out of my skin. It reminded me of the way so many of my family members treated me over the years. As I finished letting her tell me about this girl, I said a silent prayer asking the Lord to help me teach my niece a very valuable lesson. We should never judge anyone.

As she finished I said, "Sweetie, do you think Aunt Jilly is a good person?" She said "Yes" then I said, "Do you think I've gotten very far in life?" (Knowing that this little angel thinks the world of her Aunt Jill). She said, "Well, yeah." I then took a beautiful opportunity to teach her something. I shared with her that I stopped going to church when I was 14 years old.  Her mouth about hit the floor.  I told her that I didn't believe in the church, I swore, I hung out with bad people, and I even dated boys before I was 16.  She was stunned.  Then I asked her this, "Do you think Aunt Jilly turned out okay?"  You could see her little brain turning. She said, "Yeah you did." I said, do you think that this little girl might turn out okay too? She's doing the same things that Aunt Jill did, and you just said that I turned out okay."   She said, "Yeah Aunt Jill. She might."  Then I took the opportunity to teach her how very wrong it is to judge another person.  Not only that, I taught her that judging someone can often keep them away longer, but if we will show them love like the Savior, they might come back.

When I was younger some of my family members were very judgmental of me.  Some even believed that I had Bipolar disorder because of things I did wrong in my life.  A couple were very critical, unloving, and harsh in the way they treated me because my life wasn't in perfect line with the church.  They have now seen how very damaging their judgments were, and that they should have shown me unconditional love. So many people think that judging is the way we should go about things.  If we truly believe in the Savior's example we would know that loving someone unconditionally is the most important.  The Savior is the only one that can rightfully judge us, for it is required of us to forgive all.  Until we are without blame we should never cast the first stone.

It's amazing what unconditional love can do for someone.  Loving someone will make miracles happen.  Love can change the world. Think how much better we would be as a people if we chose to love rather than to judge?  I know personally, I would've understood the Savior's message a lot quicker if I would've been shown unconditional love.

I'm so thankful for my Father.  He never judged me, punished me for not believing the church, and always let me figure it on my own.  He was always there to pick me up when I fell even if I still didn't choose the example he set. He never said mean things to me, he never said I was in the wrong, and he never held my choices against me.  He always loved, and hoped that one day I would see the correct path. Because of his example, and love, I came back to the church. I'm truly happy, just like he always wanted.

We should never judge another person unless we ourselves are blameless.  Since none of us are perfect, it is required of us to forgive all and love one another. If we claim to follow Christ that is how we should live our lives. I'm grateful for this opportunity I had to open my niece's eyes, and teach her a very valuable lesson. We should never judge another, but love unconditionally. That is how the Savior lived his life, and that is what he expects from us.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Where is your Faith?

As I sat in my big comfy chair in the early morning of this past Sunday, I was reading from "Jesus the Christ."  I try to study scriptures or church literature for a few hours every morning, but Sunday especially.  As I prayed that morning to be taught what I needed to, I was prompted to turn to a specific chapter.  That is when my answer came in the form of a question. "Where is your Faith?'

For about the last 2 months I have been really struggling with something.  I am dealing with an issue that pertains to my health, and how my health will be affected during the next few years of my life.  As I have stressed, and worried over this issue, I have been sent constant comfort and peace letting me know that it would all work out.  I don't know why I still allow it to bother me on a daily basis, when my Father in Heaven constantly comforts my fears, but I'm so grateful for his patience with me.

As  I read the Chapter "Peace, Be Still" it talks about when Jesus was on the boat with his disciples.  He's asleep when a horrible storm happens upon them.  The disciples are getting more and more afraid, until finally they awake the master in a panic. He instantly wakes up and calms the storm.  He then asks them, "Where is your Faith?"  I don't believe he is mocking them when he asks this, I think he is being loving and patient, asking them why on earth they would fret when he is with them?  Why would they allow their fears to overcome them.  At the same time, our Savior is so patient and loving, and knows that we are human.  I don't believe he was irritated with them in the least, in fact I believe he probably comforted them, and took a moment to teach them about Faith in Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior.

As I read this, my heart was filled with peace and comfort.  So clearly in my mind my Father asked me, "Jill, Where is your Faith?"  He then taught me a valuable lesson.  He taught me that he has sent me comfort and peace through the Holy Ghost, and has impressed upon my mind over and over the last few weeks that he is in control.  He has told me that things would be okay, and work out as they should.  He has constantly told me that I need to quiet my fears, and have Faith in him.  He also taught me that he loves me even though my Faith is lacking at times.  How patient he is with me for worrying, when I needn't.  

How often do we ask for peace, and then when it's sent, we dismiss it?  How often to we let our fears overcome us, and push out that sweet comfort from our Father?  We need to listen.  He need to heed his word, ask him for guidance, and then listen when he sends it.  In short, we need to have Faith in God.  Through him all things are possible.  He is in total control, and as long as we are doing the best we can, he will take care of the rest.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eternal Marriage

I celebrated my 5 year anniversary this month. It's been the greatest 5 years of my life. Dave is the greatest man I've ever met, and there's not a day that goes by where I don't get on my knees and thank my Father for him. He is truly a gift from a loving father in heaven, and I'm so lucky to have him.

Marriage takes work; a lot of work. The work you do during marriage is the most rewarding work you will ever do. When Dave and I decided to get married we never expected to go through the things we've gone through. We never expected to almost lose each other a month after we said I do. We never knew that trials would be so hard that we had a choice to either turn away from one another or grow closer together. We never expected that this work, would make the greatest and most strong marriage either of us have ever seen.

A month after Dave and I were married I became deathly ill.  I had no insurance, and I ended up having to have 13 surgeries, and live in the hospital for 2 months.  After a year of fighting, and $300,000 of debt, we finally found a doctor that found out what was wrong, and saved my life.  He was willing to help us, and do my surgery with only a 10% chance that I would actually live through it. Dave and I were scared we were going to be torn a part and lose one another. The only peace we could find is knowing that we made a decision a year earlier to get married in the temple of God. We found comfort in the fact that no matter what happened, if I died during this surgery, we would be together for eternity because of the choices we had made earlier. Because we worked hard, and made up our minds that no other place would be okay for us, we were guaranteed eternal life with one another.

I think marriage is taken too lightly in the world today.  I think it's taken too lightly in the church as well.  I don't believe people truly prepare themselves for marriage, and focus on the huge commitment you are making to yourself, your spouse, and most importantly to God.  You are telling him that this is the person you want to spend eternity with.  No matter what happens in your life, you are not going to quit or give up.  You are going to work together, with God at the helm, and overcome everything that is thrown at you.  Together you can do anything.  This is something I have learned in the last 5 years.

No matter what trial Dave and I have been faced with, the money troubles, figuring out how to pay back the huge medical debt, or whether fighting for my life; we've done it together.  There is not a thing that happens in my day that I don't tell Dave about.  I don't keep things from him, and I'm honest about everything.  That's not always easy, but it's a promise that I made to him and myself the moment I told him I would marry him.  He promised me he would be patient, and forgiving.  I promised him that I would love him and trust him no matter what.  We promised to put the other person first, and always include them in every decision we make. If you do it together you can do anything.

Eternity is a long time.  You want to make sure that the decision you make to marry your spouse is one you are willing to make for eternity. Dave and I dated for a year and half. When I was going to therapy, my therapist told me that I should spend 4 full seasons with someone so I can see them in every phase. It was the best advice I ever got. Dave and dated for a long time in the church's eyes, but we had a very short engagement.  I wouldn't change a thing about anything we did.  We knew what we were getting into when we said "I Do."  We knew who the other person was, and we knew we didn't want to spend another day without them. We knew that we wanted to go at the rest of our lives together.

I'm always grateful that I married my best friend.  This was especially important after Dave and I found out that we would never have children. It was an extremely hard thing to hear, and deal with, but I knew it would be okay if we never had kids because he truly is my best friend.  I love every moment with him, and I never want to be away from him. I look forward and count down the hours until he walks through the front door. I treasure every evening that I spend with him just sitting next to me on his computer.  We don't even have to be talking, but just being in the same room as him is something I treasure.  We love having our hobbies, our friends, and our separate lives, but the life we have created together is the most special thing to both of us.

Our eternal marriage was the best decision I've ever made. That choice to not marry anywhere other than the temple, was the right decision for us.  It has brought us so much peace and comfort over the years.  To know that no matter what happens in this mortal life, I have him forever.  He is mine through the eternities.  What a beautiful promise, gift, and thought. I'm so thankful for that gift my father in heaven gave us because we made the choice to marry in his holy home.

These past 5 years have been amazing.  I know that there's not anything that could come up that Dave and I couldn't get through. Marriage is a beautiful, amazing, and special experience. I believe everyone should do it, if they find the right person. Dave is my everything. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have him, and I'm thankful that my Heavenly Father loved me enough to give me him, and bless me with the gift of having him for eternity.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Meekness

As I've been studying lately, and learning what the word meekness means. I'm starting to understand why it is so vital in becoming Christlike.  The definition of meekness (in the bible) is as follows, "An attitude of humble, submissive and expectant trust in God, and a loving, patient and gentle attitude towards others."  
  I love how it says "patient and gentle towards others." I know when it says that it also means towards ourselves. We need to be patient, kind, tender, gentle, and loving, to ourselves.  We deserve to receive these actions just as much as anyone else. We need to learn to love, be patient, and forgive ourselves when we do what is wrong. Like I've always told everyone in my life, "God doesn't care about the fall, he cares how well we rise from the fall."

I have a dear friend who really struggles with pornography.  Try as he may, he always finds his way back to this addiction.  He is a faithful, and righteous member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He is the epitome of what a "Christlike" person should be.  He faithfully studies his scriptures, he serves his fellow men, he is a wonderful father, and husband, he never misses church, and he is kind, gentle, and loving to everyone he meets.  The only problem is, he doesn't show himself the same love and patience.

This friend of mine recently was able to baptize his son.  It was such an incredible experience for him, as he had not been worthy to for quite sometime before, strictly because of his addiction to pornography.  It was such a beautiful moment to watch him dip his son into the waters of baptism.  Not only was it a beautiful moment as a father, he was proud of himself for being able to overcome his obstacle, and be worthy to do this.  It was a beautiful day.

Soon after this occasion he started looking at pornography again.  He looked at it once, and from then on he considered himself to be a bad person again, and started watching it daily.  He didn't show meekness unto himself in his moment of weakness.  If he could have recognized that he slipped up, but that God understands, and this didn't make him a bad person; he may not have continued to dive deeper into this dark hole.

Elder Ulisses Soares told this story that I think applies so well to my friend, and also to all of us.  For we can all relate.  This is what he said, "If a husband can live with his wife one day without quarreling or without treating anyone unkindly or without grieving the Spirit of God...he is so far perfect.  Then let him try to be the same the next day.  But supposing he should fail in this his next day's attempt, that is no reason why he should not succeed in doing so the third day."

What a beautiful story.  It truly tells us how to live.  We should live everyday trying as hard as we can to be a Christlike person.  If for some reason we have a bad day, and slip up (which we will all do), there is no reason to lose all hope, and fall down the rabbit hole.  There is no need to give up on doing what we know to be right.  For our mistake is not what our Heavenly Father judges us on.  He judges us on how well we can overcome on the 3rd day.

I have many health issues.  I have people tell me all the time that they don't understand how I am so happy and upbeat when I feel the way I do.  I tell them this, "You don't get to see my bad days."  The truth is, is that I don't handle my health issues well all the time.  I'm not patient and loving with myself.  It's hard for me to know that I can't do the things I used to do.  I can't enjoy the things I used to enjoy.  But after a day of having a pity party, and crying to my sweetheart, I try so hard to put that smile back on my face.  Those days when I hurt so bad and I don't want to do anything, I try my hardest to get dressed, put on my makeup, and go run errands.  Even if it's only 1 trip to the post office, I know I will feel better.  Even if I get ready just to sit in my house, that's okay too.  The important thing is that I try.  I try to be happy, I try to be thankful at all times for this life that I was given, because at one point it was almost taken from me. I genuinely try to "Endure Well", but sometimes I fail.  It's okay that I fail. It's just important that I don't give up.

If we use the example of our Savior, we would always treat ourselves kindly, and with love.  Jesus was a perfect person, but he had to deal with so many imperfect people.  You would think that would be so hard for him, but it wasn't.  He knew that all of us would make mistakes.  He knew that his own apostle would betray him, and he still forgave him.  He still loved him.  How amazing that he can love someone who caused him to lose his life; but we can't love ourselves when we screw up?  We are imperfect people, and we need to start loving ourselves as Christ does.  Think of the amazing things we could do if we could see ourselves through the eyes of God.

Meekness is an attribute of Christ.  If we claim to follow Christ we must be meek.  We must love each other, we must forgive one another, and we must love and forgive ourselves.  We are amazing people.  Christ knows our potential.  We mustn't let Satan get into our hearts and minds and make us feel less than we are.  We are children of a King.  We are children of God, and he loves us.  He knows us.  He is there for us.  If we will simply ask him to forgive us, love us, and answer our heartfelt prayers, he will come to us.  He wants to take care of us.  He doesn't care about what you've done, he just wants you back.  The fall doesn't matter.  What matters is how well you rise from the fall.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Love Will Bring Them Back

I was sitting in my recliner this morning reading the scriptures.  As I sat contemplating the words I was reading I was struck by the story of Enos.  This has always been my most favorite book in the Book in the Book of Mormon, but it hit me in a completely different way today.  It hit me so hard, because I am now the person that has returned.  I am now the person that changed my life, and accepted God once again.  Love was what brought me back to the church.

During my youth I was very active in the church.  I loved Primary, and learning about Jesus.  I love singing the primary songs, learning the articles of faith, and saying my prayers.  I loved knowing that Jesus loved me, and I loved him.  I found extreme comfort in knowing that I was loved.

As a teenager I was very overweight.  As you can imagine, I was bullied pretty badly in school.  I felt alone, lost, depressed, and fragile.  When I was 14 and left the church, I felt like God didn't care about me anymore.  I knew he heard my prayers, because I never stopped praying.  I just assumed that he didn't love me enough to listen.  I mean, if no one else on this earth could love me because I was fat, how on earth could God love me?  I felt completely and utterly alone.  That was when I turned my back on Heavenly Father, and the church.

From the age of 14 to 24 I said many terrible things about the church, the people who were a part of the church, and the lifestyle of members of the church.  I bashed them any chance I got.  I still knew that the church was true deep down, but I was trying so hard to disprove everything that it stood for.  After all, these people that had been so mean to me, and bullied me because of my weight were all members of the church.  If that's how members of the church treat one of their own, than this church absolutely wasn't for me.  Not only was it not for me, but it couldn't be true.  People of the God I believed in didn't act like this.  They were supposed to love one another.  Members of the church didn't love one another, and they definitely didn't love me.

I'll never forget a time when I was 19 years old.  I was taking the missionary discussions in my search for truth.  I remember going into these discussions believing that I could disprove everything they were going to tell me.  An amazing thing happened though.  As they shared the Gospel with me, (I still thought the story was crazy) it wasn't the story that got to me, it was the love they had for me.  Here I sat, this big overweight girl, and they didn't even care.  All they cared about was making me feel loved and teaching me that my Father in Heaven loved me.  I don't remember the stories, or the discussions, but I remember their love.  That was the 1st time in years that I thought of members of this church to be people of God.  It was the start of the opening of my heart so many years later.  I wish I could thank those missionaries today.

As I went about my life, searching out every religion possible, and pushing out members of the church, I came across a boy that seemed to just care about me.  He didn't care what I had done in my past, and he didn't care about what I was doing then.  He just wanted to be my friend.  As I got to know this boy better, I saw a light about him.  There was something different about him, and I wanted to know what that was.  I wanted to know what made his eyes shine, and his smile bright.  I wanted to know what made him who he was.

The first date Dave and I ever had was magical.  I couldn't stop starring at him, and I just wanted to be in his presence forever.  I wanted to feel of his love and kindness forever.  It was an amazing night.  It would take 5 months of Dave and I knowing each other before the church was every brought up.  I'll never forget hanging out at his house, and looking through his closet (yes I was snooping) when I came across a scrapbook.  The best part is that it was a scrapbook his ex girlfriend had made for him. :)  That wasn't the point though. As I pulled down this scrapbook and started to look through it, I realized that the boy I was dating was Mormon.  Not only was he Mormon, but he had served a mission.  This was his missionary scrapbook.  I figured out then and there that the light that he had about him was the light of Christ and he got that from his belief in the church.  That was the moment I opened my heart to the Gospel.

That night sitting on Dave's bed, looking through that scrapbook changed my life.  It started a conversation between the 2 of us about what he believes and what he knows to be true.  It started the life that we now have together.  I owe everything I have today to that night.

I didn't come back to the church because someone was trying to force me to believe.  I came back to the church because a man loved me.  He showed me he loved me and cared about me, without ever bringing up the church.  He knew I would find out, and that when I was ready we would talk about it; but I came back because of his love.  

His love opened the pathway for us to talk about the Gospel, for us to go back to church together, for me to read the Book of Mormon for the first time, and for us to be sealed for all eternity in the temple.  It started with love, and it still ends with his love to this day.  

I'm so blessed to have Dave in my life.  I'm so lucky that he loved me enough to show me that my Father in Heaven loved me.  He showed me that people aren't perfect, but that God is.  God loves us perfectly, just like our Savior, and Dave showed me that Christlike love.  Dave has a love that no one on this earth can understand unless they experience it.  I am the luckiest girl in the world that I get to have his love daily.

I'm grateful that love brought me back to this beautiful church.  I'm grateful that I understand that the people are not the Church.  The LDS Church in itself is perfect, but people are not.  The General Authorities are not perfect, but they're all trying.  The most important thing we need to remember is to love one another because that is how you will bring your loved ones back to the Gospel of Christ.  Love will bring them back.