Sunday, March 16, 2014

Because He Loves Me!

I hate making comments in church classes. I avoid it like the plague. The only thing worse is probably getting called on and forced to comment or answer a question. At that point, it's a given that I was most likely daydreaming and will say something totally off the mark. In a perfect world, if I volunteer a comment, it should be well thought out, completely inspired and right on subject.

Yeah, well, I'm too perfect of a wild card to live in a perfect world so...hence my dislike for making comments.

But there are those times when my palms get sweaty, I get jittery and my adrenalin starts pumping. {Joe says I even start making little grunting noises}. I try to think through exactly what I want to say and compare it to what is currently being said to make sure I'm not off subject. And I always start my comments out with some sort of disclaimer or straight out apology if what I'm going to say doesn't make sense.

The lesson in Relief Society today was on the significance of the Sacrament, per President Joseph Fielding Smith's words. Since I'd heard this lesson a couple of weeks ago in Manti, I remembered a part that I really liked and that was significant to the way I think and feel. And I've actually been thinking about it a lot since.

It's really only one sentence in the whole four or five pages of the lesson material. The teacher was going straight through the lesson and...I'll be darned she skipped the very sentence I'd been looking forward to! I couldn't believe it. My adrenalin started making my body jittery and I dreaded the idea that I knew was lurking. She was winding down and I wasn't sure she was even going to look my direction. And then she did. So I apprehensively raised my hand.

Now to the point of this whole thing.

The Atonement. I know, like President Smith stated, the more significant and painful part of the suffering my Savior did for me took place in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yes, He died a very painful, humiliating death but, as horrific as that was, it was nothing compared to what He had already been through. And, yes, I know I added to that suffering in Gethsemane.

Whenever I fall short or screw up or just feel inadequate, I remember that my Savior suffered for all these mistakes I'm too weak to overcome. And my shoulders hunch a bit. I'm sorry.

And then there are the lessons and the talks about the Atonement. The speaker/teacher reminds us, in vivid detail, how we each contributed to the suffering of Jesus Christ. And then they proceed to throw out the names of specific areas of weakness, seeming to enjoy the reactions and sighs and intakes of breath and tears as their descriptive words tear into their listeners' hearts and souls. And my shoulders hunch a bit more.

And after so much of this, I'm pretty hunched over. The Atonement is heavy enough without constantly being reminded of how I personally made it worse. That's a dark place I can't stay in very long.

Please! Don't get me wrong! I'm not minimizing my Savior's suffering. And I'm not minimizing my part in it. I just need to remember:

Jesus Christ CHOSE to pay the price for me long before I, or anyone else, had left Heaven to come and dwell on Earth. Long before any of us could even fathom sinning or the need for a Savior to satisfy Justice. Jesus Christ CHOSE to suffer in Gethsemane and die on the cross because He LOVES me.

I cannot fathom the depth of the suffering He endured in Gethsemane.

I cannot fathom the depth of His love for me, either.

But I choose to stay in the light of His love. I choose to dwell on the fact that, yes, He suffered for me but because He LOVES me. So much lighter there. So much more positive. Maybe one of the original affirmations, even! I AM LOVED! I AM SAFE!

And my shoulders straighten up and I can stand a little taller knowing that.

That's what I wanted to say when I raised my hand in Relief Society. Considerably shorter in length, that's what I thought I said. But then hands started shooting up and comments were made about our need to let go and give the suffering back to our Savior...well, I shut down.

I was replaying in my head what I'd said to take the conversation this direction. No one mentioned sunshine or positivity or happy places or love or not having weighted down, hunched shoulders. But it motivated me to write down my feelings and testimony here and so that's a good thing, I guess. And I'll think longer before raising my hand again!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Two Feet of Faith

My stomach was kinda unsettled Saturday night. Not horrible but enough that it had my attention. Mainly because Hunter has had the stomach flu and I had gotten a text earlier in the evening from Amber saying Aspen was throwing up now and Amber wasn't feeling so good herself. I'd been around them a couple of times before and after they'd gotten sick.

At approximately 3:39am this morning, it started. And there's no one to hold my hair out of the toilet. Thank goodness for elastics! Today has gone by in a blur of sleeping, puking and wondering where the garbage can is. I realized the older I get, it's not so much how fast I can get to the bathroom as it is how fast I can get on my knees!

I had traded with another Relief Society teacher to teach today, too. 6:30am I'm texting the Relief Society president, apologizing as I explain there is no way I will be there to teach. The lesson was on Faith and Repentance. And, even though it has only been two weeks since I last taught, I actually had some good ideas. And I'd had an experience that fit right in.

Last weekend I helped Joe and Mandy out with their kids while Mandy was at a young women retreat and Joe was working. I decided to take off a day early and stay with Betty for the evening. I left after work on Thursday night and headed south. Did I mention it had started to rain?

By the time I hit Willard, I was a nervous wreck. Rain was coming down harder and harder. The wet roads eat up the light from the headlights. Semi trucks were throwing back water and mist from all 18 of their wheels and I swear it was all coming right down on my windshield. The overhead LED signs all warned to "slow down" because there was "standing water" over the road. And all that water that was "standing" on the road made it hard to see the lines and there I was in the middle of four or five lanes of traffic. I'd try and follow tail lights. There was a time or two I'm not sure I was following a car in my lane. I was probably doing subtle lane changes without even knowing it. Fortunately I didn't hear any horns honk or brakes screech as others tried to avoid me.

And I gripped, grasped, clung, with white knuckles, to the steering wheel just as if it were the Rod of Iron. Nothing short of being broadsided from both sides would shake me lose - and even then there might still be a finger or two with joints that would never be straightened out.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I cried for rescue from Heavenly Father. I would have turned around many times over but {thankfully} I was with it enough to realize I would still have to drive through it to get home. So why back track? I should just keep moving forward if it's going to be storming both directions.

I was praying to Heavenly Father to just get me out of there. I didn't care how. I even envisioned Him lifting me - car and all - up and out of the mess. Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang style. Then, in the back of my head, I was told to focus. I focused on what I could see instead of all that was out there confusing me. My headlights lit up the road about two feet in front of the hood of my car. That was two feet of reality that I made myself focus on. And after I reached the end of the span of the headlights, another two feet became illuminated. I focused on the next two feet.

I have approximately two feet of faith. And that's pushing it. But, on the other hand, I HAVE TWO FEET OF FAITH! That's two feet that I can build a foundation on.

And, two feet at a time, I made it to the Point of the Mountain, and the rain had stopped by then.

And I thanked my Heavenly Father. Oh, man, did I thank my Heavenly Father. I pulled off at Lehi and had my mini breakdown. Then I was ready to take the next two feet.

And, relying on what little faith I did have, I made it to my destination. No worse for the wear and tear and stress. Maybe a little stronger. Definitely wiser.

That was my experience that I was going to share in Relief Society. An experience that made Faith a little more concrete for me. More specifically, rain on concrete. Ha, ha.