Tag Archives: personal

Faith and Testimony

Testimony and faith grow into beautiful trees as we nurture them with prayer, scripture study, and obedience.

What testimony is…

Before I start talking about how we can build upon our faith and testimony, I want to be sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what testimony means.  Joseph Fielding Smith said that a testimony:

“is a convincing knowledge given by revelation to (a person) who humbly seeks the truth… Its convincing power is so great that there can be no doubt left in the mind when the Spirit has spoken.  It is the only way that a person can truly know that Jesus is the Christ and that His gospel is true.”

Perhaps you have felt the testimony that you have in your life.

How testimony and faith grow

Henry B. Eyring does an amazing job in explaining this in his talk “Testimony.”  This is what he says:

“Testimony requires the nurturing by the prayer of faith, the hungering for the word of God in the scriptures, and the obedience to the truth we have received.  There is danger in neglecting prayer.  There is danger to our testimony in only casual study and reading of the scriptures.  They are necessary nutrients for our testimony.

You remember the warning from Alma:

‘But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.

Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof’ (Alma 32:38-39).

Feasting on the word of god, heartfelt prayer, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments must be applied evenly and continually for your testimony to grow and prosper.  All of us at times have circumstances beyond our control that interrupt our pattern of scripture study.  There may be periods of time when we choose for some reason not to pray.  There may be commandments that we choose for a time to ignore.

But you will not have your desire for a living testimony granted if you forget the warning and the promise in Alma:

‘And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.

But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yeah, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

Then…ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you’ (Alma 32:40-43).”

Is the ground that you plant your seed of testimony and faith barren?  What are you doing to have fertile soil and to nourish the seed of faith and testimony?  I know that as we continually nurture our testimony through scripture study, prayer, and obedience, our lives are enriched and filled with purpose and meaning.

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Time Traveling

We can learn to enjoy the little things that we have now.

Problems

I used to have huge problems with time traveling.  This was especially true as I was going through depression because I did not like the moment that I was in presently.  Perhaps, you also have had a hard time in your life where you have not liked the moment you were in.  These were the times that I would find myself thinking back to old times where life seemed to be so much easier and where I was blessed with wonderful friends and relationships.

The problem with time traveling though is that we are not living in the present and it can cause deeper depression when comparing now to then.  The huge difference in the times make things seem worse and more dismal than they actually may be.

Overcoming

So how do we get over this natural tendency?  What I have found to work is to pay attention to the little things in the present that make it happy.

  1.  Looking for the Little things:  As we look for the little things in our lives now that make us happy, we will realize that life still is worth living.
  2. Keeping an eternal perspective:  As we keep an eternal perspective and know that our trials of adversity will not last forever, we will be able to realize we don’t have to travel back in our minds to better times in our lives.
  3. Turning to the Savior for help through hard times:  The Lord has felt and gone through all that we have.  He is not a silent observer.  He feels and He knows.  As we turn to Him for help we are strengthened to get through the hard times in our lives.

Living in the Present

Life may not seem worth it, but hard times pass.  As we learn to live in the present we become more filled with life and more alert and conscientious of the little things around us.  Living in the present can bring great joy.

I have learned that as I have come to accept who I am now and where I am now, I have been able to more easily accept and move forward with my challenges in life.

Eternity

Eternity is everlasting, It will not end

Poetry

I wrote this poem while I was still in High School, but I believe it still has some wonderful insights.  Please share what it inspires or brings to your mind.

Eternity

Eternity is everlasting, It will not end

You cannot comprehend it till after you die

Stay true to yourself, for Time does not always mend

 

Unexpectedly you are betrayed by a friend

Pain hurts so much that it makes you cry

Eternity is everlasting, It will not end

 

Unsure of yourself you follow the trend

Soon you’re slapped in the face as you taste that piece of humble pie

Stay true to yourself, for Time does not always mend

 

Times get tough and you begin to bend

The closer you get, you realize that a haven is nearby

Eternity is everlasting, It will not end

Stay true to yourself, for Time does not always mend

Perfectionism

Life is not all about images.

Insecure?

Perhaps you know what it feels like.  You are on edge because you don’t think it will be good enough.  Maybe you are on edge because you don’t think you are good enough.  You never seem to do anything right…  Who determines how we are doing anyway?  Do we determine it for ourselves?  Do we let others determine it?  Our parents?  Our friends?  Those we love?  Society?  Does God determine how we are doing?

In my life, I have only been able to overcome perfectionism as I think of the only person who really matters:  Heavenly Father.  He is the one who we should be trying to please.  He is the one who gave us our bodies in the first place.  He is the one who gave us agency by choosing His Son, Jesus Christ to come down and be the Savior of the World.  He is the one who ultimately determines our destiny after life.  We should be striving to please Him.

Hiding

My perfectionism was so bad when I was younger that I hid everything that I thought was imperfect about myself from others.  I told myself that I could fix it without anybody having to know what was wrong with me, or that anything was ever wrong with me.  A simple example of this when I was in elementary school was art projects.

I did not enjoy doing art projects in front of people or other classmates.  I did not like having people look at my work while it was in the process.  I only liked having the end product, that had reached close to perfection in my eyes, to be viewed by others.  Often I would sit in class with a blank paper before me and not really do anything.  Then I would go home and spend much more time and effort on it.  Sometimes late into the night I would be working on my art or school projects.  I wasted the time I had to work on it in class because I was afraid of people seeing my imperfections and having to start over.

I felt like I needed to be perfect.  If I ever had trouble with things when I was young, I would often keep them to myself.  I didn’t want people to know that I was not doing ‘okay.’  I would just tell people that I was fine.  An interesting things that I learned about that word is that one of my English teachers in high school who said that it is an acronym for:

“Feelings Internalized Not Expressed”

The more I think about the acronym, the more I find it to be correct.

So, some may say that I was a ‘stuffer,’ someone who stuffs all of her feelings inside her, even when they want to come out, to keep an image to the outside world and to not hurt feelings.  I believe that I was more of a perfectionist than a stuffer.  I was just always taught that I need to do my best.

Getting Past Perfectionism

So, what helped me to get past extremes in perfectionism?

  1. Time:  I think one of the biggest things for me at the beginning of letting go of some of my perfectionistic attitudes was time.  This was not really until high school when I realized that I just didn’t have the time to continue with my perfectionistic behaviors.  I knew that I had to use the time that I had in school to get projects or different things done.  I just did not have time after school to get a lot of my homework and other projects done.  I learned this from experience by pulling all-nighters, even when I had used the time I had in school.  I was super busy.  I had theatre after school, sometimes until ten at night, then I would get up in the morning at four thirty to get ready for school, have scripture study with my family, go to early-morning seminary (a Bible/Scripture-study group with people my age), and then go to school.  Basically, limited time was pushing me to not be so perfectionistic.  I just didn’t have the time to be a perfect perfectionist anymore.  Doing this was not easy though.  I had to talk myself into doing things at school over and over again.
  2. Theatre:  Theatre helped me to let go of perfectionism to an extent.  This was especially true when I went to college for theatre.  As I took theatre classes at the university, I was reminded over and over again to accept and even appreciate failure.  This was extremely hard for me at the beginning.  Basically, I had it drilled into my mind that failure helps us to become better…This is true in choir as well.  Choir directors often say that it is better to sing a note loudly and wrong, than to sing it quietly and wrong or right, because then one can actually know what needs to be worked on.
  3. Recognizing my Need:  By recognizing my need for help with some things in my life that I had kept hidden from people for long periods of time, ultimately brought me to let go of my pride and seek help out.  It is worth it.  It is so worth it.  Help is an absolutely amazing and vital thing when you need it.  Yes, sometimes we need to swallow our pride and take a slice of that humble pie to actually seek the help out, but it often needs to be done.  What helped me to recognize my need was by being faithful and diligent in scripture study, prayer, and attending church meetings.  Heavenly Father does help you to become better.  Life is not all about image.

I really like this quote by Sheri Dew:

“This life is not about perfection, but progression.  It’s about persistently, consciously pressing forward–onward–and persistently, consciously trying to elevate everything from our habits to our pursuits–upward.”

Things come one thing at a time.  Let us not try to be perfect all at once.  It just simply does not happen.  Choose one thing, with the help of Heavenly Father, that you believe needs the most work in your life and progress towards overcoming or achieving it.  Heavenly Father will help.  Please seek Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Expecting the best even when its not easy

There is still hope in a dark world.

Our Natural Tendency

A lot of times in our lives, it comes more naturally for us as humans to expect the worst to happen.  It is a lot easier for us to catastrophize.  In fact, it is just where our minds turn to.  We must resist this natural tendency many times until it becomes more commonplace for us to think of or expect the best to happen.

Actually, many times in life we are told to expect the worse so that we can be mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, etc. prepared.  From our experiences in life we are also taught to do this as things repeatedly happen to us that break our trust in others and our hope for the future.  We are in the mindset that history always repeats itself.

History

Yes, history does often repeat itself.  This is when we realize that we have to do something to change.  You know, there is that quote that says:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

So, perhaps we are right in expecting things to turn out badly if that is the way it has always been.  Perhaps we are correct in assuming the worst if we do not change anything.

But we can change.  I know that we can.

An Example of My Change

So, I am going to share with you two journal entries to show how it is possible to change our outlook.

This is my journal entry for December 11, 2010:

“I’m trying to get better it just seems like everything I do I always end up messing up again or everything just keeps getting worse…. I can’t go through a day without seriously considering killing myself… when I was driving the other day I was so close to just driving off the interstate and crashing down a hill and hopefully dying… It feels like either I have to act or I have to force myself to do everything lately… I could go on and on…. I hate being here in North Dakota…. I have no friends here…. I miss C and M so much… I know they love me… I think that is one of the main reasons I am still alive right now.. and that I don’t have access to a gun….My arms are going to be scarred up the rest of my life…. I am never going to want to go swimming again at least not with other people… I am going to be wearing long sleeves in the summer time… I’m going to be dealing with depression for the rest of my life now it seems and then depression is hereditary as well so that makes me feel like I shouldn’t have kids to pass it on to them…. I don’t want or wish this to anyone… Then who wants a wife or a mother who is depressed?  Who wants a friend who is depressed?  I feel worthless… I feel worthless a lot of the time… A lot of times I honestly wish I could just die… I don’t really know who I am anyway so why not?” 

This is my journal entry for Friday, January 7, 2011 (about a month later):

“I feel so lost today.  I know without a doubt that I am supposed to be here in Rexburg, ID.  Heavenly Father has made that very clear to me.  I’m so confused and lost though.  I am here but I don’t really know what I am supposed to be doing.  I feel odd; almost out of place.  Maybe I just haven’t adapted to culture again yet.  Life is very hard for me right now.  I got out of the hospital four days ago.  I had my last shock therapy or ECT on Wednesday.  My memory is shot and this semester is going to be very hard for me.  I already forgot to do one of my papers for a theatre class on design simply because I forgot about it all together.  I don’t really know when I am going to get better or if I am ever going to really feel the same again.  I just feel so different from everyone else.  My life has thrown me some crazy things…. And at times, even at times today I have thought that I would rather not deal with it….I would just rather not be alive.  But then I think about it and I think how if I were to kill myself, Satan would have won.  He would have overcome me.  That is not going to happen.  I know that I am a daughter of God and that I have a divine destiny.  Heavenly Father is watching over me constantly and He wants me to be happy.  I am His daughter.  I will follow Him always.  I will continue onward in this hard life of mine.  Heavenly Father is leading me.  I am so grateful for my eternal friends who help me so much.  My best friend does so much for me.  Just by letting me know that she is there, just by hugging me she comforts me and helps me.  It is weird to come back to school and be back here in Rexburg after all that has happened with the depression and anxiety and it continually tries to sneak its way back in, but I am not going to let it.  Heavenly Father is not going to let it overtake me again.  I know that I am loved by my Heavenly Father and Mother.  I will continually strive to follow them. Always.

Can you see the difference in these two entries?

What helps one to expect the best?

So, how do we change in our lives so that we do not continually expect the worse even when we have been taught to do so?

  1. Understanding our Divine Nature:  For me, this has been a huge part of looking forward with faith rather than with fear and expected disappointment.  Once I understand who I am as a daughter of God, I realize that I do have help and that Heavenly Father is there for me no matter what happens; so it is going to be okay.
  2. Doing the Little Things:  Doing the little things repeatedly, like reading scriptures daily, saying prayers continually, and pondering on the words of God lead us to come to know who we really are and how our Father in Heaven can and does help us.  He helps us as we continue to do our part.  We are given added strength as we consistently do the little things.
  3. Recognizing the Lord’s Hand:  As I have written down and recognized the Lord’s hand in my life, through my friends, through service given to me, and through service I am able to give to others, etc.  I am able to realize that He is there for me.  I have proof that He is there for me in the things that I have written down in my journal every day.
  4. Understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ:  This is a huge one.  Because of the atonement, we can know that even if something does not turn out good, it will be okay.  We have comfort and empathy that comes from the Savior.  He has felt and gone through all of the things that we have felt or feel and have gone through or will go through.  As we lean on Him, we are able to look forward with a perfect brightness of hope.

What are some other things in your life that you have found help you to look forward with hope, expecting the best, even when it is hard to do?

A Couch Potato…Is it you?

When are you going to actually start cleaning up your life?

Desires to change

Have you ever really wanted something?  Have you ever wanted to accomplish or achieve a certain goal or task?  How far do you get?  Do you tell mentally tell yourself that you are going to do something different with your life to become better?  Do you ever not get to the point of actually doing that thing you told yourself you were going to do?

A Wake-up Call

I believe that it is time for us each to wake up.  It is time for us to get up from the dust and away from the television, and actually start doing those things that we mentally tell ourselves we are going to do.  We do not get places by just sitting and waiting.  We can do things now to become better, to improve ourselves in the ways that we want to improve ourselves.

I am not trying to be harsh, I just think it is very important for us to realize that we get much further in life as we work towards our goals with diligence.  Nephi said this to himself in the Book of Mormon as he was taking inventory of his life.  Perhaps we too, should be telling ourselves the same thing.  The verses are found in 2 Nephi 4:28-29:

“Awake, my soul!  No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.  Do not anger again because of mine enemies.  Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.”

How to keep our strength strong

I realize that it is not an easy thing to not ‘slacken’ our strength while we are going through many afflictions.  I know that when we keep our strength as strong as before when we are going through hard times, it is what helps us through.  We can get through the depression and through the unemployment and through the heartbreak as we keep our faith strong and as we rely on our Savior.

In order to keep our strength present in our lives we must be diligent in doing the small things.  We must realize our potential by taking opportunities that come our way.  We are able to take opportunities that come our way when we are prepared for them.  We become prepared as we live our lives with exact obedience and diligence in working towards our goals.

When we tell ourselves to change

Let us be the ones to take the first step to change as we tell ourselves to.  The first step is indeed the desire to change, but we don’t get anywhere if we do not do anything about that desire.  If we do not do anything, the desire becomes a lost hope.  How many lost hopes have you allowed into your life?  How many desires are you still allowing to become lost hopes?

We must remember to do those things that we tell ourselves to do, even if it means putting post-it notes all over our house (this is how I often remind myself to do something).  I love how Dieter F. Uchtdorf describes it in his article, “Your Potential, Your Privilege.”  He says:

“Too often we attend meetings and nod our heads; we might even smile knowingly and agree. We jot down some action points, and we may say to ourselves, “That is something I will do.” But somewhere between the hearing, the writing of a reminder on our smartphone, and the actual doing, our “do it” switch gets rotated to the “later” position. Brethren, let’s make sure to set our “do it” switch always to the “now” position!”

Sometimes we may say that it is not possible to change all of the things that we wrote down or mentally told ourselves to do.  Instead of becoming overwhelmed, let us pick the one thing that we believe is the thing we need to improve upon at this time in our lives.  I understand that doing a little bit at a time is more effective to many people than biting off more than you can chew all at once.

We have help.  We don’t need to do it all on our own.

We have help in trying to become better individuals.  This help is found in the Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father.  Dieter F. Uchtdorf also says later in the article:

“As you read the scriptures and listen to the words of the prophets with all your heart and mind, the Lord will tell you how to live up to your privileges.”

As we do our part, the Lord is more than happy to help us realize our potential.  Please don’t get down on yourself and beat yourself up for all of the things that you have not done.  Think of the things that you have done.  Even if they are small, they are accomplishments.  Christ will help you to do more as you continue to work hard and do the best you can.  Do not worry if your best does not measure up to someone else’s best.

Heavenly Father knows you.  He knows how much you can do.  He knows your limitations; He also knows your potential.  Please get off the couch and try to do something more.  Try to act instead of allowing yourself to be acted upon.  God loves you.  Please let Him help you and follow His guidance.

Creative Success

To create as God creates

Recreation

One of the therapy groups I would always attend while in hospitalization programs and partial hospitalization programs for depression was recreational therapy.  This was a group where we did various activities to help us realize that there are things we can do to keep ourselves busy and relaxed at the same time.

Sometimes for this therapy group we would go on outings in the community, play games, or learn new crafts.  This was where I picked up origami again and started making paper birds, cranes, frogs, flowers, etc.  Finding time to wind down and do something that we enjoy, that does not have a deadline, is important in our lives.

Recreation is a good way to keep our lives in balance.  As we spend time with our friends and with our children or family, we are able to build and strengthen relationships.

Have you ever noticed that recreation has the root word of creation?  What new insight does this bring into our recreational activities?  In essence,  we are re-creating.  Our lives have more meaning as we learn how we can live better by how we are better able to create.

Creation

I have absolutely loved creating new things ever since I was a child.  It is and was an inherent desire.  I would color pictures and build towers and make up songs.  It made me have a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment.  I felt good.  As a child, we do not let other people’s opinions stop us from our creative intuition.

One does not have to work in the Arts to be creative.  People who come up with business plans and who find new, more efficient ways to accomplish goals, who re-arrange furniture, etc. are creative as well.  I am sure there are aspects in each day of your life where you are creative.  What has it been today?

Heightened Creation

God created the world and each one of us.  We are each one of His masterpieces.  How do we treat His creations?  We come unto Him as we recognize the creations we participate in throughout our lives.

There are ways beyond skills, talents, abilities, and hard work that allow us to better create.  Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point.

Acting

It was the afternoon in my Acting II class, and we were each to choose partners and scenes for our duo acting assignment.  I was a little concerned because I knew that the play we were choosing scenes from had inappropriate language in it that I was not comfortable saying.  I ended up with a scene where there was only one word in my part that I was uncomfortable with.

As my partner and I rehearsed multiple times, I would just skip over the word.  I hadn’t really decided what I was going to do.  It was really hard for me because I wanted to excel in the class.  I battled with myself as to whether I should use the word or not.  I counseled with my mother and some close leaders, but I still was not settled on what to do.

I even ended up going to the professor and explaining my feelings about using that type of language.  He told me that it was ultimately up to me what I would end up doing, but that he would encourage me to use the word.  He told me that by using the word, I would step onto another plateau in a sense.  I would be opening a new door that would lead to more possibilities and greater ability in my acting career.

As I left, I felt disheartened.  I didn’t know what to do.  I went to the Lord again in prayer and told him of my feelings and how I wanted to be obedient to His laws and His standards.  As I knelt and pondered, a peace came over me as I decided to not use the word.  It felt good to know that I was staying true to myself and what I believed.  I did not let the desire for success in the class, override my desire to be an obedient daughter of God.

The day that we were to perform our scenes came.  My partner and I did well.  In fact, my professor said that the scene was the best acting he had ever seen me do, and had little else to comment on.  I felt like it was my best acting as well.  It was an amazing feeling.  I know that the Lord was helping me and blessing me for my decision to stay true to Him.

The Spirit and Creation

I will stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places.  I know that as I do this He helps and strengthens me to be more than I am.  By staying close to His spirit, I have greater ability to create.  I love this quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

“The more you trust and rely upon the Holy Spirit, the greater your capacity to create.”

As you have relied on God for help and done the little things, like reading scriptures and praying, consistently in your life, how have you seen this promise come true?  What can you do to increase your creative capacity?  I know that Heavenly Father is waiting to help us with our righteous desires, and that as we rely on Him and His Spirit, we will be better able to succeed.