Okay, so I wasn’t going to post this week but then I got something in my head that I wanted to write about. I guess we can all say I’m a lot more of a regular poster than I originally intended to be. When Mandy first asked me if I wanted to join in and maybe pick a day I said that I would only do guest posts here and there because I didn’t think I would be able to keep thinking of things to write about. I have had my own blog before and this has been one of the issues with keeping it up (just finding things to write about and/or believing that what I have to say means anything to anyone). However, I’ve found with this group blog I end up being inspired by what everyone else writes and it gives me lots of ideas for things to write about. The things I have to say won’t always be exciting or interesting, but they will be very me. Some posts will be better than others, some long (well, let’s be real, a lot of them will probably be long because I’m a very wordy person. Hey, at least I’m aware of it, right?) and some shorter. Some will be serious and some will be silly. Some will be intended to be helpful to others and some will be just something I needed to get off my chest. This one is more for me than anyone else but maybe it’ll help someone else as a bonus. Orrrrrr maybe everyone will think this post is boring and common. That’s okay though because this one is for me.
This week, well really this past year or so, has been hard on me. I won’t go into lots of personal details but we’ve had a lot going on. We’ve had many extra stressors in our life; some little, some medium, and at least 2 pretty huge ones. One of the huge ones we thought was being resolved this past week but we have come to find out that it hasn’t been (or at least not in the way we expected) and now we are struggling to figure out what to do next. Life is hard when it doesn’t go the way you planned. We all know that life never goes according to plan, yet we are always so caught off guard when it doesn’t.
I came up with some things that have helped me when I’ve felt lost, confused, unsure about the future, and in general knocked off my feet by unexpected life events and needing some direction and guidance. Those of you who are LDS (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka Mormon), are going to maybe be disappointed by these typical answers. But, really, what did you expect? Here’s my list of things that help me find joy in the midst of trials/struggles:
“Pray, He is there. Speak, He is listening. You are His child. His love now surrounds you” (A Child’s Prayer, LDS Children’s Songbook, pg. 12-13)
Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
(Sweet Hour of Prayer, LDS Hymns 142)
Just a few great Scriptures for when you’re knocked down by trials (they are all from D&C because it’s what I’ve been reading lately. For Non- LDS folks, D&C is a book of scripture that is added on to the Book of Mormon, which we follow alongside the Bible)
D&C 122:7 “… know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
D&C 58: 3 “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.”
D&C 121: 7-8 “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high…”
And I love this little gem I found that I think gets overlooked because I’ve never noticed it before. It is something said by Joseph Smith at the end of D&C 127: 2
“I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.”
It is a simple, but encouraging message: I know the Lord will deliver me out of my trials and that things will get better, because He always has and they always do.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints fast (go without two meals) the first Sunday of every month and give the amount they would have spent on food to charity. It is also a time that we believe we can be closer to the Lord and have a stronger connection with The Holy Ghost. The fast is just as much a spiritual thing as it is physical. We fast to receive answers to our prayers when trying to make decisions about our lives, when someone we know is sick or going through a rough time, or when we just feel the need to be closer to the Lord.
4- Going to the Temple
The Temple is a place where we do special ordinances for ourselves and for others. It is a holy house of prayer, of worship, and a quiet and peaceful place to sit, reflect, and receive answers to our prayers. I’ve seen a quote that I love recently that simply says “You are never lost if you can see the Temple” not sure who said it though. I love it because it really is one of the best things for me when I’m feeling lost. I never feel lost inside the temple.
5- Inspiring Quotes, Talks, and Music
Here are some great examples of quotes and songs that lift me up when I’m feeling like I’m carrying a heavy load or are feeling discouraged:
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.Leave to thy God to order and provide;In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly FriendThru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertakeTo guide the future as he has the past.Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;All now mysterious shall be bright at last.Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still knowHis voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.(Be Still My Soul, LDS Hymns 142)
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;Lead thou me on!The night is dark, and I am far from home;Lead thou me on!Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to seeThe distant scene–one step enough for me
I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thouShouldst lead me on.I loved to choose and see my path; but now,Lead thou me on!I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.
So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it stillWill lead me onO’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, tillThe night is gone.And with the morn those angel faces smile,Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!(Lead Kindly Light, LDS Hymns 97)
Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;But with joy wend your way.Though hard to you this journey may appear,Grace shall be as your day.‘Tis better far for us to striveOur useless cares from us to drive;Do this, and joy your hearts will swell–All is well! All is well!
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?‘Tis not so; all is right.Why should we think to earn a great rewardIf we now shun the fight?Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.Our God will never us forsake;And soon we’ll have this tale to tell–All is well! All is well!(Come, Come Ye Saints, LDS Hymns 30)
6- Being grateful
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
(Count Your Blessings, LDS Hymns 241)
So to go along with this one I will go ahead and make a list of things I’m currently grateful for:
-The happy squeals and laughter of my children, because it means that they are alive, healthy and happy
– My husband’s job because it has allowed me to be home with my kids and focus solely on them and making our home a heaven on earth, these critical years while they are so little. We might not have a lot of extra money to go around, but he makes enough to meet our needs without me having to also work so we can survive.
– The fact that my husband, for the most part, enjoys his job and the people he works with. He is very knowledgeable about what he does and this helps him to do very well with it.
-That we have a place we call home. We may not own it and it may not be the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen, but it is a lot nicer and a lot more spacious than what a LOT of other people in this world can say. We are so lucky.
-We have not one, but two, vehicles and we don’t owe anything on either! They may not be the newest or nicest cars but they get us where we need to go with minimal issues and it’s good to have a backup in case one decides to quit. And the best part? One we bought with cash (it’s a cheap junk car) and the other is paid off so we don’t have any payments to make on either!
– My marriage. It is a wonderful part of my life and I’m grateful to have it already have been proven to be able to weather difficult storms. My husband and I have been able to face our challenges together face on and rely on one another for support through trying times. We do our best to love and forgive and avoid blaming each other for the stresses we face. Instead, we work through stressful times together as a team, and have learned early on that it is best to look to the Lord, together, to strengthen us and guide us through the storm. I think we have been able to grow closer together through the trials we have faced so far and I am so confident in our ability to continue to do so in the future as long as we hold on to our faith.
– My friends and family. It’s good to have people in your life who love you unconditionally. That is a precious and valuable thing. That alone is a reason to take heart and be grateful. D&C 121: 9-10 “Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou are not yet as Job; they friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.”
7- Serving others
Putting myself to work to help others or cheer someone else up gets me to stop sitting around and thinking about me. If I can lose myself in the service of others I can forget about myself and my own worries while I’m putting all my efforts into helping someone else. Then, when I start thinking about myself again I also have a better perspective because often, the person I’m helping is worse off than I am and it reminds me to be thankful for what I do have and to stop being selfish and self-absorbed.
I think that learning to rely on the Lord and trust in Him is something we all struggle with from time to time. When things don’t go the way we wanted we often find ourselves frustrated and confused but sometimes the lesson we need to learn is to simply step into the unknown and trust that the Lord will guide us through the darkness, on His timing. I absolutely know that it always works out in the end because time after time in my life it has. Without fail, each and every time I have stepped into the unknown, being led by the spirit (The Holy Ghost), I have come out in the end much better off than I was before. I also know that difficulties and struggles are meant to help us achieve more and be more in the end. So I choose to accept my trials and do my best to learn what I need to learn from them and prove that I can endure.
Without my faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ I would not be able to weather the storms of life nearly as well and I would feel about a thousand times more lost and confused. Without the direction and guidance of the Holy Ghost I would not have made many of the decisions I’ve made in my life that have made me a better and happier person. In short, my faith is what helps me find joy in the midst of my trials. I just can’t imagine how much more difficult life would be without it, and frankly, I don’t want to. I’m sure I wouldn’t know what I was missing out on if I had been missing it my whole life, which just makes me all the more grateful to have it.
An awesome version of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” (from the musical Oklahoma! which is one of my faves) sung by Ray Charles. Perfect for a pick-me-up.