I have been struggling for about six weeks with things in the present that have brought back up shadows of my past. In the process, I had to take a hard look at parts of me that cause me to feel ashamed and worthless. I had to face that I have parts of me that are angry, judgmental, unforgiving, and vengeful. I realize now that one of the many miracles in my life is that I am blessed to be able to put those feelings aside and function from a place of love and compassion most of the time.
Of course, that created the problem. I thought that I had truly repented, truly forgiven, and truly left those things behind. I felt like I had made enough progress to consider myself “almost healed.” Then, I was asked to do something that brought all of the ugly feelings back to the surface. I ended up not only struggling with the original hurts and resultant feelings, but with a sense of failure and hopeless. I felt so back that I actually told someone that I believed I may have risen to the “highest level of my spiritual incompetence” and would just have to do whIat I could for Christ in my sub-standard state.
I wanted so badly to be told that I was wrong, that the problem really resided with the people who had hurt me, and that they needed to be brought to justice! Instead, I was told by a loving church leader that I needed to seek the ability to forgive. That burned, because the fallen side of me felt like the other person was getting off easy, and that I was being left holding the bag and being saddled with the responsibility to clean up someone else’s mess.
I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who keeps talking and leading me even when I well up with pride and want to fight what I secretly know is right. Eventually, I was calm enough to follow the counsel that I was given. As I did, I gained HOPE.
Hope is such a beautiful part of the gospel! Hope recognizes that things are not always going to be perfect, that our idea of how things should be is going to be in conflict with how things are, and that we are going to fall short repeatedly. Hope also recognizes that these things are not as fatal as we think — as long as we are willing to handle them correctly.
For instance, here are some of the steps I had to take:
- I had to be willing to humble myself and accept counsel from leaders who have been divinely called and inspired. It boiled down understanding that if I truly wanted to get over the issues and I wanted God’s help, I had to accept He speaks through the men and women He calls.
- I had to study and ponder. I have been blessed in my early years of growth, because many times the answer I needed was just given to me. It kept me going and helped me feel confident that Heavenly Father knows who I am and wants the best for me. I don’t need that anymore. Now, I need to learn to dig deep and seek the answers.
- I had to listen as I studied and prayed. One of my curses in life is falling into thinking that I am intelligent enough to already have the answers. That kind of makes it hard to listen. And, if I’m not listening, it makes it really hard to follow divine counsel.
- I had to accept the answers didn’t look like I wanted them to look. I wanted to be told to be like Nephi and “go and do.” Unfortunately, I think that would have left me with more problems, because I would have eventually begun to believe that “I solved this.” So, this time my answer is to live the gospel to the best of my ability and accept that I will make more blunders in this area. As I wait upon the Lord to heal and strengthen me, I will learn from my missteps, and I will eventually grow and overcome. This time, it’s about learning how much I need a Savior.
I love irony — especially when I find it in living the gospel! My hope didn’t come from going out and doing “great things” for the kingdom of God. My hope came when I remembered that being humble and obedient are two extremely important keys to living a life that is pleasing to Heavenly Father.