Friday, November 30, 2012
Be All In
All the difference 5 years can make.....
This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. I love the spirit of Christmas and what it represents spiritually. However, this year is very special to me. Tomorrow on the 1st of December I will get to celebrate 5 years since the Lord spiritually smacked me upside the head and brought me back. All I have been able to think about is what a miracle it has continued to be. It's been a splendid and beautiful journey so far and I know it will always be. I want to share my testimony so people know there is always hope for a brighter life.
On November 30th 2007 I came home from a really quite terrible night at work. I had at that point lost everything that seemed important to me. It didn't just happen in one night either. Years of mistakes and bad choices culminated into a moment of devastating clarity. I was completely and totally broken. The year previous had been filled with heartache, and bitterness. I had lost any hope of light in my life and I finally thankfully broke down. I look back now and I see that every single moment leading up to that point had been divinely orchestrated to help bring me home.
I came home that night frustrated, angry, sad, depressed, and every other feeling in the spectrum of darkness. I felt truly in despair. I'm not exaggerating either. It was the first time in forever that I knelt down by my bedside and pleaded for help. I think it's important to mention at this point that I wasn't active in church. I would pray selfishly for things I wanted in moments of anger and frustration and immaturity. As if my sudden rare prayer would prompt God to rain down all the things my heart desired. This is definitely not how prayer worked. At this point I finally had been humbled enough to know that I could no longer continue my life the way I had been. The spirit had finally won over the flesh. The wonderful efforts of friends, family, and Angels was about to pay off. I had no idea that the next 5 years would be so unbelievably wonderful.
On December 1st after a long night of praying and lots of tears I woke up at peace. I decided to drive to my parents house. I was almost there when I felt the impression that I had work to do. I was on 7th East and 45th South when I felt the need to U-turn. The conversation with the spirit that continued was very direct. I was to go home and write letters to everyone I had offended in the past year. It didn't matter whether they were at fault it only mattered that I had taken part in it and it weighed on my soul. I did the following and I knew that I had been wrong. When all was said and done a huge weight was lifted off of me. I felt light and for the first time in a long time a sneaking feeling of joy. Not happiness but joy. You can be happy for many reasons but feeling joy comes from something exceptional.
The part that came next I feel is the most important part of my story. I was feeling pretty great about my new endeavors and accomplishments. But of course the Lord had so much more for me to do. In prayer I knelt asking what to do next to get my life in order. The most direct communication I have ever received as if the Lord himself was there..."You must go to all 3 hours of church." I immediately laughed and launched into bargaining. Saying "How about we start with 1 hour and see how that works." The response I got was so powerful I could not deny it. "You are either all in or you aren't in at all." It wasn't angry, it wasn't disappointed, and it wasn't frustrated. It was a simple matter of fact statement. I knew then and there I had to Be All In. In the next month I began to be all in. In every way I could. I learned many important things:
1- The adversary will do whatever it takes from keeping us from the gospel. There were nights filled with nightmares and deep overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair. The only thing I could do was pray. Pray I did. The peace came. I had a great friend who taught me about the power of music. I would listen to hymns as I fell asleep and over time my faith in the Lord began to overcome my fear of the adversary. I learned that I had power over the adversary and he can only destroy me if I let him. I also learned that if something in your life did not directly link you back to the Savior it had to go.
2- Being all in means being absolutely all in. Repentance is a thrilling process. It is not easy. It is terrifying. I think the most wonderful thing about it is the experience of complete and total sacrifice. You can not stand on both sides. There is no keeping a few sins here and there. You have to be willing to lose it all. To give it all away. My lifestyle changed. I gave up relationships that would hold me back and habits that would keep me down. The only thing I knew was that the Savior and atonement were worth far more than any of these things. I knew in that moment I would sacrifice anything to be nearer to heaven. I would do whatever the Lord asked me to do to be clean and whole again. The sacrifice made is rewarded.
3- I learned to lose myself in the gospel. I fell madly in love with the gospel. I was enthusiastic. Everything in my life became more vivid and beautiful from the moment my heart changed. I demanded a calling. I knew I had to be involved. I wanted to serve as much as I could. As I fell in love with the gospel I continued to work on changing who I was. I had addictions and bad habits that needed to be broken. I had work to do with my attitude. It became so much easier as my understanding of the gospel grew. I conquered whatever was thrown in my way. The crowning moment was when I went through the temple. I cried all the way to the temple because I had this overwhelming feeling of finally being able to go home.
4- I think the most important thing I've learned is who I am meant to be. My concept of life and myself before always seemed like a dream. It was never realistic to me that I was meant for great things. For so many years I went through the motions searching for happiness in worldly places and people. You can never find those things in those places. It will always be a constant battle until your spirit gets what it demands and needs. That is the gospel and the atonement. I felt myself truly come alive when my heart changed. I began to see my potential. I began to see myself the way God saw me. I began to feel beautiful and full of light. The contrast was so immense and overwhelming I still cry when I think about it.
It's been a grand journey. By December 18th 2008 I had been called on a mission. I was called to serve in the Missouri Independence Mission. There are no words to describe my experience as a missionary. Nothing is quite perfect enough to say about it. It changed me eternally. I've been home two years now and my testimony has been tested, my faith has wavered like everyone else, I've struggled, and the fire inside my heart has been reignited. On this day I can truly say I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. It has been restored through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There isn't a doubt in my mind that these things aren't true. I could go on forever and ever with experiences and stories but I won't bore you. I just want to sum it up in this last paragraph:
I am happy. I feel joy. I occasionally when necessary to my growth and development feel sadness and pain. I try to be a good person because I know that in keeping the commandments I can stay close to the light. Only through the gospel can I find a life filled with happiness. I will never reach my potential without the atonement. Heavenly Father loves me so much. He's blessed me so greatly. He believes in me. He believes in my potential and my ability to overcome my mortal challenges. His belief in me is worth more than anything on this earth. I will always remain on the side of the savior. Always. I am not perfect. I mess up a lot. Because of this I know that the Savior will always be there. He always has been and always will be. Most importantly I know these things are true for everyone. We just have to open ourselves to it. We have to be willing to BE ALL IN.