Alright. Wow. I feel such a great sense of wonder and awe. Of gratitude and appreciation. Which is ironic considering that this past week had been a burning wreckage. I struggled. I defied. I resisted. I rebelled. I doubted. I relinquished. I quit. Inside. All of the battles I fought and lost or straight up just surrendered were within the confines of my own mind. Inward turmoil I suppressed for so long. Without divulging too many details, my foundation of faith was really devastated and shaken a while back in the earlier months of my mission. The roots of the problem still clenched in the ground. The disease still lay dormant. What am I talking about? Faith. Faith and Hope in Jesus Christ. In His Atonement. In His Gospel. In His Father. "See that you serve Him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength" (D&C 4) I was serving with my physical, intellectual, and social capacities, but I was keeping my heart to myself. I was not totally surrendering all that I was and all that I am to the Lord.
This morning at the gym (we got cut a really sweet deal at the local YMCA), I read a talk called "The Fourth Missionary." I have read it several times over and even shared insights from it with you all at home in emails past. I felt prompted to bring it with me to read on the Stairmaster instead of just picking up some magazine they'd have lying around there. Here are some really key points that stood out to me as I read. I think they apply to us all, no matter what arena we are fighting in. The battle we wage is still the same. At the root, the crux, the core of it all, is fighting a battle against ourselves. Our natural inclinations. Our inadequacies. Our weaknesses. Our insecurities. Our sins. Our temptations. Our fight is against Satan. Did you know that? It's not really against your co-workers. Your neighbors. Your siblings. Your spouse. Your childhood. Your friends. Your enemies. Just THE enemy. The Father of lies that wants us to become miserable like unto himself. Whatever we may feel like is throwing punches at us or kicking us when we are down will all essentially boil down to the fact that we need to believe, have faith in, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ centered on the Atonement if we are to be happy and find joy.
-Your greatest work: your most important creation is and will ever be you. (I honestly spent 15 months of my mission believing that the reason I came on a mission is to baptize. To help other people. That this was not about me. But it is. That my mission has everything and nothing to do with me. It's all about what I need and not about what I want. I've just come to start to realize the reason why God needed me to come here on a mission and I am excited to spend the remaining 3 months of my mission unearthing more of the story.)
-To believe that weaknesses and deficiencies in your character are unchangeable is to reject the central truth of the plan of salvation.
-This life is a path on which you never stand still. Either you move forward towards becoming more like God or backward towards the Adversary. (I thought that I could just stay put. Stationary for a little. Take a breather. Nope. Life is like a treadmill. If you don't move forward you'll get bucked off the back.)
-"And if you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can DO NOTHING." (D&C 18:19) I had sunk so low in discouragement and apathy that I told myself that I could honestly say that I had no faith, hope, or charity therefore I AM NOTHING. But this scripture tells me that without those things I can ACCOMPLISH nothing. Not to think less OF myself but less ABOUT myself as I go about and do this work. I am striving to develop and attain more of these attributes.
-The purpose and central blessing of life (or my mission) is CHANGE. It is to be changed to become more like Jesus Christ. To change, evolve, become is the objective of the Gospel. But it happens only if and when your heart is right. It happens only if you do not fight against God. (Which is what I was doing when I was withholding my heart. It was the only thing the Lord didn't already have of mine. My will) It happens only if you unconditionally surrender your will to the Lord.
-You CANNOT be spiritually changed against your will. (this is why I struggled so much. I didn't want to change. It was too painful. I had no desire to change. Until...the pain of change became less than the pain of staying the same.)
-You live contrary to the nature of happiness when you live contrary to God.
-You can't be happy if you don't want to do the things that lead to happiness, even if you do those very things. (The bite-the-bullet or grin-and-bear it techniques won't work here. Your natural self that is suppressed so long will become unruly and explode if all you are doing is changing your behavior and not striving to change your nature.)
-Your world is in your head. Get your head right and your heart will follow, and you will be right.
-It is up to you. You cannot be changed to become more like God, if within your heart you fight against God; if within your heart you resist, resent, and hold fast to what you rather would do.
-Change takes effect immediately with obedience. It doesn't take eons of time.
-The realization of your amazing, astounding, and true potential happens only in the hands of the Lord. But you and only you can place yourself in those masterful loving hands.
Pretty astounding. I felt really humbled as I wrote those thoughts down in my study journal this morning. I have a bit of desire, faith, and hope and that's all I need to get things moving. It'll be hard, but will get easier over time. A lot easier than continuing to sink in quicksand of self-loathing and doubt. I never imagined ending my mission quitting with 3 miles to go. Actually I did, but I figured that something would happen by the time I went home that would change so that I could sprint and collapse at the end. To finish and complete something really difficult but with the satisfaction and confidence that I had given all that I could. That "stuff that would happen so that I could change" is right now. I have changed a lot over my mission but there are still a couple big stones to unturn. It's a heavy job alone. But one that can be done with the help of One that has carried the world. In all that I have doubted or questioned, I have never, ever, ever doubted in Jesus Christ. Even when I have doubted God. I have never doubted that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. That he suffered, bled, and died for me so that I could learn heaven on earth. So that I could be more fit for the kingdom. What a miracle. What a blessing. How grateful I should be for that gift and opportunity. So cheers to doing hard things. To keep going with faith and hope in good things to come. To be molded, shaped by His hands and to be one day carried and embraced in His loving arms.