Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Keeps Me Going

There are times when the only thing that keeps me going is my relationship with God.

My friends at Church try to be supportive and kind. But sometimes judgment or misunderstanding clouds the best of intentions, and I end up feeling like the alien in their midst. There's nothing more I want than to partake of that baptismal covenant to bear their burdens and have my burdens be born. But so often I feel alone, on the edge; invited in when folks are feeling that missionary fervor. But broken and apart when they don't feel it. There are the so frequent reminders that despite my testimony and my love for the Church and my best efforts, I'm not a member and can't be a member.

My family -- my husband and my son -- are always present, always a part of my life. They love me unconditionally and I love them back. We share the burdens and joys of every day life. That shared life is one of the greatest blessings of this life! The source of all the most valuable lessons I have ever learned and continue to learn! I can never be ungrateful for them, for the sheer gift of their mere presence in my life. But they don't feel the Spirit like I do; they don't understand my testimony or my relationship with God. To them, it is some kind of figment of my imagination that they tolerate because they love me. So the most profound, most important, richest part of my life I can't share with them. Oh how I wish I could! And that sometimes makes me feel more lonely than I have words to express.

My parents love me unconditionally. When I'm really down, or I really need encouragement, I can pick up the phone and call them. In their minds and hearts, I am not an alien, not an outsider or a foreigner or an exile from the Kingdom of God, I'm one of its most cherished members. And my testimony and my love for the Church and my love for God and for my Savior doesn't set me apart from them. They share it, and there's a language we can speak to each other about faith that we all understand. It's the language of the Spirit. Sometimes I talk to them on the phone and I just weep, and they weep with me. What a blessing my parents are to me! But my parents are far away, physically. (I've thought many times how I would love to live in Utah, closer to them!) And sometimes there are struggles and pains I can't share even with them.

And in those loneliest of alone times I turn to God. There's a text I just read this morning, that cut deep, right to the marrow of my bones:

Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:) (2 Chron. 6: 30)

Only my Heavenly Father knows my heart. That I can turn to him and confide everything in him, and be heard by him, and receive from him counsel and encouragement and wisdom... That's what keeps me going.

I received an email from a friend the other day, and he sent me words of comfort that were just the words that I needed to hear at that moment. My eyes filled with tears and I wept, I was so grateful. I was so thankful for his compassion. He is a member of the Church, and it was truly one of those "bearing one another's burdens" kind of moments. I was so grateful to God for this friend, and for the blessing that came to me from God through him.

This morning I had another such moment, when I got up and, after my usual morning routine, sat down at my desk to start work, and found there two cards, one from my husband and one from my son, wishing me a happy birthday. I opened and read their heartfelt expressions of love, and that too brought tears to my eyes.

But even those moments when I receive tremendous gifts from friends, from my husband and son, or from my parents, I still sometimes doubt myself. I doubt that I'm worthy of the love they offer me. But when I turn to my Heavenly Father and offer my broken heart to him, his words of comfort I can't doubt or deny. His reassurance enables me to receive and trust all the other assurances. It makes love and community and every other blessing possible; possible to be given and possible to be received with thanksgiving.

So I'm thankful to him, and thankful to everyone else. What would I be if I weren't thankful?

That is what keeps me going!


MoHoHawaii said...

You are so blessed to have the amount of love in your life that you have. Your family adores you.

Happy birthday! And a hug from me, too.

(I don't know if you have ever read John Fortunato's Embracing the Exile. You might like it.)

J G-W said...

I read it... Years ago! I still have it around here, somewhere...

Evan said...

John, thank you so much for posting this entry. Reading those words was just what I needed for this time in my life.

Hope you have a great birthday!

J G-W said...

Thanks, Evan! I have been reading your posts, and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Bravone said...

John, my heart goes out to you. Even as a member with wife and family around, I too feel alone at times, because no one can truly understand the burdens I bear. Except Him, and sometimes I doubt Him. I am striving to have the faith you do.

Never doubt that you are worthy of the love someone offers you. You are good, and it is their gift to give.

J G-W said...

Thanks, Bravone!

I hope this post didn't sound like I was feeling depressed..! I'm actually feeling quite the opposite, quite blessed and happy and fortunate! Last night I had a lovely birthday dinner with my husband and son, and I felt like the luckiest man alive!

Still, there are always those places in our life where brokenness exists, where the potential exists for us to get lost in fear, ingratitude, or anger. From a purely human, materialistic, or worldly perspective, it is easy to lose track of the bigger picture. Turning to God with the pain or brokenness helps me stay on track, helps me keep the bigger picture; and also reassures me that I am worthy of the blessings he's given me! I begin to realize that the things that seem painful or difficult are actually pointing me beyond myself, into some larger realm of love and service, so even those things become blessings..!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it true that the brokenness in each of us is actually just the potential for growth?

You have been told through the spirit to honor your commitments to your family. Your re-baptism or the reinstatement of your baptism will surely come with your obedience to that prompt.

You have blessed me with your words and provided more peace and understanding than nearly all priesthood blessings I've received. You must realize that there is a mantle on your shoulders, it may not be sanctioned by the church but it is there regardless because of your obedience to the gospel.

Thank you.