Strength in Weakness

Cultivating Heart

“The meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables usto perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.”        {Abraham Joshua Heschel}

At the end of our darkest moments we crawl with the last energy that straggles from our fibres, holding on to the hope of a new day that will be brighter and more peaceful than the last. We grapple for something small to hold onto, something that stays with us in that quiet space where we battle with our demons. Sometimes all we can remember is that there will be a day that won’t be painful anymore and every day is worth fighting for because some day we will reach that perfect day.

In recent physical health struggles where I’m bound to my bed, I’m reminded that this is for a reason. I’m reminded that all of our experiences we live through are so that we can understand. So that I can have compassion for others. So that I can wait in patience for the discomfort to subside. This time knowing that I’m not alone. In these bouts of physical weakness I know that I will be made strong. As the pain gradually fades, my spirit is brought back to its’ still, tranquil solitude where even more so than before I am grateful for every spin the earth makes on its’ axis and for every step I can take. At the end of this suffering I can feel more gratitude for my body that is able, for this human body I have that shimmers in the sunlight; I’m more grateful for the peace of mind, for the sights and the sounds, for the ability to express myself freely through words, and for the ways that I can try harder to love my family.

These times of difficulty when we feel weakened in heart, when we feel broken, when we wonder how we can go on, they change our souls. They turn us inside out, twist us around, and spit us out so that we can be more beautiful than we ever were before.

{ETHER 12:27 “then will I make weak things become strong.”} The Book of Mormon

Losing, searching for, and finding Home

For the things we truly love, we must make sacrifices. Sometimes we must forget the self that we think we are.

Sometimes we must have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to be with.

This is how we find our way home.

Home. Home can be an empty word that has no meaning. Home and I never established a solid relationship, and so I was searching for this place where I could belong and where my heart could rest at peace and where I could be rooted to grow as a tiny sapling.

I had attempted to quit smoking many times before. Walking home at night in the rain I made oaths with myself to end the habit and I tried over and over to convince myself I did not need it. At work, every hour, I would step outside to drag for five minutes on this token of freedom from an uncomfortable social situation that pained me to stand amongst. A cigarette represented an escape. A way out of all of the voices going around inside my head while I didn’t know how to speak, how to be alive, how to be amongst other human beings. So I would think and think about the next opportunity to hold that rolled tobacco between my fingers and run from this world that made no sense to me so I could be alone in the open air and my thoughts could slump into numbed relaxation.

When my anxieties attacked at every angle within the depths of my soul, it was always there to lean upon like a dummy in the pocket of a baby long grown out of suckling years. I had no money, but always had enough to smoke. And perhaps if I hadn’t given myself away so easily to a destructive relationship it would have been only half the climb back up.

Never again will I allow myself to be submissive to something that does not understand me, respect me, or love me as I am.

Never again will I lose sense of my true self, or hide my self, or be afraid to express the love that I am.

My life was filled with people who hid their love behind closed doors or had been hurt so much they had forgotten how to love, maybe they never knew how to love. And I don’t mean love between a man and a woman I mean human love, spiritual love, love for all; love that transcends you because you love all people with their flaws and mistakes and sacrifice yourself just so you can show others a pure love and how to love themselves with words and actions and a new chain of thought that stops them from thinking they are ugly, or worthless, or inadequate, or alone.

You can start to view each person as a brother or a sister on this journey together, each needing a hand to hold and someone to show them the way.

Sometimes I get frustrated because the cats persist to excrete in the garden, odours of scattered rubbish waft along the street, the lounge is not homely enough to relax in, and I’ve had little money for food, no way of travelling anywhere except by foot, and feelings of despair. But I got out of all of those other places that sucked me down and teared me and grasped at me with a million hands. I do have a roof over my head, I have a bed, a hot shower, a stove, trees around the corner and a river down the road, and I have people who want to help me; people who genuinely care because they love all. There is no arguing in my house, no smoking, no drinking, no loud swearing, and I am safe from the outside world. This may sound terribly boring but in fact it is incredibly humbling to have so little of material value but instead live through having nothing and nowhere and no-one so you are able to feel the deepest gratitude for the most simple, peaceful blessings.

I live in a house, yet it is not my home. A search for my home began too long ago to tell. I was looking for something that could not be found. The earth is my home. The whole of the earth. Wherever I may go, I am home.

 

How did I develop faith in the church?

My faith in the church has been built upon numerous small events and occurrences that I cannot deny participation of a Godly being.

I had always believed that everything happened for a reason, at the right time, every single person I met had significance, and every single word spoken had meaning. I knew there was life far beyond that which our human eyes could see. I had felt powerful energy, I had lived amongst the purity of nature, and I had stumbled through darkness shrouded by shadow beings of other worlds. I knew that there was more to life than a vicious cycle I was trapped in; there was something that wasn’t right, something missing. A hollowness in my being existed from a young age, as if my soul had been torn from me. It was a life-long search filling this hole with alcohol, substances, promiscuity, stealing, and uncontrollable rage. I had depression and severe anxiety so I would be afraid to leave my bedroom, afraid to walk down the street, and afraid of who I really was.

When I left England to travel I longed to find freedom. I wanted to run into the earth’s open arms and strip away all of the tarnished influences of this world so I would be left as I was when I came into the world; like a baby: pure, innocent, unknowing, impartial. In ridding myself of all worldly affairs and accepting and forgiving my troubled past I became open and prepared to hear God’s word that had long been forgotten.

On returning to England with no home, and no money, and no concept of what the future may hold, I was in a heightened state of peace interested only in creating and maintaining this peace, with a yearning to discover my purpose. I was still in a meditative state and continued journeying in my own mind in search of answers, in search of explanations for that which I could not comprehend. I moved on, I was lonely, I was betrayed, I was convinced I had a mental illness. But I continued still with a spring in my step and the hope that I was going somewhere great.

My meeting with the missionaries was a simple passing on the street while I was walking home from work with my head in the clouds. A kindly gesture that allowed me to pass them giving me a friendly “Hi, how are you?” I replied with a spritely “hello, I’m good, how are you?” I think both of us were equally pleasantly surprised to be spoken to with such courteous manners on those streets of Gillingham. They asked me if I ever thought about the meaning of life and I said ” yes, everyday, it keeps me awake at night.” I had pondered and pondered, and dived into my own thoughts, into experiences, into religions, into people and my only conclusion was that there was no purpose. Nothing around me had real meaning. I would tap things to find out if they truly existed, and what were these particles that held it together anyway, where did they come from? It could all be no more tangible than my disappearing thoughts. I was surrounded by objects, places, people, who were not living. It was a town invaded by spiritual poverty that was attempting to drag me down with it. As this elder spoke on the street corner stood opposite an old church, I felt this heightened peace returning to me. I wanted to meet with them again only because I had enjoyed the interesting, spiritual conversation and was curious to know more. Weeks passed where we exchanged messages. I attended Sunday services at a Church of England and felt power run through my body when my forehead was anointed with oil. I had never had a relationship with Jesus, I had never known if he was even real. I attended one Alpha course lesson which was to help people better understand Christianity and when we were presented with scholarly evidence of Jesus and His miracles I knew that he was true. There were friendly people at this church, they danced when they sang, the words touched my heart, and they were involved with community outreach projects. This was a place I felt far more comfortable than other places of worship.

I wished to know what that warm burning in my chest was and why sometimes my body felt to be glowing with life. The elders told me it was The Holy Ghost, testifying of truth and righteousness and offering guidance. I had felt this goodness many times and had defined it as pure love. I needed more evidence, more confirmation. They suggested I pray to God and ask if The Book of Mormon was true. Sitting down in my bedroom holding this blue book in my hands, I pleaded to know if it was true. My heart glowed and a wave of peace fell upon me. Still this was not enough, I knew the mind’s capabilities that could be playing all manner of deceptions luring me into false hope and imagined emotions.

I was angry with the concept of forgiveness, that I was expected to ask God’s forgiveness for my transgressions when He had given me this life. I had already forgiven my parents for mistakes they made and accepted responsibility to change the damages. So I had to forgive God for leaving me, for putting me through darkness, for giving me a broken home, for sending me to live beside beings made of shadows, and for letting me live without His love.

I learned that it hurts him too when we suffer. And sometimes we suffer because we have done wrong, sometimes we suffer to grow, but in the end we will always grow and always come out the other side. I learned that God loves each of us and he wants to be close to us so that we can feel his love that is comparable to nothing else in this world. I learned that there is a before and after; that we are spirits given human bodies upon this earth in a mortal life that is microscopic in comparison to our eternal destinies. I learned that this is not it! That the spirit world really does exist beside us, and there are endless worlds, multiple universes, and angels, and we ourselves have the potential to become Gods.

It isn’t to say that I did not know these things before. But I have read, and prayed, and studied, and found stable, unchanging, solid facts written in the words of God concluding what I already believed. No matter where I go or what I do, God will speak to me in a multitude of methods and He always has done without me truly knowing it was Him. In nature I feel His presence envelope my spirit and warm my heart, away from the scriptures, away from any of the people who belong to the church, away from the pews, and away from all of the resources. Alone amongst the sunsets with birds singing, alone when I’m reaching to the lost souls, and alone when I fall to my knees. I speak to Jesus and I know He lives, as my brother, and as my healer of pains he understands; I feel Him carry me when I am too weak to carry myself. In opening pages of scriptures I feel His peace and I feel God’s peace. In the Gospel I know, who I am, why I am here, where I came from, and where I will go when I die. There had been many stories, many theories, many discussions, many thoughts in attempts to answer these questions that I had turned my cheek against in disbelief. None of them seemed quite right.

I was afraid to commit to one religion, I wished to explore religions and cultures and people across the earth and thought that by belonging to a religion I would segregate myself from others. I didn’t want to create division in a world that was losing its’ unity and needed bringing together. I left behind delving into other religions and spiritual theories to commit to this new life that I hoped would bring me stability, knowledge, purpose, direction, truth, and the opportunity to start over. In my heart I longed for adventure and travelling but I also desired a soulmate who would be with me forever and the best chance of raising and protecting a happy family with all of the love I could give. Within both these dreams I also wanted to fulfil my natural desire to serve others and to live only to benefit and assist those in need. Between battling with leaving everything behind again and fleeing to unknown lands, I stayed to learn and live this way God wanted.

It was a mistake to assume finding God’s church would alleviate my troubles. Days are still hard, at times I am lost, and occasionally I wonder whether anything has really changed. But I know my life is for the work of God and it will find me when the time is right, or maybe it already has and I’m too busy searching to see. Life’s mysteries continue to astound me and I have not enjoyed turning to books so much to find answers to some of this profound life’s ultimate questions. At the moment my focus is on reading and living these scriptures and I’ll occasionally read materials that are not of the Gospel but this is my foundation that I build upon; my roots that will grow deep into the earth, and when I have enough knowledge, then I’ll be ready to build some more, growing into a beautiful, full-bodied, fruitful tree of life. And in this I bare my testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Who are You?

We have to know what we are when we are nothing. When there are so many things we think we need, endless lists of feelings, objects, experiences, people, expecting we will be satisfied in our gains. Satisfaction does not come from these unattainable external influences that we can waste a life-time searching for, unconsciously attempting to fill an echoing void within our beings.

Who are you? Without everything that you associate yourself with? Who are you without the hobbies, the job, the friends, the family, the home? Are you willing to discover what is underneath the flesh and bones? Can you uncover layers influenced by a mis-directed society and dissect the parts that are untrue?

Discard everything, and start again. End this way of living that is filled with dead-ends or lost dreams and start again. We do not run out of chances to start over and the only way to start over is to really know who you are. When you are nothing. You are a unique special human being living on this earth for a purpose only you can fulfil.

And when you love, dream, hope, cry, loose, struggle, believe and keep on pushing forward knowing that there is more to come you make it out on the other side, knowing, this is who I am, without any solid definition because you are free.

Happiness is dependant only on state of mind, on peace of mind. If you’re at peace you withstand all of life’s hurricanes. Find that peace, use your time wisely to go in search of those things that make your soul feel wholesome and your spirit uplifted so when winds blow and darkness comes knocking you know how to re-gain your peace, you know who you are and you know where you’re going. Look for the answers and they will find you when the time is right. But never stop looking, never stop wanting to know more, and never assume you know everything. The answers are out there drifting upon the winds waiting you to reach out and catch them with open palms. Keep reaching, keep looking up at the stars wondering where you came from, keep walking down empty streets, keep listening to the silence of the trees and trickling rivers, keep speaking to full moons, and keep questioning why you are here. You are not alone, and you are here for a reason.

Sharing Happiness

Sometimes all we truly need is a friend. In moments of sadness and despair, in times of trials and afflictions, when we feel as though life is crashing down upon our weary shoulders sometimes the one thing we need is a person to lift us back up. In this world we can be lonely and that is the greatest pain we may face. To feel mis-understood, hushed, isolated, and stood on the earth alone separated from all of society. We are not here to be alone. We are not here to be divided or miserable. Our purpose is in joining together as humanity and becoming a race of kindness, peace, consolidation and service to others.

So if there is a person you see who appears to be struggling, who you feel is sad, who you know is experiencing a personal challenge, reach out to them and offer a gesture of compassion. A listening ear, an embrace, an outing, words. In all scenarios in any place notice the human beings we are inhabiting this planet with and apply simple reactions to sow the seeds of happiness.