this wednesday letter is a little different. i hope that if you've ever had experiences like this that you'll know you're not alone & that God truly does love you.
one sunday, parker & i were sitting in sacrament meeting listening to the speakers. well, parker was listening to the speakers, i on the other hand was thinking about relief society-- absolutely dreading it. we had been in the ward for about eight months or so & every week, without fail, i would be asked by someone if we were new in the ward. (in their defense the ward was quite large & had an abnormal amount of turnover with young couples due to the fact that we lived right next to BYU campus) however, this particular week, i couldn't be asked that again. my heart started racing. i started sobbing uncontrollably & couldn't imagine anything worse than having to go to relief society that day. i pleaded to parker, asking him if we could go home after sacrament meeting was over.
i was so embarrassed. i wasn't the kind of person who skipped sunday school or relief society. i was the girl that sat on the front row who actively took notes during every hour. but as i sat there, thinking about how embarrassed & anxious i was feeling, i realized that the note taking sadie wasn't there. she wasn't in me. i felt so lost & so unsure of everything i thought i knew.
i thought back to my mission & the wonderful people i was able to come in contact with. about how disappointed they might be with me because my desire to go to church was fading fast. i had a hard time wanting to go to church-- even though i yearned to feel the Spirit. but every time i went to church, i couldn't feel It. i felt frustrated, alone & angry. i would go to church hopeful that maybe this week would be THE week that i would feel the Spirit again the way i used to. that maybe i would get something out of the meetings & classes that would buoy me up to make it through the week without having a breakdown. i was in the middle of the hardest trial i had ever been asked to walk through & i couldn't feel God's love.
in church classes we would have lessons about feeling grateful, feeling joy, or simply just being happy no matter what your trials were. through these lessons, my heart would scream "BUT WHAT IF I DONT FEEL HAPPY? WHAT IF IM NOT GRATEFUL? HOW DO I FEEL JOY RIGHT NOW?"
those questions weren't ever answered in lessons. & it took a long time for me to feel the answers come. it took a long time for me to feel the Spirit again.
one day, as i was feeling particularly low, i tried to think of how i could just instantly feel better. and then i thought of one of my favorite scriptures. in mark chapter 14, Christ is praying in the garden of gethsemane. as He is praying, He asks Heavenly Father to take away His pain. He says, "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not as i will but as thou wilt." and then He continued on in His trial in the garden of gethsemane. He felt every hard feeling. He experienced the pain, the stress, the inadequacy, the heartbreak-- everything. He felt it all.
"Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'... because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so... Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, None Were With Him, April 2009
i realized that sometimes, feeling it all (or even feeling nothing at all) is part of the road we are asked to walk. but i also realized that even though i felt alone, i wasn't. there was Someone who understood my frustration, my pain, my heartache, my yearning, the loss, the desire for happy feelings, all of it. He understood & He was there walking the journey with me. even if it felt like He was staying silent, He was still walking with me.
after i realized that the Savior & my Heavenly Father DID care & WERE listening, i started trying to listen for Them in my life. i tried to find something in each day that was a little snippet of love from Them. & little by little, each day, i found more & more. i'm still trying to find these snippets of love & be better at recognizing them, but as i try, i see them. i am not perfect. i make mistakes. i forget to read my scriptures. sometimes my prayers are quick & more like a text message than a phone call. but i know God hears my prayers. i know that He loves me. i know that my Savior walked His path alone, so that He could walk my path with me. i know that my Savior loves me. i KNOW that my Savior loves me.
as i have thought about this post, i've thought about how other people might feel in reading it. what if they think i'm a bad person for having a hard time with church? what if they think, "but she went on a mission, how could she be struggling with going to church?" what if, what if, what if.
but then i thought, what if someone else is feeling this way. i don't want ANYONE to feel this way. i don't want anyone to feel the shame or embarrassment i felt because i had a hard time going to church. and i thought about the things that were said & done that helped me want to continue to come & the things that were said & done that made me want to stop going. things i had said to people in the past that i wish i could take back or say differently.
you are so loved. don't forget that. even if you're struggling, you are loved. you are good. you are blessed for trying. God loves you so, so, so much. i feel that. i know that.
i am so, so excited for general conference. i have such a testimony of general conference. i know that no matter what you can feel God's love for you during general conference. the Spirit is so strong & i know that even if you're unsure what to questions to ask or what you really want from life, that God will answer your prayers & help you to feel His love while you watch general conference. if you're interested in watching general conference, go here.
i'd LOVE to flood the internet with this simple graphic this weekend. if you'd like to share, on FRIDAY NIGHT (march 30) i will be sharing these to my instagram stories. i'd love it if you would screen shot from either my instastories or from here & shared a quick testimony of general conference with your friends! i know that no matter who they are or what they believe, general conference can help them in some way.