Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Am Not Alone—An increase in Faith

by Annmarie

You know, I really shouldn’t blog when I am on pain medication. For some reason the pain medicine makes me emotional and lowers my inhibitions, making me likely to say (or write) anything. You can get all my secrets out of me when I’m on pain meds. However, when I’m emotional, what I want to do most is write….or cuddle someone. The kids are at their dad’s house this weekend, so the only outlet left is writing. Let’s just hope I don’t give up anything too personal.

I teach Relief Society tomorrow. The scheduled lesson is on faith. I’m quite excited about teaching that topic, because it is one I desire to grow in more than any other. Some time back I remember sitting in the chapel on a Sunday morning and confessing to God my lack of faith, pleading with Him to help me know how to develop more of it. Immediately the Spirit said to look up Alma 32. I did and was quite excited to see it was a manual on developing faith. I have grown to love that chapter. 

However, shortly before our recent General Conference, I was still feeling like I was failing in the area of faith. I went to God in prayer again. I told Him I must be His slow, “special” child, and I need more help. I spoke to Him about Alma’s chapter, confessing that I DID have a deep desire to believe and have complete faith, just as the chapter said to. But, I confessed that I felt that although the chapter said that seed would swell and grow, that maybe there was something else necessary that I was missing. The only thing that I felt had swelled was my desire. I still didn’t feel my faith had improved much.

This prayer went on for many, many weeks, and I was beginning to worry I would never improve my faith.  I don’t know if anyone noticed, but many of the talks during October’s conference were on faith. I took copious notes and rejoiced that my God loved me enough to give me more help. I rejoiced again as I noticed other prayers being answered through conference. One in particular really strengthened my testimony that God hears and answers MY prayers.

I was torn about a family decision. I could tell someone in priesthood leadership over me thought I should no longer homeschool my children. I have agonized over that decision often, in much prayer, and always felt like it was the only right decision for my family. My leader never said anything to me personally about his feelings, but I could sense it. I wasn’t 100% positive that was how he felt until a few days ago, when a friend, who was frustrated with me, told me that the leader had said something to their family about it.

Although frustrated with that information, by the time my friend mentioned it to me, I was already at peace about my decision, because God gave me the answer during conference.  You see, previous to conference, I was worried that maybe I wasn’t understanding the Spirit correctly because this priesthood leader felt differently than I did about it.  I’m new in the church, and learning to discern the Spirit is a LONG, often difficult, process. What if I was letting my emotions and desires confuse what the Spirit was saying? However, anytime I prayed about it, it was the only answer I got. Everything else seemed dark and wrong.

I didn’t think I could with a clear conscience do anything other than homeschool. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure it would destroy my family emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. Not to mention the academic step back, including the fact that my poor oldest child had already taken all the math and science classes (save one) the public schools had to offer, and he’d have to spend the next three years just repeating stuff he’d already learned. But, what was I to do with my leader’s opinion. Doesn’t God guide us through our priesthood leadership? So, I went to the Lord in prayer again. I told Him that I wasn’t sure what to do. I want to homeschool my children, and I felt that HE wanted me to homeschool my children, but it felt to me like my leader did not want me to homeschool. What was I to do? How can I guide my family, if the direction I feel I’m given is contrary to what my leader felt?  Was I to make every decision based on what my leadership thought was right, even if I felt very much to the contrary?

Oh how blessed I was to have one of the talks teach us how God gives revelation! He specifically said that though God gives revelation for us to our priesthood leaders, when it comes to areas of family government, He gives the revelation to the head of the family, not the priesthood leader. What peace I felt wash over me when those words came out of the apostle’s mouth. I wasn’t misunderstanding the Spirit. I just didn’t understand the chain of revelation. I did know what was right for my family. It was even more comforting to me that the apostle used the same wording I had in my prayer. I told Heavenly Father I love my children more than anything and needed a specific, clear answer, and He gave me one!

There were many other ways which my dear Father in Heaven spoke to me, answering very pressing questions during conference. It was such a balm to my soul in ways no one would be able to understand. You see, since February of this year I have secretly felt like my soul was being ripped apart. A series of unexpected events, that would periodically rear its head again, would leave me feeling trapped and abandoned. I wasn’t sure if God was hearing my pleas for help. I often worried I had slipped through the cracks, or worse, maybe I wasn’t important to Him. Or maybe He just didn’t like me.  Maybe He felt I failed Him too often and was not worth the trouble. I loved Him very much, and wanted Him to love me too, but I felt like my pleas were going unheard and I didn’t know what to do.

Having Heavenly Father answer so many of my cries and concerns during conference gave me such confidence and peace. He WAS hearing my prayers and worries. He did care enough to help me understand. He answered my prayers. That experience has helped to increase my faith, my trust in Him. I still have so very far to go. But, I’m glad to know He is with me on the journey. I am not alone.

6 comments:

Dana ♥ said...

I'm so glad you heard what you needed Annmarie. I too loved that talk you mentioned and especially the way it was laid out so clearly.

Michelle said...

Beautiful, Annmarie. I am enjoying reading your blog now, after finding it through LDS Homeschoolers.
"He hears me." Isn't it amazing?
How grateful I am for the two lines of revelation Elder Oaks mentioned. Thank you for sharing this.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

I just love how we can all listen to General Conference with our own questions we need answered and through hearing the same words find the answers we need individually. God is mindful of us. He does listen and provide, though many times it is after the trial of our faith. So glad you were able to have your prayers answered!

MJ said...

Honey, I am SO glad you got an answer to your prayers! Because as I was reading this latest entry, and you were talking about the Priesthood leader who doesn't agree with your decision to homeschool, I was screaming at the computer screen "It's NOT his place to decide what's best for YOU and YOUR family!!!!"

I have a very close friend who is learning this very thing. She got married to her first husband because her dad/family told her it was the right thing for her to do (I believe the wording was something along the lines of "You never know if you'll have another chance to get married again"--STILL pisses me off, but I digress), and he ended up being abusive. Now she's engaged to a man who I know to be a WONDERFUL man, and her family is against it.

Her older brother was supportive until last week, when he told her that if her decision was right, their dad would be ok with it.

Uh, NO. Because he is no longer her steward. She is the head of her family. NOT HIM.

And relatively recent past shows that his gut sucks. Her ex was perfect on paper (returned missionary, graduated from BYU, etc), but he was abusive. The guy she's with now, he's my ex-boyfriend. He has a past, it doesn't all look good on paper, but that doesn't make him less of a man. He's learned from his mistakes, and is better because of them. And two of my very good friends have found the happiness that I have always hoped they would find.

And I am happy for you. I pray the Lord will continue to provide a way for you to homeschool your children.

Brittney said...

I felt the Spirit while reading this. I'm glad you learned more about revelation - the difference between the priesthood line and the personal line. And you seem to be so great at forgiving others' faults and judgment of you. That's an amazing quality. I love general conference and listen to previous general conference talks over and over during the day while doing chores or feeding my son. It's amazing the things we can learn at the feet of the prophet and apostles.

Brother W said...

Annmarie:
Our family loved your article in Meridian. With respect to your home school decision, your spiritual searching process and honesty in the face of Priesthood leader bias is remarkable. It seems to completely parallel your candid and honest examination of the Church. But I imagine it may have been even a little harder.

On our first day of home schooling, 20 years ago, the Spirit of peace that came into our home was palpable. We taught our four kids until they were more or less ready for college or advanced High School for Science and Math. (3 of the 4 went to a very selective boarding school in Oklahoma for their last 2 years of high school).

At times we caught a lot of flack from biased ward members and leaders. Nevertheless, based on what we learned over the years about the history of both public schools, and the original Church effort to start its own schools, we would never consider public schools during the formative years.

Now, Terri is building on her experience with her own private school. She had 6 students last year, 10 this year. You may be interested in her program. You can read about it at www.republicacademy.com.

All the best. We know that the Lord will bless you as you continue following the Spirit.