Sunday, March 27, 2011

Being Highly Favored of God


I think sometimes it is easy to confuse favor with blessings. When adversity comes into our life, it is tempting to wonder if we’re doing something wrong. However, if you search through the Scriptures you’ll see a different story.  While it is true that you can see temporal success and wealth as a blessing for obedience, such as in the case of Abraham, there are other blessings as well. The former makes life slightly simpler, the latter makes life richer. Those are the kind I learned about this morning.

My favorite thing to do on Sundays is to get to the chapel early. This way I can sit in the quiet atmosphere and read my Scriptures. There are no distractions in the chapel….unless my kids are fussing. This morning I was reading in I Nephi.  In the very first verse Nephi says,

“….having seen many afflictions in the course of my days,…”

Right after that you would expect him to talk about how difficult his trials have been, yet how he’s grown from them. That’s what most of us would say. But not Nephi. His next words were,

“…having been highly favored of the Lord…”

What? Highly favored? Why would he say that? How are afflictions evidence of favor? Here’s how.

“….having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God.”

When we’re in adversity, grace comes with it. Think of the times your children are suffering. Don’t you try to do everything in  your power to help them through it? Maybe you even buy them a special treat as a means of brightening their day.  I see that time and time again when adversity comes my way.

I’m struggling and struggling, then right about the time I think my back will break under the load, it suddenly gets lighter. Next thing I know some little thing comes along that makes me smile. A tiny gift from heaven. All through that time, often I can feel His presence with me. Not always, but often. I am learning about the goodness of God.

During adversity I am also gleaning much out of Scripture that I have not seen before. It could be a Scripture I’ve read a thousand times which suddenly is rich with meaning I had previously missed. Thus, God is unraveling some things to me that were previously a mystery.

It is not just Nephi who had adversity come as a result of the favor of heaven. The two that come to my mind immediately are Daniel the prophet and Mary the Savior’s mother.

Daniel had gone through much adversity in his life. Kidnapped at the age of around 14 by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Made to endure indoctrination. Having his life threatened when Nebuchadnezzar had a hissy fit after a nightmare. Placed in a den of lions as an elderly man. I think it is safe to say he knew adversity. Yet, when the angel came to him to reveal unto him the mysteries of heaven he called him “a man greatly beloved”.

Young Mary was also looked upon with esteem in heaven. When the angel came to visit her he said, “Hail, thou that art highly favored…” Yet, shortly after her beloved Son was born, Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her very soul. How many of us could endure watching our child tortured and killed publicly?

It appears that sometimes the favor of heaven is not an easy thing.  Maybe when we’re facing our adversities we should remember that our Heavenly Father put this in our paths because He has enough confidence in us to bear it with His help. He’s also designed it to teach us about Him. Both His goodness and the mysteries of Heaven. Can we consider that worth the pain? When we look at it through heavenly glasses maybe during a particularly difficult trial we can remember that we are favored.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Best Big Brother


I read the most encouraging verse last night. I have been struggling with quite a few emotions over the last couple of weeks. I’ve run into some people from my old church, and though one of them was polite, many have been….I guess the closest word I can come up with is “frustrating”.  Compound that with the multitude of nasty rumors I’ve heard recently and I had kind of had it. The funniest one was to hear that I was married to a man that I had left my husband for. Apparently the whole Mormon thing was just a cover. Oh..and my new husband is quite wealthy so the children and I have a very posh life right now.  People puzzle me.

So, I was dealing with that, as well as other liars, which left me feeling quite alone. I have no way of correcting the lies, which is quite a helpless feeling, actually, especially when you feel alone. I don’t really have many close friends yet. Starting over isn’t easy, especially when you’re not just starting over socially, but fiscally and theologically as well.  Developing real friendships is hard, mostly because  it takes a lot of time and I’m a little short on that commodity. Plus, I’m more hesitant to trust than I used to be.  I’ll always have my dear friend Vicki, whom I treasure and feel certain I can trust, but we live a distance apart.

Last night I was exhausted. I was trying to get ready for my daughter’s birthday party (cake, crafts, house cleaning, etc.), I had to work, people kept needing things, children were fighting, and I could literally feel myself falling behind. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with the tasks before me I get lonely. I decided my best course of action was to take some extra time to read more Scriptures. I was so glad I did. I came across this passage:

“But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst…..” D & C 38:7

I had the most overwhelming feeling of love, and the sudden feeling that the Savior was right beside me. Not only that, but He was letting me know that He knew what I was going through. It gave me the impression that He knows and understands what I’m feeling. I’m not really alone. It was a remarkable feeling. I’ve often felt like the Savior was aware of me and my circumstances, and that He had compassion. Last night, however, I felt like he was literally beside me. It is not a feeling I will easily forget.

We really are a blessed people. Not only do we have a Heavenly Father who loves us enough to give His only begotten Son for our atonement, but that Son (our brother) comes alongside us even after His remarkable sacrifice, to be a support.

I knew girls growing up who had really great brothers. Brothers who loved them and looked after them. Brothers who enjoyed them and liked spending time with them. They were companion and protector simultaneously.  I was jealous of those girls. Now I realize I am one of them.  And so are you.

Our Brother and Savior knows us. He is in our midst. What a precious gift! To me, one of the best parts is that He is an honest Brother and Friend. He won’t tell us what we want to hear for personal gain, or to get something out of us. He tells us the truth. If we need and deserve encouragement, He’ll give it. But, if we need correcting He does that too. It’s not hard accepting His criticism, because we know it is done in real love. He has the right to correct.

I don’t know how I can feel discouraged with knowledge of such a Friend. I am truly blessed. Even as I type this, I realize in reality I will still have days I don’t remember this at all and get discouraged again. Hopefully typing it out will help solidify it in my mind. We’ll see. At least for now I remember I have a Savior who is the best big brother one could ever hope for.

Saturday, March 12, 2011




I missed blogging last weekend. This working four jobs is killing me right now, so I fell behind. You’d think working four jobs would provide enough money for my family, but I inherited a lot of debt in the divorce, so we’re still barely squeaking by. Heaven forbid something break down or someone get sick.  Uuugh! One day things won’t be so tough. Hopefully soon because I’m pooped! I actually found myself singing Somewhere, Over the Rainbow the other day longingly.

My children are worth it though. I don’t mind pouring myself out for people I love so desperately. When I’m exhausted and every part of my body aches, and I don’t think I can do one more day, I look into their faces and think, “Yes, I can. I must. For their sakes.” Well, enough about me.

My Relief Society lesson this week is on service, so I’ve been thinking about the topic a lot. Plus, a good friend and I have been having many discussions on the topic. I came across this passage that I keep meditating on. I see more and more meaning in it all the time.

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;” D&C 58: 26-27

These verses are just pregnant with so much important information. Heavenly Father wants us to obey and serve on our own. He doesn’t want to have to tell us each and every item to do in that arena. He’s given us intelligence and agency. We’re to go and do. It reminds me a little of when I am telling my children to clean their room. Once they have the cognitive abilities, I should not have to sit there and say, “Now go put the books on the shelf. Great. Now pick up your dirty clothes.” I should just have to say, “Go clean your room.” They are intelligent enough to know what that entails.

When they are even more mature, I shouldn’t even have to tell them to clean their room. It should be a responsibility they do completely without compulsion. In case you’re wondering…..they’re not there yet.

The concept is the same for us. Heavenly Father shouldn’t have to say, “Lisa is having a challenging week. Go help her around the house.” or “Brother Carlyle just lost his job. Why don’t you see if you can help buy their children their school uniforms to take some pressure off of him.” Instead we are to be anxiously engaged in good causes, doing them of our own freewill, just as he taught us in D&C 58. We need to be looking for opportunities to serve.

Heavenly Father has given each of us gifts that uniquely qualify us to serve the body of Christ. I have enjoyed getting to tutor a young man in college algebra this week. That was unique act of service I could do. Wouldn’t it be great if each day we woke up and looked for someone to serve that day? Wouldn’t the body of Christ be much more the way Heavenly Father intended? What will it feel like to get to judgment day and have Heavenly Father say, “You brought to pass much righteousness. Well done My good and faithful servant”? 

Maybe it will help if we remember, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”

Well, I know this is a short one, but I’ve still got so much to do tonight. I try to look on the bright side when I’m overwhelmed. At least there isn’t much chance of me getting bored.