Thursday, April 16, 2015

Do We Walk Alone?

I have written a few things about last fall's struggles without the specifics… 

I felt very alone through these struggles because I wasn't able to openly talk about them. I prayed and read the scriptures in an effort to gain strength… but I still felt like I was hanging on by a thin thread… I often wanted to shrink away in a corner and not deal with the pains at hand. I expressed my hurt a couple of times to others, but it seemed like the ears that heard had not really heard me… so my hurt burned deeper.

After several months of reaching deeper for spiritual strength than I really wanted to, I felt the healing begin to take place. I was finally feeling as if I could confidently push away the hurts out of my mind and at least function. Right about that time, when I was feeling stronger, I received multiple phone calls, text messages, and emails from people from all walks of life asking me if I was ok. One sister from church, whom I don't even know, called me out of the blue. She said, "I was praying and felt the distinct impression that I needed to check on you and pray for you. Are you ok?" Another friend said she had felt a strong impression to pray for me for a long time… but on that particular day she felt it was time to reach out to me. Another friend from high school said she couldn't get me off her mind all morning. She just had to find out if everything was ok. Strangers sent me messages of love during this same time period over a couple of days. 

I thanked each of these wonderful people for reaching out with so much love, but I didn't understand why they had received that impression. I was actually doing ok… FINALLY! None of these people had anything in common… except that the Spirit had spoken to them. These messages were undeniably messages directly from God via these lovely souls.

I asked God why they hadn't spoken to me when I was at my lowest. Why didn't this influx of love come at a time when I felt like I wanted to crumble to pieces? I was receiving this influx of love… this absolute knowledge that God was sending me love… AFTER I was actually feeling better. 

Usually you hear stories about people reaching out during the deepest, darkest moments of sadness and hurt. Why now? This troubled me for a bit. I prayed about it a lot. 

A couple months passed and pure joy was returning to my soul as I continued to heal. I was moving in a very positive direction when out-of-the-blue I received a 2nd influx of love. Some were the same people and others were different, but it was a very obvious influx. I knew by the messages that I received. People said over and over again that they felt "inspired" to contact me. 

Again, I was confused. I was actually still doing ok. I'm ALWAYS grateful for messages of love. I just didn't know why there so many random messages in a 24 hour period. That very night, in the middle of the night, I received a very strong impression that there was something wrong again. Shortly after, my fears were confirmed and my sadness returned full force. Just a few short hours after God had sent this influx of love, I was in the midst of another deep trial. 

As I suffered the pains of this trial once again, I asked God why HE was sending such a wave of love right after and right before my deepest sorrows when I actually wanted the constant reassurance DURING the trial. I hadn't found the answer yet…

Soon after, Abe and I were asked to speak at a young single adult conference for the whole state of Florida. There would be several hundred young, single adults in attendance. Guess what the topic was? 

It was titled: "We Never Walk Alone" from a talk our prophet, President Monson, delivered in General Conference in October 2013.  

I cringed, I cried, and I refused to prepare this particular message because I felt like my experience had shown me otherwise. I had felt VERY alone DURING my trial, but I also knew I couldn't back out of this commitment, but how could I speak on not walking alone when I had felt very alone for so many months?  

I knelt down and offered up a very powerful prayer. I knew God had sent love my way, and I knew it was a very deliberate message. I mustered up every bit of courage and humility I had and began to read President Monson's talk again. All of a sudden it hit me very strongly:

A child who is learning to walk receives hugs and cheers and all kinds of encouragement the moment before his mother releases her fingers from his. The father, standing on the other side of that child, waits for him to take those few steps to him. Both the mother and father are there the entire time ready to catch the child and to keep that child from being harmed. The parents make sure that their child is not going to fall into a hole or face any trial that the child can't handle. They gently cheer the child on; but in order to learn, that child has to take those steps on his own. That child has to reach the other side by learning how to walk. The parents are there all along… just waiting… knowing this is a good experience for the child's growth. When the child reaches the father, what happens? Oh my goodness there is an eruption… a very obvious INFLUX of love and hugs and cheers. He did it!!  

As I thought about the timing of my eruption of cheers from God during my trials, they came before and after my deepest trials. My Heavenly Father was there all along, but HE had to let me work through the pain (under HIS watchful eye) in order for me to grow. 

I read the talk from President Monson again. This time I believed his words when he said:

"You will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you."

I thanked the Lord for teaching me. As I spoke to the single adults I gave them an object lesson. On the way to the event, I felt inspired to ask our children to sing the song they had performed at a talent show only a month previously. This would be an even larger audience, and they didn't have time to run through it again. The prompting came to me for them to sing, so I knew the Lord would bless them. 

What happens when somebody is about to take the stage and perform? We cheer and give them a huge round of applause. (We give them an influx of love and encouragement.)

Then, they are required to walk out onto that stage and perform on their own. When my young children stood in front of the large audience, I couldn't sing for them. I sat in front of them and smiled at them and prayed for them, but I couldn't do it for them. They had to sing their song.

When a performance is finished, what happens? Of course we give them another huge round of applause. We may even give some whistles and extra shouts. 

When my children finished their performance, they received a standing ovation. Tears streamed down the faces of many in attendance. The biggest cheers come before and after the performance.

We hear the stories of people performing and, unable to finish, the crowd joins in and sings with them. People also often tell their stories of when they suffered greatly through trials and then received much needed relief just in time to save the day.

We rarely hear about the stories when we felt as though we were alone and needed intervention, but the help we thought we needed did not come. 

I testify that we are NOT alone even when we are not receiving the help we THINK we need. God IS beside us ready to keep us safe from those things that would harm us greatly. HE is merely allowing us to stretch and to grow in ways that only that particular experience will allow. HE allows the difficulty of the way because HE knows we are capable… and HE is there ready to give us the greatest influx of love when we come out conquerors in these spiritual battles we all face. I imagine we received a grand influx of that same love before we came to earth.

I shared this experience with the young single adults of Florida, and afterward, there was a line of young men and young women who expressed gratitude because they too now understand that they are ABSOLUTELY not alone. Our challenge is to watch for the moments when God allows us to hear and to feel the moments of love and encouragement that HE is offering along the way… to watch for the influx of love when we have conquered a small obstacle… when we have finished act 1 or act 2 of our grand performance here on earth… for we are on the stage right now giving our best performance… and we do it for HIM.