Almost 2 years ago things started going wrong with my body. I kept going to my doctor and he kept telling me that the different things going wrong were just due to aging! I just could not accept his statements. I started resisting and resenting aging! I fought against it with every fiber of my being. And I started speaking negative statements about my physical situations. I felt my body had betrayed me. I was in such pain I no longer wanted to live.
In a women’s support group meeting in Kalamazoo, MI, we were studying Step 11, “Seek through prayer, scripture study and meditation to know the Lord‘s will and to have the power to carry it out.” In the promise of Step 11 Elder Bruce D. Porter taught “those who have a broken heart and contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God has asked of them without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead.“
At that moment my eyes were opened and I realized that I had been creating a very negative world for myself. I asked God to forgive me and started accepting that aging is part of life’s cycle. Once I applied Step 11 to my life the door opened for a new doctor and a diagnosis of an immune disorder. My life changed! I got the treatment necessary to help me with the immune disorder and help with the migraines! I still have challenges that are not fun, but I am accepting the challenges without the resentment or resistance.
I am so grateful for the Healing Through Christ support groups. They have brought me through a very dark valley into the light of Heavenly Father’s will for me. I have applied the attitude of gratitude that President Monson so often spoke to us about in conference. I am grateful for even this challenge. Being GRATEFUL has helped me to move through darkness and actually see some spiritual growth in my life. My life has become more manageable, joyful and hopeful.
I have often labeled myself and been labeled by others as a “perfectionist.” As a teenager, I considered this a compliment with a caveat. I no longer consider it a compliment but see it as a character flaw stemming from pride, and a lack of true understanding of God’s grand plan of happiness. This particular source of pride has been a direct cause of debilitating depression for me.
Perfectionism in my life ultimately stems from a lack of faith in the Savior’s atonement. I may think that my intentions are good because I am trying to keep all of the commandments with exactness, but actually when I am in perfectionist mode, I don’t want to need a Savior. I don’t want to accept that someone else had to suffer for me. This may seem selfless, but I have come to recognize it as ghastly pride disguised as a close counterfeit to humility. The mentality of doing it myself is rejecting the Savior’s suffering for me. It is actually a mentality that comes dangerously close to the plan that Lucifer proposed in the premortal council. Live perfectly and give the glory to myself, rather than relying upon my Savior’s perfect love and glorify God.
Recently I had a rather bad case of perfectionism. My intentions were initially good. I wanted to try my very best to live by every word from the mouth of God. This is a good desire! Where I went wrong was my response when I realized that it was virtually impossible for me to accomplish this task without failure. Instead of turning to the Lord when I became completely overwhelmed by the task, I turned inward and felt bitter. I lost sight of the enabling power of Jesus Christ and instead thought if I can’t do it, how could the Savior ever do it. The Lord wisely let me struggle in this miserable state for a period of time. After much studying and pondering and wise counsel from my mother, I rejoiced when on Christmas Eve I caught a glimpse of God’s pure love for me in giving me the gift of His son. My heart felt to sing the song of redeeming love that Alma talks about.
Nothing is as humbling to me as realizing my complete dependency upon my Savior. And this realization is always accompanied by a realization of his overwhelming love for me, a sinner.
“…if ye have experienced a change of heart, if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about faith and fear. One of my biggest fears is heights: a fear that I had to face and overcome quickly during the fire academy. During our firefighter survival training we learned how to bail out a window using just a single rope. To do this, you have to wrap the rope around you and get one leg up and over the window sill. Next you lean forward and start falling head first out the window until you can clear your other leg and turn yourself upright again. Needless to say, it was terrifying. In learning and practicing these things, I came to trust my equipment, my fellow firefighters, and myself.
This trust didn’t take away my fear, but it gave me the strength to push through it anyway.
Faith and trust in God doesn’t equate to the complete absence of fear. I think one of the most profound ways to show Heavenly Father my faith is by following Him in spite of my fears. It’s by coming to that window sill and telling Him; ‘I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but I trust that you’re going to protect me as I do your will.’
By far, the hardest decision I’ve ever made is which path I wanted to be on with regards to my faith. I don’t profess to have the right answers, or that the decisions I have made are the right decisions for anyone else’s path. For me in my life, I chose to stay in the church after having a very tumultuous crisis of faith. And at times I still find myself paralyzed by thoughts of what the future holds and if it’s actually feasible to continue in my faith in light of the fact that I am gay. But I’ve found my faith grow deeper in those times of trusting God enough to move forward anyway despite not knowing.
In the first moments when you bail out of a window, it feels like you are free falling. Until you clear the window sill and the rope tightens, you are going on complete faith that your rope will catch you. But once the rope kicks in and you’re not falling head first anymore, you feel completely secure and safe. I constantly go back and forth between free falling and feeling complete trust in the Lord. I have told Heavenly Father more than once: “I don’t know what to do with this, but it makes my soul ache.”
I made the choice to stay, but that doesn’t take away my feelings. And it makes my very soul ache to think about the true implications of my decision. My faith is more important to me than anything, but I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a devastating decision to chose not “act on” my feelings. In those times I really have to step back and say, I don’t know. I don’t know the answers. I don’t know if I’m going to survive jumping out of this window.
But I have come to learn that I can trust my rope. I can trust my Heavenly Father. I have found my strength renewed time and time again by living the gospel. It has brought an indescribable peace to my soul that I wouldn’t trade for anything.