Our Father Hears Us

from Britney

Recently I felt frustrated with a perceived lack of God’s help in my life. I had been working hard to improve my relationships, yet I didn’t think I was making any progress. In fact, it seemed that I was actually experiencing more challenges and less spiritual guidance than I had in the past despite my continued efforts to stay close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. My frustration led me to feel somewhat rebellious. If I was doing my best to obey and I didn’t seem to be getting any help from heaven, why should I even bother trying? This state of defiance dulled my sense of right and wrong. I felt as if there were forces inside of me pulling me in two opposing directions, and it was spiritually painful. My spirit was torn.

After identifying these negative emotions through writing, I knew I needed to share them with Heavenly Father in prayer. Some time passed before I was ready to take that step, but when I finally did, I immediately felt a very specific prompting to read an old journal of mine. It was unexpected advice, but I quickly obeyed. As I read my own thoughts and experiences from years ago, I knew why I was guided to it. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ was scattered throughout my writing. In those entries, I enthusiastically declared my love of the scriptures and how important it was for me to have the influence of the Spirit in my life every day. I expressed a strong desire to do good always. I knew that the Holy Ghost led me to read that journal as a way to testify of truth to myself from myself. I was amazed that even though I had been upset with my Heavenly Father, He had been patiently waiting for me to come back to Him and ask for help. There was no delay in His response to my prayer despite my negative feelings toward Him.

Have patience

Later that evening, I prayed again. I spoke with Heavenly Father more about my disappointment with the absence of clear guidance from Him. Again, I felt an immediate answer to my prayer as the following message came into my mind: “Have patience. Your story is not over. I am still working in your life.” I knew it was true, and I asked Heavenly Father if He would help me better recognize His hand in my life. In the days following that experience, I was blessed with many opportunities to notice the love of God. He gave me guidance and inspiration through conversations, scriptures, talks, and other resources He placed in my path. I felt His awareness and compassion for me and the challenges I face. As I reestablished a closeness with God, the spiritual storm inside of me calmed, and I found it easier to discern what was right and choose it.

This meaningful experience taught me three valuable lessons about prayer. The first is that we can share all of our feelings with Heavenly Father, even the negative ones. Our prayers do not have to be nice if that is not how we feel. He will hear us and love us even if we are frustrated with Him. He will not turn His back on us when our emotions are unpleasant. The second lesson I learned is that God is always available and ready to bless us. No matter how far we have separated ourselves from Him, we only have to decide to turn toward Him, and we will find that He is still there ready to reconnect with us. Finally, I learned that we must be patient when we are searching for spiritual guidance. Sometimes, He doesn’t answer our questions in the way we want or at the time we want, but while we’re waiting, we can ask to feel His love. We can ask Him to show us that He is with us. “As we trust that God hears our prayers, we learn to exercise patience. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf assured us that ‘the answers to our prayers come in the Lord’s due time. Sometimes we may become frustrated that the Lord has delayed answering our prayers. In such times we need to understand that He knows what we do not know. He sees what we do not see. Trust in Him. He knows what is best for His child, and being a perfect God, He will answer our prayers perfectly and in the perfect time.’” (p. 34, Healing Through Christ family workbook)

I’m grateful for the powerful blessing of prayer. I know we have a loving Father in Heaven who hears us when we speak to Him. As His children, we have a right to communicate with Him, and no one is unworthy of that access. We can be ourselves with Him. He loves us and waits for us to reach out to Him because He wants to bless us.

Thanks to Britney for submitting this post. If you would like to submit a post that reflects your hope, faith, and experience with the Steps, please send it to thearborkalamazoo@gmail.com





What Do I Expect?

Expect good thingsThis week in Step Two we learned about hope and expectations. I’ve been intrigued for some time by the concept that people don’t break my heart, they break my expectations. Understanding that distinction has helped me recognize expectations that I may unconsciously impose on others. I’ve tried to become more aware of whether I am hurt because someone is unkind to me, or whether they just failed to respond to my internal, unspoken expectation. This concept has been very freeing for me, both in identifying my unspoken needs and being realistic about what I expect from others.

But this week, as we read about hope and expectations, I thought about it in a different way: which of my expectations are hurting me right now? I felt prompted to ask that question in my prayers, and I was shocked at the first thing that came into my mind. I expected (!) that I would think of something I was doing wrong, or perhaps that something I thought was not important was the exact thing Heavenly Father wanted me to be doing. I expected correction.

What I received was very different. The first thing that came into my mind was that I expected my family was angry at me about my shortcomings, and I was responding to them out of that expectation. I felt that I needed to let go of that expectation and accept their forgiveness and love. Other things came into my mind, and they all had to do with what I expected God or others thought about me. I realized I was being invited to let go of my expectations around others’ judgment of me, and as I thought about what that would feel like, I realized that those expectations really were hurting me and my relationships a great deal.

I’m eager to keep thinking and praying about this. I know I have expectations around what my husband wants or needs from me, my family, my friends, Heavenly Father. I have more questions for pondering and prayer, and I have a whole worldview to reexamine. But I think I will find a common theme of having more grace for myself, assuming more positive intent from others, and recognizing the difference between my expectations and the truth.

I love the section in Step Two of the Healing Through Christ Family Support workbook that talks about what I can expect:

When our expectations become firmly grounded in what God can and will do for us, our feelings of hope will increase and our spiritual and emotional health will be strengthened. A sure foundation on which to build our spiritual health is to expect that our prayers are heard by a loving Father in Heaven and that they will be answered. Expect that God will be with us to support, guide and sustain us. Expect that God’s plan will always result in our future happiness. …Our hope is based on an expectation that good things will come as we rely upon the guidance of our Father in Heaven.

These are all expectations that are grounded in truth: God hears me, He will help me, He plans for my happiness. I can depend on those expectations. And I can trust that identifying and praying about my other expectations will allow my Father to help me see things as they really are in my life and discard assumptions that are hurting me and my relationships.

I’ve been through Step Two many times. This week, as in so many other weeks, I was inspired to see something new, to ask new questions in my prayers and to discover a new way to strengthen my healing and recovery.