Thursday, July 12, 2012

"How we are taught"

This is something that I feel compelled to write about; something I feel like I need to explain in detail. I often say that we are Children of God and with that title, we are unique wholly to ourselves. There is no one else on the earth like us. There are special talents and purposes that only we have, that only we can fulfill. So with that in mind, have you noticed that God teaches everyone differently? Just because He teaches you one way, doesn't mean that He teaches everyone that way.

Heavenly Father, being the great being that He is, tailors our earthly education to us.
I have learned over the past few months that I learn a lot differently than most people and that because of this, Heavenly Father adjusts accordingly and is able to teach me in a way that I can understand. The way He teaches me is different from how He teaches my mother, my sisters, my brother, my nieces, my nephew, my Heavenly Father teaches us is different and specific to each person. The way He teaches me probably wouldn't make sense to most people.

That being said, we need to remember that Heavenly Father teaches each of us differently because of our individuality and we need to respect that. We should never disregard or scoff at someone's personal, spiritual experiences, trials or answers to prayers just because they don't make sense to us. And why would they make sense to us? You are not this other person; you are not inside their head, so you shouldn't presume to think that the way you learn is the right way and that the ways that everyone else learns are invalid. To think that God teaches everyone the same is being belligerent and ignorant. We are different for a purpose and God shows us that through how He teaches us and how we learn from those lessons/experiences.

That is the beauty of this life. That we are able to express our individuality, our divine nature in such a way that we are able to show to the world that we are Children of God. We are unique, we are special and God loves and teaches us individually. If we were all the same, His purpose and plan for us would not be able to set in motion. So, don't worry if it seems like your answers to prayers come in a different way than someone else's, that your spiritual experiences are different from everyone else's, or that your trials seem vastly blown out of proportion in relation to everybody's supposed to be that way.

So just remember, everyone learns differently and Heavenly Father teaches everyone differently, and how you need to be taught and how you learn is valid and true and right and important.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"Obtaining Your Happily Ever After"

This is a talk I wrote for one of my religion classes and it's something that I think every young woman needs to hear.

“Obtaining Your Happily Ever After”
            When many young women hear the phrase “And they lived happily ever after”, a few different things come to mind; riding off into the sunset with a dashing and valiant prince on a noble steed, a wedding dress that rivals Princess Diana’s, glass slippers and an eternity of bliss after marriage that will put Westley and Buttercup to shame. While many of these things can be true in a young woman’s “happily ever after”, it is not all that Heavenly Father wants or has in store for us in this important time of our lives. These dreams are not the only components that make up a “happily ever after”. In order to truly have a “happily ever after” you must not only learn to love and accept yourself as a daughter of God, never settle,  keep the commandments, follow promptings, be patient and find joy in the journey, but a “happily ever after” is something that you must work at, treasure and cultivate forever.
            In Proverbs 31:10 it states, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” One of the most important things a young woman can do that will benefit her life and her happily ever after, is being able to see herself for the child of God that she is. This is essential because how will she be able to succeed in and enjoy life if she doesn’t believe that she can or is capable of doing so? And ultimately, how will she be able to love someone else enough to marry them if she does not learn to love herself first?
            In Elder Uchtdorf’s talk “Your Happily Ever After” to the young women of the church in the April 2010 General Conference he stated, “Everywhere you look today, you will find promises of happiness. Ads in magazines promise total bliss if you will only buy a certain outfit, shampoo, or makeup. Certain media productions glamorize those who embrace evil or who give in to base instincts. Often these same people are portrayed as models of success and accomplishment… Sisters, they suppose wrong.”
            Each young woman, each young man…each child of God is unique and has an array of talents and qualities that are specific to them. Each of you has a divine purpose that you were meant to fulfill; that only you can do. Beauty, talent and self-worth come in all shapes, sizes and physical and spiritual gifts. Each of you is special in your own way and if you can believe that and begin to see that in yourself, and see yourself as God sees you, your “happily ever after” will be well within reach. “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1st Samuel 16:7) Once these things are realized in your life you will know and value what you deserve and you will settle for nothing less. You will strive to be the person that God knows you to be.
            During our trials as we work towards our happily ever after and during our happily ever after, it is important to remember who we are and what we stand for; to keep the commandments and follow promptings. We must never forget to follow Heavenly Father’s plan for us, even if we don’t understand why He’s asking us to do something. Heavenly Father gives us trials and difficult circumstances in order to give us the opportunity to strengthen our faith in Him and to draw closer to Him and to Christ. During these difficult and trying times He gives us the choice to trust in Him, even though we can’t see the end result or the reason, or He gives us the choice to strike out on our own and to learn our lesson in a different way. Either way Heavenly Father makes sure that we have a choice and He makes sure, that regardless of our decision on how to proceed down our projected path, that we are taken care of and that we learn the lesson we were meant to learn.
            Heavenly Father believes in you. He sees potential in you that you cannot yet see in yourself and He knows what you can handle, what you can’t and when you’ll reach out for help to endure. The trials and experiences He has been giving you are helping you to find that potential and become that person that He knows you can be. Know that the plan that Heavenly Father has for you is so much bigger and so much more brilliant, bright and beautiful than the plan you have for yourself. He loves you SO much and if you just ask, He will help you. In your times of trial and suffering, be thankful that He loves you enough to “hurt” you. He is just waiting for you to humble yourself and ask for His help so that He can bless you with more blessings than you ever imagined.
            In the 2008 October General Conference talk “Come What May and Love It” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment…But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.” (Emphasis Added).
            Even though it is difficult, and often times unbearable, it is important to remember that all of our trials have a purpose; there is a reason behind each and every single one we go through. As we work to remember this fact, we must also work to remember that we must seek out Heavenly Father’s guidance, for He always has our best interests at heart and just like our trials, there is a reason behind everything He asks us to do. Elder Uchtdorf stated, “I understand that, at times, some may wonder why they attend Church meetings or why it is so important to read the scriptures regularly or pray to our Heavenly Father daily. Here is my answer: You do these things because they are part of God’s path for you. And that path will take you to your ‘happily ever after’ destination.”
            In the words of Heavenly Father to Joseph Smith in the Liberty Jail, “7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; 8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”
            My own personal story with the principle and idea of finding my “happily ever after”, has been a heart-wrenchingly painful and difficult journey. As a young child, my father instilled in me the idea, through his words and actions, that I was worthless and of no consequence. He taught me that no one’s feelings, not even my own or my mother’s, mattered but his. Through his abusive nature towards me and my family and his adulterous behavior, I began to believe that I could trust no man; that all men were like this. By the time my parents divorced in May 2005, I firmly believed everything that he said to me was true. Having this difficult childhood would prove more of a problem than I ever could have imagined as I entered my first semester of college in the Winter of 2009. In my first serious relationship as a young adult, I discovered that I had a lot to learn and a lot that I needed help to fix. And at the end of my sophomore year of college I made the decision to seek help from a certified counselor.
            Through working with my counselor, I finally began to see myself as God and others saw me; I finally saw myself as the princess that I am. I gained confidence and hope in the future to come and my whole outlook on life and relationships changed. Still, through the next couple of years, I discovered that my journey and road to self-discovery and my happily ever after was far from over. The next few years, up until now (in my senior year of college), I experienced a few more relationships and heartbreak, learning something new, essential and important to my eternal progress. I also discovered that even though I had grown to love myself for the daughter of God I was, I still believed that because of the abuse I had experienced as a child had damaged something inside of me. I believed that something crucial inside of me was broken and that no matter how much I gave this burden up to God and to Christ, that it couldn’t be fixed, and that even though I wanted it more than anything, an eternal love and marriage was not in the cards for me. And I had begun to accept that, until I met someone that changed everything. This particular individual helped me to see what everyone said I was missing out on in a relationship; he made me realize that I was more than capable of loving someone enough to want to marry them for eternity. But, for reasons I didn’t understand until very recently, this friendship ended, cruelly and abruptly.
            At first I was angry and terribly heartbroken and just plain defeated. I wondered why things had to be this way and why, if this was a lesson that needed to be learned, why did I need to learn it this way?  And then I realized something. Before I could continue on my path to my “Happily Ever After”, Heavenly Father needed my outlook on marriage and relationships change; He needed me to learn that not only was I capable of loving someone enough to want to marry them for eternity, but that I was not broken and that my dreams could become reality. This lesson that I needed to learn was something that I could not have learned any other way than to be able to experience it firsthand. It would not have worked any other way.
            Heavenly Father has taken away my pain, sorrow and heartbreak over the loss of an eternal love because I asked Him to; because I realized that I couldn’t cope with it on my own. I needed His help; I needed Christ’s help, to be able to and to start to heal. Because of this experience I am now truly ready to accept and follow the plan that Heavenly Father has for me. I am ready to start fresh and accept His guidance towards my future. I am strong enough. I am worthy. I am capable. I am ready to go down the path that will lead me to my future and my eternal companion. Because of what I have experienced previously and as of late, I will always do what Heavenly Father asks of me, even when I don’t understand it because I know the blessings that come from doing that firsthand.
            My dear friends, our journey to our “Happily Ever After” is not a journey that starts and ends after a few experiences. It is something that as we continue to live worthily, we must work at, treasure and cultivate forever. We must learn to love and accept ourselves as children of God, never settle, follow promptings, and ultimately, be patient and find joy in the journey to our “Happily Ever After” and trust that no matter what, God has everything under control. He is the author of our fairytale and if we remember that, why should we worry?
            In closing, in the words of Elder Uchtdorf, “‘Happily ever after’ is not something found only in fairy tales. You can have it! It is available for you! But you must follow your Heavenly Father’s map… As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I leave you my blessing and give you a promise that as you accept and live the values and principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, “[you] will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.” And the day will come when you turn the final pages of your own glorious story; there you will read and experience the fulfillment of those blessed and wonderful words: “And they lived happily ever after.”