3/18/14

Letting go.

I've never been very good at letting go of things. I tend to lock my fingers and refuse to release the object in my possession, no matter what it is. Obviously, this didn't make me very good at sharing when I was little. For example, as I grew out of clothes, my mom insisted that I hand them down to my little sisters. I didn't like doing that. I insisted that they were mine. I didn't care that my mom bought them, I didn't care that they didn't fit anymore. They. Were. Mine. (As a side note, I'm still not very good at handing my clothes down to my sisters...)

I've been thinking about this when it comes to negative thoughts, actions, memories, and attributes. I do not let go of these things very easily, and it only adds to the viscous cycle that my depression creates. For example:

Me: Crap. I didn't do well on that test. In fact, I sucked. Ughhh....
My brain: Wow, Rachel. You suck. You're a failure. You shouldn't even try anymore, you're only going to fail. You always do. 
Me, weeks later: I'm an awful student. I did poorly on that test. I really shouldn't try anymore. In fact, I remember that one time in first grade that I got an awful score...freak. I should've just stopped then. 
My brain: Let's remember this...

Things start to build. Something negative happens to me, and I toss it into the emotional backpack I am carrying. Time after time, again and again, I stubbornly hold onto the negative. Just like my child-self, I refuse to let go. After awhile, my backpack starts to get pretty heavy. Someone asks me to let go of those negative thoughts--"But they're mine!"  I respond angrily. 

Finally, I get to the point where I can't handle it anymore and I start to break.

In Matthew 11:28-30 the Savior taught His disciples: 

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ took upon himself all the burdens of all the world. He took the heavy things upon himself and overcame them. This is a gift that he gave to all of us--he went through all so that we wouldn't have to go through anything alone. All of us carry burdens: burdens of negativity, sin, abuse, physical disabilities, poverty...a innumerable variety of burdens. He asks us to let them all go, to release our grasp on those burdens and to humble ourselves. His yoke is easy and his burden is light--in my mind--our yokes become easy and our burdens become light when we share them with him. All it takes is us letting it go. 






3/10/14

Paths

Recently, I came to a crossroads in my life. I had a decision to make, and I knew what I needed to do through personal revelation. But, this decision didn't match up with previous promptings and spiritual revelations I had felt. I was confused--how could God inspire me to do one thing, then another? Why wasn't the first choice the answer to everything?

I often feel this same way about my mission. When the age got lowered for the youth to go on missions, I knew I was supposed to go. I received a powerful spiritual witness that a mission was the thing for me. Then when I came home after six months, I was so confused. How could I be prompted to do something that in the long run didn't turn out to be the path I was supposed to go down? Did God lead me astray?

I discussed this idea with my friend yesterday, and he brought something up that I had never thought about before. I think this comparison is very applicable to all of us and our seemingly "mistaken" decisions:

In first Nephi in the Book of Mormon, the Lord commands Nephi and his brethren to go back to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates from the evil Laban. Nephi obeyed the Lord's commands and went willingly with his brothers. "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7) Once there, Nephi's older brother Laman went and talked to Laban, trying to convince him to give them the brass plate. Laban got angry and threw Laman out of his house.

Even with their defeat, Nephi knew that God would still help them. "As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us. Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord." (1 Nephi 3:15-16) Nephi felt inspired that the best course of action would to be to offer Laban all his family's wealth in exchange for the plates. However, this course of action still didn't work--Laban took all their riches and then threw them out without giving them the plates. 

At this point, Nephi could have given up. He could have said, "Lord, I have done everything that you prompted me to do. I have kept your commandments. I have been obedient to my father. I am here with a righteous purpose to do your will. But it isn't working. What else can I do? I've followed the promptings you've given me, and I still haven't succeeded." I have often said this in the past few months. "God, I went on a mission based on a prompting that you gave me. I went to do something good, something righteous. Yet, I have seemingly failed and came home early. Now what? I followed the path you lead me down, and now I'm lost." 

Nephi again turned to the Lord and asked Him what He would have him do. Nephi was "led by the Spirit, no knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do." (1 Nephi 4:6)  He ended up slaying Laban and getting the brass plates which preserved the language and religion of the Jews for generations to come. Had he not followed his first promptings and started down the path God had led him down, he would not have made it to the path to get the plates. 

This is the same for us in our lives, the same for me in my life. The path that I am on is not perhaps the path I envisioned when I turned in my mission papers over a year ago. I followed a prompting and have been blessed for it. I have not, however, achieved the "goal" I had, but now I realize that the Lord has other things in mind for me. It was not a mistake for me to go on a mission--no! It was what I needed to do to be led where I am now. I still am figuring out where this path is leading me, but I know that the Lord is leading me.