Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Overcome Trials

I totally had something in mind about which I wanted to post, but I felt prompted to take today's post in a different direction. First, though, I want to pose two questions to you. What do you do when you have challenges and problems? and How does Heavenly Father help you through your challenges and problems? Think about these for a minute. Ponder. Search deep within your soul. Haha.

What did you find? Some things you like? Answers you didn't like? More questions?

I am going to answer these questions for you. As I have traveled down the metaphorical road that is life, I have come across many trials, as have you, I'm sure. I want to share how I deal with them. One can never have enough tactics to fight hardships.

When I have challenges and problems, I sometimes turn to my friends first. However, this doesn't usually prove very fruitful. As much as they love us, and as helpful as they can be, our friends are mere mortals. And while I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't let our friends help us through difficulty, I am suggesting that Heavenly Father is the best person to turn to. He, in His perfection and infinite love, cannot fail us. Turning to the Lord in the face of adversity, however, requires faith. We must trust that He will answer us, and that He will provide a way for us to understand His answer. This used to be very hard for me. I knew without a doubt that God would answer my prayers, but I didn't have faith that I would be able to comprehend or recognize the answers when they came. These doubts were from Satan. He doesn't want us to be close to our Heavenly Father. He doesn't want us to have the powerful help that God can grant us. Once I realized that because God loves us and is perfect, I knew He would provide a way for me to recognize and understand the answers He gives to my prayers.

So, what does Whitney do when she faces challenges and problems? She prays. She prays and prays and prays and prays. Often these are tearful prayers, seeking relief from negativity and frustration. After she is sure her prayers were with real intent and heartfelt, Whitney reads the scriptures. Just as praying is how we talk to God, the scriptures are how He answers us. Often, I find answers to my prayers within the scriptures. This happens when I pay close attention to the words I am reading, and apply them to whatever I'm struggling with. This takes work, and practice. I'm not always super great at it, but the Lord blesses us for our effort. I have found so many answers to prayers through reading the scriptures after praying about a specific problem.

Heavenly Father helps me through my challenges and problems through the Holy Ghost. Time and time again my prayers have been answered through this member of the Godhead. The Spirit answers my prayers in many ways including: warm feelings of love, promptings, specific thoughts and conclusions coming to my head, or a literal voice in my head telling me something. Every person feels the influence of the Holy Ghost in different ways. These are just some of the ways I feel it. One must practice and develop a knowledge of how the Spirit communicates with them. No two people are exactly alike in this regard. For example, here's a time when Heavenly Father helped me through something recently:

I have a friend who I love very, very much. He is one of the people I love most. He is like an older brother to me. This friend (let's call him Leo) has been super stressed out and upset for a long time. He has more on his plate than he can handle right now. Leo is worried about college applications, AP classes, college auditions for violin, his family, his work, etc. For as long as I can remember, Leo has shared feelings with me about not being happy and feeling like he is missing something in his life. I have been trying to share the gospel with him. I have invited him to meet with the missionaries, come to church, and more. He's not against it, but hasn't shown enthusiasm for the church. Many-a-night I would cry, and pray, and cry, and pray that the Lord would soften his heart. I fasted for him numerous times. I did ALL I could to share the gospel with this person I love so dearly. I want for Leo to have the happiness I have. One night when I was particularly upset about him and was praying about it, the thought came to my mind that Leo is God's son. Heavenly Father loves Leo just as much as He loves me, and that He will take care of Leo. I felt that I should trust that the Lord will let him partake in the gospel when the time is right, and that I can't take it upon myself to be solely responsible for that. With this thought came a simple feeling of peace and my worries left me. The thoughts, assurance, and peace were from the Holy Ghost.

I know that the Lord loves us and wants us to be happy. Just as He will take care of Leo, He will take care of each of us. He wants us to come to Him with our sadness, struggles, hardships, and also our joys and triumphs. I testify that He will answer your prayers.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Create the Moment

Hello again! Recognize me? Maybe not, because I haven't posted in about a month. Oops. Sorry about that. Instead of boring you with my excuses about being busy, I'll just get to my post. :D

Sometimes we pray for missionary opportunities. That is good. No, that is great. It's golden. The Lord blesses us with opportunities to share the gospel when we pray in faith to receive them, with a plan of action to act upon those moments when they arise. But do you know what else we can do? Instead of waiting for missionary opportunities to knock at our door, we can create them! Woah! Crazy, right? As obvious as that sounds, it didn't even occur to me until several weeks ago.

The missionaries came over to our house and taught a fabulous lesson. Afterwards they asked me if I wanted a pamphlet about the restoration to give to one of my friends. I accepted, and thought that I'd put it in my backpack for when someone I met asked about the church. Then, the name of a girl at my school came into my mind. Let's call her Jenny. Jenny and I didn't talk often, but she had expressed interest in the church in the past. When her name came into my mind, I realized it was a prompting to give her the pamphlet. So I texted her to ask if I could meet her before school because I had something I wanted to give her. We met the next morning and she graciously accepted the pamphlet and agreed to come to church with me in the future. A week later she told me that she had read the pamphlet and found it very informative.

This was cool for me to realize that I could be in charge of sharing the gospel more in my life. I learned that I didn't have to wait and could be even more proactive about sharing the gospel with those around me. I encourage all of you to try to create a missionary moment this week. It doesn't have to be forced, awkward, or weird. Pray for inspiration. Just see what happens! You'll love it!