Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Need for Suffering

Occasionally I feel lost, spiritually lost. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen regularly; regularly enough that I've come to recognize it when it begins. It starts out with lots of negative self talk, particularly directed toward the Church and my Faith. I am bad and haven't fully repented of past sins. I am selfish and only do good things for the recognition I will get. I am not humble, kind, virtuous. I am not worthy of my Heavenly Father's love and so He doesn't listen when I pray. I cannot feel the Spirit because I am not worthy. People don't like me. On and on it goes.

Normally when this happens I'll fall into a sort of depression where I push everyone away and am unreachable. I will even push God away. I would say it's not me pushing him away, but just accepting the truth of my situation which is that I am Unloved. Unlovable.

This time when it came upon me, however, it was impossible to retreat inside myself. The women in my Young Women's Presidency wouldn't let me get off quite so easily. They actually care about me. And because they see me regularly, they could tell something was wrong. I tried to downplay it, say it was nothing, but then I realized I needed help. So this time, when the feelings began I decided to do something about it, to not just be a passive observer of my life, but to be proactive.

I began to journal specifically about how I was feeling and what efforts I was making to help myself. I told my YW leader friends. I asked the Bishop for help. I got a blessing from David. I prayed, even though praying was the last thing I wanted to do.

The sweet part is, I did get the help I was seeking and that I so needed. I received sincere and heartfelt love and care from my friends. The Bishop responded with uplifting and encouraging words and a few Church talks he thought would guide me in the right direction. Heavenly Father responded by prompting me with ideas of what I could do to further help myself. I responded by keeping my heart and mind open to the outpouring of love and inspiration I was being given.

I was doing much better than normal in dealing with this trial, but was still not feeling the Spirit in the way I normally do. I was still fighting an internal feeling of sadness and loneliness. Until one day when my husband handed me a Time magazine article about Mother Teresa entitled "The Secret Life of Mother Teresa". He said with astonishment "I think she felt just like you feel now!" I read the article with rapt attention. Though I am no Mother Teresa, sure enough her words of "Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear." rang very true with me.

Did you know that for most of her adult life Mother Teresa did not feel like God was hearing her prayers? She never thought He had abandoned her, but rather that she was not worthy of him. I read it with my mouth hanging open. How can such a woman, so faithful, so charitable, ever possibly feel she was not worthy of her Father's love? She said she wanted her letters burned, but I am so grateful they were not. Because of her suffering my eyes were opened. I was not alone in what I perceived to be my separation from God, though I could see while looking objectively at Mother Teresa that God would never abandon a child who was honestly seeking Him. That revelation began to change my heart.

I also read a scripture in Jacob right around the same time I read that article and between the two I feel like I have really learned something of value. The scripture is Jacob 3:1-2 and it says:

"But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God
with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console
you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those
who seek your destruction.

O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God,
and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever."

I learned that whatever else is going on, whatever I might feel, that God is constant and I need to be firm in my remembrance of that fact and know that if I am going forth doing good, seeking always to be faithful and obedient, never doubting that God is true and faithful, all will be well. I learned from Mother Teresa that I may not always be filled with the Spirit, but that does not mean I am being punished. Be firm in mind and pure of heart and I'm sure all will be well. After all, you and I know that a woman like Mother Teresa cannot fail to find her rest at Jesus' side. Now, I'm not Mother Teresa, but I can certainly learn from her suffering, from her example, and I intend to.