My message today is centered on the second part of the theme “Partake of His Healing Power.”
How do we partake of the Savior’s healing power?
Let’s think about that. Partake is an action verb. WE must take action.
WE must reach to the Savior to partake.
You have each been given a packet of wildflower seeds when you entered the conference this morning. I want to talk briefly about seeds.
When we plant a seed into the ground, we, as the planter of the seed, know the potential of that seed. The seed is planted into the ground, surrounded by darkness. To realize its potential, the seed must reach up through the darkness to the light. God knows OUR potential. When we are surrounded by darkness, like these seeds, may we know that we are not buried, we have been planted! If we reach up to our source of light, we too can obtain our potential!
Sisters, God is much more interested in our growth than in our comfort.
My father died in a terrible car accident that also sent my mom to the hospital for months when I was one and a half years old. As you can imagine, I don’t remember much about my dad, but one thing that I have never forgotten is how I felt when I was with him. The sheer joy of being with my dad and experiencing the safety of his embrace, feeling his absolute love for me, and feeling adored and special. I knew that he loved me, and that I was cherished by him!
This world has a way of making you forget that you are loved, and cherished.
We experience pain, emotional or mental distress, sore trials and various challenges and difficulties that are present in a fallen world.
I continually have to remind myself that life is MEANT to be a test. We WILL be tested!
I recall one of the battles of Helaman’s army, the second battle, in particular. At that battle, ALL of those righteous and valiant young warriors were saved, but I often forget what else the verse says. Let me read a verse of the account.
Alma 57:25 And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was anot one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.
Let me read that last line one more time.
there was anot one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.
These young men were completely valiant, righteous men of God. They were saved, but they ALL received many wounds.
This is a small allegory that is directly parallel to our lives, and our experience on this earth. We all will receive many wounds, and some will faint from the loss of blood!
Broken & Shattered
A couple of months ago, I was setting up my Christmas decorations, and as I turned around with an armful of Christmas garland, I bumped into a beautiful Christmas plate that I’d had for many years. It crashed to the floor with a spectacular sound and broke into many, many, tiny pieces. I tried not to show my disappointment to Mark as it registered in my mind that I could never piece that plate back together, or repair that beautiful plate to its usefulness.
The adversary would have us believe that when we have been broken, especially when we have been broken multiple times, that we have lost our usefulness. Sisters, we are not like that plate. When we have been broken, that is when God is able to work through us, and often that is when we realize our true purpose. The Savior himself was broken to fulfill His greatest work.
Brad Wilcox said, “Christ did not perform the Atonement to free us from suffering, but to be able to be with us in our suffering.”
Let me preface what I am about to say by telling you that I have Mark’s permission to share what I am about to relate.
Mark and I are a blended family, both of us lost our eternal companions to an early death. Together in our new family, Mark and I have nine children. Anyone in a blended family can tell you how challenging it is to unite a new family, even under the best circumstances. There are a lot of feelings with that many people, and it takes a great deal of effort, love, and patience on everyone’s part. As part of our effort to blend our families, Mark and I go to counseling. Counseling has been a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it. I would advise seeking out a counselor that shares your values and beliefs, and has a sincere desire to heal relationships, not to take sides. Our counselor is a beautiful and dear lady from Nebraska, named Tracy. She is ALSO Christian, and she speaks of God in her EVERY conversation. Together, Tracy and I have had the opportunity to share tender stories of faith, and to discuss the healing power of our Savior. I cannot tell you what a blessing Tracy has been to our family.
My sweet counselor, Tracy, told me during one of my meetings with her that there were things that I needed to tell Mark regarding our marriage; hurt feelings that I had held back, but that I needed to share with him. She went on to say that it was not healthy to hold painful things inside, and she paralleled it to “throwing up”. When our stomachs are feeling sick, our tendency is to try and suppress its reaction to throw up because throwing up is so awful. However, after throwing up, we actually feel better. I could see her point, so I accepted her challenge to share some very vulnerable things with Mark. This was very difficult for me to want to discuss the hurt feelings because our natural tendencies are to become defensive. Talking about my feelings often seemed to pull us apart and hurt our relationship.
I began the conversation with Mark by saying, these are my feelings. I may have a different perspective than you have, I may even have a totally inaccurate perspective, but this is still how I feel. Mark did listen. I was heard, validated, and my feelings were treated kindly and gently. Tracy’s parallel to throwing up was a perfect description. It was wonderful to be able to release those feelings.
A few weeks after Mark and I had this shared discussion of our feelings, I received a call from a family member, making me aware of the recent death of someone I knew in the past.
Just the mention of his name caught my breath in my throat, and triggered awful memories of things that happened to me many years ago.
Even though, with his death, the threat was over, nightmares returned for me; and I awoke several nights in tears. These night terrors and dreams did not go unnoticed by Mark. He would hold me until I felt safe again and could sleep.
Mark knew of the extremely difficult things that I have experienced in the past. He did not, however, know the severity or any details. I decided to share some of the details; horrible things that I have never shared details of, with anyone. As I spoke and let out all of the awfulness, I remembered more, and told him that as well. My words came in sobs, and I could barely speak them. It was difficult to watch as the horror registered on his face. But I was in the middle of “throwing up” and could not stop. When I finished, Mark gathered me in his arms and cried with me. He saw me in all of my broken-ness, all of my shattered pieces.
Give your Brokenness to the Savior
Later, I shared a couple of my horrific experiences from my past with my counselor. She marveled at how I survived all that I had been through, and came through it with such faith, grace, and perspective.
She asked me how I did it.
For many, many years I gave my broken pieces to the Savior alone. When I kneel down in prayer, He has wrapped me safely in His arms (just like my Father did as a child) and reminded me of my value. HE has told me that I am not like that plate, that there is beauty in brokenness, and that I am HIS daughter. HE is the one who helped me to remember how I felt as a child in the arms of my earthly father. The Savior had taken the burden of the awfulness of my experiences and held them for me in kindness. I could never have made sense of my experiences without His help, and without the knowledge of His love, and without His guidance.
When we experience things that are emotionally challenging, it is difficult to carry those experiences to church with us; we look around and see families lined up in a row, with their beautiful dresses or straightened ties. We see the “perfection” and we feel even more broken.
Looking around at your beauty, wit, intelligence, and talents could be very intimidating. But I have learned that we all have broken pieces. Some of us (me especially) have become very good at hiding our brokenness. But the Savior can heal our brokenness. As a matter of fact, he finds beauty, usefulness, mercy, love, and companionship in our brokenness. In HIS life on earth, he spent HIS time with the broken, those that needed healing, and sought to understand their purpose.
Exercise Grace & Kindness
I have suffered tremendous emotional scars in the past, however, there are people in our midst that are suffering right now. There are also people in our midst that suffer emotional challenges EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THEIR LIVES. Our mental and emotional health is affected by the social, environmental, and genetic factors over which we have no control. Might we exercise a little more grace and kindness to those living with those struggles every single day? My youngest son lives with OCD onset by the death of my eternal companion, Joseph, his father.
People don’t understand OCD, it is not a propensity to clean or have things in order. OCD is a paralyzing fear that causes the person with that fear to perform actions to attempt to rid themselves of the fear. Doing the actions to calm their fear actually confirms in their mind the reality that there is a threat.
I could not walk in the shoes of my son. He is one of the very strongest people that I know. The battle that he wages daily makes him a warrior to me. These challenges have come through no fault of his own, and as a mother, you may know that it is incredibly painful to watch your child suffer something that you cannot help them with. This is part of their life test.
I can say with absolute certainty that at judgment day, our merciful Savior will look upon those that have had giant mountains to climb, and take into consideration with HIS divine judgment the degree of difficulty of our experiences in life.
Sisters, may we know that when we are surrounded by darkness, we are not buried, we have been planted!