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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dispelling Darkness

It was a rough Sunday afternoon for me one week ago.  Seemingly out of nowhere, I had been seized with a midst of darkness that choked me with feelings of deep despair.  No matter how I viewed myself all I could see were flaws, weaknesses, and every possible area that I was lacking as a mother, a wife, a daughter... you name it.

The very next morning I received a letter from my dear nephew, Dane. He described much of what weighed on my heart the day before.  How timely his letter was! I related to almost every word.  I was grateful for his willingness to be so real and express honestly what we often guard so closely.  We both had experienced a shroud of darkness and we both experieced peace restored through the grace of our Savior.   I love Dane's writings, how he poetically articulates expressions of his heart.  I've included part of his letter at the end of this post.

This evening, our Home Teachers shared the First Presidency Message with our family.  I especially appreciated what President Uchtdorf said about keeping our torches lit.  It reminded me of the promise I had received years ago in my patriarchal blessing, "Never any day will you need to walk in darkness but will have the light of truth in your life."  I believe this blessing is available to all of us!

"Sometimes after stumbling, failing, or even giving up, we get discouraged and believe our light has gone out and our race is lost. But I testify that the Light of Christ cannot be extinguished. It shines in the darkest night and will relight our hearts if only we incline our hearts to Him (see 1 Kings 8:58).

As long as we continue to rise up and move toward our Savior, we win the race with our torches burning brightly.

For the torch is not about us or about what we do.

It is about the Savior of the world.

And that is a Light that can never be dimmed. It is a Light that swallows the darkness, heals our wounds, and blazes even in the midst of the deepest sorrow and unfathomable darkness.

It is a Light that surpasses understanding." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I love the access we have to our Father in Heaven.  I love that He is approachable, that the darkness of despair in our lives can be dispelled whenever we turn to Him and we can again raise our torches high.  It's all because of the One who knows us and Who gives us strength when we are weak and hope when we are hurting. Through the grace of Christ we can be renewed and do all things that are required of us.

-Alicia


Beautiful testimony from my nephew, Dane (Elder Whitaker):

Last week I suffered a lot of needless pain. Every turn seemed like a wrong choice and every thought a grapple within myself for control. I couldn't say why--we had a bad week, I guess, but I think I rocked the boat a lot more than necessary. With the end approaching, weaknesses and faults weighing on me, the aching miles looming behind, and the million rejections and lost appointments whirling around me like harpies, I allowed myself to slide into a self-destructive cycle. I think I've probed more deeply within myself during these 20 months than at any other point in my life. I've discovered depths of darkness and glorious rays of sunshine I never knew before.

So yesterday I was reading in Helaman 5 and the relevance of the Lamanites' conversion in the prison struck me more clearly than before. They saw Nephi and Lehi wreathed in harmless fire, and later, conversing with angels. Yet terror and darkness immobilized them and distanced them from a glorious happening. Others were having highly spiritual experiences and they were firmly wrapped in confusion and despair, so thick they hadn't even the power to escape one step. I know that feeling. A voice came to them declaring repentance, in fact that message came four times--count it--and they didn't grasp the meaning until the fourth time, when Aminadab repeated it to them.

Seek no more to destroy my servants, was His invitation. I realized that seeking to destroy oneself in the service of God is just as wrong as seeking the downfall of His ministers. Even if I wasn't deliberately seeking my destruction, I was letting dark thoughts cloud my judgement. And that will only lead to unhealed spiritual wounds. The message to repent didn't glare at or criticize me, it just invited softly. So what's the solution; how is the overpowering cloud dispersed? By repenting, by crying unto God until I have faith in Christ. If my faith is faltering, then I can at least rely on the desire to believe, the hope that draws light in and dispels the shadows. After crying for a time, the Lamanites also received the Spirit, joy, peace, and I, too, can. I prayed then with new hope, asking for faith. I felt peace and faith restored to me.

-Dane

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