Saturday, October 18, 2008

Have a Little Faith

As you can probably guess from the title, this post is about faith. I will be sharing some of my beliefs because that is what I know. I look forward to learning how your faith helps you to find comfort and joy.

I think every study ever done on the subject has shown that having faith in something helps people be happier. Even those with depression and anxiety. You can click on the link titled "Faith" on the side and it will take you to one such study, detailing the effect of faith on people dealing with stress.

When I'm going through a trial, faith is always what sees me through. Sometimes I forget and try to do it alone, but I always end up feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. Becky made reference to a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called "Abide in Me". It made a deep impression on me when I first read it and that was actually the inspiration for the title of our blog. In it he quotes John 15:1, 4, 5 where Christ said, “I am the true vine, and … ye are the branches.” “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”

He continues, "“Abide in me” is an understandable and beautiful enough concept in the elegant English of the King James Bible, but “abide” is not a word we use much anymore. So I gained even more appreciation for this admonition from the Lord when I was introduced to the translation of this passage in another language. In Spanish that familiar phrase is rendered “permaneced en mi.” Like the English verb “abide,” permanecer means “to remain, to stay,” but even gringos like me can hear the root cognate there of “permanence.” The sense of this then is “stay—but stay forever.” "

I love that concept. I can't imagine anything greater. When my life is going well, it's fairly easy to stay faithful in Christ. And having that faith definitely brings me joy. I know that God loves me and is blessing my life and that makes me happy. I appreciate all that I have that much more because I know that they come from God. It also gives me hope for eternal life with God, my Savior, and my family. What could bring more joy than that?

So why is it that when I'm facing something difficult I try to do it on my own or even get frustrated with God and my Savior? I have a few theories, but that's not really the point. The point is, when I turn toward Them and pray for help, guidance, and comfort, it always comes. I believe that our Savior experienced all our trials and therefore knows not only how we feel, but how to comfort and heal us. I believe it because I've experienced it.

My problem is that I sometimes just want Him to take my trial away. I often look at my life and I think I could do so much more if I never experienced depression. I try to remember that we have to have trials in order to grow. My children would never learn to walk if I didn't let them try, even though the trying results in a lot of hard work and even a lot of falls and maybe some bruises. But I let them fall and get up and try again because I love them and I want them to grow and develop. So it is with us. Fortunately, even though He may not remove our trials He can make them easier to endure. And having faith in Him gives me hope. I have hope that I am gaining valuable experience from my trials; I have hope that I can endure my trials well; I have hope that I will be able to receive all that the Father has promised. Without faith, there is not hope. And without hope, I'm not sure that there can be true joy either.

Why can't I always remember that and have unwavering faith? I don't know. I guess there's still a lot of room for growth for me. How do you stay focused on your faith all the time? How do you change your perspective when you feel like life isn't fair? What helps you to abide in your faith at all times? How does your faith enhance your joy? How does your faith help you to find joy even in the midst of trial?

In closing, I want to share a verse from the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon. It's in chapter 33, verse 23. The prophet Alma is finishing a wonderful discourse on faith and closes with these words "And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will."

15 comments:

Amy said...

I struggle with remembering to have faith when I'm depressed. Part of depression is just feeling so alone. And feeling like no one can possible understand you. I know that our Savior can and does ALWAYS understand what we're going through, but when I'm depressed, I often don't want to remember that. I have found that by reading my scriptures every day and praying every day, that helps me to remember. They help me to remember Him and turn more to Him than away from Him. It's hard to do sometimes, but I know that if I do that, He will always be there.

Kristen and Shawn said...

I think sometimes we just put our Faith in the back of our minds and when we are having a diificult time we don't always go back to faith. I think that one thing that is important to remember when we are going through difficult times is to pray. I think sometimesI am in a ruch to pray which I shouldn't be but when I am having a hard time- those prayers are really the ones that I feel have most meaning.

Melissa said...

Faith is so uplifting when times are good, but can disappear so quickly when things turn south. I don't get it either. Shouldn't we have faith that He will always be with us and comfort us? It is hard to imagine a higher power when I am down. Then I always have a feeling that then is when I should be focusing on Him. I am up and down, full of faith then hopeless. But He is always there when I remember Him.

Linda said...

This is probably too long, but I've been thinking about this topic quite a bit.

I think it’s interesting that it is often when we need our faith the most that we struggle to be faithful. We turn away from rather toward the Lord. I remember a time when I was a young adult and something happened that hurt me very deeply. For a full week, I couldn’t find the energy to pray and ask for the help I desperately needed. At the end of that week, an acquaintance from work stopped by my apartment and gave me a copy of a church leader’s talk about communicating with God through prayer. She didn’t know what I was going through and that was the one and only time she came to my apartment. I recognized that Heavenly Father was aware of what I was going through and found a way to help me, in spite of my weaknesses.

Since that time I’ve had many other times when I have felt down, but I’ve been able to pray in spite of my emotions. Sometimes it takes a while for me to listen, but eventually I’ve opened my heart and mind to receive His counsel. In the October 2008 Ensign magazine, Pres. Uchtdorf acknowledges that developing Christlike attributes, such as faith, is not an easy task in dealing with real life and can be a painful process. He assures us that we can gradually increase our capacity.
One of the things that has helped me is remembering that I am a child of Heavenly Father and that He knows and loves me individually. That is such an empowering truth, if we just believe it. The way to believe it is to have faith that it is true and act accordingly – read and study the words of God given to prophets ancient and modern, pray sincerely and recognize His answers, obey His commandments consistently. These actions will open the door for Heavenly Father to show His love to each of us personally. I’ve been recording in my journal the ways I see His love in my life and in the lives of those I love and that has also helped.
In Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin’s recent General Conference talk, “Come What May, and Love It” he said, “How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.”
My suggestion is to actively work at having a firm assurance of Heavenly Father’s unconditional love so that when we need Him the most, we still see and feel His loving arms extended towards us, inviting us to come to Him and be comforted and strengthened.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I feel like my trials are more difficult and I question why Heavenly Father wants me to go through them. I focus so much energy on them when I could be focusing on something much more productive and uplifting.

My faith waivers at first, but it is ultimately strengthened as I come to the realization that everything good in my life is from God. Trials force us to be humble and come to Him for help. They also refine our spirits and make us stronger and more faithful. The key is to put our trust in God. If we resort to bitterness, then we truly do suffer and nothing good comes of the trial.

Markell said...

It's so interesting that I think having constant faith in our lives is such a struggle. I know that is why we have sacrament meeting each week. We know that we need that reminder each week and then He gives us time to see if we can work on having faith as we go through each week.

I've always viewed anxiety as something negative but last week I was reading Jacob, Chapter 1. In verse 5 it says "For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them."

It is sometimes the anxiety that moves us to use our faith. It was because of faith AND anxiety that Jacob was shown his revelations. It is because of faith and anxiety that we can know what He wants us to do and we can receive revelations for us.

Cheryl said...

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far. I love the reminders about the importance of prayer and also in changing our perspectives about trials and anxiety. And I'm glad to know I'm not alone in struggling with keeping my faith constant.
For those of you who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--whenever someone refers to "President" or "Elder", that is a member of our church leadership (i.e. The Prophet and Apostles); when someone references a book of scripture that sounds unfamiliar, it is probably from The Book of Mormon. You can go to www.lds.org or www.mormon.org if you want more information on any of these things or people.

Nik said...

My belief dictates most of what I do with my life. I don't always let it do that, however. My biggest deterant from my faith is myself; I get caught up with myself. Looking at the bigger picture in light of my faith helps me to get my focus off of me and on to more eternal things. That is alway relieving to me.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl,

Thank you for writing this blog. I've been reading it every week since it started and wanted to let you know that you are an amazing woman and how I appreciate your words.

This isn't related to the post at hand, but I wasn't sure where to post a general comment/question.

For a good three years now, I've been a "crier." I seem to cry at the most stupid things and don't know why. My boyfriend hates it and doesn't understand why I cry all the time, but I don't know why either!

Has this happened to you? Is there anyone else who's reading this who cries? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Take care.

Cheryl said...

Anonymous,

I read a book called "The Mood Cure" in which the author suggests that people who cry all the time do so because of some nutritional/hormonal deficiencies and offers advice on how to correct that. I thought the book was helpful (she covers a lot of issues), but a little extreme--so, I'm not endorsing it 100%, but you might want to check it out.
Other than that, I go through phases where I cry over everything (i.e. Disney's "Cars") and other times, I don't cry as much.
I think for me it's usually stress related. Not always, but usually. That and fatigue. Are you really stressed and/or tired? Do you get stressed when you feel like crying b/c of how your boyfried feels about it? That could be contributing. Did something significant happen 3 years ago? Do you feel better/worse/the same after crying?
I guess those are more questions than answers. Sorry! One thing I do when I feel like I might cry but I'm not in the mood (sometimes it does just feel good to cry), is exercise. That allows me to take my mind off of things and just focus on how good it feels to move my body. If exercise isn't something you enjoy, then do something else that you do. Read, shop, knit, etc., whatever hobby you love. And then just focus completely on that and nothing else.
What does anyone else have to say?

Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for the prompt feedback and suggestions. I'll take a look at "The Mood Cure."

It's funny that you mention crying over Disney movies. Sometimes I cry over them too! or songs, or books, etc. As I write this and think logically about crying, I feel silly about crying over those things, but sometimes it just happens.

Yes, I do get stressed out even more because of my boyfriend's reaction to my "emotional episodes," which makes it tough. Perhaps I need to get all of my crying out when he's not around!

Thanks for the exercise idea. This has helped me as well. It's nice to get outside, get the blood flowing, and not think about whatever was stressing me out or making me frustrated.

For me, I think a lot of my crying has to do with life's frustrations. Sometimes I'm a perfectionist and it frustrates me if I can't do something correctly. That makes me upset and sometimes makes me cry!

Gosh, sometimes it stinks being a female. However, we're all going through this together and like you said, the crying comes and goes. Perhaps this is due to hormones and our monthly cycles...

Thanks again for all that you've done with this blog. You're helping a lot of women and I hope this is helping you to get your feelings out. I commend you, Cheryl.

Take care.

Cheryl said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your kindness! I just wanted to say that I think (any time I dispense advice feel free to take it or leave it, I don't claim to be an expert on anything!) that you should sit down with your bf and find out exactly why it bothers him when you cry and workout a good way for him to support you through it. My guess is that if he can be supportive, you might cry less. Just a suggestion b/c it reminded me of how my HH reacts when I get stressed. But now that we've talked it all out a few times, he's learning to respond in a way that makes things better and not worse. It may just be the male/female difference.
And as far as being a perfectionist, try to cut yourself some slack. Try stepping outside of yourself and viewing you the way you would if you were someone else. You'd probably be pretty impressed with yourself. I know that's nothing new, but sometimes it helps to be reminded of things.
Have a great day!

Jen said...

I enjoyed reading everyone's comments!

It's taken me over a week to read this whole post. . . I started pondering what it means to "abide" in the Savior and never finished, until today. I think our struggles with maintaining our faith are a direct result of our position in the universe -- we are children of God, but inhabiting a fallen world in bodies made up of those fallen materials. In other words, we are celestial beings having a mortal experience. Part of the struggle is that simple contrast; that is the test of our existence -- to look beyond this Earthly sphere and back to our Father in Heaven. I find it interesting as I read the Book of Mormon the number of times that the people go through the "pride cycle." Over and over again, they are humbled, exceedingly blessed, become wicked, and are forced to be humble and repent again. Remembering the Lord when times are good, as well as bad, seems to be the clue to stop the vicious cycle from continuing. That isn't to say that bad things don't happen to good people, but when we think about the pride cycle, it helps us to remember to stay close to the Lord always. I was touched by the number of talks in the most recent Conference address about increasing our faith in difficult times. Our faith will be all that more absolutely necessary in the days ahead. Life is a test, after all.

Nik said...

Anonymous,

I am a crying type myself. I do think as we get older and have more experience with life, crying may not feel as uncontrollable or unpredictable.

One of the hardest things that can happen is if you feel bad or insignificant for crying. There is a difference between crying so frequently that it interferes with your daily functioning, and being a person who is emotional. It is hard to look at yourself objectively, but perhaps a counselor or someone who is more objective could help you determine where you fall on that spectrum and possibly help you to find ways to cope with your bf in a helpful and theraputic way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyboy,

Thanks for your comments regarding my crying situation. They all help tons and I appreciate you taking time out of your lives to help out a fellow woman trying to deal with all of life's situations.

Since telling you all about my problem (albiet anonomously), my crying has improved! I think it helps to get things off your chest and tell others about what you're going through, no matter what it is. Also, I've told my bf that I've written this post and he was so happy for me! These past three years have been hard on him too. From the guy's perspective, I think it is hard for them to understand everything that goes on in our heads and they feel bad when something is bothering us.

So again, thank you!!

Have a great Halloween.