Sunday, May 17, 2015

Whole

You know you're doing well when you can go back to places--places you've felt estranged from, pasts that have been closed to you, broken off--and feel/experience life once more as you did in your youth. You know something's right when the broken and seemingly meaningless fragments of your life and pieces of your heart and soul feel like one complete whole as opposed to disjunct pieces of some foreign existence. That's how I felt today as I drove into the familiar cities of my youth, and in the familiar streets of my very early childhood, to the chapel where my dad and step-mom were sharing a brief message. As I sat in the congregation of my very young childhood chapel with many of my family members and their families, listening to my dad and step-mom speak about missionary work at the pulpit, everything just seemed good and right, and whole--not weird as it had before.

It is amazing what happens when you start focusing on the things that are right instead of that which seems wrong--as if in order to solve a 'problem' that is what must be done. Ironically, though, if one really wants to solve a problem, one must not take the latter approach. It is amazing what happens when you start focusing on the things that are wrong instead of those things that are right. I've experienced this enough to know, many times over, in different situations and experiences. I am not ashamed to say it. I have been on both sides.

I am grateful that God is a constant, a pure constant, that though people come and people go, opportunities, experiences, feelings, responsibilities, love, et al., that God will be and has always been there, a constant, my constant. God is the one, the only one that remains constant through it all. He is the only one that can be trusted perfectly. He is the only one in whom I trust, completely--though I am not perfect and yet trust imperfectly; yet I don't believe He expects perfection, only that I learn.

Without experience all of this must sound jibberish. Looking at what I've written, it could be understood so many ways. I guess that's the beauty of experience.

I am grateful for families. I am grateful for love. But most of all I am grateful for a Heavenly Father that is always present, and in whose presence we can have everlasting peace.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?" Christ asked, "and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10: 29-31).

I believe God hears and answers our prayers and that. He loves us. He just does.

Have a good week everyone. I wish you the same success and peace where there is doubt, fear, or whatever that may trouble your heart.

Until next week,

<3
Janeel

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear ... Journal?



Writing in a journal is so different than writing to someone, especially to someone real, or at least real to you. It's amazing the difference it makes! I've written in a journal for so long. At first my journal consisted of somewhat of a daily account of what I'd done. I should pull up an entry just for the fun of it some day. Then in my teenage years I thought I'd start writing more meaningful entries--or at least what I thought would be more meaningful. I appreciated the sacred texts and wanted to have 'scripture' material for my own kids and posterity some day, ie an account of my experiences with the Spirit--thoughts, revelations, et al. At that point my journal became a spiritual learning journal, so to speak, a record of all my spiritual experiences and thoughts that I felt were valuable.

About a year ago I started addressing my journal entries to "My Children" though I don't have any yet. It was meant as an act of faith that someday I would make that step and have a family of my own to share my journals with--well, what I thought was of worth at the end of the day. I wanted that future to feel more real to me in the present and thought that would help. It was in part a response to a fear that arose at the time--that if I never had children, all of that effort would be put to waste, in a way (though not entirely so, of course, depending on how you look at it). The entries seemed to be more meaningful, or personal, as they were specifically addressed to my children and future posterity.  I think I had some entries written with pieces of advice regarding "lessons learned". I could only do it for so long though. It's just hard to write someone directly that you don't know, and that you don't know for certain will ever be...real. At least in your life. I ended up going back to just writing my thoughts and impressions that I felt were guided by the Spirit--ie a spiritual learning journal.

About a month or so ago I thought that perhaps if I wrote God as some of the prophets had done in the past, as is recorded in sacred text, that perhaps that would be even more meaningful; perhaps the realness of that relationship would sustain my efforts. Since I have believed in God and prayed to Him, sought to obey Him and follow His commandments, and have felt a strong communication with Him via personal revelation that I had sought and received day in and day out over the years, I figured that He might be real enough to me to enable me to sustain communication with Him via letter-writing--a new mode of journal writing. After all, He will always be there, regardless of the choices I make in life regarding my personal family life.

Amazingly, I was right. Journal writing has never been the same and I'm never going back. It is oh so different to write someone real, as opposed to just writing to yourself, putting thoughts down on paper, every inspired thought--or thought to be inspired thought, every "ah ha". It is beautiful.

Perhaps I'll explain more in another post. I am just grateful to have someone to write to and I wanted to share that because so many blessings are coming from the letters I've been writing as of late. I feel like I am getting to know God for the first time through writing letters to Him. For me that kind of says a lot :) Considering I have years' worth of material of sacred experiences and thoughts. I think one of the biggest blessings is, well everything is such a blessing, but one of the noteworthy blessings and differences in my approach to writing Him as opposed to "blank space" is that I feel guided as to what I'd like Him to know (though I believe He knows all), and what I'd like to share with Him (that's just exciting to me, to get to share it with Him as if He was hearing it for the first time, but really in fact He does hear it from me to Him for the first time when I write or speak with Him so I guess that's true anyway, which is cool, that He has something to look forward to I guess); it's not every new or unique thought of "ah ha" as it had been in my spiritual learning journal anymore; it's not every bit of inspiration I have to see something different, or to add to something that I'd learned before but now feel I know more of. It's kind of nice, kind of relieving, actually, to feel that not "everything" is important enough to write down, or to share. It means I have less to worry about, which for me is kind of substantial! Less to worry and be concerned about myself and others; boy did I used to fill my prayers with those while on my knees or whatever praying position I was in (ie in bed or as I was doing whatever I was doing during the day)! Some things can be forgotten, or don't need to be written out or even verbalized, ever.

Perhaps this is most spectacular, though the whole experience of writing out my problems is completely different now. In the past when I was writing out to blank space so to speak I think my problems came out as complaints. Pessimism. Frustration. The journal was the end. In my letters to God though, there is no "end". I am not writing to a wall, so to speak. When I "share" with Him my frustrations I have found I am more real in describing them because there's someone real on the other end, and that I honestly seek His help. It's not just "that's the way I feel" but "God this is the way I feel and it really sucks or is really exciting, but what dost thou think?" The way you would have a conversation with a real friend, face to face. I really do care what He thinks, else I wouldn't ask Him. Then I think about it throughout the day, expecting His guidance and I get it!!!! That is just so cool to me after having written all about my thoughts in a stagnant journal and pieces of paper for years on end. I just think "oh man I could have had an answer to this question/problem/whatever so long ago if I had been writing God instead of just recording that I had a question/problem/whatever in blank space." Ha.

The other cool thing is that now, more than ever before, I don't feel alone in any of my experiences. Thus instead of complaining or celebrating on my own, thus turning "inward", I turn to Him, to share my joys and sorrows "with" Him. It is so much more awesome. Life isn't about information. It's about people. It's about relationships, friendships, and love. Information, however insightful and meaningful, is second to the relationships in the present. Maybe it would benefit the conversation. Maybe not. Wow was I stuck on it though! Sometimes it's okay to let go and replace the thought, the word, with presence, sheer presence, shared presence with another being.

Oh man, life is beautiful, especially when you have someone as amazing as God at your side. He's always been there. I just, well, I didn't know how to connect "with" Him as well as I do now. And I sure as heck didn't realize I was isolating myself in a way by writing so much of my thoughts and feelings to a wall, so to speak. Life is meant to be shared, lived, and enjoyed. Life is beautiful!!! It is amazing! It is brilliant!

I just want everyone to know. There is absolutely nothing like it.

I hope everyone who comes across this has a wonderful week! Good luck in everything! Life really is so beautiful though! I hope you can taste it too! Letter-writing just happens to be my thing I've discovered. If you have another mode of communication you prefer that's great! I wish you luck and success in all your meaningful relationships. Life really is grand. Have a wonderful week everyone!