From Apathy to Joy

Dear Reader Friends,

I apologize for the long delay in posts! In recent months dare I say that my whole entire life feels like it has turned upside down! Perhaps that sounds like an exaggeration to you, but it nevertheless feels true, in no uncertain terms.

The upside-down-ness of my life has given me a lot of food for thought. So much of my life has been about getting to the next phase—surviving this one, hoping to get to the next one—and it seems I keep getting stuck in transitional phases. Any woman who has gone through the birth of a child knows how agonizing transition phase can be! Sometimes it feels like it will NEVER (and I mean never) end. Sometimes you think you’ll die before you have the chance to see it through to the other side! Anyone here, know what I’m talking about?! If you haven’t been there, well, just take my word for it, having had three children—all the natural way.

The one thing I’ve noticed about myself is as life has gone on and in a lot of places gotten harder, I seem to get more and more deeply entrenched in survival. One more thing happens and I sometimes I have very little emotional response. It’s like I’m either numb or calloused. Almost apathetic. I wouldn’t say it’s with everything, but I have noticed it and it’s there more than I would like, for sure. Sometimes when you have so many things coming from so many different angles it’s easy to get that way, I guess. It’s like my passion and love of life has been severely squelched. Often my main focus is getting through another day. And sometimes that’s too much.

As I look around my life, I find myself wanting joy, freedom from apathy and survival mode, and I want to thrive. And I want that to spread to my kids. I want them to see my life filled with joy, see me filled with joy and I want them to be filled with joy.

My birthday came and went in these past few months and a very dear friend of mine gave me a copy of a book that I’d wanted: Audacious by Beth Moore. I’ve had other exposure to Beth Moore—Bible studies and talks posted on YouTube—and she’s become an absolute favorite of mine. I  didn’t know anything about the book, other than the title and author, but I knew I wanted it. I’m sure you know how that is. 🙂 It took me a few weeks, but bit by bit, usually after my kids were asleep, I read the book. And I absolutely LOVED it.

I think the thing I appreciated most was the hard questions Beth was willing to ask, not only ask, but face the answers. The questions that stood out to me were:

What do you want?

What do you want more than anything else?

Is it Jesus?

Do I love Jesus?

You know, when I answered those questions honestly, it was painful to realize my answers. They weren’t the ones that should have been the top priority.

As a teenager Jesus became the love of my life. Sometimes He was my only confidant. I remember many late nights staying up way too late to write to Him in my journal about something that was going on in my life. I remember walks out in nature where I’d just pour out my heart to Him, and could feel His presence everywhere, listening.

Then I got married and I lost a lot of my focus, and in a lot of ways, my passion for Jesus. I was drowned out by being a wife and mother, church calling, crashing health and over the course of eight years it feels like my whole life has crumbled to pieces. Jesus was constantly put on the back burner of my life. I knew I needed to make time for Him, but didn’t know how. I’d have phases where He was the focus, or at least a focus, but then it’d drift off again. Perhaps you’ve had similar experiences.

As I was reading Beth Moore’s book, I realized the thing that had been my anchor, brought me the most joy and made me come alive was my relationship with Him. His love for me and my love for Him.

As I thought on these things one night after reading some of her book, I prayed and I asked God, what to do to get that love again, to rekindle it, so to speak. And I heard words in my mind, “Read The Book of Mormon.

That brought back memories for me. The summer I turned seventeen I felt to read The Book of Mormon. I’d gained my own personal testimony reading it with my mom about four or five years earlier. At this particular time in my life I’d been trying to read the Old Testament as I’d never read it all the way through before. I was really struggling with it, but I really wanted to finish it. However, I kept feeling drawn to read The Book of Mormon. With some encouragement from my mom to follow my intuition I began reading it. I usually read at least a chapter each day, which got me in some good scripture reading habits. As I began reading 1 Nephi I fell in love with The Book of Mormon. I felt like Nephi became my best friend and it was like he was speaking just to me. It was a wonderful ongoing experience. I’d always had a belief in Jesus, since I was a small child, but this is when I fell in love with Him in a deeper way and with the scriptures. With these memories motivating me in the back ground, I set to read The Book of Mormon again, starting at the beginning.

As I read, certain passages and themes began to jump out at me. The first one was 1 Nephi 1:20—towards the end of the verse:

“…But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

Here it seemed to me was the start of a golden thread to be searching for—tender mercies, faith and deliverance.

In reading the Old Testament with my kids I’ve found a theme of unbelief and how crippling and devastating the effects were to God’s people. How it brought them time and time again into captivity and bondage. Yet here in 1 Nephi we see a tone for a new theme being set—deliverance by faith. As the story of Nephi played out it was interesting to me to see that the people God used to bring about His plan of deliverance were those who had faith that He could! He uses people who believe Him. That stood out to me in a really strong way and caused me to ask my own question: What kind of person will I choose to be—one of faith or one of unbelief?

I saw another theme: the plan of deliverance was carried out as they obeyed the directions or commandments of God given to them specifically. This speaks to me that if we want to be delivered in our own personal lives we have to have a personal, one on one relationship with the Deliverer, even Jesus Christ.

As the book goes on it gets to Lehi’s dream, and I was struck by several things. First, I was struck by: “And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy…And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy…Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Nephi 8:10, 12; 11:21-23) Wasn’t that part of what I’d been searching for, happiness and joy? And here in these chapters it tells where to find it! Even in the love of God.

As I read through the chapters of Lehi’s dream and Nephi’s opportunity to see it also, I was struck how Nephi’s opportunity was given because of two things: desire and belief: “For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot. And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?…And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou has desired.”(1 Nephi 11:1-2, 6).

I also noticed that there were two types of desires running in this dream—those who desired the tree, and those who desired the great and spacious building: “…Behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree. And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.” (1 Nephi 8:30-31). To use the words from the dream, we “press toward” what we want. Doesn’t that make you want to evaluate what your wants are and make sure they’re in the right place? It did me.

Then another thing, which Papa pointed out to me when we read it together the other night was 1 Nephi 11:25—“And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.” After we read that verse Papa coined this: “The Word of God leads to the Love of God”.

Here among those first chapters I find the key to what I’m searching for: The Word leads to Love of God which fills with Joy. Do you know what that said to me? Read the Word! 🙂 It’s more that just read. It’s like going on a treasure hunt looking for nuggets of love and joy—not superficial or high rise drug effect, but real, deep, lasting love and joy.

Not only was I prompted to get in God’s Word, but then I was shown, IN the Word, how that was the answer to my prayer. How cool is that?! And I mean more than the rock and roll kind of cool. 🙂 I mean the walking on water kind of cool. 🙂

And so, dear reader friends, I invite you to join me on my quest—to fall head over heels in love with Jesus by treasure hunting in His Word and join Him on the adventure of a lifetime. Will you join me? Pick up your scriptures and read, for, in Papa’s words, “The Word of God leads to the Love of God” and that leads to joy that will last. The journey from apathy to joy is just the Word away. 🙂

All my love,

Thoughts From A Mother’s Heart

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