The Processing of Turning Outward:
For the last two months I have really been struggling, being sent back into grief and crying for a period almost everyday. I have been asking,
"What in the world is going on?
Why all of the sudden am I having such a hard time?"
"'Hell is being frozen in self-pity.' Indeed at times when we think our lot is hard or when we feel ourselves misunderstood, it will be so easy of us to indulge ourselves in feeling some self-pity."- Maxwell
George Macdonald reminded us that "the only door out of the dungeon of self pity is the love of one's neighbor."So in response, I have been trying to serve, study my scriptures, and pray and in those moments. I do feel a temporary lifting when I am doing those things, but the cloud has just kept coming back.
Persistently I have kept trying to discover what I needed to do in order to get back the peace that I was feeling before.
As of late, I have been studying the Character of Christ.
I have been noticing how He always turned outwards even in moments of personal pain and distress. As I have been reflected on my inward turning and feeling sorry for myself, I have known that I needed to change that. Uncertain as to how I could make that happen...
I have prayed for help...
I have tried to push those feeling away...
but something else was missing.
"If you really want me to do this, then why is it so hard to do?"
"Why don't you fix it and send me more help!"Okay...
so I agree...that was not the best stance to take with God and it was not the best way to solicit help.
As I look back on those statements, I see a lot turning inward and very little turning outward. Frustrated, confused and in a bad place, I didn't know how to overcome this hurdle.
At the same time I was listening to a talk by a man I greatly respect. I heard him speak when I was a teenager and he has since passed away from Cancer. He said in this older talk that...
Most of our suffering "comes because of our sins." (Neil A Maxwell, "But for a Small Moment.")Honestly, at first this statement kind of rubbed me wrong. I got a bit defensive and I thought,
"My suffering is because my husband died in a plane crash! Not because of anything that I have done... in fact, I am trying to do a lot of good things... Don't I deserve a break or a little credit here?"Again, my attitude was clearly in opposition to God... and I knew that. I knew what I was feeling was wrong and as I mulled that idea in my mind, my heart began to soften and I began to ask in prayer what I needed to do to change.
As I prayed an idea came into my mind. It was actually something that I felt I needed to do months ago, but that I had not gotten around to doing because I was uncertain how to go about it. I knew that if I sold some very special personal items, I could use the money to pay for the help that I needed to get the project moving.
This was a hard decision, because these were items that were tied to special memories with my husband. Honestly, at this point, I was desperate and so tired of feeling rotten that I was willing to do about anything to get that peaceful feeling back.
I moved forward and made arrangements to sell the items. Immediately I was drawn into the trap of trying to get more money for them. Again, I felt worried and stressed and I cried frequently. After talking things over with my mom and again going to the Lord in prayer, I felt at peace with taking the route that would insure that I could move forward more quickly even though it was not the one that could potentially bring me the most money. I felt that the money was not the issue here.
I was being asked to sacrifice something that was special to me for the greater good.
God didn't just step in and fix my problem for me.
He showed me how I could use the resources He had already given me and with a little work of my own how I could help more people than just myself.
It was the lesson that I needed to practice...
That of turning from self and turning towards Him...
the act of following His example and turning outwards to others even when I was in pain.
After the items were sold and a lot of tears were shed, I got into my car to drive home and a feeling of peace settled upon me. I knew that I had made the right decision.
"We have a Father who loves us specifically and gives us things to do and, because he loves us, will cause us, at times, to have our souls stretched and to be fitted for a better world by coping with life in this world."
"If God chooses to teach us the things we most need to learn because he loves us, and if he seeks to tame our souls and gentle us in the way we most need to be tamed and most need to be gentled, it follows that he will customize the challenges he gives us and individualize them so that we will be prepared for life in a better world by his refusal to take us our of this world, even though we are not of it."
"In the eternal ecology of things we must pray, therefore not that things be taken from us, but that God's will be accomplished through us... For there is in each of our lives this kind of divine design, this pattern, this purpose that is in the process of becoming." - Neil A MaxwellI learned a little bit more about these statements this week.
- I learned about how turning from self to others can enable me to get through grief and feel peace.
- I learned that God is content to pull down the walls of my little cottage so that He can build something better.
not just for me, but so that I can do more good.So that I don't have to be of two minds and constantly struggling and battling within myself.
I would rather have one mind... His mind.
So thinking back on that statement about sin and suffering... Was I doing something particularly wrong or sinful? No, not really, but I wasn't following through on what I had felt God wanted me to do and that was enough to knock me out of alignment. I was dragging my feet and hoping that He would not require of me that kind of a sacrifice. I was too turned inward and not turned enough outward.
He was trying to help me understand that,
and the suffering did exactly that.
Why do we suffer then? I believe it is so that we will turn to God for help and we will have an incentive to change. I don't think that God likes to see us suffer, but if that suffering will cause us to become someone better, then He allows it for His greater purposes.
So I'm over this hurdle for now, but I am sure that many more hurdles are in my future. Hopefully this lesson will sink a little deeper this time and my turning will me quicker the next road block I face.
My question for you, is how has turning outward blessed your life?