As I sit on the balcony of my hotel room, my senses are awakened to the distant light across the small pond and the symphony of sounds from the animals, birds, and amphibians who reside in this lush, humid, and beautiful place. At the same time, it occurs to me that at this hour (when most early birds are still snug in their beds), I may be the only human listening and watching this beautifully orchestrated ballet of sight and sound. With this additional consideration, I perceive a shift from mere enjoyment to a feeling of gratitude for the precious serenade, a feeling that all of this beauty is here and I'm the only one who knows about it.
My mind is finding the parallels of this situation in my life and in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I think of how He would have performed the atonement even if I was the only one who needed it. I think about how we can miss things, beautiful things, if we aren't paying attention.
The beauty that I witnessed this morning would have existed even if I hadn't seen it. So many cannot see the beauty around them, the miracles, the blessings. That doesn't mean those things aren't there. It just means that the person isn't seeing them.
Some times, what we miss is the person within our sphere who needs something that we can provide, an opportunity to strengthen ourselves and another at the same time if we would but see and respond.
This morning, I am reminded to pray for eyes that can see and ears that can hear so that I might recognize the hand of the Lord in my life more fully and be an instrument for good in the life of another.
The sidewalk had ended
I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't know about God. I had been raised going to church on Sunday mornings. I had attended a church-run elementary school. I thought that my relationship with God was as close as every one else's since I was doing all of the things I saw everyone else doing. I was a good person and I tried to keep the commandments.
However, in my late 20s I experienced something that I can only describe as a point in time where I felt that the sidewalk I was on just ended. I couldn't really hear my Heavenly Father, I never had. But, I believed that He was there. I needed answers. I needed strength. I yearned to feel close to Him and loved by Him. And yet, my sidewalk just stopped in a place that still seemed very far away from His presence.
Through prayer and what I now know was personal revelation, I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That was July 2001. My children were 5, 3, and 2. Through learning more about my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, the sidewalk started to expand. I learned to pray in a way that I had never prayed. I developed a love of Jesus Christ that became the motivation for wanting to follow His example. Guilt and fear were no longer the drivers in my life. Love like I had never even considered filled my heart and my life. I came to understand that I was a precious daughter of a Heavenly Father and that He loved me and wanted to help me with every trial, every disappointment, every weakness. I learned about the Holy Ghost and how it could be with me every day as a guide and a protector.
As happy as I have become through learning about and living the gospel, one of the greatest blessings has been raising my children with the gospel. I know that I am a better person, a better parent, a better example because of my knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ and His teachings.
I have never met a happier person than myself. That might sound odd, I know. But, I know that my happiness comes from living the gospel, not from having everything I could want or from having a perfect life. True joy and happiness cannot be found in the things of this world and I am eternally grateful for this knowledge.
Wherever you are with your relationship with God, I urge you to always strive to be a step closer to your Father in Heaven than you were the day before. Seek Him through prayer. Live the commandments. Read the scriptures. These are the small and simple ways that we can feel of His love and find peace in this world full of distractions and violence.
I am a daughter of God. I know that my Savior, Jesus Christ lives! As I ask in faith, my prayers are answered in the way and in the time that is for my greatest happiness. How grateful I am to know the gospel and live in a country where I can worship my Father in Heaven.