“First off, what a turnout!” 😆 Haha! Good morning everyone! I’ve had so many things come to mind about what I wanted to write today that I can’t remember any of them. Hopefully as I type, I will remember some of it. I realized yesterday that it was my 7 month mark and I thought, “oh that’s cool.” And then I stopped and thought out loud, “oh my goodness! It’s October 17th!” My companion stared at me like I was crazy as I repeated it two more times. October has flown by so fast! It feels like its already almost over! But considering we still have two more weeks left, it’s probably the end of the transfer that’s so surprising! Our transfer calls come in the day before Halloween and it doesn’t feel like it’s been four weeks with Sister Peterson already! We hope to stay together for Christmas time, but we aren’t very sure that will happen. We’re likely to stay together this coming transfer which ends on December 15th, but after that, Sister Peterson’s training will be completed and it’s up in the air for whether we stay in this area together or not. I’m just going to mentally prepare for my departure at the end of next transfer so I’m not as disappointed. 😅
Anyway, on to more interesting things for me to write about, we are starting up Study Togethursday again! Thursdays at 8pm [EDT] which is 5pm for you all in AZ, and 6pm for those of you in UT. (Those are the two time zones I have to pay attention to the most, so forgive me if your time zone is not listed) Sister Peterson and I would absolutely love it if any of you could make it even for a couple minutes to share a thought, say hi, or tag a friend!
I’ve been studying a lot about grace this week due to feeling like I haven’t been measuring up as a missionary or just in general to giving my all, hence the Study Togethursday based on grace. We had wonderful exchanges on Tuesday and I talked to one of my STLs about how I felt like I had a direction but wasn’t sure which turns to take or how to get there. And by direction, I mean where I’ve felt I need to be for a long time. I’ve felt urgency in this, but I haven’t really put it to action over the years. I’ve had the mindset of, “It’s okay, I have more time to improve.” To quote an amazing moment in “The Chosen” when Jesus’ mother is asking him to perform a miracle, he tells her it is not the time. She says, “If not now, when?”
Over the last few weeks as I’ve written about a little, I’ve battled feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and laziness. I felt so inspired by General Conference, especially by Bradley R. Wilcox’s talk, “Worthiness is Not Flawlessness,” but I didn’t know how to apply grace to my life. It seemed like such a simple thing, but as I was writing notes during Conference, I wrote, “what is grace?” I realized I didn’t really know what grace was. I heard the word over the years and knew it was connected to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but realized I don’t know how to apply it because I don’t understand what it is.
So in an attempt to learn what grace is, I’ve continued to battle belittling thoughts, and I’ll just share a portion of a message I wrote to a friend yesterday after realizing something huge about what I was going through:
“…I’ve had times where it’s been hard to have faith, and hard to feel like I am receiving help and answers to prayer. I’ve felt like I am wandering around in a mist where I can’t see and maybe feel empty or confused. I’m still going through days where it feels like I don’t know what turn to take next.
Sometimes I feel like I set too many expectations. Like I expect to get specific answers to prayer and when I want them. I make expectations for how I should feel and what I think God needs to help me with so I can follow Him.
But I think I’ve started to learn over the last two weeks in particular, that those expectations I’ve set are limiting me to see what God is doing in my life. It’s trying to see and have trust that what He is doing in my life right now through others and through comfort and peace, that what I think I may be different from what God knows is best for me.
I’m not entirely sure if you can relate to any of what I’m sharing, but I just feel like I needed to share that with you.
I’ve personally been trying to keep a journal of:
1. One good thing that made me smile
2. Something I’m grateful for
3. A miracle I saw in my life that day (as small as being able to get somewhere special before it closes)
I’ve been doing this every day, and though I am not immediately feeling “fixed” I do feel closER to God because I’m actively searching for ways He is working in my life.
Another thing that’s helped me along this struggle is reading the word of God. I’ve found comfort in studying grace recently and what that is to me personally. Sometimes I think I listen to thoughts that tell me that God’s grace is for everyone but me. With the exception of my situation, but then I have to realize that that is Satan actively trying to make me believe that change isn’t possible. That feeling the love of God isn’t possible. Satan targets us so individually, and he’s good at it too.
Don’t give up… You can make it through everything you’re facing. I’ll finish with a quick quote I love. [LOL I didn’t finish there]
“Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust in God and believe in good things to come.” [-Jefferey R. Holland]
Satan would have us believe that we can find comfort and peace and happiness away from Jesus Christ. “You don’t have to study the scriptures. It’s stuff you already know.” “You never get answers to prayer, so why pray?” “You don’t feel God’s love for you, so He must not love you.”
These are lies the Devil tells us bit by bit. In reality, we will be learning the rest of our lives. We don’t have a perfect knowledge of God’s word. It takes years of study. Entire lifetimes. We are promised protection when we study the word of God. In reality, God really DOES answer prayers. He will answer them in His own time and way because He has our best interest in mind and knows us perfectly. In reality, God’s love for you will never end and is perfect. Even the worst sinner, He loves so much that their suffering as a consequence of breaking His commandments brings Him sorrow beyond our understanding. Not because they didn’t do what He told them to, but because they are unhappy.
…God loves you so much…He loves us and helps us despite our shortcomings and faults. I know these things because the Spirit has testified of them to me in my life. I know if you sincerely pray about feeling God’s love for you that you will see it and feel it throughout your day…”
I didn’t realize up until yesterday during the passing of the sacrament that all of those feelings and thoughts of inability to change and become better, were coming from Satan. I don’t know if this helped the friend I sent it to, but I sure needed it. (Though I hope this helped them in some way) I realized I know that those thoughts come from Satan, but he targeted me so individually and in just the right way, that for two weeks, I believed those were thoughts coming from me and my Heavenly Father.
So I’ll quote Bradley R. Wilcox’s talk as he talks about a young man that was struggling with becoming better and feeling God’s love for him.
I realized that I am making progress. Just not as fast as I expected myself to progress. I set unrealistic expectations for progressing in a few days that which takes a lifetime and longer. I burdened myself with expectations of perfection, and as soon as I realized I could not attain that, I crashed and believed those thoughts of, “Heavenly Father must be so frustrated that I have not ‘gotten it’ yet” or “I’m doomed to be this way forever because I can’t seem to change”. I realized I was measuring my success on seeing a significant improvement right now. But as we heard from several of the speakers, including President Nelson, progress is a process. The Restoration is a process. Reinforcing our foundation is a process. We don’t have to learn everything all at once to receive grace.
I had an opportunity to teach a wonderful friend of ours yesterday, who I will call Todd. He called Sister Hafer and I after finding our number through the church website. He wanted to learn more about prayer and who God was. Turns out, he had no previous experience with religion and we started from scratch explaining who God was, where we came from, and who Jesus Christ was. It was a lot harder than I expected it to be.
But as Sister Peterson and I taught him last night over a improv phone call, he had so much humility and we could tell he was feeling the Spirit. He asked a couple of simple questions: How do I know if my prayers are being answered? How does God have time to listen to my prayers? After teaching simply about God being our loving Heavenly Father and having time for each and every on of His children, we talked about the Spirit- what he was feeling at that moment. He was amazed at the power, peace, and comfort he felt and asked such a simple question; “Why isn’t everyone coming to God?” This made us smile, and we taught him about agency, our gift from Heavenly Father to choose for ourselves. That He loves us so much that He would never force us to come home. Like the story of the prodigal son returning home. What a beautiful story!
It was recently pointed out to me that in the story of Alma the Younger (a similar story if you ask me), he remembers the teachings of his father, of God. Even though he had been led astray, he was able to look back on the teachings of his father and turn to God. The lesson I get from this experience with “Todd”, with the story of the prodigal son, and with Alma the Younger, is that we don’t need to know everything or be perfect to receive help or grace after all we can do. After all we know to do. This has been so comforting to begin to understand.
Well, this is getting lengthy and I may not be able to send/post it if it gets any longer haha. Thank you all for your support and love! Shout out to my gurl Tacie… I mean, SISTER WOODHOUSE who was just set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yesterday after giving her farewell talk. She is going to be a fantastic missionary!
Love you all! Stay safe, stay away from strangers in hats, and accept free candy!
Sister (Katie) Malan