Conflict, Patience, & Gratitude
Recently, I had the blessing of attending a baptism and experiencing that joyful, peaceful feeling of the spirit. I was taken back to the day I was baptized. It was so long ago that I was actually baptized in the Salt Lake City tabernacle on temple square. The baptismal font is long gone but the feelings I experienced that day exist as intense and tangible as they were then.
Back then my feelings weren’t all joyous and peaceful. I was 9 years old. I had to wait a year to get my mom’s agreement. While she eventually agreed, she didn’t approve and I felt her anger and disapproval that day. I was a jumbled mess of feelings from peace, shame, and joy, to disappointment. On the one hand wanting to celebrate the joyous feeling I felt inside and on the other wanting to avoid my mom and her disgruntled feelings and disapproval that made me feel sad and ashamed I wasn’t pleasing her.
I clearly remember being confirmed and feeling the hands on my head. The peace and comfort I felt was truly indescribable. I have never forgotten that feeling perhaps because I truly received with all my heart, mind, body, and soul the gift of the Holy Ghost. As I stood up and left that circle my little self wanted desperately to relish the moment and celebrate with the people I loved, yet it was stopped short by the need to also honor my mother.
Oh how I wish I could have held that little girl and removed any doubts she felt about trusting her heart. I wish I could have given her permission to celebrate her joy, to reassure her that the sense of safety and security she was feeling, in that moment, was hers to access anytime she needed it. I wish I could have taught her that sometimes people get hurt and in their pain and brokenness they have trouble allowing and accepting others, even the ones they love, to feel whole and complete. I wish I could have told her to hang on to that loving feeling, that pure love of Christ she was experiencing, to anchor it, nourish it, and learn how to draw from it. I wish I could have reassured her that regardless of the times when it feels like the outside world is not accepting, angry or disapproving, to stay true to what is in her heart because that is where she will always find peace, safety, and freedom.
Yet she didn’t understand or know those things and as she continued to wrestle with that inner conflict her trust and confidence eroded away and self doubt continued to creep in as she grew. That little girl often felt anxious, then frustrated, and eventually angry and resentful. She spent years searching for things to soothe her. She focused on pleasing other people for reassurance and relied on people and things outside herself for comfort, all along neglecting what was inside her all the time.
It wasn’t until many years later and my world came crashing down around me that the grown little girl turned back to that feeling. Over the years there had been the occasional glimpse that had kept me wondering and sporadically reconnecting to the spirit. But during this time of despair it was all I had and I was clinging to it for dear life. Slowly I began to rekindle the fire that had burned within me so long ago, gradually building my trust in God and self. This time, older and wiser, I began soaking up the scriptures and talks, as I never had before, prayerfully asking for help and guidance, I eventually turned to the temple.
Ironically almost 45 years later I was faced with waiting to go to the temple. Again I needed agreement. This time from my spouse. Again after a year of prayers and waiting I received agreement but not approval. At 52 I went through the LDS temple, to receive my endowment and make new covenants. While I was sad to not have complete approval from my spouse, this time I chose to allow myself to celebrate and relish the feelings of happiness and joy. This time I cherished knowing that following my heart and trusting in God, is peace. I knew all would be ok, it is what the spirit told me and I was listening.
So as I sat experiencing this baptism there was a part of me wishing I could have some of those years back to have practiced learning and building trust. I was wishing I could be more confident in trusting when the spirit speaks to me, trusting in God and trusting in myself. But here I am 57 and working on being patient, relying on grace, and often feeling conflicted to share what is in my heart for fear of disapproval, rejection, and pain.
Sitting at that baptism my heart was also overflowing with gratitude for knowing the value of loving and accepting everyone wherever they are, whoever they are, and whatever they believe. It was overflowing with the joy that comes from allowing and supporting people on their journey and where their choices and path takes them. It was overflowing with gratitude for tools and practices to recenter and anchor me in my spiritual knowing. It was overflowing with gratitude for the courage to continue on my path and being brave enough to follow the spirit and promptings asking me to write this blog and share my story, as I continue building trust while knowing all will be ok.