This morning I awoke thinking of the awful feelings I have had toward my aunts for what they did to me. I thought of the hatred that has filled my heart and the ugliness of it. I thought of the ways it has twisted my mind into hatred and enmity toward the church, the temple, and even toward prayer. Cynicism and bitterness were threatening to take a hold in my heart. I wanted to purge it out. The words of the scripture came to my mind, “Agree with thine adversary quickly.” I thought, “If I let the harsh things that have been said between me and my aunts sit for weeks, months, or years, they will continue to fester and cause division.” I forced myself to remember the kind and loving memories I had of my aunts. The love I feel for them was evidenced by the depth of my pain at our estrangement. But part of me was holding back from trying to repair the relationships. I decided to inquire of the Lord. This was my prayer.
“Lord, please forgive me of my sin. Please forgive my mortal mind and its failings from emotion and impetuous action. If it be thy will, I know that thou canst take my weaknesses and make them strengths; take my failures, and turn them to good. Take away my anger and my hatred, put faith and hope back into my soul. If my heart is pure before thee, please help me to know what to do. Thou hast said, ‘agree with thine adversary quickly.’ How would thou have me act? Tell me, and I will do.”
I tried to clear my mind of all pride and emotion regarding the matter one way or the other. I received a clear answer. “To agree with thine adversary quickly is not my will in this matter. The abusive system that has formed in this family is a danger to you.” The way the spirit speaks to me is in a combination of pictures and phrases. At this point, I saw the members of my family as a system like a body with cancer. The cancer shows up in one place, but can emerge in other places if it is not contained and destroyed. Every organ in the body is in danger as long as the cancer is in any part of the system. It was a better metaphor than cancer though. The spirits answer was better than any metaphor I can think of. It was like when you read a riddle and it makes no sense, until you hear the solution and then you see it clearly. The spirit showed me the shape of the abusive system that has been allowed to take root in the family and the ways it is enabled and allowed to continue to cause damage to family members. My mind was particularly drawn to the ways in which the family members contain and seek to destroy independent thought and new ideas preferring to stay with old ways of thinking.
For an hour or so, I stared at the ceiling and pondered on what I had seen and my place in all of it. I thought of the emotions that have taken hold of me and the choices I have made to harm myself and others in the heat of those emotions. I thought of shame and judgement and pride. I gave them all to the Savior. This morning I sat down to write again. To confess and forsake my sins. To consider on what my path is going forward.
During the women’s conference last weekend, President Russell M. Nelson, our president and prophet spoke. His small, beady, piercing little eyes seemed to probe mine as his words bore into my soul. “Put aside the things of this world…..” Leave family and friends behind who keep you from doing what’s right. “Draw liberally upon the power of the Savior to bless your family…..” Have faith in your ability to hear God’s voice and fill yourself with the power of his love. How do I draw the Savior’s power into my life? He answers me, “You won’t find the answer in any manual…….” It will be in dreams, impressions, and the people God will bring into your life. “The spirit will tell you what is no longer worthy of your time and energy……” Take a break from people in your life who are critical and controlling. They have their path. You don’t have to hate them, but you don’t need to fix them either. “As you consecrate your life to the Lord, the changes you experience in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you……” A consecrated life doesn’t look like a wall full of degrees or a bank account full of money, but it has great value that the world won’t be able to see. As you turn your heart to the Lord and his will, you will find the peace of mind you so desperately seek. “A word of warning! There are those who would undermine your ability to call upon the power of God. There are some who would have you doubt yourself and your stellar spiritual capacity as a woman……” Self-doubt will come. Mistakes will be made. Don’t let Satan use those things to silence you, or make you feel unworthy. Take the atonement upon you regularly and cast out self-doubt. Protect yourself from those who cause you to feel self-doubt. I could go on, but you get the idea. That talk gave me courage, hope, and faith that the Lord is truly mindful of me, that he has a path for me that doesn’t involve the toxic perfectionism that has tortured me for so long.
The path won’t be easy and it doesn’t look the way I thought it would, but I can do this. Opposition will come and I will meet it when it does with the strength of my faith and the Master whom I serve. My heart is grieved because I have no desire to go to the temple. Those who have amplified Satan’s messages in my mind and heart have used their faithful temple service to bolster their credibility. This has made me think of those holy places as nothing more than country clubs of hypocrisy and self-righteousness. When it is the Savior’s will, circumstances will be right for me to return to the house of the Lord. There will be a season for temple worship, but now is not the time for me to do it, and that’s okay. I know that the Lord does not dwell in houses made with hands. His spirit comes to those who seek after Him and if it is His will, my home can be His temple. One thing I know is that what I have will be enough. Blessed be the name of the Lord!