11.18.2011

Dear 2011...

Thinking back on this last year automatically makes my head shake back and forth in disbelief, accompanied by a slight chuckle.

What started out as such a promising year, a year that I was going to devote to serving God and other people; has turned into a year of finding a relationship with God and serving myself.

As many of you know, this year has presented trail after trial, most of them literally bringing me to my knees. However, through the grace of God, this holiday season is proving to be one of learning, understanding, and most of all acceptance.

In my morning scripture study, I'm reading in Mosiah out of the Book of Mormon. The 24th chapter of this book particularly struck me. It's the story of the people of Alma. They are righteous and following all of God's commandments, when they are overtaken by a horrible man named Amulon and his armies.

"10 And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he aput guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their ahearts to him; and he did know the bthoughts of their hearts."

When I read this passage I felt overcome by so many different emotions.

First of all: how often, in times of trial, do we blame God and turn away from him? These people were righteous, put under horrible trials of no consequence to their actions, and still they leaned on Him.

Second, I felt a twinge of guilt. My trials are nowhere near as bad as these people, and yet I have complained, murmured, and even forsaken my God. Where has my faith gone? Why have I become so entitled that I feel as if I don't deserve trials?

The next lesson came from the following passage:

" 13 And it acame to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. 14 And I will also ease the aburdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand asbwitnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their cafflictions."

How often do I treat my relationship with God as that of a Genie granting wishes? I've somehow gotten it into my mind that having the faith to ask God for something, will automatically grant me my desires. God eventually delivered the people of Alma from their slavery, but it wasn't until they showed Him their faith during their trials. This year, at the first sign of a trial, I turned my back on God and engaged in the " why me?" game. The results of these actions have simply brought more challenges.

Yes, 2011 has been one of the worst years of my life, but it's also been quite amazing as well. I've been humbled in a way i've never comprehended before. I've truly begun to understand what Oprah meant, when she said:

"Be careful what you pray for. If you want to be more courageous, God isn't going to zap you with courage. He's gonna provide you with a hard experience to build up your courage."

I didn't nessecarily pray to be more humble, but I am now able to say I am grateful for the opportunities (trials) that have helped me clear a foggy mind. Over the past few weeks I have begun to delight in the Lord, no matter my circumstances, and therefore have been able to see His hand in every aspect of my life.