The best gift you are ever going to give someone — the permission to feel safe in their own skin. To feel worthy. To feel like they are enough. -Hannah Brencher
I published a lot of past posts recently. This post draws them all together. :)
Several weeks ago, I stepped back for the sake of decision and discovery (remember this post here?). A dive to make some choices about myself, about my future.
Because Ryan and I have been getting closer and closer, talking a lot about our future. And sometimes when something is so close to your face, it's hard to step back and see the big picture. Does this addition to my life match the bigger picture? Am I ready for this next step? Am I aligned with God in a way that I need to be for this increased role of myself as one's companion? Because to me, a covenant is a BIG deal. a BIIIIG deal. Because it's not just joining hands all lovey-dovey, and heart eyes overshade your life now, but it's an extremely great pledge to God. A pledge that says your character is ready for this next step, saying that more of your body, mind, and soul is now His. That you have learned how to offer yourself for His mission and His Gospel even more. And have I? Is there any other parts of me that need to be purged so that I can be more pure before Him?
So I needed to take a real honest journey. Mostly my relationship with Heavenly Father is one of gentle love and constant encouragement. But now, I needed Him to cut it to me straight - How am I doing Father? And what more do I need to do or understand to be a greater disciple of Thee?
So I started by asking some people close to me to pray for me while I dove deep. Drawing a picture in my notebook of myself, surrounded by a caravan of people. A wall of protection and safety. Because when asking God for His honest feedback of you, one can never know how straight to the bone it can cut.
Then I called my grandpa at 8 the next morning to just heed the wisdom of someone who I'm sure has taken an honest journey before God a few times in his life. We discussed personal development for awhile, and he had a lot to share as he has counseled people about this before in the role of bishop. Then I asked him, as my priesthood steward, and also as my patriarch, if he has ever had inclinations towards me or my life, beyond what he shared in my patriarchal blessing. He said yes and expounded so deeply on feeelings he's had towards my life, things that took my patriarchal blessing just a bit deeper. Specifically he said that he knew years ago that I was going to go through something incredibly hard, where Satan would use doubt and discouragement from every corner to keep me down, and I would have a long struggle, but in the end, I would be triumphant.
He offered me some more scriptures to help, and then for the next week or so, I put my head down into the scriptures, allowing Heavenly Father to shoot straight with me about any wedge inside of me, as deep or personal as it might be embedded, that I need to extract. I LOVE this quote that Rachel shared with me by Elder Holland:
We must be willing to place all that we have, not just our possessions (they may be the easiest things of all to give up), but also our ambition and pride and stubbornness and vanity--we must place it all on the altar of God, kneel there in silent submission, and willing walk away.
I took some personal wedges to the altar of sacrifice, left them all on the table, and willingly walked away and never looked back. (some of my notes from my personal studies here)
Then my mind immediately went back to this feeling I've had for many years that I have a mission on this earth. I received a blessing from Sharla's husband that told me I indeed have a great mission to fulfill, and God was laying out the path for me. He said I should specifically read 3rd Nephi and the New Testament to learn more of Christ's mission, and then I would learn more of my own. So I plunged deep into those records, reading and writing down every part of the Gospel that affected me or seemed like a clue to understanding.
As I studied, I honed more and more on what I believe to be my mission - My Ministry, as I call it. Seeking to define what my allegiance to God should look like in action. Pulling in my strengths, asking the Spirit - "What am I to do?" "How am I built with personality and talent to yield the best benefit for good on this Earth?" Because "missionary work" is often conclusive on knocking on your neighbor's door, or your neighbor's head, and sharing grand messages of Doctrine. But one's mission can take the role of something so much more specific for their gifts.
I realized that I must cultivate the huge talents I have of empathy and compassion and relator, and breed those to spread light directly to the hearts of people. Every day. That My Ministry is to expand, continually expand, everything around me with goodness. (in which I applied direct application at work with this post here). I am to help people feel expanded every time I am with them. Even nature and things, everything has a spirit, and I am to expand that Spirit. Help the energy around me even in an empty room to be more full of joy. I must expand and brighten everywhere I go. And while verbally teaching and spreading truth is also a mission God teaches us. I believe that love is always the message to share first, before we even share standard or concept. Expand people's energies, make their hearts swell, help them to feel something deeper, some greater joy. And then a hole is opened for truth. And my mission... is to do that initial expansion.
Then I approached Ryan about my mission, specifically within the walls of my home, as a wife and mom. We talked of how My Ministry will take on many roles - friend, sister, co-worker, but the most important of these roles will be a wife and a mother, and more than anything, I want to have an extremely sacred Spirit in my home with my family, taught between my children. I want to give full energy to my children and my family, and if I must sacrifice my career to do that, then I will, but I will need his full support. He was SO excited, as he has always desired a woman to have this full focus on the family, and he's also always wanted such a unified, protected family. And as we spoke of my mission in a broader sense, like how I want an "open-door policy" (like this post way back when) where everyone is included in our home, and everyone feels they can come to us at anytime. He completely agreed in his desire for the same.
But then I shared with him the inspiration I received from Heavenly Father that this wasn't going to be an easy pursuit. This quote came to mind from L. Tom Perry, which has stuck with me:
The word disciple comes from the Latin, meaning a learner. A disciple of Christ is one who is learning to be like Christ--learning to think, to feel, and to act as He does. To be a true disciple, to fulfill that learning task, is the most demanding regimen known to man. No other discipline compares.... in requirements or rewards. It involves the total transformation of a person from the state of the natural man to that of a saint. One who loves the Lord and serves with all his heart, might, mind, and strength.
That part about being "the most demanding regimen known to man" rings in my ears often. This sort of a life - one that is so full of the Spirit that it expands everything around me - requires my FULL effort heart, might, mind, and strength, especially against the demands of life and increasing devisiveness of the world. I must be physically rested and healthy, so that my body can support my mind. I must have a focused and clean mind, so that my mind can support my soul. And my soul must only be surrounded by positive inputs so that it can constantly be at One with the Spirit. All of this requires daily and deliberate effort, and a whole lot of awareness and sacrifice to constantly be aligned with my Best Self. Because in order to cultivate such a pure spirit every.day., one must be purified every.day. I must be able to always consecrate my time, my energy, my focus, my advice, my thoughts, my efforts. Everything for the sake of expanding the people and the energy around me. Because a force for good doesn't have to be grand, but it needs to be constant.
So I ran all of this by Ryan, and finally asked him - if I am going to commit myself to such a mission, I would need a companion right by my side who is committed and striving for the exact same. No impurity could exist between us because we would need our full energy to go towards such a simple, but daily calling. We would need each other's support and love. We would need to be unified as One. So, the way I understand it - a covenant between us in the temple would only be about us marginally. But mostly that would be us making a pledge that we will be more devoted to God than we've ever been, now as a duo. "What do you think?" I asked.
Needless to say, he was overjoyed. As this type of a relationship and a life has always been his desire as well. Since having this discussion, our relationship has been on a whole new level. (see this post here). One of such intimacy I have never before known. We're bound with a really intense love, but we're also sustained with a strong spiritual unity. We put words to our Ministry. We are One.
"Much of my learning to follow Jesus is unlearning to follow myself." -Burk Parsons
Upward and onward,