I haven't been reading my scriptures.
I haven't been paying attention in institute.
I haven't been going to the temple.
I haven't been feeling the spirit in church.
I haven't been doing my visiting teaching.
I haven't been praying.
...and this morning I had the surprising thought of, "I don't really need the church, there are plenty of people who live in the world without the gospel and they are fine, happy even..."
I went about my morning, attending my three hour psychology class and wondering if I'd be able to see my dear cousin Ashleigh after class. Sometimes we have the opportunity to walk to the institute together and then we part ways, she heads to institute and I head home before work or just to do homework. It turns out today that she was standing out in the hall and was waiting for me which made me incredibly happy seeing as I haven't been able to see her in what feels like eons.
Every Friday the institute has a speaker come and speak for a devotional, I usually don't attend. Today Ashleigh suggested that I come with her because I had met the woman who was speaking a few months earlier on a bible walk (13.1 miles) I hesitated for a moment, thinking about the homework I needed to get done but pushed the thought aside and after a free snack/lunch from Ashleigh we headed to the institute to find a seat in the chapel.
Kris Belcher was the woman speaking who I had met on the walk many months ago. She was blind from cancer in her eyes which had come and gone twice in her life. Before I tell more about what I learned from her talk I want to take moment to explain what happened in the opening song.
There are two choirs at the institute, LDC which I sang in for awhile which is auditioned choir and then the other being a non-audition choir for anyone and everyone who would like to sing. The Non-auditioned choir sang a beautiful song which I actually had the opportunity to sing in my High School Chamber choir, which has a special place in my heart. It talks all about Christ and the First Noel (which in fact means, "The first Christmas") Some of the lyrics are:
"If this Child were born today,
In a manger on the hay
Would we see a king would we hear angels sing.
If the star were shining bright
Would we notice in the night
We would be the ones to see the Savior come."
As they were singing I felt a familiar but recently unfamiliar feeling a warm rush as though a loving embrace were enveloping my whole body. I couldn't help but sing along and let the rushing which emulated from my heart pass through my whole body creating a warm and joyous feeling. I realized in that moment that I missed it. I missed feeling the spirit so strongly and so powerfully through the power of music. I used to feel it all the time while I was singing in LDC, but since then I haven't given myself the chance to feel it....I tend to cry profusely when I feel the spirit brought on by song.
I sat there after the song and just zoned out into my own thoughts. I felt my heart send a prayer up to God in that moment to forgive me for being so negligent in the reading of my scriptures and praying and talking with him. I felt like a child, a small child who had forgotten how much her parents really loved her.
Sister Belcher's talk was humorous and lighthearted but also incredibly uplifting and revelation packed. She spoke about how she had become blind being born with tumors behind her eyes which needed be removed. Her parents, following the spirit eventually got her to a doctor that wouldn't remove her eyes but give radiation to them. Over the years as she grew she had incredible eye sight until one day when another tumor started to grow and made it so she lost vision in her left eye. Later in life another tumor appeared which was so big that they had to disconnect her optic nerve. She was then completely in darkness and had to function in life differently. She spoke of how trials make life worth living, they give us the opportunity to be refined, to be polished and bring us closer to Christ.
If you know me well this will not come as a surprise, I love quotes. If I could slather my whole home with them I would but then the ones that meant the most wouldn't be able to stand out. Although I did write down a few quotes from her talk that stuck out to me:
"We are made the way we are so that the works of God can be made manifest in us."
"It takes more faith to live through the problem, then to have it taken away."
"Heavenly Father, let me know thy will and give me the courage to live it."
"I can laugh, laughter is a miracle and sometimes you need to laugh to not cry"
"If you want a better you can believe in God and hope for one..."
One of her closing remarks really struck me hard especially considering how I been feeling spiritually as of late. "Seeing is a want, not a need" First reaction, wait what? "Seeing is a want...not a need" I sat there thinking about that not hearing the next sentences she was saying as I continued to ponder what she had just said. A thought then struck me, "Jesus Christ is real, you may want to see him but you don't need to, to know that he is there, alive, and aware of you."
Oh. My. Goodness. God is real. He is there even if I don't take the time to let him know, that I KNOW he exists.
God and I we've had an interesting relationship. He has always been there through everything in my life. There were times in my life that I never thought I could be who I knew I was capable of being. God and I, are family. He is my Father in Heaven. He is. Jesus Christ is my brother. He is. God is real. God is there.
"We do not need to see the light to know it exists."
I know now that the thought that I had received earlier that was day was a bunch of hog-wash. I will always need this gospel in my life. I couldn't be and will as happy without as I am with it. It completes everything that I need and breathe.
This gospel is my life.
It is my lifestyle.
It is so true guys.
If don't know it yourself or have had a thought about seeking more information about the LDS/Mormon church than do it. It will change your life forever.
It will make into something you never thought you could experience.