Learning about God from that “One” Student

Since school has started, I have had this one student in my 7th Grade Math class that has been so tough. Every teacher has sent this student to the office at least once. My first two weeks I sent him twice.

This kid has had a rough life and has seen everything. I feel so bad for him and what he has had to go through at such a young age. Because of this, this student has struggled with his behavior and being compliant towards the teacher. He knows math. He is actually really smart, but he refuses to put any effort in and takes away from the learning of the students around him.

The other day, he was so distracting that I sent him out into the hall. I had the students doing some practice and extension work and I went out to confront him. I had so many things going on in my mind and I was full of frustration for this student.

“WHY DOESN’T HE JUST SIT THERE AND DO HIS WORK? IS IT REALLY THAT HARD??”

I walked into the hall and observed him kicking at the brick outside of my room. There were so many things that I just wanted to yell at him for but for some reason I couldn’t.

I looked at this student, and asked him to look at me. I told him “You know what? I know that you know how to do this. I know you are smarter than you are trying to make everyone believe you are. I know that there are teachers at this school that send you to the office when you misbehave and I know that I even sent you away at the beginning. I know that is what you are used to is getting sent away. But that is not how it is going to work in my class. I want you here. I want you to learn. I like having you in my class. You have friends here and I know they want you here. But, I can’t have you not doing your work. I can’t have you disrespecting your classmates. But, I promise, I do want you here.”

I watched this student look at me, in silence, with this weird look on his face. I could tell what he was thinking, “Wow, she really does want me here”.

The bell was getting close to ringing so I had this student wait until everyone had left. Then I asked him “So, are you going to be better for me tomorrow?” He didn’t make eye contact, but shook his head yes and then left.

The next day he came to school, got a pencil and a paper for the first time without me asking, and sat down to begin his bell ringer. I was SHOCKED. That day he completed a worksheet, and did his ALEKS topics and I rewarded him by letting him sit by his friends for the end of class.

This student sometimes needs some tough love still, but he is doing tremendously better.

I have learned so much about Heavenly Father through this teaching process. I think that I am a lot like this student. I disobey his commandments and I struggle to be like he wants me to be all the time. Sometimes he has to chasten me, but there is one thing that always stays the same.

His love for me. His love for us.

He wants us to be able to return to live with Him. He wants us to find the JOY in our lives that come because he LOVES us.

When we sin, struggle, doubt, he forgives us and instead asks us “So, are you going to be better for me tomorrow?”

As we start a new week this week, think about this. As we get to start over, are we going to be better for HIM?

God really does love us despite our weaknesses and shortcomings. He loves us through our good days and our bad days.

He will always be there for us. I am so grateful that I have such a loving Heavenly Father.

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My Two Words

The other day, my family and I were asked “If you could describe Christ’s gospel in 2 words what would they be?” I don’t know why, but this question was so hard for me to answer. There are so many words to describe Christ’s gospel. My family each took turns responding to the question and my mind was still blank. It is hard to put into two words something that is so important to you.

I responded to the question by saying “a path”, but as I think about it more, I wish I would’ve responded with the two words “My life.”

My life is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I live the gospel. Even during the times that I am struggling with commandments, or doubting God, I am still living the gospel because I am exercising the gift to choose and am applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ into my life.

We each have our downfalls, our struggles, our desires, our weaknesses, but He helps us understand that we can find strength. That we can find hope. That we can find true JOY.

I wish I could’ve answered differently because “a path” is just too simple of an answer. It doesn’t describe really how much this gospel means to me. But, I think that describing the gospel as “My Life” adds so much more understanding of what the gospel means to me.

I am beginning to study more about my Savior. I am really trying to understand him better. There have been times in my life where I felt like I knew him very well, but lately I have so many questions about Him that I am trying to figure out for myself.

I am so grateful for the knowledge that I do have about Christ. Every time I learn about him, I realize how great of a person he is. How perfect, loving, caring, and selfless he is. When I think about Christ I think about how he has changed “my life” and how he has helped me want to make “my life” better.

I truly wish that I could’ve changed the two words that I chose. I wish I could’ve expressed to those missionaries what the Gospel of Jesus Christ means to me. Because, the gospel truly is my life and I am eternally grateful for it.

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Embracing

The definition of embrace is to “accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically”. Lately I have been wondering about this word. Embrace.

I wonder if we can truly embrace ourselves. Can we accept or support ourselves willingly and enthusiastically?

I think that sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We know our faults. We know our wrongdoings. We know the things that we have within ourselves that we don’t like about other people. So how do we embrace all of that?

For me, it is hard for me to embrace myself. To willingly and enthusiastically accept who I am and what I am like. It is hard for me to be okay with the things I wish I could change.

It is hard for me to accept that I am a control freak, and when I can’t plan something it drives me insane. It is hard for me to accept that I have a problem having fun, because I worry and obsess over all the work that I could be doing.

I often wonder how I can embrace myself. Embrace the things that bug me the most about myself.

I often wish that I could do more things spur of the moment. That I could be someone who like to do things that are fun. Instead I like to do the same things. I like to spend time at home, cuddling with my favorite blanket, and the same routine.

I wish I didn’t have so much self doubt. I wish that I had the self confidence that I had when I was in high school and didn’t have a care or anything to lose.

Can I embrace the parts of myself that I wish I could change? I honestly don’t know.

All I do know is how different and better I feel when I let all of it go. When I let the desire of wanting to be different go and instead fill that void with the love for myself and for who I am. It is by embracing who I am, instead of who I am not that I am able to find the joy.

In our lives, it is easy to notice the things that we are not. It is easy to lose ourselves in our insecurities and doubts. But, that is not a fun way to live. Take it from someone who battles with those feelings every day.

That is why I have found that letting go and surrendering my negative feelings has provided so much help for me. I am able to realize that I love who I am and that I don’t need to change.

I have to admit though, the change doesn’t happen over night. Obviously since I am thinking about it right now you can tell that it is something that I am constantly having to let go.

But, it is possible. The gradual changes provide happiness and light into my life. This can happen for you too. Experience those feelings of things that you desire would change and let them go. Replace them with positive emotions. Love for yourself, Courage to embrace who you are, and Peace with where you are at.

This truly is powerful. I cannot say this enough. Embrace yourself. Love yourself and you will find JOY.

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1 Year After…

It has been an exact year since I have been home from serving an LDS mission in Edmonton, AB, Canada. There have been so many ups and downs during this year of being home. I had no idea that it would be this hard on me spiritually, mentally, and physically but also so rewarding.

There are a lot of expectations within the church for LDS missionaries. You are expected to serve the 18 months if you are a woman or the 2 years if you are a man. During this time you are expected to live a higher law and return better than you left and continue to stay holy and righteous. You are expected to get married and to start a family, or if that is not your path, you are expected to be excited to go to a young adult singles ward.

I really don’t like expectations. Especially these ones because I literally didn’t accomplish any of them. I did not serve for 18 months, I only served for a little over 5. I came home really spiritual, but did not keep up on the things needed to stay that way. I did not get married or start a family, and I have not been a super great sport about going to my YSA ward.

So in my mind, for this past year, I felt like I had failed in so many ways. I have dealt a lot with so many internal struggles and have faltered spiritually along the way.

I am stronger now because of it though. I have been angry at the Lord, because its the easiest thing to do unfortunately, but have learned on how to rely on him even when its hard to have faith that he wants the best thing for you. I have learned how to rely on scripture study to light the path when you feel like you are overcome by the cloud of darkness. I have learned that I can continue on with serving the Lord in a way that I didn’t think was possible and reach so many people.

Before I left on my mission, I had to give up many things that I loved. I had a really great job in the school, had a scholarship at college, had an amazing boyfriend, I was close with my family and had several great and close friends. I was promised that I would be able to have all those things when I returned and that they would be even greater. So, nows the test, has it been true?

The answer is yes. Everything that I have sacrificed I have been able to be blessed with even more from God. I am going to have a great job starting in August that I couldn’t have planned for myself. If I were still on my mission I would’ve missed this opportunity. The Lord is so mindful.

I have been able to find a university that I can afford and that I can go at my own speed. That has been a HUGE blessing in my life.

I still have an amazing boyfriend who waited faithfully for me to come home and has supported me during all the hard things that I have gone through inside of my head.

I am even closer to my family and have made more lifelong friends that I was able to meet on my mission.

So, as I reflect a year later, I still say that my mission was the best thing to have ever happened to me. Even though I have struggled about being home, I know it was what I needed to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was what I needed to test my testimony and I know I am where I need to be because of it.  I might not have experienced all of the expectations, but I was able to receive what the Lord knew I, individually, needed.

I am grateful for this last year. I have grown so much and have been blessed with so many things. I know that the Lord watches over me, and if he watches over me, I know he watches over you too! We can go through those times of struggle and realize that God really is aware of us! 🙂

 

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Letting Go

This morning I have been thinking a lot about the ways that I am wanting to change and become better. Recently, my dad gave me a book titled “Letting Go– The Pathway of Surrender” by David R. Hawkins. It has taught me so much about my negative and positive emotions, and what I realized is that I live in a state of negativity.

Hawkins believes that all emotions and feelings cause us to make decisions, but certain emotions help us to make better decisions and find true happiness. For example:

Peace, Joy, Love, Reason, Acceptance, Willingness, Neutrality, and Courage are all positive emotions. Peace is at a higher level of positivity than Courage, but all are still good. However, we also experience the negative emotions such as Pride, Anger, Desire, Fear, Grief, Apathy, Guilt and Shame. Obviously, Pride is a higher level than Shame, but all cause negative things to happen to us.

So, with this information and after reading his whole book, I have been thinking about some of my negative feelings associated with those emotions.

For example:

I have PRIDE for my work ethic and like it when other people recognize what I have accomplished and done.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing all the time, but it still is a negative emotion because my intent isn’t because I love my job, or because I love that I can do a good job, but instead its about how much I want people to recognize me.

I feel ANGER whenever I do not get what I want after working so hard for it.

This is a negative emotion because instead of thinking about how I am willing and courageous to try again, I am stuck feeling like its everyone and everything else’s fault.  Anger can accomplish things and changes, don’t get me wrong, but it is not a great place to dwell.

I experience DESIRE when I have a goal and really really really really want it.

This negative emotion is one that I have to let go of the most. Hawkins explains that our DESIRE for something, out constantly dwelling, can make it so we don’t achieve what we want. It actually hold us back. So, I have learned that if I have something that I really want to have happen, that I need to think about why I want it, and let it go. Trust that the universe and God will take care of it, and it normally does. It is so neat.

I constantly dwell in a state of FEAR. Fear that I won’t get to live with God again. Fear that I will end up as an old, single, math teacher. Fear that I will lose those close to me. Fear that I won’t be successful. Fear that I don’t have enough money. Fear that if I drive at night that I will hit an animal and total my car. Fear that I won’t ever make any friends. The list goes on and on.

This is a really hard state to be in. I find myself constantly letting go of my emotions relating to Fear and what is amazing is that when I have truly let it go, I go from a state of Fear automatically to courage. Which is definitely a better feeling. Now I need to figure out how I can come from a state of Fear to a state of Love.

GRIEF and APATHY are hard emotions that I seem to always be in. I am always thinking about the “Shoulda coulda woulda”.

Grief and Apathy are big negative emotions because instead of enjoying what you have at the present you are constantly thinking about the past and how you wish you could’ve done something differently. Reflecting isn’t a bad thing, but GREIF and APATHY sure don’t help you feel good about yourself.

Then we have GUILT and SHAME. I feel Guilt and Shame when I have done something wrong and feel like I don’t deserve to be forgiven. I feel guilt when I do something that is less than perfect.

This is honestly the worst state to be in. It drains everything from us. You would think that because you feel that guilt and shame that you won’t want to do it again, and that is true. Normally we don’t want to do it again. But, sometimes we end up doing it again anyways because we think that we’ve already messed up so what’s another time.

Negative is not a great place to live in. I honestly think that its not really living.

We can experience and recognize what we are feeling and change the way that we look at things. We can start looking for the positive and surrendering to the fact that we can’t control everything.

By understanding my negative feelings, I have been able to let go of them and experience more of the positive emotions. It will be a journey of a lifetime, but I am grateful for experiences that help me to recognize that my life can be so much more.

I know that as you let go of your negative emotions that you will get to experience true joy and happiness. I challenge you to find something that you have negative emotions for and start to tackle it and let it go. I promise you great strength as you do so!

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