Saturday, October 6, 2012

A religious post from Lolly

Hey guys, first of all, thanks again for your check-ins on Thursday. It ended up being a really helpful experience for me, and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear how so many people are doing. I definitely think that just became a "thing" so expect it to happen again.

Conference. I'm loving it. If you haven't had a chance to watch and you'd like to, you can check it out here. There are two sessions left tomorrow, one at 10am and one at 12 Mountain.

And finally, since tomorrow's Sunday and it's conference, I thought I'd share a religious post that Lolly wrote for another blog. I share this not spark a religious debate, but just to relish in our respective forms of worship, and to share a little bit about what Lolly and I believe.

God's Message to me from a Stranger


A few Sundays ago I was having a particularly hard day.
The pressures of my life were weighing me down. Josh happened to be home so I took advantage of the opportunity to escape from the girls and go somewhere.
It was a beautiful sunny day and since those days are rare in Seattle, I decided to try and find a place outside where I could meditate and have a pow-wow with Heavenly Father. I found a peaceful walking trail and sat down where I spent about an hour having a chat with God and crying. A little while later a woman walked by who noticed I had been crying. She asked if I was okay and I quickly told her I was fine. I noticed that she had a cross around her neck and I had the thought, “Ask this woman about her relationship with God.”
I quickly dismissed the thought because the woman had kept on walking when I told her I was fine. Then the thought came again, “No, really, go ask her about God.” In all honesty, in that moment, I didn’t want to act. I didn’t want to pursue after her. As the woman walked further and further away from me I thought, “Oh well, I guess I lost that chance.” A few minutes later, however, the same woman returned to me and said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but do you need someone to talk to?”
I was amazed that she had come back and took it as a sign that I really should talk with her. I broke down and started telling this complete stranger all of my burdens. She was very kind and during the course of the conversation I found out that she was Episcopal but hadn’t been to church in years. She was very spiritual though and prayed every day. She told me that as she was walking away from me the Lord told her, “You had better go back and talk to that girl.”
Here was a woman who hadn’t been to church in years, yet she was in tune enough with the Spirit to follow God’s promptings to talk with me and bless my life. I could see how much God loved her and I could see how much God loved me. He sent her back to talk to me even when I wasn’t willing to follow His immediate prompting. And this woman was a willing instrument in His hands. God does want to bless us and He gives us all second chances.
After an hour of talking together she said, “You know that you don’t have to earn God’s love. He doesn’t determine His love for you with a tally sheet of all your good deeds. His love is unconditional. He loves the drunk on the street as much as He loves the woman serving every day in the soup kitchen.” This statement was something that I have always believed. I have always believed that God loves all of His children, but for some reason hearing it from her, in that way, hit my heart in a different way.
Heavenly Father does love me. He sent a random woman, whom I had never met before, to come and comfort me. As I pondered on the fact that God loved me unconditionally I was relieved. I started going through a checklist in my mind of all of the things that were stressing me out and wondering what ones I could eliminate. Since God loved me unconditionally did I really need to do my visiting teaching? Did I really need to serve others? God would love me no matter what I did.
Then something else hit me. Why do I do what I do? Why am I doing my visiting teaching? Why do I serve others? Is it for other people? Am I trying to earn tally marks in their books? Because in all honesty, what does it matter what other people think?
It all comes down to my personal relationship with Heavenly Father. He loves me unconditionally and I love Him. I show my love for Him through my actions. I am obedient to His commandments and I serve His children in need. I do this not because I’m worried about what other people might think. Not because I’m trying to earn His love. I do what I do because I love Him. That, in and of itself, is enough to relieve my burdens.
God loves me no matter what. He knows where I am at all times, He knows what I’m feeling at all times and He cares at all times. He knew I was crying on a random Sunday on a random park bench on a random walking trail, so He sent someone to me. He sent a woman who loved God enough to follow His promptings to go and talk to a stranger. And through this, God spoke to us both.

29 comments:

  1. MOR straight graduateOctober 7, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Hi Lolly,

    I don't know you, but I do have a great impression of you. I am glad you were able to get away, even for an hour or so. Parenting small children is a long, slow, demanding and incessant route march. I heard a very illustrative thing about it once: ask any parent the top 10 sources of joy in their life and their children are of course at number 1. Ask thesame parents about the top ten sources if joy in the last day? The children rarely make the list! As a parent, I totally get this, I hope it makes you smile a little too.

    My kids are a little older than yours, it's not quite so 24/7 now. Most parents who look back on those early years would tell their younger selves to take on less and lower their housekeeping standards. Afterwards, those things don't matter but your family relationships and memories do. Most of us would tell our younger selves to say no more.

    When you look at my user id, pleas don't think I am coming from a place of know-it-all towards you and Josh personally. You too seem to have access to something within Josh or your relationship that was not available in my MOR. I wish you alll joy and luck and longevity in yours although I do not believe an MOR is an option for most gay people. Sorry, had to say all that,ironically because I don't want you to think I'm responding to make a point about the MOR.

    My best wish for you is that you look at your commitments and ditch some of them.

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  2. I was reading this while Sister Linda K. Burton was talking and I felt like it fit in really well with her talk! Lolly wrote some awesome stuff! :)

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  3. Which is exactly what Jeffrey R Holland spoke of today. How inspiring and what a sweet experience!

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  4. Remember that when you serve your family, that too is service and should not be discounted. As mothers we tend to think the worst of ourselves, and to discount all we do for our families. Remember that it is important to "fill your lamp" often, and to give yourself a break. Heavenly Father DOES love you - more than you can possibly imagine. I'm getting from this general conference that we need to extend our love to all, not holding back. That includes ourselves. Thank you for sharing this experience...too often I hold back when I should rush forward. I am going to do better at listening to that still, small voice.

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  5. You are an incredibly beautiful person, inside and out. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal, touching experience.

    Ursula

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  6. Beautiful post, it goes along wonderfully with Elder Holland's powerful talk from this morning. We all need these reminders of God's love for us sometimes, don't we? And we all need to live in such a way that we show our love for God and our Savior. I don't think I've commented before, but I have been so impressed with your family's commitment to the gospel. You are good, good people.

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  7. That was a really great post, Lolly. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  8. I'm not a religious person. I don't even believe in God. But this is a beautiful post and a beautiful testament to the greatness that religion and spirituality can bring to the human experience. Thank you, Lolly and Josh and all others who do, for holding your beliefs and treating others kindly. It is always, always wonderful to see an example of this when the media is all over "religion" in the hateful and vitriolic forms that I know are not true to the real character of religious people.

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    1. And thank you, Anon, for these kind words to religious people!

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  9. Holy Cow!!! Thank you! I soooo needed this today. I've been feeling similarly numb and exhausted with my own burdens. My mind is spinning at the new possibilities for healing and service.

    thank you

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  10. what a sweet experience lolly! thank you so much for sharing! and remember, you could have been an answer to that woman's prayers as well. it amazes me how the Spirit guides us and nudges us so often; we only have to listen and act. :)

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  11. You know, I know that simple truth more than I know anything else. I often share it any chance I get to bare my testimony.

    Yet, trying to sort out some things in my life and then reading this post, the simplicity of that statement hit me so hard. My heart started racing at the realization that he really does love me, no matter what. No matter the progress I know I need to make in my life, he still loves me. That love will never change. I am his daughter, of course he loves me unconditionally.

    Thanks for the reminder Lolly! You both are great!

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  12. He really IS there when we are open to Him. Beautiful Lolly :-).

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  13. Thank you for posting this. I'm a Unitarian Universalist, and I teach middle school religious education. This year is our exploration of neighboring faiths. Basically, we learn about and visit the various congregations around the area, and living in a university town in the middle of Southwest Virginia, we have a huge amount of different flavors of religion. It's been surprising to me how much I've been touched in different ways by different faiths, and your sharing was the cherry on my sundae yesterday. Thanks.

    We'll be having Mormon missionaries visit our RE class later this year, and I have a billion questions for them, but one of the things that really resonated with me about your posting was how you ministered to one another even though you were from two different (albeit similar,) faiths. It resonated with me because that's a very UU experience. Is it common in your religion, too, to get truth from many different places? God as a mirror- the mirror never changes, but everyone who looks in it sees something different?

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    1. It doesn't seem to be common enough to me that Mormon's find and share truths with other religions, but I think they should. I think all of us have truths we've learned that we need to share with each other, regardless of religion (or the lack of it). I love being able to share spiritual experiences between religions, without judgment or trying to convert anyone. I keep trying to get my ward (Mormon congregation) to do an inter-faith night with lots of different representatives from all different churches so we can all understand and appreciate one another more. But since organizing Relief Society (the Mormon women's organization) activities is no longer my calling, it looks like it isn't likely to happen. That is one reason (of many) that I love this blog for the generally kind exchange of ideas from people with very different backgrounds, views and religions. We are all, every single one of us, children of God, no matter what we look like, believe, are attracted to, or even what atrocities we may or may not have committed. And we are ALL supposed to learn to love each other. Without judgment.

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  14. Thanks! I used this as part of a visiting teaching message. LOL.

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  15. What an uplifting post, Lolly. :)
    I have always believed that God never neglects to put someone there when you really need them. It might just be a lady behind you in line at the grocery store who reaches up and squeezes your shoulder when you have one-year-old twins melting down in screams, (which happened to me personally more than once), or it might be anyone. The key is always being open to believing, and it's good to see that you have that down pat. I call things like this God winks, but this was more of a God hug.

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  16. I love hearing stories about how strangers can sense a need and reach out to eachother. Whether it's prompted by "god" or just a hunch. We should all try to be more that way.

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  17. I'm riding on a bus right now...crying...thanks to your post. ;) Very touching. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Thanks for this post. It was truly touching and I know we all moments of despair and when we have a talk with God to help strengthen our souls. I have had several experiences where i was in desperate need to talk with someone and did not have an outlet ( or so I thought) but God still answered my prayers with unexpected people calling or sending messages. I KNOW that God know me and loves me and it is so wonderful that He can still tell us through the help of other people. Thank you again!!

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  19. Great post, Loll. I think what I liked the most about it was that you took the time you needed for yourself to pray and ponder. I need more of that in my life too. Thanks for the reminder :)

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  20. I love this: "I do what I do because I love Him."

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  21. Earlier this year I was struggling because I felt like I didn't have any close friends. We had moved to a new state recently and I felt like all of my attempts to reach out to other people were being rejected. One day I tried to load my three little kids into the minivan to attend a "park day" with other girls from the ward only to find that the battery was dead (due to my kids playing with the buttons and leaving a light on). In frustration, I loaded them into the double stroller and a carrier instead and walked to a park a couple of blocks away.

    When I got there, among many people, I saw two attractive gals my age, each with a kid. Their kids were playing together and having fun and I just watched them. I thought, "There you go. Just another reminder that I don't have any friends." I even assumed the two gals were judging me when they saw me because I have three very young children.

    Finally, one of the gals left with her son. Directly, the other girl turned to me and started asking me questions. She was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. She told me she had three or four kids. She was a very active member of a nearby Christian church. We talked for a long time and laughed and had a great time. Finally it was time for her to go and she began to walk away toward her car. Then I saw her pause. She stood there for just a second before coming back to me and telling me that she and a group of girls did lots of activities together and would I like to be on an email list? I said yes and gave her my email address and then waved goodbye.

    I have seen her a couple of times since then, and we are not close friends by any means, but I am so amazed that God saw my utter loneliness that day and sent me to a place where another person would reach out to me. I could even see the moment when she decided to follow a prompting of God to turn back around and ask for my email address, maybe feeling awkward, but doing it anyway.

    Your story reminded me of this experience. God is always watching us and I am so grateful that He helps his children by prompting us to help each other, no matter what religion we belong to.

    Thanks for sharing your story! Sorry this is so long :)

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  22. This post was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you!

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  23. Well Lolly, today I needed to be reminded that everything I'm trying to do during this overloaded, frenetic week, is because I love Him. You didn't see me having a good cry (though I was doing just that!) but by posting this you made a total stranger's life a little better. Thank you. Maybe I can pass it on as well.

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  24. Aaaaand, I'm crying. Way to go. ;) This post was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Thanks for being my stranger on a blog. :)

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