As old beau told me - while he was breaking up with me - "I'm just not feeling it." Not the smoothest comment he ever said, but for some reason I use that phrase all the time because it seems to apply to so many things. For me right now, "it" encompasses a lot of things. But the "it" I want to talk about about is not "feeling" God's love for me.
I've been a member of the LDS Church all my life. That comes with some awesome things and also some stumbling blocks. For some reason, because my life has been so centered around knowing there is a God and he has a plan for me - its not only a comfort but a reality. And it's all I've ever known. And the atonement has always been there for me. I've used it and not used it throughout my life but I've always known it was there. Just for me. And to tell you the truth there are times in my life where I've completely taken it for granted. I've even sometimes thought I deserved it instead of it being a precious gift from my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. What a horrible thing to realize! I've been like a self-righteous, spoiled princess. And I'm quite ashamed of it.
Luckily, I've realized my error and have been working on my attitude and gratitude.
I was going through a tough spell near the end of last year. I wasn't feeling well with a not-very-serious-but-still-annoying health concern. Nothing like that to remind you are so very mortal! But when you don't feel good and things aren't going your way, it's hard to not become miserable and that's what I had become. MISERABLE. One day I realized there was something really missing - I didn't feel God's love for me anymore. I felt lots of trials and annoyances and frustrations and lack of answered prayers but no love. I even felt picked on.
It made me upset and worried. How can I NOT feel it? Did he stop loving me? Of course he didn't! And after some real thought and prayer, I realized I wasn't letting myself feel it. Who wants to when they are miserable and they think the whole world is out to get them??
So, I did the "Sunday School answer" and started to pray for gratitude (yeah, I know I've done it in the past, but I'm a slow learner!!). I was especially inspired to find some love and happiness in my life because this last Christmas was going to be harder than normal. The very few nephews I have weren't going to be around like they have been for the last 10 Christmases. When you are single with no children you live through your nieces and nephews. I decided I didn't need a miserable Christmas too - my life was plenty! So I prayed hard to feel gratitude for my life. With that I also started to list those things that came to my mind that I was grateful for. It took some work but with the pondering and the praying I realized some amazing things I have taken for granted:
1. My parents are both still alive. That is not a common thing nowadays. I've had at least 5 friends/acquaintances lose a parent last year. One friend is even an orphan now. She's single and 39 AND an orphan. That just sucks.
2. I have a job that lets me go home for Christmas with my family. With the economy today, I should be just grateful I have a job!
3. I have a FANTASTIC family. They aren't perfect but they are pretty close in a lot of ways. And I LOVE to be with them! Not a lot of people can say that either!
4. I have what I need: I have a home, car, good job, necessities of life with lots of extras that I often forget they are extra and I'm really blessed to have them.
There are a TON of people that don't have all of that right now. How lucky am I? And why am I complaining??
Now I know not everyone has the things - and I'm honestly not trying to rub it in. But I'm positive that if we examine our lives closely, we can see how we are extra blessed we are and how God has given us many amazing things.
Once I realized how much I did have, I suddenly felt important, special, and cared for by my Heavenly Father. And I hadn't felt that way in a long time. I had only focused on what I didn't have - which by some standards is a lot. Unfortunately, it kept me from being happy. It's a constant struggle in life to appreciate the "now" - especially when you have high hopes for the future and everyone else seems to be getting it with as little effort as possible.
I wish I could say that the feeling just kept going on and on after Christmas but it didn't. The end of January came and I was down in the dumps again with a new year already here and an old year still leaving a really bad taste in my mouth. I can't believe how easy it was to fall into that same trap. I'm sure the cold and snow didn't help me either...
So I had to try again. It's worked but a little differently. I didn't have a Christmas to look forward too. I just had "work" and "life" going on. So I had to dig deeper. it's taken a lot of self-control and discipline to just suck it up and be happy but it worked - even if things STILL aren't going the way I'd like it to...
I've realized I'd rather have a life I didn't really plan for (or in some ways even want) and feel my Savior's love for me than to have everything I want and not feel it at all. And it's helped me see life doesn't have to be miserable. I can't tell you how good that feels!