Over the course of the past few months, I’ve been spending a great deal of time on my knees in gratitude but also pleading for help. Healing has definitely been a process for me, and with it comes moments of ups and downs. Perhaps the hardest part of it all has been fighting the insulating later of “independency” that I put up months ago.
When times get hard, or we feel alone, we often put up barriers to suppress how we really feel and convince the world – and ourselves – that we are just fine. I didn’t realize how much pain and fear of needing to be loved and needing someone I had suppressed until I married Skyler. In the weeks that followed, he was more than patient with me as I constantly battled the fight between wanting to need him and allowing him into my heart, and being fiercely independent and not needing anyone. With the latter, came much ego. But the former required more meekness, humility and vulnerability. Too often I chose the latter one because it was easier to wall off my heart, allow pride to step in, and prevent the growth that the Lord has desired me to undergo.
A few weeks ago, as I was making small breakthroughs but still struggling to allow Skyler in and allowing myself to rely on him as an equal and partner, I found myself yet again on my knees. I asked what more can I do to strengthen this marriage? What can I do to show how much I love Skyler and let these walls and insecurities go? The answer came, but it was not what I expected. Go to Nauvoo.
I love Nauvoo, very much, but I felt that this was a lot to ask because we are financially tight and that seemed like a frivolous expense. But over the course of the next two weeks as I continued to ponder over this answer, I prayed that if it was right, the Lord would help us find ways financially to make it work. I testify that the Lord hears our prayers, because day by day, more financial opportunities presented themselves. I found some extra ways to earn money, a few of our bills ended up being mysteriously less than in months past, and Skyler was offered a lot of extra seminary class teaching opportunities. As we moved forward in faith, recognizing God’s hand, we knew we had our answer – and we began planning our trip.
More healing took place during our few days in Missouri and Illinois that I had ever anticipated. Spending unending, uninterrupted time, along with learning and having our testimonies strengthened, brought a lot of growth in our marriage. I never thought I could love Skyler more than I did … but it suddenly became easier to let his love into my heart.
I’ve recently read a lot about “Heart Walls” and how we create protective barriers to protect us from getting hurt when things get bad. Dr. Bradley Nelson says, “If you’re being bombed, it’s a good idea to hide in a bunker. But you wouldn’t want to live there. If you did, you’d miss out on all the joys and wonders of life.” In different situations, I still find myself putting up these walls because I speculate that this event, or future events, will follow the same course that my past has. I’ve learned that healing takes time … but we also cannot be afraid to feel, to love, and to trust. Life is too short to make ourselves unhappy.
During our stay in Nauvoo, my heart was very much softened because of the people we had read about prior to our trip. Seeing their sacrifices, their circumstances, and their dedication to the gospel, was astounding. I learned many powerful lessons during our trip, but what stood out to me the most was thinking about what really matters. We go through life in defensive mode, assuming hurt is coming, protecting ourselves, putting up walls, hiding our true feelings. But fear and faith cannot coexist. These wonderful pioneer saints gave up everything, not once, not twice, but many many many times. They constantly denied their worldly possessions, their homes, their safety, and security, and left it for something better. Their conviction to the gospel was, and is, astounding. They truly had their priorities in line and no matter what circumstances or sacrifices they were subjected to, they did so with a cheerful and willing heart because they knew God.
I think all too often I forget to think about what matters most. I get caught up in my feelings, my past, my fears. But ultimately, we are here to be tried, and tested, and with that brings a process of pain, but also joy. If we allow Christ to be our rock, and if we find our strength in Him, than nothing can shake us. The world is full of evil, of hurt, of pain, but there is so much light and happiness in the gospel and in the the Atonement. I know that as I have worked with the Lord to heal myself from my insecurities, He has strengthened and blessed me beyond my own capacity.
“When we take counsel from our fears, we lose touch with reality, creating a universe that has uncertain and disquieting aspects. We become afraid to be bold, to explore, to find out who we are. We make choices based on “safety” instead of on the Spirit’s guidance. We choose to cringe instead of reach out. We see ourselves as a victim instead of an agent. We contract even as the Lord is urging us to expand.” – Maurine Proctor
Had the pioneers, my ancestors, and others taken counsel from their fears, the church would not be standing today. They took counsel from the Lord, and put their fears behind them. My hope is that we all can see our fears and insecurities for what they are and instead of stuffing or suppressing them inward, that we can go to the Lord in humble submissiveness and allow him to take them. Then, may we all march forward, steadfast, with the Lord at our sides, and our fears, doubts and insecurities, behind us.