Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Inspirations May 2, 2010

It was a most extraordinary Sabbath Day for me. There's no possible way to describe the love and laughter I experienced, not to mention the power of the Holy Spirit shared between church members.

Today was Fast Sunday in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are given the chance to fast - or not eat - for two meals, and it is done with a specific purpose in mind. We may fast and pray for ourselves or for others, for those who suffer with bad health, or those who just suffer. We may pray for answers to questions or solutions to difficult situations. Or, as I did today, we can simply fast to show our obedience.

Fasting is not easy. Just ask any teenager. One young man from my own youth used to describe it as "Bad Breath Sunday." Many of us end up with headaches from lack of food, become ornery when our blood sugar drops, and may feel faint as the hours drag on. But ask any person whose health does not permit them to fast if it is a sacred and beautiful thing to do, and I promise you they will say, "absolutely."

Another of the many purposes behind fasting is the chance to allow our spirits to come to the forefront. We often think of satiating the hunger of our bodies, yet often forget about the hunger of our souls. These sacred creations need to be fed as well, and need to feel of the Holy Spirit often if we are to be truly balanced in our lives.

So on these Fast Sundays those in our church are given the chance to bear their testimonies, or speak of the witnesses they have received of the Spirit. We call this time, Testimony Meeting. Members of the various congregations are encouraged to stand up and bear a testimony about anything regarding the Church, Christ, and His gospel.

Oh what a meeting we had today. There are fasting days when long stretches of silence beg to be broken. Not so today. I have rarely been so blessed by the feeling of love, light and truth as I was permitted to experience today. And it all started with my son, B.

Just as the first person who stood to bear his testimony finished, B sidled up to me and whispered in my ear, "Can I bear my testimony?" I asked if he wanted me or Daddy to help, and he asked me to come up. Then he said, "Besides, if you come up and help me you can bear your testimony too!" I chuckled inside. Sometimes it really does take a child to lead us.

His testimony was simple, declaring the beautiful feelings of his childlike heart. With some help from Mom he expressed love for the Savior and our Heavenly Father, for his family, and said he knew the Church and the prophet were of God. How wonderful.

Once he was done he raced off the podium :) And of course it was then my turn. As a youth I used to bear my testimony often. For some reason growing older made me feel more reticent about sharing it. Not until my husband was called as a bishop did I find myself feeling the spiritual nudge to share it more often.

I never know what's going to come out of my mouth when I stand at the microphone. Sometimes I go intending to talk about one thing and find myself talking about something entirely different. Other times I forget what I said, and realize the words placed in my mind had nothing to do with me, but were meant for someone else.

That's how it was today. After I sat down I didn't remember much of what I said, but was instead given the gift of listening to the testimonies of many others. My own, wonderful husband, bore a witness to many truths that was so powerful I could feel the Spirit whispering to my heart his words were truth.

Two other testimonies in particular touched my heart immensely, and I wanted to share a little about them, as I used to teach them when I was over the Young Women.

The first was Emma. Though short in stature, there is nothing small about this remarkable woman. Her capacity for knowledge can leave one reeling, and there is no doubting the spirit that resides within is a giant among mankind. I remember only a few years ago sitting in my car at the end of an activity night, when she would ask, "Can we talk for a minute?"

Naturally that one minute lasted about an hour. Yet I never regretted one minute listening as she questioned choices her friends would make, whether or not she had a testimony of the Church herself, and wondering how she could stay strong to certain values when everyone around her chose to walk off the path.

I'm sure she has never felt strong, not when it comes to her self-image. Even today she seemed to question whether or not she's living up to the expectations of her family. Yet there is no doubt in my mind just being who she is - a creative, brilliant, passionate woman who does in fact know who she is even if she forgets every once in a while - happens to be more than her wonderful parents could have ever hoped for. She is my "sister" in so many ways, and I see a lot of myself in her. Listening to her mother express love for Emma soon after stood as a witness to how much she is loved.

The second was Maile. There are no words to describe this extraordinary woman and leave you with even an inkling of what one mere minute in her presence is like. She is sunshine and laughter and love and hope and peace all rolled into one. She makes you smile with just one word and can inspire others to be better, happier, and more true to themselves. And lately she has been lost.

The death of her father was a huge blow to the entire family. Though it happened a few years ago she still misses him more than mere words can ever possibly express. Her thoughts touched me today as she told us how she and her dad had never planned her life beyond college. When he died Maile suddenly didn't have a plan, and so college dragged on. How could she continue life when her dad wasn't around any more to help her plan it. I've watched her struggle immensely these last few months as she found herself forced to make decisions on her own. Depression hit her hard, and my husband and I grew increasingly concerned.

Guess what. She graduates Friday. She graduates!!! And now she has a plan for her life. She will be going on a mission for our Church, something many of us have felt was the path she needed to take. And the happiness simply poured out of her voice as she spoke those words. It flowed through the room and right into my heart.

Emma spoke of the times she's just "talked" with her Heavenly Father knowing He will simply listen. Maile spoke of how she needs to start having those talks with her Heavenly Father, for He is the one who will help her plan the rest of her life. And my heart sang with the chance I had to see two very strong women, who used to my "my girls," coming to find themselves in this very scary world. I consider myself honored to know them, to love them, and to be loved by them.

Today my heart is full, even if my belly is empty. My spirit has been fed and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father, to my Savior Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit for filling me with their love, light and truth. I am truly blessed.


Debbie D said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I have a little present for you on my blog. Love you.

Brian and Erin Lewis said...

That was such an amazing day and you captured it beautifully.