When I was a kid, there were the Primary lessons - when someone draws closer to heavenly Father, Satan draws closer too trying to trip everything up. Because Satan doesn't want us to be happy with God.
Yesterday could not have been more of a conflicting up and down roller coaster. Sunday I realized the unbelief in heart and sought God's help with overcoming this obstacle. Sunday night we have visit from our Home Teachers from our LDS ward - something we hadn't had since June, since we were literally walking out the door to our small group, we didn't get a chance to talk with them, and didn't really think of why suddenly after three months they were knocking on our door. Monday afternoon I received a call from my visiting teacher - also who hasn't come by since June - who stated that they (her partner and her) wanted to come by the following day (today - Tuesday). Remembering Sunday night's call to forgive others, I decided to open up my home and let them come over. Now, having had like three hours of sleep from last night and no car I'm left wondering what to pull together for snacks for their visit. My best friend Barbie is always saying something to the effect of, "Hospitality is the catalyst for the miraculous," so instead of just making sure my home is clean when they come - I want to have some yummy snacks and warm herbal caffeine free tea (this type of tea of okay with the LDS Word of Wisdom but it is very specific) or our Hommel Punch.
After making the appointment with Emily, I began wondering if block meetings on Sunday had some sort of motivational talk on either or both inactive or apostate members, lost sheep from the fold, or getting the Home and Visiting Teaching numbers up. Then, my doorbell rang. Perplexed as I get few day visitors, I went to the door and found the Relief Society President Mindy waiting for me with muffins in hand. I cracked the door and stepped outside - my hair was a mess, my eyes puffy from lack of sleep, and my house is thrashed because frankly I just don't feel well enough to clean it and when I try I feel miserable so it's progressively become more dirty. Ugh - which drives me crazy as I hate it when my house is dirty, disorganized, and not seasonly correct (ie Christmas tree up at Valentine's Day for example - or my lack of Fall decorations at the end of September). As I make small talk with her and try hard to remember if she was someone I talked with directly about my "apostasy" or if she's heard through the "grapevine" about us leaving, little Anya darts from the house, which then makes me chase her, sending me into a coughing fit. She realizes that I'm sick and starts asking, "Can we send in meals? Do you need anything?" And I feel this overwhelming feeling of longing return. The LDS church is amazing at service and taking care of "their own". The act of kindness to me - someone she hadn't seen in months was really touching to me.
After her visit I went inside and realized how easy it would be to simply "humbly" return to LDS church and never tell my parents about my little detour. I never understood why anyone would be a "cultural Mormon" - between the time, energy, and sacrifice to be LDS, why would anyone prefer this and not really believe? Yesterday, I totally understood the temptation - everything would be convenient and in a sense, much easier. Months ago, I never would have understood this - but now I'm starting to. The desire to just have an easy and simple and comfortable life and not upset the "balances".
Yesterday before going to work - I honesty began to wonder if I was strong enough to leave and really leave the church - it had occupied my mind and thoughts, I hadn't had the courage to tell my family in all these months, I hadn't removed my name from the roll book, heck my temple bag still remained neatly packed with my recommend laying inside it in my closet. I honestly began to wonder if I was one of those who would steadfastly walk with Jesus or just someone who would give up when I didn't want to become uncomfortable anymore.
I left for work that night feeling heavy. Rosa was working so I went straight into the office to start the invoices and trying to keep my mind off of God. But it was hard to do since my mp3 player is filled with downloaded sermons and favorite worship songs. "You Move Me" came on and I suddenly I was moved again and the words had so much meaning to me all over again, "I can't come with you and stay where I am."
Then Rosa knocked - she needed me to cover the front, she had a phone call. Her son had a broken collar bone. With me, there are times when I can clearly understand the Spirit's voice speaking to me - like a conversation inside my own head and other times when I'm like, "Is that You God?". Tonight was one of those clear moments. I'd like to briefly proceed the clear moment with a confession - I'm terrified of praying with and in front of people. It's not just because I went from Mormon to Christian - I was terrified of praying in front of my brothers and sisters in the LDS faith as well. There are times when I get shy in front of God when praying when it's just Him and me. Prayer is something I struggle with - I know I've mentioned this before - a long time ago - but I wanted to mention this again because it's a huge part of why obediance is the catalyst for the miraculous.
Rosa began telling me how her son had just finished at UMC and had found out that he had a broken collar bone, while she was sharing the details with me, I could clearly hear the Spirit telling me, "Offer to pray with her." Immediately my response to God was a firm no. I was not going to offer to pray for or with her. I was too shy. Plus, I would expose myself either on camera as not being LDS and I am too scared to pray with and in front of people anyways. For two hours the Spirit kept telling me that I needed to offer to pray with her - so finally, to appease my guilty conscience I asked her to tell me more about what happened, her children, anything basically to drown out the voice in my head. At the end, I began working up courage and began looking for an opening to offer to pray for her but blurted out, "After you get off work, would you like to pray together for Josh?" I was really surprised but she said yes.
My prayer was short, I felt like I was stumbling in the dark, saying things I had heard Prostestant Christians say in prayer groups I had attended after school in highschool and a few times in my small group this past year, I tried so hard to recall every phrase I'd ever heard and prayed in my mind that my palms wouldn't sweat and that I wouldn't have a death grip on her hands and that I would remember to breathe while I prayed. And then, right before we went to pray for Josh - I suddenly heard the Spirit again and asked her, "Should we pray for Alex too?" and she nodded so we did. After the prayer, the Spirit reminded me that perhaps what Rosa was looking for for her son Alex she might find within the folds at Grace Point and be fed the gospel as well. But as I realized what the Spirit had opened up before me - this chance that Rosa and I had just prayed for, this opening for her son Alex and this place for him, I realized what a position I was putting myself in. Rosa is a high energy person, she's everyones friend and she loves to talk and share everything - so I can see her telling everyone about her experience at Grace Point - which is great because she's be sharing this and hopefully others would want to come as well. But, she works shifts while my Papau works and he's devout he'd know if she'd been to a LDS service or not and the risk of "exposure" for me goes sky high by bringing Rosa to Grace Point.
This blog went from one day to write - to three. And during these three days I've realized something. When I initially began working at my parents' store I realized the Lord wanted me to serve - and I initially wrote about Rosa. My first blog about the store included her. I shared the gospel with her, we talked about the Bible and reading it at night. It was really great. Then because of issues my parents took with her, I distanced myself with her and began serving other employees in the store and the homeless - sort of a "duck duck goose" (perhaps this is Southern child's game) - because I was too afraid to take Rosa because even in the beginning when I felt a not so clear prompting to invite Rosa to church I was too scared to go for it. So I did invite her to something - to my Sunday night small group, and I'm ashamed that I canceled on her last minute because I was afraid she's somehow expose me as non-Mormon to my family.
So when I realized the Spirit was again prompting me to invite her to church I realized it was like standing at these two doors - was I going to follow Jesus and proclaim His gospel unashamedly or was I going to seek the approval of others - like my family? Was I going to hide? I asked Rosa if her family would like to come to services on Sunday and check out our church. She initially told me she'd get back to me and the following night she said yes. I was so stoked and nervous at the same time.
I'm realizing that I allowed the disbelief to mature in my heart that God is slowly taking away. Sure, He could just zap it away - but I don't think God's about that. He cares more about my growth as His child and as a Christian than about my circumstances and that's why this isn't all taken care of over night. I feel like I'm on this super fast roller coaster because the issue feels like it's resolving itself at the speed of light while I also feel like it's taking forever to work out at the same time. However, as God is unfolding all of this - even while I drag my feet terrified of prayer - I am amazed and grateful at His grace and love for me and all His children around me. I'm amazed at the plan He has around me, at the people He has placed around me. And just so grateful.