I find now more than ever before that I need the strength on a daily basis that comes from turning to God. The death of my husband has unequivocally taught me this.
However, through this process I have at times become discouraged… I get frustrated at myself that I am not doing everything perfectly. I feel that I can never measure up to the demands that are placed upon me. Feelings of grief and sadness return, and I feel that I have some how failed because I should be doing better than I am that day. Then I eat too many cookies and beat myself up for that. Soon the discouragement and the self-criticism can spiral out of control. I end up in a puddled mess on my knees begging for relief from the pain. I find my confidence to approach God is weak in those moments because I feel so very weak.
“The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies—lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme.” – Klebingnat
“As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul,
you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence.”
When I allow those voices to christen away at me, that is when I feel that strength and power lessen in my life. Self-doubt prevents me from getting that extra help that I need.
I know that I can choose to change.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation…. When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Victor Frankel
Here are 6 ways that help to dissipate these evil voices and restore me to the peaceful assurance and spiritual confidence I need to draw on the powers of Heaven.
1. Take responsibility for my spiritual health.
I can accept that my choices control my destiny. I can stop blaming, justifying or making excuses for my circumstances. Yes, my husband died, but that did not take away my power to choose to do what is right. I can choose to pray, read my scriptures and reach out and help others or I can choose to feel sorry for myself and turn inward. I know when I choose that first path, that my confidence increases and I feel an added power in my life. I feel more that I can ask for help if I am doing what I should.
2. Take responsibility for my physical health.
When I exercise and eat right I know that I feel better. Not only do I physically feel better, but I feel stronger spiritually and emotionally. I feel more in control. These are things I can choose. Too often I use grief to justify why I shouldn’t do this. In the moment I may think I feel better binging on ice-cream, but the later regret always makes me feel worse about myself. I think this is a big source of discouragement for me. As I give up control of my body to appetites and passions, I feel less powerful. I feel less confident, and that filters to my faith. My spiritual confidence increase when my spirit, with the help of the Savior is in control of my body.
3. Voluntarily and wholehearted practice obedience.
When I am obeying the commandments and staying true to the things I know are good and right, then I feel that I have more of a right or a claim to ask God for help. “Selective obedience brings selective blessings, and choosing something bad over something worse is still choosing wrong.” Obedience always brings greater light and power into my life. It opens up my channels of communication with God. When I am doing right, for the right reasons, a peace and happiness distills upon me and I feel more comfortable with myself.
4. Learn to repent thoroughly and quickly.
The quicker I am to acknowledge mistakes, repair relationships, or correct my behavior, the quicker that help from God returns. I have found that rationalizations and justifications keep me in a negative place. Trying to change and be better makes me feel better and brings that help back. Too often I bump my alignment with heaven because of my own stubbornness.
5. Learn to become really, really good at forgiving.
Holding grudges and being angry with people seems to be the quickest way to spiral me down into grief. Forgiving frees me from anxiety and negativism. It opens me back to receiving light and help. Sometime we have big things to forgive that may take some time and extended effort, but often it is the little things, as I become offended, that really bring down my day. If I can just let those go and realize that everyone has personal struggles and imperfections then I can feel so much more peace.
6. Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of life.
I hold heartedly believe that we are hear to prove ourself to God… to show Him that even in difficult circumstances that we will turn to Him and be obedient. There is so much suffering in this world, and I find it rather selfish to think that I should be exempt. Furthermore, it is through the suffering that I am learning and able to help others. The biggest thing is to not let those voices convince me that God does not love me or is punishing me because of my husband’s death. I have to ignore that thought, because nothing good comes of it. I find that as I have accepted my trials as a time to prove myself and as a time to learn, that extra help has flowed into my life. I think that often trials and tribulations are evidence that God believes we are prepared to grow.
As I have focused on these 6 things when I feel the power of Heaven waining in my life, I have found that I can refine and realign myself to access that help again. My confidence returns and a feel a peace and reassurance that God is pleased with my small efforts, even though I make mistakes.
Questions to Ponder and Journal about:
Which of these areas do you struggle with? How could you make changes in these areas ?
How have you felt extra strength by following these any of these 6 practices?
Jorg Klebingat, “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence.“
Wendy Ulrich, “It Isn’t a Sin to Be Weak.”