This is a compilation of a few different experiences. First of all, while still struggling with many questions, religions as a whole and my own issues I decided to start reading the Book of Mormon again. I first started by reading random scriptures. It helped me sleep better at night and would give me something to think about. Then, after talking to a friend, I realized that a goal needed to be set. I decided to start reading the Book of Mormon backwards. Well not completely but by book, starting with Moroni, then Ether, etc...While reading this scripture caught my eye:
In Moroni 7... "Wherefore a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift...a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil...Wherefore take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil."
I took this to be that even if a person believes they are not on the right path. If a person struggles with certain commandments or teachings, it's ok. Not everyone is going to get it right the first time. Not everyone will make the same choices or in the same order. If we give good gifts then we can not be a servant of the devil. Then we are not turned away from Christ.
Then a couple weeks later I was talked into going to Church on Sunday. Basically I had run out of excuses and I did know it was where I was supposed to be. While sitting in sacrament meeting and listening to the amazing talks I wrote this in my Bible:
It is easy to become complacent. To follow the religious practices of the church. Come every Sunday, fulfill your calling perfectly, visit the less active members, share the gospel with others and even praying and reading the scriptures. You can do all of this. You can feel the spirit in your life and still be missing something. It is hard to explain what it is you may be missing, but it is something necessary for true happiness. Then one day you become overwhelmed and bursting like an explosion you fall to pieces. It takes time to pick up all the pieces. One piece at a time and still you are missing something. Each piece is precious, each piece brings you closer to the prospect of happiness. but each piece is still just a small piece. They don't fit the same and the puzzle has changed. You begin to read the Book of Mormon, knowing that it is the word of God. Then you pray that the Lord can give you strength and answers. That very night you have a dream. a dream where there is no question. A dream that is precious and held close to your heart, solidifying that Jesus is our Savior and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. Then you come back to church a little, once, and talk to your friends. That is where you find some of what you are missing. It takes time to integrate back into all of the teachings, guidelines and responsibilities of the Church with out becoming overwhelmed again and having to start all over. I am glad that the Lord makes burdens light but still allows us the freedom to experience those burdens. It is hard but He is there. This happened to me but through the Lord weak things can be made strong.
Then in Sunday School I began thinking about where I was going with my life. I thought of my friends and some of our conversations. I thought of the impression i was leaving with even my closest circles of friends and even those I haven't seen or heard from in , what? , 3 months (maybe an exaggeration). I also thought about the discussion about the priesthood that we were having. I then thought of my friends in the ward and I wrote this on a little random card.
I will not be the one to lead you...you will make your own decisions. I will make my own decisions. I will not be the catalyst that leads you to fall back from where you would one day like to be.
I was then going for a walk, one of my long excursions, and thought about myself. Where was I going? What was I doing with the gifts and knowledge that God has given me? Who was I helping? How was my spirituality doing? I then chatted with the Lord (I do this often though on my mission I did it on an hourly basis or maybe even minute...or any spare moment? I don't know, something like that. Now it's more of an off and on thing but I think it's still relatively daily, just not as in depth as it was on the walk.) The Lord answered me:
It is important to be in the church, to live the standards, to fulfill callings, to partake in temple blessings, to share the gospel, to do genealogy, to go to activities, to go to church, to listen to the lessons, to do all these things and more. But, the thing that is more important is your free agency. If you do all these things, even if it is with a willing heart, because you were told to then you have followed the plan of the adversary. Live your life and follow your standards. The most important thing is that you incorporate the Lord in all your dealings and with in your life. If it so be that you choose to do the things which have been asked, then blessed be the day. And, if it so be that you do not choose all of these things but only a part, blessed be the day. For if you follow Christ, you do not follow the adversary even if you are not quite where you should be, or where you may one day desire to be.
No matter what, these things are a great comfort to me. I just needed to write this down for my own benefit. And, we shall see how the whole, read the BOM backwords is going to work or if I end up getting stuck at 2nd nephi. Or maybe I'll get stuck in Ether instead? Who knows.