Sunday, January 31, 2010

Light in the Darkness

Well I'm not really sure exactly what I want to call this post yet, or really where it's going to go...but here we go.

So this morning my mom and I were talking about how everything that's been going on has caused us to lose our security. For me it's made it difficult for me to leave the house and my mom especially. I'm alright when I go to work and stuff, but once I get home I don't want to leave her side. It's very hard for me to be without her. I feel like I did when I was a kid and I would just get so homesick that it would make me PHYSICALLY sick. It's just made life a lot harder than it needs to be. Luckily I think I'm starting to turn around with that. I still want to be home all the time, but at least I'm willing to go out and do a few things. Today I'm going to church with my cousin Courtney to hopefully start meeting new people and make a few more friends. But anyway, my security is still pretty low.

Also, a lot of things break your heart easier because your heart is already broken. One of my friends has recently left the church and decided to become an atheist. That's been really hard to hear and quite heartbreaking to know that he not only left the church but God too. Laura was in seminary a few days ago and they were doing a "getting to know you" kind of a thing. So this one kid got up and Laura asked, "Did you used to do wrestling or something like that?" after he said that he really liked sports. He responded, "Well yeah I used to wrestle all the time. But then my parents got divorced and I had to quit wrestling and start working." How sad is that?! He had to give up something he loved because of something that wasn't even his fault. I don't know if he had to start helping to support his family, but it's still incredibly sad. Before I found out my parents were getting divorced I used to feel bad for people who would talk about that but I never realized the pain and suffering that were behind the words "my parents are getting a divorce." It's just tragic when innocent people get hurt and their lives are forced to change, for the worse temporarily. I'm sure we'll get used to it and it won't hurt as bad after a while, but I didn't want this change. No one does. I never thought it would happen to my family, and anyone that knows my family will tell you the same thing. It's also sad to hear how frequent it is now. At Laura's job, most of the people she works with have divorced parents. How horrible! It's so sad to know that so many people have had to suffer like this. It isn't fair, but that's life I suppose.

Anyway, most days are better than others, but I had a rough morning this morning. I've been having a lot of bad dreams lately that make me feel insecure, scared, angry, depressed, and they remind me that that's how I feel. Last night my mom and I were talking about how when I was born I almost died and she didn't get to hold me until I was 10 days old. We cried together because it was so sad what she and my family had to go through. My mom said there were tubes all over me and it was just a sad thing to see. They thought I was going to be deaf, dumb, blind, etc., but I turned out alright. It just proves to me that I must be here for a reason and that I've got a special mission. So anyway, last night I had a dream that I was telling my friends Thomas about what was going on and my dad heard me talking to him. After Thomas left he got really mad at me and started telling me that he hated me and that he wished I would have died instead of lived when I was a baby. I must have been crying in my sleep because I woke up with my eyes practically glued shut and my face salty. Now, I know that that would never happen and I know that my dad loves me. But it just shows that I have a lot of insecurities right now. I know it was just a dream, but it sliced my already broken heart and I could barely take it. Even in a dream it's hard to hear someone you love tell you that they wish you were dead. Again, I know this isn't true, but my dreams seem so real. I'm still crying about it while I'm typing this. I'm just a lot more sensitive to things with all this stuff going on.

So as I'm sitting here having a bad day, it's hard not to question why I have to go through this? I did nothing to deserve what's going on. Why does my life have to be torn apart, even when I'm living righteously? This is a common problem for people who have left the church, and I'm glad that this isn't a problem with me. I know I touched a little bit on it in my last entry, but let me expound on why trials are important.

A few days ago in my scripture reading I was reading about the brother of Jared. The Lord is telling him that he and his family will have to cross the ocean to come to the promised land. In Ether 2:25 it says, "And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come." To me that just shows that the Lord knows the journey will be extremely difficult, but he also knows that it will be impossible to do without his help. He knows that the important thing to do is for the brother of Jared and his family to turn to the Lord and rely on him fro strength and guidance. I really feel like that is what my family and I need to do, and it's something that I've been doing already. When my burden becomes too heavy I call upon the Lord and pray to Heavenly Father. He knows that some days I just can't take it anymore, and that I need his help to take some of the pain and heaviness away from me. He knows what I'm going through and he knows that I need his help. I feel like the Savior is just waiting for me to call on him for help because he knows how much it hurts and how much I need the help. Sometimes it's hard to humble yourself to accept help and not to think, "Well I can do this on my own. I don't really need a blessing or anything; it's not THAT bad right now. I can just do this. I'll save up the help for when I REALLY need it and things get REALLY bad." Throughout my life I've caught myself thinking that, and this trial has been an opportunity for me to snap out of that thinking and realize that life doesn't have to be as hard as I think it is. The Savior suffered for my sins AND my sorrows. If I don't take advantage of that, it's like he suffered needlessly. He bled and died for me, so why shouldn't I take advantage of the fact that he has been in my shoes and knows how much pain I'm going through? It really all boils down to pride, and I find myself being humbled again and again.

It's been amazing to see how many people care for me and my family and offer their help. I've seen people that I wouldn't consider my best of friends jump up to the plate and become some of my biggest help. It's also been interesting to see who I turn to for help. Some people I thought I was great friends with I haven't even told what's going on, or even seen them for over a month. This trial has shown me how many people my family and I have touched, and that touches me in return. It's also easy to see who wants to try to talk to us just to get some gossip and who wants to talk to us because they genuinely care and are concerned. I feel so humbled to know how many people are willing to listen or even just pray for me when there's not much else they can do. I feel the strength from their prayers every day. It's also humbling when countless neighbors and friends have told us that they've been putting our names in the temple. The people at the temple must be thinking, "Who are these Cottrells?!" Haha. But I really do appreciate all the help and support. There's a book called The Five Love Languages for Singles and my primary love languages are acts of service, quality time, and gifts; so when people do those things that's when I feel the most loved. So with all this pain it's amazing how much I feel loved as well. So many friends have wanted to take me to lunch or to a movie or anywhere and it just touches my heart that they care so much. My birthday is coming up, and I have honestly not been looking forward to it at times because I want to be happy on my birthday and I haven't been sure if that's possible or not. But people have done so many things already to try to help me have a happy birthday that it just astounds me. My coworker took my shift so that I wouldn't have to work on my birthday. My grandparents are taking me out to lunch and then my mom and I are going to go watch a movie. Etc., etc., etc. The kindness and love just never ends, and it has truly been a miracle to witness that.

Ok, I feel like this is long enough, so let me end with a scripture of hope. In Ether 6, the brother of Jared and his family launch their "barges" and get ready to head towards the promised land. Let me share a few verses with you that tell me the Lord is looking out for me and will not leave me alone (Italics are added as emphasis)
3 "And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness."
(6-12) "And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
"And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
"And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth by the wind.
"And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
"And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.
"And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water.
"And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them."
I feel like I am on the sea, traveling towards a better place and many great blessings. The Lord always blesses the faithful and the innocent. I also feel like sometimes I am under the water in need of fresh air and there is no possible way that I can get to the surface. But when I pray to Heavenly Father he brings me up to the surface to I can catch my breath and see the sun for a little while. But even when I am above the water I am still subject to the tempests and winds of this trial; I'm still suffering but I'm heading towards the promised land. I also found it interesting that in verse 8 it says that the winds didn't cease to blow upon them, but the winds were actually the things that were blowing them towards the promised land. So without our trials there is no way for us a get to the promised land. But even when I am suffering sometimes beyond what I feel I can bear, the Lord is still with me and brings his continuous light. Even in the darkness when I am under the water and nearly suffocating the Savior still brings his light to light up my boat. Even when my heart is "swollen with sorrow" (as Nephi would say), the Lord never ceases to shine his light on me. In fact, it's in the darkness that the light shines the brightest. God will not abandon me, my family, or anyone else who is going through a trial. He is always shining his light on us; it's just up to us to see it and let it light up our darkness. And then when we get to the other side of our trials and are able to look back over the journey we will thank Heavenly Father for all the tender mercies he blessed us with over the journey, and also the wonderful blessing of letting our trials push us closer to Him and eternal life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Refiner's Fire

Well guys, as many of you know my family and I are going through a difficult time right now. First of all I would like to thank all of you for your prayers and kind words. It means a lot to me and my family to know that we have so many people who love, care, and think about us. Thank you all for your help so far and the help you continue to give.

It's really late tonight so I don't have time to write much, but I've found a lot of really good quotes lately and a lot of good scriptures to help me through this trial. I was looking around the internet and I found this quote by James E. Faust:

"There is a divine purpose in the adversities we encounter every day. They prepare, they purge, they purify, and thus they bless."

I feel like this trial is a great opportunity for me to grow closer to my family and grow closer to the Lord. I know that even though it's only been about a month I have already become a better person than I was before. It's interesting because before all this happened I found myself frequently thinking that I didn't feel like I was as close to the Savior as I could have been, and that I didn't have as good of an appreciation for his atonement as I would like to have. Be careful what you wish for. ;) When I was in high school I was so good at writing in my journal every day and was more of what you call a "Molly Mormon." In high school I was made fun of because of that so I was a little ashamed of it, and I guess I turned away from being such a Molly Mormon. But I think that every day I am becoming more and more that way again, and I wear the badge of MOLLY MORMON proudly! I don't know how I would get through this without the priesthood, the scriptures, prayers that are now forever long, and sometimes I don't want them to end, family home evenings, and the Holy Ghost.

Even with all this stuff going on I feel so blessed to have the gospel in my life and to have a strong testimony! I am so blessed to have a wonderful and supportive family and friends! I am so blessed to know that this trial is a hard one but that I will make it through and that Christ can heal my heart! Even though it's a hard time I still have so many blessings! Every time I read in the scriptures I keep getting messages of hope and love. My ultimate goal is to get to the celestial kingdom with my family and the Lord is refining me to help me reach my goal.

"Patient endurance permits us to cling to our faith in the Lord and our faith in His timing when we are being tossed about by the surf of circumstance. Even when a seeming undertow grasps us, somehow, in the tumbling, we are being carried forward, though battered and bruised."

"Trials and tribulations tend to squeeze the artificiality out of us, leaving the essence of what we really are and clarifying what we really yearn for."

Both of these are quotes from Neal A. Maxwell. My mom read me an awesome one a few days ago that go more with what I was talking about but I'll find it later and post it here. These are good ones too!

Well I've gotta run. This post ended up being much longer than anticipated. I'm writing a book about what's going on, so I will probably post more things on here about my feelings and whatnot so I can just write it down. Thank you all again for your love and support! Have a great week!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Security Settings

Well as it turns out, a psychopath freak-of-nature has gained access to my blog and is apparently stalking my family and making ridiculous threats. I have therefore been forced to change my settings so that only a few people can access my blog. Just so you know. She's even tried to see Andrew on his mission. Like I said, FREAK OF NATURE!!! Anyway we're hoping that this all stops now but I guess we'll see. If not, it's all out WAR! No code of conduct or anything of the sort, and I will win. I WILL WIN!


Anywho, if any of you would like to be able to keep looking at my blog just send me an email or however you do that. That will be all.


Have a great week.