Let me first just express the IRONY of the title of this post..."So what are you doing for your birthday??" Response: "Uhh..what every mormon does for their 21st birthday...nothing." Haha Ok, I know that there are plenty of members and non-members alike that party it up and equally as many that do nothing for the "Big 2-1". I'll be honest though, I had a fantastic 21st birthday and I'm perfectly content with how I spent it! Pictured...is an actual photo of the evening of my 21st birthday circa 10:00pm. That's right, I sat at home with my baby giraffe and read my scriptures. Haha Alright, really, who would have ever thought that is how THIS girl would spend her 21st birthday?? I realized something though, I have a loving Heavenly Father that blessed me with a life and the opportunity to come to this earth - what better way to spend this anniversary of 21 years on this planet than to show Him my gratitude by immersing myself in the scriptures? Annndd...I'll admit that I just straight up didn't make any other plans. Haha I really did love my night though and my "birthday weekend" which really started earlier in the week with a very special gift. (To be written another time).
Anyways, I also must add that I am very proud of myself for how close together this post is to my last one - definitely improvement! The main reason I'm blogging tonight though is to bear testimony of something and share a very recent experience.
Over the last [week - give or take a week] I have felt overwhelmed, anxieties, stressed, and there is really only one phrase to explain it, "I just don't know." I was so excited for conference this year - my bishop even called and surprised me with tickets to the Saturday morning session. I was convinced that it was going to be the answer to my prayers and all the questions I've been hanging onto for so long. Saturday rolled around and after the morning session I, admittedly, felt more lost than ever. I prayed so hard for answers or even for comfort and failed to receive what I had wanted. The other sessions followed and the things I so desperately wanted answered seemed to be looming even more than before and left me feeling spiritually fed - but lacking. Something like when you're a child and you want a cookie...but your mother says "no dessert until after dinner". Dinner is delicious, fills you up, but you're still wanting that cookie! You go to the cookie jar - and someone ate the last cookie. Haha Silly analogy, but that's the best way I can describe the situation. So...my anxiety continued and the feeling of being lost and confused did not better the situation in any way. HOWEVER, the Lord ALWAYS has us in mind. I have no doubt about that. Unfortunately for us (or fortunately, as we usually recognize later) it is all in the Lord's timing. I didn't receive the answers I wanted - mostly because that's the relationship I've almost always had with my Heavenly Father - something like - Ashley, you figure it out for yourself and then I'll let you know if you've made the right choice. So, I didn't have answers. UNTIL TONIGHT.
Earlier today I decided something for myself but still couldn't shake the feeling of anxiety wondering if I'm headed in the right direction. That feeling of uncertainty that, although you trust that God will always take care of you as long as you are following the right path, you just feel unsure about yourself. Well, tonight I got home and immediately changed clothes to go to the temple. I needed the temple. Tonight was different. I listened to music on my way there that helped put me in the right mindset after a long day. I pulled up, sat in the parking lot, and prayed. I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father. Desperate, no longer for answers, but for comfort and peace for my aching soul. As I went through the temple, an overwhelming amount of joy came over me - I could not walk through the temple without smiling. I finally received, not only the peace I had just prayed for, but the answers I needed. Granted, they are not definitive answers - they're not even particularly answers to the questions I asked. However, they are answers and inspiration as to what Heavenly Father knows that I need right now. Brandon's favorite quote was, "No God, No Peace. Know God, Know Peace." I felt like tonight I was able to draw closer to my Heavenly Father. I realize that He has a plan for me and He wants me to be happy - sometimes I just need to TRUST and be PATIENT. Two things I obviously struggle with!
I want the record to show (for whatever record this counts) here and now, that I KNOW with every fiber of my being that I have a loving Father in Heaven, who has an amazing plan for each of us - so long as we keep His commandments and dedicate our lives to drawing nearer to Him. In Life, in Love, in Work - in ALL that we do - if I commit myself to loving Him and showing my faith and trust - He will continue to bless me. I love this gospel - the "good word". I have found that the best way to draw closer to those we love, and to myself - is to draw closer to the Lord. As I strive to be closer to God and keep His commandments - I find myself more blessed. Good things happen, my heart and spirit are strengthened, and I find a deeper desire to be around others that also love their Savior. The harder I try, the more a natural desire to "do good" develops. It is hard to explain the outpour of love that I feel and sheer JOY - and NEED to share this with others. I believe your heart is converted when you feel it is bursting to want everyone to feel the way you do about "the good word". I know I have a mission to serve - although it may not be one that comes in an envelope, I know that I have work to do by precept and example.
I'm continuing to pray that whatever happens, wherever life takes me, whatever opportunities present themselves, and whoever finds themselves intertwined with my life - that I might be a source of strength and an example. One that causes others to want to be better because they know me. I will be among those who state, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Husband, whoever you turn out to be, I pray that you are preparing worthily to kneel across the alter from me. That you will love me, cherish me, and want to take on eternity at my side. I do not know what the Lord has in store, but I know that He has a plan for me. "Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me."