Monday, April 21, 2014

"Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." ~Winston Churchill

     This very post is one of the reasons I started my blog back up again. It's taken me weeks to formulate my thoughts, decide how to spew them out on the page and determine whether or not they were important enough to share with those close to me and those that I don't even know who might come across this blog. Over these past few weeks, I have had to make some decisions on a few things. Of those decisions, I decided that my thoughts are important and that I want to share them. Now.
     As many of you know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was baptized by my grandpa when I was 8 years old and have loved the gospel ever since I can remember. One thing that I love about this true gospel is that we believe in the immense saving power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. You have probably seen the hash tag #BecauseofHim going around social media networks the past few weeks. This was created in order to show people that LDS members know that because of our Savior, we can live again. We can be forgiven. We can live and learn. We can get back up when we've fallen. We can live eternally with our families. We can be our best selves. I have had to apply the atonement in my life countless times because I haven't quite made it to being my best self yet, but I know that my Heavenly Father is cheering me on and gives me the strength to be a little better when I desire to be. The atonement is a very real power and I hope that this post will help you understand my testimony of it.
 13 weeks and 1 day ago my life changed forever. I know that sounds like a cheesy line to get you all interested in what I'm about to say next, but I really mean it! 4 short months ago, I began dating the love of my life. Nick Hebert is the most fascinating man I've ever met. He makes everyone laugh, lights up the room as soon as he walks in, is witty and intelligent, and the list seriously goes on forever. The first week that we began dating, I knew he was something special and couldn't wait to see where our relationship would go. He tells everyone that I proposed to him on our very first date, and I'm not ashamed to say that I sorta did! I immediately wanted to hold on to him for as long as I could. Well, it looks like I got my wish, because in exactly 4 weeks and 5 days, I get to marry this incredible man. I know, I know. Most of you probably think I am crazy, and to that I say, I know I am! But 4 months was all it took for us to realize that we are meant for each other. God found a way for us to find each other and I'm so glad that He did. I cannot imagine my life without Nick in it. 
     In our church, marriages are done through the temple. For nonmembers who have continued reading this post up til now (thank you!), you may have seen our large temples with huge spires and a golden statue of an angel at the top. That picture is the temple closest to my hometown in Bellevue, WA. As I grew up in the church, I never thought I would have anything other than a temple marriage. A marriage in the temple is eternal, celestial, forever. But in order to have an eternal marriage, you have to be living in a way that makes you worthy for that huge blessing. I write this with a prayer in my heart that my friends and family will understand what I have to say next. That they will support me, offer loving advice and welcome me and my (soon to be) fiance in with open arms. Nick and I will be getting married on May 24th, 2014, but not in an LDS temple. As I said before, heavenly blessings require heavenly actions. We are not yet ready for the temple, but we are ready to marry each other. Heavenly Father prepared us for each other, but we failed to prepare for the temple. Is it disappointing? Of course it is. I have no idea how to plan a civil wedding. I never thought about what song I would walk down the aisle to because that isn't what I learned about when I went to church every Sunday. However....
     I am excited. I am excited that in the year we have to prepare to be sealed in the temple, we have a a huge goal to be working on together. The first time around, we fell short. But is it worth it just to quit when you falter? Heck no! They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, especially when you haven't lived with the person first. I say, heck yes it's going to be hard, but we have a goal. An eternal goal. It is going to take a lot for us to reach that finish line. We need our loved ones to cheer us on and love us to death even though this isn't what they had planned for us. We want to use this opportunity to show how applying the atonement can change lives. I may not have learned about bridesmaids, flowers and aisle music while at church, but I sure did learn a lot about how much love my Savior has for me and every one of His children. I know this post is turning into a novel, but I cannot express enough how much I know that this gospel is true. I have struggled, faltered, and fallen. I didn't quite reach my goal. But will that stop me? Us? Never. Failure is not fatal. Our faith is bigger than our fear. Our God is bigger than our weaknesses. His atonement is more powerful than our mistakes. His plan for our future is brighter than we can imagine.
     I invite my awesome readers to use my story as a testament to the redeeming power of repentance. Often times I have felt that church members don't like to admit that they have mistakes that need fixing, yet they talk about how we all need to be fixed. Is it fun to talk about failing? No. Is it embarrassing at times? Yes. But imagine what good a group of saints who are not afraid to be imperfect but who are working on achieving perfection together can do. Let us try to view those struggling through the repentance process with love and acceptance. The quote "don't judge me because I sin differently than you" became very popular in the Mormon community a year ago after President Uchtdorf quoted a bumper sticker he once saw. I call all of us to action just as President Uchtdorf did that day with that quote. We all sin. Every. Person. Does. Is that a bad thing? No! That is what this life on earth is for! To experience heart ache. Pain. Love. Suffering. Endurance. Patience. Trials. Weakness. Joy. Repentance. Now, in no way does that mean that I'm saying to throw your life away to things that won't lift and edify you. What I am saying is to remember that we are a church of imperfect Saints, loved by and moved by a perfect God and a perfect gospel. This post isn't about my wedding. It is about my testimony of how my weaknesses can be made strong through the way paved by my Savior. Smile with me on the day that I get sealed and look at me with eyes full of hope until that day comes. I am not ashamed to share my story "for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ." It is the principles of His gospel that encourage me to use repentance to become better. Please, please use these principles to allow yourself room to grow and help others grow as well. I have an immense testimony of how serving others, even in small ways, can make a huge impact.
       I hope that this post brings about more understanding for my readers, especially those whom I know and love. How can this apply to you? You may already be sealed in the temple, or you may be planning on doing so very soon or sometime down the road. Whatever the case may be, you can always use Christ's love to create change in your own life and the lives of others. Work through Him to build up the Saints. For me, this is a new beginning. A new life together for Nick and I. A new family. I find joy in all of the newness. I find joy in my future husband. I find joy in our humble testimonies. I find joy in my Savior. I find joy in my future.

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