In elementary, I attended a summer basketball camp at our local University. I was naturally aggressive and loved being active and competitive so by end of the camp when I won the award for, “Most Improved Player,” I was completely thrilled. I didn’t think it was a lame award like some people do. To me it meant that if I kept practicing, maybe I had some special ability to improve at a faster rate than most. I’m not sure if that was true but since that day, I’ve felt like, “Most Improved,” is one of the themes of my life. I wasn’t a natural at many things like the clinical part of nursing school or even making friends but I learned the value of change and just how drastically we can transform.
And thank the unicorns for that! I wore pajamas and messy hair almost everyday to school in grade 12. At High School graduation, two friends of mine literally didn’t recognize me because I had my hair and makeup done. If it weren’t for the power of change I might still have the emotional stability of a fountain geyser (stop laughing, dearest family, I am slightly less emotional) and luckily, now I do throw on a pair of jeans once or twice a week. Yes, my changes are small but they are also steady. Since those High School days I’ve really come to appreciate the ability to be, “Most Improved,” and I’ve learned a whole lot about what true change means.
As an adult, I found out that true, soul-deep change can only occur through Jesus, even if He’s working anonymously. He’s the very reason we can change and our greatest helper to do so. He is standing close, just waiting until we decide we’re ready for His help. And His help can take us places far greater than our imaginations ever could. Part of the purpose of His Atonement is so He can offer us His grace, which grants us infinite power to change. The only problem? Us.
The more I have gotten to know and reached out for Christ, the more He quietly delivers instructions to my mind and heart. Unfortunately, He almost never tells me to do easy things, or things that I’m already doing, or things that I enjoy. He mostly encourages me to do hard things; things I never thought I could do and things that really don’t make sense to my finite mind. So I often do what my natural man tells me. I ignore the promptings, negotiate with Him, and just plain put Him off even though the guilt starts to tie my stomach into all the knots my son learns in Cubs. But sometimes, I listen.
Five or six years ago, God told me to start writing for other people. When I asked what I should be doing that I’m not, the answer in my heart was one word, “Write.” I was told to write in priesthood blessings and symbolically through scriptures and at the temple. It took me those five or six years to listen. I was a closed book and didn’t want to open or reveal any of the pages of my personal life. I barely spoke to my family about what was truly going on with my physical and mental health. Talking to an audience about it wasn't on my list of reasonable options. I justified my disobedience with questions like, “Who wants to read about my life anyway?” and, “How could any good possibly come from my writing when I’m not very good at it?”
During those years, I had other experiences that taught me the power of change through listening to Christ. We started a scary new business, starred on a reality show and I learned how to trust in God’s plan for my health. Through those experiences I discovered how much my Savior cares about my life and how much He will enable me if I just listen. I jumped into some terrifying things without knowing their outcomes and learned that with Christ, we have no need to fear. He had results planned for me that I never could have imagined and now can’t imagine living without. So after all those years being spiritually schooled, I finally decided I would listen.
I started my blog a few months ago and haven’t regretted it since. I really couldn’t have foreseen all the blessings that would come from listening to that sacred command. I have been blessed with Jesus’ grace to help me know which topics to write about often. I never thought so many people would care to read what I write (I’m still in the little leagues but it’s a lot more than only my Mom and Dad reading it like I'd expected). I have been grateful to read people’s incredible insights on topics I treasure and have received personal messages from great people who have been touched in one way or another by my words. I guess this is also a good time to say thank you to every single person who reads my blog. I have been motivated since the first post went out because of your responses. I’m so glad other people love reading and talking about the gospel as much as I do.
The most eye-opening blessing came in the form of an internal change in myself and those are the most important to me. I no longer struggle with most of the shame of my past. I am not afraid to be honest. I love to share any story of pain and hardship with anyone who can be helped by it. I no longer selfishly hold my truth in because I found the joy that connecting with fellow sufferers and seekers brings. It has drastically changed me from the inside out and released me from a lifetime of fear and embarrassment.
I guess that little girl who assumed she had some special skill to improve at a faster rate was partially right. Only that special skill doesn’t lie within me at all. Instead, my ability to transform comes from the Special One who has the skills to change my stubborn heart and soul through the power of His grace. He doesn’t always pick the changes I want to make but He always picks the best ones. He doesn’t make it easy for me to change but He does make them eternal and worth the effort. He loves me but no more than He loves you, so don’t wait! Find out what He wants for you and act on it. Once you see the results, you’ll know Him better and find out some blessings he has in store for you. I promise, it will be more gratifying and humbling than anything we could choose for ourselves.