In Relief Society, our lesson was on President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's conference talk "Waiting on the Road to Damascus.

This was, blessedly, the second time this month we've discussed this talk.

We were coming up with reasons why we end up waiting on our road to Damascus. The subject kept showing up about how women (especially LDS women) get caught up in comparing ourselves to others and being the hardest on ourselves and how things are never good enough with us, more specifically how we see imperfections that no one else notices.

This made me remember something I read in President Uchtdorf's book "The Remarkable Soul of a Woman". In it he mentions how his wife cooks meals of all kinds from all parts of the world. She always then says things like "I used a little too much of [x ingredient]" or "Next time I'll add a little more [y ingredient]." Little subtleties that those who are eating her meals wouldn't notice. (Now I can't remember where I was going to go with this. All I can think to say is that if a general authority's wife does the same thing, then we are most definitely not alone in our feelings.). It's a pretty wide spread symptom in women.

The other thing that came to my mind was a part of his talk we didn't get to. That of sharing the gospel with our friends. He mentioned how he and his family, when asked how their weekend was, always mentioned something about the what happened in church. (One of the reasons I now post a Facebook status each week about what really struck me at church that day.) One of the other things he mentioned was how when their friends were struggling with something in life they'd usually remark "Well it's easy for you. You have your church."

I realize that it has become easier for me since reactivating to handle many of life's difficulties. I still find myself beating myself up mentally but can stop it as soon as I realize what I am doing.

One sentence from President Uchtdorf's talk really struck me this week in regard to testimonies.

I've been so very frustrated because even though I know I have a testimony of the Gospel, I can't seem to be able to bear it. I have to keep reminding myself of counsel from one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles - "persistence and patience..."

Anyway, the sentence in President Uchtdorf's talk - which I seemed to have missed in the many, many times I have read this talk was - "Sometimes a simple phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone's life for eternity."

As I've been frustratingly trying to figure out how to unlock my testimony, I have found this somewhat helpful. Maybe I am uttering phrases of testimony without realizing it. I don't know. I still am not sure I'm able to bear a testimony, but President Uchtdorf's words have given me some comfort on the matter.

This keeps bringing back to my memory something that happened last month.

The clutch went out on my car. I discovered this one morning getting ready to leave for work. Fortunately the Holy Ghost allowed me to call a coworker who practically comes right by where I live in time to get a ride to church. I had to rely on him for a ride for a week. (Well sort of a week. It was Wednesday-Wednesday but that covered my Friday off).

When I realized I wouldn't be able to go to the temple that Friday off my first thought - and this is a huge sign of how far I've come since I started back to church mid-September - was that the Lord had a reason for that and it had nothing to do with my worthiness to go to the temple that week.

With the help of a different coworker (who has no idea that she was such a help to me in this respect) was telling me, after I was able to drive myself to work again (and just in the nick of time as the coworker who was giving me a ride would be off the day after I drove myself to work) that she was telling the coworker how fortunate I was to have him there to take me to work when I needed a ride.

Apparently he told her something to the effect of that he was fortunate because of the discussions of church we had.

Each afternoon he'd ask questions about the church. I'd answer them and we'd spend much of the ride to my place discussing the church. Two things that struck me were: first, how easy it had been for me to answer his questions and to freely discuss the church. Not too long ago that was a very difficult thing for me to do; second, this is probably the reason why I wasn't able to go to the temple. The Lord wanted me to be able to answer this coworkers questions and discuss the gospel freely.

Whether he wanted that to give me the practice for future purposes or these discussions were for my coworker's sake (or maybe a combination of the 2) really isn't that important.

I don't expect that my coworker (devoted to his religion) will suddenly take the missionary discussions and decide to join the church. But maybe all he needed was a better understanding of the church. Or maybe something we discussed will come back to his mind sometime in the future. Or maybe now that I've found it so easily to discuss the church once, it will become easier and easier and won't be so timid in the future.

And maybe in those discussions was the start of me unlocking my testimony as a whole. (And maybe even just a phrase of my testimony - which I'm sure probably came out at some point during the discussion - is also among the steps needed to start to be able to bear my testimony.)

Only the Lord knows the reason.

All I know is, I have been able to keep moving on my road to Damascus better than I have ever been able to before. It is almost ironic how easily personal revelation has come to me so often and more easily since I took to heart one thing both President Uchtdorf and Elder Bednar's talk helped me to do - let go of the notion of asking Heavenly Father to reveal His will to me with more than a subtle feeling or thought (mind you, I was not seeking visions, and archangel trumps, just something stronger than subtlety). Also that many of those personal revelations have, in fact, come in the way I was asking for them.  I do not believe that all of the things the Lord wants me to know will come as so many of those things have lately, but I do know that I am no longer waiting on my road to Damascus. I keep moving one little step at a time.
 
 
This past Sunday (5/30/2011), I was still contemplating the "One Sheep" revelation. Firstly, I never explained that I think I was opened up for this personal revelation by 2 talks from April's General Conference by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the First Presidency, and Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. They were both on revelation.

Additionally, I had recently listened to an earlier conference talk by President Uchtdorf, "The Love of God". (I think the title is self-explanatory. It is enough to say at this point that this talk started pulling me away from Satan's desire that I think God does not love me or care about me.)

President Uchtdorf's April 2011 address was "Waiting on the Road to Damascus". It helped me to realized that although I was not looking for the angel's voice that caused the earth to tremble or a visitation such as the then 14 year-old Joseph Smith Jr. had, I WAS looking for something more than a subtle prompting or a subtle feeling. The talked helped me to see that a subtle prompting or feeling is every bit as meaningful as the major event type vision such as what happened with Saul on the road to Damascus or to the boy prophet, Joseph Smith Jr.

Elder Bednar's talk, "The Spirit of Revelation," focused also on the nature of revelation. He likened revelation to 3 experiences with light: the turning on of a light in a dark room (the immediate answer to a prayer, for example), the subtle brightening of the sky during a sunrise (the subtle promptings and feelings from the Holy Ghost for personal revelations), and how on a cloudy day it is harder to see the subtle changing of light during a sunrise (receiving revelation without realizing it). The first form of revelation is the exception rather than the rule.

Essentially, both talks gave me a much better understanding about how revelation really works. As a result, I stopped looking for something greater than the subtle way the Holy Ghost's works, and therefore I allowed myself to be more opened to personal revelation.

So then that Sunday, I was more open and more ready for the Holy Ghost to reveal somethings to me.  The sudden realization that I was the one sheep, was actually somewhat akin to the light being turned on in a darkened room.

I realized this past Sunday, however, I had been in the dark (or asleep) for so long that when the light came on in the room it was so bright that I was blinded and couldn't see everything. In other words I had missed something more sublte that was in that personal revelation. Another answer to another prayer.

Even as I reentered activity into the church, I was full of self hatred and self loathing. It had slowly started to subside as I continued moving forth in church activity, but I still wasn't convinced that I was the person so many people around me saw let alone the person who was worthy of God's love as many church leaders had testified over the years - that we are all loved by God.

What I missed in the brightness of the light being turned on was a more subtle secondary light. The one that was answering my prayers to see myself through His eyes and the eyes of those around me. What was made known to me was that with the understanding that I was the one sheep who was brought back to the fold by the shepherd (my 2 home teachers), I realized that if I weren't loved by God - if I weren't worthy of His love - the shepherd would never have come to find me. Since I was worth being found and returned to the fold, I realized that I was not the person who I hated and loathed so much.

Because of that moment in Sunday School, I have finally begun to see me through the eyes of the people around me who kept mentioning good things they saw (that I didn't) and more importantly I have started to see myself through God's eyes. I am not the "stupid loser girl" I kept calling myself. My friends do not see me as that, God does not see me as that, and now I am starting to see that I am not that.

A subtle answer to a prayer within the great light of personal revelation.