Note: This is copy and pasted from my Facebook Note I wrote yesterday - which is actually a day earlier than President Uchtdorf's birthday. I try to limit my Facebook time on Sundays so I didn't want to write it today.
Last year, on this date, several of us Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. Mormons) shared our testimonies in honor of President Uchtdorf's 70th birthday.
That was a very difficult thing for me to do. (And I didn't share it with ALL of my FB connections.) I figured it was just because by this time last year, I'd only been active in the church again for about 2 months.
I've come an extremely long way since then. I am not the person I was 1 year ago. I've grown so much spiritually. I made much greater progress in a much faster time frame than I ever thought possible. I still don't recognize the two people (who I was then and who I am now) as being related to each other in any way.
I am doing the things we've been counseled to do by our church leaders better than I ever did before. I am so active now in so many aspects of the Gospel. (And more of them at the same time than ever before.)
I could not have come to the place and person I am now without the great support of a wonderful ward (congregation) family. I also could not have come this far if I did not have faith to just do things I felt my Heavenly Father wanted me to do, even if I didn't feel ready to do so. (I'm not even adding any filter/restrictions/privacy settings to this note.)
I've grown and changed so much - except in one thing. Bearing my testimony is still very difficult. Actually, in the regards of bearing a testimony I seemed to have fallen several steps back. Right now I don't even feel like I can bear my testimony. I have one; I know I do. It is there as sure as I am writing this note, but it's locked or blocked or both. I've been struggling now for nearly 5 months to set this testimony free without success.
I am frustrated. I do not understand. How can I have made all the huge changes in my life and made the great growth that I have but it now be nigh unto impossible for me to bear my testimony. There have been a few times I've wanted to do it in the last few months, but nothing happened.
I do not know what to do about that. I wish there was some magic potion to fix this. I've prayed about it. I've fasted about it. I've tried to find advice in the scriptures and in the words of our leaders about it, but have not been able to unlock it - let alone figure out why it's locked up.
And now it is President Uchtdorf's 71st birthday. If he knew about my attempt last year, I would feel that I had let him down this year.
I definitely feel I've let myself down and I don't know how to pick this part of my life back up.
I do still want to say "Happy birthday President Uchtdorf!"
I hope and pray that by his 72nd birthday, I've found the answer and set my testimony free.
Note 2: Shortly after I posted the note, a good friend I've had since 8th grade posted the following on my wall (I don't believe any further explanation is needed on this one):
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.