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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Are you spiritually prepared - will you rise to the call?

At the beginning of the month of June this year, my husband and I received a call from the leadership in our ward.
I was down stairs sitting on our recliner chair, not expecting what was to come when my husband answered the phone.
After a few quiet words, my husband then called down to me and said "Hey Julia, do you want to speak in church on Sunday?"
My first reaction was in my head, "are you kidding me?! No!"
I then exlaimed "I don't think I can, I usually feed the baby during Sacrament." I hoped that would do it, then I tried to explain a little better, "I really don't think I can", and suggested to my husband silently, to consider my extreme anxiety, and inability to control my emotions when I have to speak in front of people. My condition is considerably worse than every one else after all. :)
My nervousness is as bad as it gets and worse, when it comes to public speaking. :)  Please don't ask me to do this!! 
O.k..........I know everyone gets nervous when they have to speak in sacrament, or teach a lesson in Sunday school for that matter, but I really, honestly felt, like I had the worst case ever of "looking like a fool" in front of everyone. The fact that I tried to bare my testimony a year or so ago in a ward full of strangers, and cried for the first 2 minutes before I even said anything, and then shook uncontrollably in front of everyone while I did try to speak, made me feel like the worst public speaker ever, and I just didn't trust my body to be able to do it ever again.

My husband explained to the man on the other side of the phone, "I know you have probably heard this excuse before from other people, but my wife gets really bad anxiety when she has to talk in sacrament." (um, ya, thanks sweetheart :) haha! He said it in a way that says, he understands me and cares about my feelings, yet he knows I can do it.

A few more words were discussed between the two of them, and it concluded with, "we will let you know her final answer tomorrow."

I knew deep down inside, that yes, of course I would be speaking in Sacrament. How could I really actually turn it down. I would feel guilty the rest of my life for it. I just needed that night to gather my courage and conduct to officially give the word. Whether or not I would make a fool of myself, was up to my faith.

We ended up with a whole month to prepare. Originally, they had wanted us to speak that next Sunday, but because I didn't give a definite answer until the next day, they asked someone else to take that Sunday, and then gave us the last Sunday of the month.

I called my mom, and told her we had been asked to speak, and I was so full of anxiety about the whole thing, that I just cried while I talked to her. This was a very scarey thing to me. I just did not trust myself to be able to hold it all together. I was literally terrified! I do not like having the spotlight on me, especially when I cannot control my emotions over silly things!
However, I was enlightened on quite a few things, and while talking to my mother, I knew by the end of our conversation, that if I prepared with all the tools I had been given, it was going to be great!

Are you spiritually prepared?Will you rise to his call?

No, I wasn't spiritually prepared for this. Had I been, I would have immediately agreed to do what was asked of me, and I would have plowed through my anxiety on it later.
I have never turned down a calling before. Simply because I truly believe that my leaders are inspired to ask me to take on specific callings. Unless the spirit prompts me otherwise, I have promised myself to never turn down a calling. I believe this life is all about lifting our body in faith and goodness to be equal with what our spirits already are, and accepting the callings we are given in this life, is how we do it, because they teach us and strengthen us.
Speaking in church, to me is a calling. Why? Because it is an experience in which, I know tremendous inspiration can be given, to myself and to others! We often come away from these teaching moments, learning more for ourselves, than what others might learn from it. I am all about spiritual growth, and I do not want to miss out on the opportunities for it.

The last time I spoke in church, was about 7 years ago, when my oldest daughter was 4 months old. I was more willing back then to do it, but as I have had more children, my motherly body, has lost control over its hormones and emotions, and I can cry at the drop of a hat, over anything pretty much. Its sad.
I have been using natural remedies, and a clean diet to try and get things back to normal, just for the ability to talk and sing about something emotional without getting teary eyed.

I believe in the law of attraction a lot, and consider it to be a great tool, to achieving the growth we can attain in this life. Its all about faith, and believing things can go the way we hope for them too.
I also believe that if we let negative thoughts control our minds, that it can attract not so good things. So whenever I would have the thought, that we would be asked to speak in church, I would immediately push it out of my mind and say "NO" to it! I believe this is partly why 7 years went by without being called to speak in church. It sounds crazy, but it is very real to me.

I have this desire to be able to speak with the same control that our leaders of the church speak with. I have a desire to be a missionary for my savior by sharing my experiences and my thoughts with others too. However I have always had a public speaking fear (and I also know that its pretty normal to fear public speaking).

For the last year, this has been on my mind, because I have been desiring to change this fear, and just have the ability to speak with authority and love, to help inspire and change people for the better.

I had a wish that it could just be an overnight change too. That I would just be what I want to be!

I let myself down though, by believing I wasn't good enough. Because of this belief, I let opportunities pass me by. I stunted my spiritual growth!

I was not spiritually prepared to be obedient, I was becoming Idol by not seeking opportunities to grow where I want to. I wasn't studying the scriptures like I should be. Sure I read them with my family each day, but I have been struggling with personal scripture study, and personal meditation and personal prayers.

I knew all this, yet I was weak and scared to change.

What are some things we can do to keep ourselves spiritually prepared?

I know that this is a common answer for  church questions, but it is amazing at how true and factual this answer is.

Read and study your scriptures, with an intent to love and learn them!
Pray to your best friend. Trust that your savior really truly loves you, and wants you to reach your full potential, and will help you with every step of the way!
He is more than our master. He is our Brother. He is our friend, the closest, most understanding and forving, and trustworthy friend you will ever find!
Trust that when you covenant with him, he not only keeps his end of the deal, but he goes the extra mile to make sure you can do your best and beyond. Having this sort of relationship, requires not only prayer, in the morning and at night, but every minute in between too. Have a constant prayer in your heart, and he will always be right with you!

When you read your scriptures, don't read them, because you have been told to. Do it because you have a true desire to learn from them. When we are forced to do something, it is not our effort, and therefore we don't learn and love it as much. When we do it, because we love it, and have a desire to have it be a part of our lives though, then it becomes a part of us, and our lives become centered around them.

Be ready to accept callings. Be ready to know that you will have trials in this life, but there is nothing in the world that you cannot accomplish, with the help of the lord.
Be ready to know that you will be given the tools to overcome whatever is set before you, if you ask for them, and if you have faith that they will be given to you, and if you study them out, with desire, love, and full intent and belief.
Imagine what this calling can look like for you. What do you hope for in it. What do you want it to look like for you. What do you want to accomplish from it. What do you want to learn from it.

How did it all go for me?

Well, a week before we were to speak in Sacrament, I knew I needed to prepare my talk, so I could have a week to relax from my anxiety about it. We had a full week of activities coming up, and I didn't want to be preparing it the night before.
My husband and I agreed on the topic of Families.
I got on LDS.org and looked up several different General Conference talks about it. What a wonderful place to find inspiration. I printed out at least 5 different talks that appealed to me.
Then I underlined from each talk, quotes and topics that I liked. I pieced them all together in order of how I wanted to present them, and I added my own life experiences to them. I ended up with a 10 page talk.
Every night I practiced giving it.
I prayed each day, that I would be able to have control over my emotions, and that I might be able to present my talk, in the same way they do in conference.

Our general leaders, have such a beautiful way of giving their talks. They are so humble about it, and they have such a wonderful feeling that goes a long with it all.
It is my hope to be able to speak like them someday. They have emotion in their talks, and occasionally they get sensitive and teary eyed about things, but they hold it together so well! That is how I want to be able to speak too!

I was expressing this to my sister the night before, and she gave me a great word to remember. I was hoping to find a word I could use to recollect myself, if I felt prone to losing control over my emotions. She gave me the word "Composure". It described what I needed so wonderfully! I kept saying I wanted control, but that meant, things would go according to the way I would forcefully make them go. Instead composure meant, that I would be able to convey a message that the spirit guided me to give, and I would be able to give it in a way, that I wouldn't overdue.

I prayed for composure. I prayed for the spirit to be with me, to help me hold it together. I prayed that I would be able to give my talk, with what I had planned, but also, to be able to be guided by the spirit to say things that I hadn't prepared, but that needed to be said.

When I first wrote my talk, I wanted it to be written word for word, so I could read it word for word, so I wouldn't have a chance at losing my composure. After preparing though, I knew I would need to go by the spirit too. When I am touched by the spirit, I get overly emotional about it, and embarrass myself by becoming a basket case about it. I thought, if I could keep emotion out of it, I could keep myself from losing it.
I knew that if I prayed to be able to keep my composure though, that if I had enough faith, I would be able to speak about something emotional, and keep it together.

The morning that we were to speak. I did some energy clearing techniques, and I just simply believed I would do it, the way I hoped I could.

I was surprisingly joyful that morning, and didn't feel nervous at all. I started to speak, and at first I could feel emotion coming on, but I paused and gave myself a moment to re-collect, and I used the affirmation "composure", and I was able to move on.
I was able to read my talk, the way I had hoped for. I even threw in extra things, that the spirit prompted me to say.
I had composure! I lost my fear! I lost my anxiety! I got to the end of my talk, and wished I had more to say, because I was not experiencing any of the things I normally experience. No shaking, no anxiety, and out of whack emotions! It was wonderful!
I sat down, and thought, "why was I so scared to do this?" "I can definitely do this again, with the preparation and tools I have been given."

It was pretty incredible.

I then got to listen and enjoy my husbands wonderful talk too.

The leaders in my ward came up to us afterward, and jokingly said they would be calling us again soon. Haha, normally I would have felt dread from this type of talking, but secretly, deep down inside I was saying "yes, I am ready!"

I am so glad I got through it all. I am so glad, my husband was spiritually prepared for the call. He was so excited the whole month to speak in church. He was really a big part of what helped me believe I could do it. We are a good pair. :)

I still have anxiety over future callings to speak in church, but I have a better belief in myself that I can do it. I am not handicapped with anxiety. I can definitely overcome that. My crazy out of whack motherly hormones, can be controlled. :)

Its exciting to think about.

It was a foundational step for me to be able to accomplish what I want to in this life, and I know that my desire to be a missionary, and to be able to speak truth, with authority about the gospel and Jesus Christ
will be something I can do, if I continue to allow myself these opportunities for growth.

I have been rejuvinated it seems, and desire to learn and love to read from the scriptures personally more, and to have more personal conversations in prayer, with my best friend about how I can do better.

I hope that this helps you to know what your potential in this life can be. There are tools to help you overcome your trials, and you can overcome anything! I hope it helps you to desire to be more spiritually prepared to accept the callings that come your way also. You are an inspiration to others. We have a responsibility to accept these callings of growth, not only for ourselves, but for others who will learn from us too.

I am going to include a copy of my talk here on the blog, if you are interested in reading it. It is about the importance of Family, and what we can do to strengthen it.

Please feel free to comment about what you do, to make sure you are spiritually prepared, to rise to the callings we are given in this life. I love to read what you share!

Until the next post, Have a Happy Beautiful Day!

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