18 September 2011

My Weakness in Mercy He Covers with Power


In the course of last evening, Janice Kapp Perry's 'Holding Hands Around the World' piano accompaniment book came out of the music stash and onto the piano.

Just like every time I hear those songs, I was transported back to the spring/summer of 2004.

If I had to make a quick top-of-the-head-without-quantifying-parameters guess, I'd say that was the happiest period of my childhood.

We got to spend countless hours driving around Utah county with some very awesomely dear friends who were moving back into state (Hi! You remember that? Wasn't that fun?).

We got to watch as hurricane-force winds ripped our back fence up as though it were made of paper. One second it was there, the next it started to buckle, and then it was gone; headed off down the street with the rest of the neighborhood (we never did see our little plastic picnic table again).

(And our house was totally one of the least-damaged houses in the neighborhood. It was a huge storm.)
Clean-up after that was the first time I ever experienced what it feels like when fiberglass gets embedded in your skin. Not cool.

I got to play in a piano ensemble at the county fair.

And lots of other cool things happened. 

Why do I bring this up?

The soundtrack to that summer was 'Holding Hands Around the World'. It was playing almost constantly, through everything we did and everywhere we went.


And playing it tonight brought everything back.

The Lord has blessed me with gospel truth,
I have learned His ways in my early youth.
I will share my light for I know it's right to testify of Him.

The Lord has blessed me with simple faith,
If I pray for help He will give me strength.
I will do His work, I will gladly serve.
I'll follow Him in faith.

The Lord has blessed me to feel His love,
I have heard His promptings and learned to trust.
So in all I do, I'll be faithful to the things I know are true.

The Lord has blessed me in many ways.
With a thankful heart I will sing his praise.
I will raise my voice and proclaim my choice
To follow him in faith.

He has shown the way,
And through all my days
I'll follow Him in faith.
('I'll Follow Him in Faith', by Janice Kapp Perry)

Last night, as I was playing this song, I wondered: 

What happened?

Why are the things that were the easiest then the most difficult now?

Where along the line did I change from the little girl who believed without question to the woman with so many demons to fight?

Mistakes I made years ago come back constantly to haunt me, to taunt me, to remind me that I'm not the person I could be.

The what-ifs are the worst.

What if I had been strong enough?

What if I had been smart enough?

What if, what if, what if.

I know in my head that the what-ifs don't matter; what is does.

I am stronger than I ever thought I could be, more courageous than I ever thought I would be,  and at certain times happier than I ever knew was possible.

Yes, I've made wrong decisions along the way. Decisions that have hurt me. Decisions with consequences that I still work every day to overcome. Yes, I have regrets.

But if I could go back and do everything over again...

I wouldn't change a thing.

Even the worst sins I committed, even the most ridiculous wastes of time, even the opportunities I passed up.

I'd leave it.

Because all those things I've done in my life--they've made me who I am. And I kind of like this version of me. I'm a little mixed up, a little twisted, a little broken-and-pieced-back-together. A little worse for the wear. But holes can be patched, and frayed edges can be hemmed, and duct tape will fix nearly everything prayer can't.

I still battle constantly with the little voices in my head that say things like, You're smarter than that and you know it, and (my favorite), You aren't the person they think you are.

No day is easy. Sometimes it's all I can do to hold on. Sometimes it takes every ounce of self-control I have to stay on the right path.

Sometimes every ounce of my self-control isn't enough.

But I am Ashley.

I backslide sometimes. Sometimes sometimes is more like all the time. I constantly lose things. I have a tendency to be over-bearing when I'm nervous. I can play an unfortunately brilliant game of 'That's What She Said'. I say completely awkward things at inopportune times. I've devised a sort of sick game to see how long I can put things off.

I'm smart. I've got a knack with words, and how they should sound. I have a slightly strange criteria for beauty. I'm kind of a music snob. I give nice-seeming advice. I have an eye for strategy. A little shimmer of idealism comes through the curtain of pragmatics on occasion. 
(This paragraph was supposed to be my good qualities. Heaven help me.)

The Lord has blessed me with simple faith,
If I pray for help He will give me strength.
I will do His work, I will gladly serve.
I'll follow Him in faith.

The Lord has blessed me in many ways.
With a thankful heart I will sing his praise.
I will raise my voice and proclaim my choice
To follow him in faith.
My choice is still to follow in faith.

But faith isn't simple anymore. 

I learned the hard way that the simple faith of a child isn't enough for some situations. There is a power to innocent belief, of course, a purity. And I'll never get that back. What I have now is different. It's a faith born of experience, born of struggle, born of prayer. I have faith now because I know what life is like without it, and it's not worth it. I have faith now because I believe, not because my parents do. The faith I have now is not as shiny as it once was.  But I kind of look at it this way:


Moroni's coat wasn't very shiny, either, after he ripped it up to make the title of liberty. But it was better that way, more useful, more powerful, even if it was distinctly less coat-like.

Ether 12:27
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

2 Corinthians 5:7
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Psalms 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Faith requires application. It requires diligence. It requires constant upkeep.

But it's worth it.

It's better this way. More useful, more powerful. Distinctly less like a coat, but why have faith if it's only as good as a coat?

You can't really use coats in the summertime anyway.

And you need faith year-round.

Love always,
Ashley 

P.S. - This is super long. Wow.

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