I had a thought on the jeep this morning on our way to Uniwide [a store]. Usually when I’m feeling unhappy/ depressed/ down on myself/ discouraged I feel like God is mad at me or he doesn’t love me or I’m not good enough and that my discouragement is coming from him—Hey [Potato Girl], you’d better clean up this mess you call a life. Then it was as if the curtains were drawn this morning as I read verse 15 of Joseph Smith-History:
“I kneeled and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.” It caused him to nearly “sink into despair and abandon [himself] to destruction.”
That is Satan, not God. I’m trying to record something the Spirit taught me in a thought, and words aren’t working too well, but it was as if the pieces suddenly fit together in my mind and heart. Pres. Gerratt at dinner saying I need to slam the door on Satan when he tries to discourage me, tell me I’m bad or unworthy. This attack on Joseph Smith right as he was doing his most righteous, correct, important act so far. All of the struggles I’ve had as a missionary to feel good about myself and my efforts. Satan’s affect on Joseph was to bind his tongue, stop his prayer. What happens when I feel worthless and discouraged? I can hardly pray I hate myself so much. I just cry and want to lie on my bed and not get up. I can only think about how pathetic I am—in affect, my tongue is stopped—i.e. I am stopped in the good works I’m doing, I’m immobilized.
Could this come from God? No! It is Satan and I let him in, I encourage him, I tell myself that God is mad at me, that I’m not doing enough, that I’m being cursed. It’s not true, is it? Lately I’ve had a new idea open in my mind, an idea that here I am in the mission field, trying to serve God, trying to let go of the world—why would God be disappointed? I’m here! I’m not perfect—I count the months left, I daydream about home, I often go to bed at 10:40 and not 10:30, and we usually leave 10 minutes late because I always am the last to get ready. I’m not talking to 10 people a day on the jeep. Those are the things that haunt me, and yesterday morning I was crying with despair because somehow my whole mission was a waste and Heavenly Father couldn’t accept it and wouldn’t bless me because I let myself fall in love [with my husband, Dan] before I left and how could a really dedicated person have done that? That’s like being mad at yourself for eating before you start fasting, or something. Weird.
So this morning I realized that next time I feel like that (you know how I cry at most Zone Conferences, for instance) that I can know it is not coming from Heavenly Father, but some jerk-face trying to keep me from doing this good thing I’m doing and to minimize my joy and peace so I won’t be as effective as I could be.
I think of the love I have for these investigators, love I know comes from Heavenly Father, and I have great feelings of patience with their “failings” and take great joy in tiny little right things they do. I don’t ever feel mad at them, I just keep thinking “how can I help them better to figure this out.” Now if I feel like this, if I can look at every other missionary and take great joy in the miracle that they somehow survived in the church long enough to make it on a mission, of all things, that they are worthy to hold a temple recommend (amazing—what would I do if a couple of Bicutan members could get worthy for the temple!)—I don’t care how ineffective they are, I’m just thrilled to think they’ve come this far, especially if they’re trying to be obedient and improve.
So if I feel that for others, and I’m just some punk kid, doesn’t God feel that for me? But more love, more patience and understanding? He doesn’t want me to feel unhappy and failure-like. That would be like one of my investigators berating herself for “only” reading though Enos after the first discussion, while I’m all thrilled she read at all. Okay, but God doesn’t compare us, and I can’t compare myself and say I’m good because there are other people that aren’t even active [in the church]. But still, none of this “God is mad at me” business. (Potato Girl's mission journal 350-351)