In December 2013 I had what I call my Conversion 3.0. I knew it would be difficult, for the adversary would fight me at every step. I began using tools I had learned from the scriptures; one specifically, what I call walk-and-talks.
I had read that Moses said that he would talk to Heavenly Father as both formally to His supreme being and casually as a dear friend. I took that to heart and began to employ the same thing. I would have my formal prayers throughout the day, punctuated by going on walks and speaking with Him as a friend, however always respectful. It made quite a difference in how I was able to handle my hardships.
It also meant that, after a lengthy time, I began to have His replies as I walked. I would receive impressions, promptings, and guidance. It has helped tremendously in understanding the why, the what, and the how. It isn’t often, but it is sufficient to strengthen my faith through hardship, to know that I am not ever truly alone, despite how temporally alone I may be.
However, all this requires discipline. It requires the regularity of action. It is, after all, a form of worship. I have lost that precious part of my routine and need to reestablish it. I lost it because of the circumstances of life, not because I took it for granted.
We read often in the Book of Mormon about how those that worshiped and honored The Father and His Son would turn to sloth from their gain of comfort and wealth. That is, most decidedly, not what occurred here. Instead, it is the hardship, the frantic desire to be stable and ok. Sure, the Lord has assured me I would be ok, and that comfort is to come, but since my arrival in Phoenix, it has been anything but.
During one of my exhausted, weeping cries in formal prayer, I was reminded of a prompting I had received: that I had left the wilderness of my life and it was time to build a boat. I remembered I was thrilled with the idea, I was hopeful that my arrival in Phoenix was the beginning of a life I have longed for – not of comfort, but of peace.
I should have read that part of 1 Nephi. I should have immediately referred to scripture for understanding. I have learned my lesson, that when we receive revelation, we should study it as well as have hope.
It has been one of the most trying times of my life. Sure, I have had a lot of trying experiences, but usually outside of faith, in the absence of faith. This was a trial of faith. I had grown and accomplished much in my development, through dogged effort and the support and love of the Zilker Park Ward, Austin, TX. I had many friends that supported me. I knew my coming to Phoenix was important for me and for the Lord’s work, but I thought I was coming with newly polished armor, fresh with strength I had never known. I was, but I wasn’t expecting to be thrust into a battle for my faith and soul. Again.
Since coming here, I have been blessed with shelter, money to eat, and safety. I have also been besieged with hardship of all realms – spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc. I have made efforts to keep my faith, in the face of challenge of all that I believe I was told. I have had only a tenuous grasp of faith and purpose, but I have been conscious in my efforts to keep it.
Then I started the Book of Mormon again, after having just finished the Pearl of Great Price. I do not believe in coincidences and, as such, discovered what I should have read when I first had the prompting. I came to the part where Nephi had left the wilderness and began to build a boat. As I read it, I realized that the prompting I had received was both comfort and warning. Nephi had greater trials than the wilderness while building the boat, but he also had greater faith because of it.
So, I am building a boat. With it, comes the greater trial. He did not know how to build a boat, he didn’t know where to find the ore, he didn’t even know where he was going. He also had his family turn even harder against him for doing what he was told to do by the Lord. I am not Nephi, but are my trials and hardships greater than his? Not in the least. But through these trials of Nephi, he established the greater faith that would be necessary for the founding of a nation. I am not founding a nation, but I have my mission, and I need to experience the same training he received. I accept it, now.
As we demonstrate our willingness to show faith and do those things which seem impossible, we are strengthened. Yes, I moved to a new place with shiny armor, but what use is shiny armor? The Lord expects us to polish and care for our armor so it is ready for the battle coming. Just as warriors keep their weapons and armor cared for, we do the same for our faith and hope. But we do not care for these things so that they are shiny for show, we keep them such a way to know they are ready for us at a moments notice.
I am building a boat and the hardships will not end. It is to me to maintain my faith and my discipline in the fray of battle. It is to me to show that as my armor and faith is tested and shines, it will not fail as it is hit by the missiles of hardhsip. The battle is never over in this life, there are only lulls to allow us to restore our kit and rest before the next.
I am weary, but the battle wages. I am building my boat, knowing that it will lead to my promised land. One thing is certain, the hardships will not end, I know that now. But then, I never shied from a good fight.