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February 29, 2016

Furnace of Affliction

Life is complicated, life is not fair, and our life experiences can stretch our hearts, minds, and souls to a breaking point.  Those times feel like the “furnace of affliction” Isaiah speaks about.  Frequently, these times are not the product of poor choices made, but rather, choices made by others, or simply the result of being mortal.

Death of a loved one, a heart attack, cancer and chemotherapy, broken bones, abuse and betrayal put me into that fiery furnace.  I wondered if I would survive!  The intensity of the furnace consumed my life.

However, my epiphany in this personal furnace of affliction changed my life.

Life seems to follow the seasons, growing and flourishing seasons are followed by dying and cold seasons, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it.  However, the growing time always comes after the cold and dead season, so there is always hope for the coming of Spring.

The sun literally does come out tomorrow, we can trust that event, and each new day brings blessings if we look for them.  There were days in my furnace journey I defined blessings every day and wrote them down:  the sky was blue, I saw a flower, I felt the companionship of a friend, a quail walked across the lawn just as I looked out, water came out of the tap, lights went on with the flip of a switch.  Simple things that made my life easier were happening all the time when I looked for them. And recognizing them cooled my flaming soul.

In the uncontrollable furnaces of our lives, we are still in control.  We can choose to curse God and resent the experiences, or we can choose to plant seeds of hope and nourish them.  Some seeds only grow after forest fires.  We develop patience as we watch for the seeds to break through the soil and struggle to move toward the sunlight.  As the seed grows, and is nourished by good, deep soil, soft rains and sunshine, it develops strength to share with others.

Being proactive in the raging heat brought more calm and peace.  What could I do?  I could make a phone call, send a note, bake bread and share, take flowers, make soup, share veggies from the garden, spend time listening, give of time and resources to others.  And I felt greater peace and calm in my furnace as I increased my random acts of kindness to others.  I could do something every day to positively impact another person’s life.

I have been through several furnaces during my life, and though burned and scarred by some of them, I have learned that I will survive, that I will learn, that I will control much of what happens by being proactive.


May 5, 2015

Is My Heart Healed?

Filed under: answers,healing,heart,hope,Jesus,love,Priesthood blessing,questions — admin @ 1:07 pm
Have you ever had a question in your mind for years, pondering on it from time to time, wondering if you will ever figure it out? I have a few questions like this, and I think about them sometimes, but mostly I just “put them on a shelf” in my mind until I receive some future enlightenment that reminds me of my question.  Then I can run to my “shelf” and grab my question off and rejoice that I have an answer—or at least a tiny bit of an answer—to my question.  Then I think about it more and put it back on the shelf if needed until more understanding comes to me.
I was given a blessing once when off at college when I was very sick.  I was having an allergic reaction to some medication taken after my wisdom teeth had been removed.  I remember my brother arriving to give me a priesthood blessing just before I was taken to the hospital.  Some of the words of that blessing have always stayed with me, and I have wondered about them for years.  I was told that the Lord knew of my circumstances and would “heal my heart.”  Yet, it was not my heart that was physically sick!  I knew it and my brother knew it, so what did this blessing mean?
I wondered if I was being called to repentance because the Lord knew of my many sins and imperfections.
I wondered if the Lord was telling me that I wasn’t a very kind or nice person and I needed to change, or that my choices in life up to that point hadn’t been done wisely and I needed to improve.
Another piece of enlightenment came to me a little while back.
As I listened to a January 21, 2014 BYU Devotional speech by Jonathan G. Sandberg entitled “Healing = Courage + Action + Grace,” clarity came.
“Healing is much more than ‘getting better’ or ‘having our problems go away.’ Healing is growth, development, and maturation. In a word, healing is change. It takes time and energy and struggle, but healing teaches us.”
When the Lord told me I had a heart that needed to be healed, He wasn’t chastising me, he was encouraging me and letting me know that staying focused on His plan was more important than anything else going on in my life at any time.  He was there for me and more aware of my complete situation than I was. It was a blessing of love and hope.
The Lord knew I was going to be fine with my allergic reaction.  He also knew all of my struggles, joys, and fears. He took this opportunity to remind me that He had a bigger work for me than I could imagine, to trust Him, and to stay on the path no matter how hard it got physically or spiritually. He would work with me. And He did and still does.
Every now and then I get a new glimpse into how He sees me and what He wants me to be. When I get this insight, I also realize that it is going to take continued work from me—and healing and strength from Him—for me to get there.
I didn’t fully understand the blessing because I couldn’t at the time. It has taken growth through living and experiencing to be able to look back on much of my life and see how I have been taught, corrected, changed. I know I still don’t fully see nor completely understand His great and perfect love for me and for all of us.  I have to keep remembering to trust Him and to keep seeking Him. I need to offer Him a softened heart, so He can continue to teach me and heal me.
I am grateful for my testimony that God lives. He watches over us, plans for us, and guides us as we give our hearts and efforts to Him. I know that He does all of this because He loves us and that through our Savior we can become whole and healed. 
I have wondered, “Is my heart healed?”  My answer is “Not completely yet.” But it’s doing much better than the day I received that blessing 22 years ago.
Kelly Ericson

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