Spring has always been my favorite time of year.
There were lessons that I needed to learn the past couple weeks that I could not have learned any other way than by seeing new life come about in the world around me among our Heavenly Father's creations.
Returning home from the mission has been a trying, hard yet faith promoting experience.
On the mission you gave every waking thought and ounce of energy to the cause of spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You feel you gave everything but the beauty of being in the service of the Lord is that this promise is always sure
"He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he who loseth
His life for my sake shall find it..." -Matthew 10:39
I found a new way to live my life. To be filled with faith, hope and charity. To always seek the Spirit and remember the atoning sacrifice of my Savior forever.
Returning to the home that I always loved I felt as though I was walking back through a ghost town on my life with lifeless skeletal memories of my poor choices and mistakes from before. As though I had all the goodness drained out of me and I was left completely alone to fight my own personal battles.
These thoughts distressed me because they are contrary to the message I'd given my whole heart to declaring the past 18 months.
One day I had the blessing of babysitting for a family in my ward. They were the sweetest children and I learned so much from their examples. They live for joy and were always searching for fun. T.V. was a bore, laughter was the melody and were so quick to forgive one another. Despite my weaknesses they loved me perfectly, unconditionally and whole-heartedly.
My previously numbed, doubtful and hesitant heart became softened that day from the love of these children. I walked out the door completely exhausted from their games and active lives but as I soaked in the late afternoon sunshine I felt so full of joy! Before I was afraid to look around me because everything seemed to contain a painful memory but in that moment I could feel God's love being placed in my heart for others and making me whole.
Driving around town I realized something, in late February most of the trees were empty and barren. Single branches held one or two leaves from the autumn before. They had been left to stand their lifeless as they withstood the winter. Our Heavenly Father didn't intend for those trees to hold onto those bright fall leaves forever. They were to come back in the spring (return from their missions) and become something new, something better and even more radiant for the new season in their lives.
We've been so blessed to see the glorious blossoms of spring which only come as the trees are willing to accept whatever the will of the weather is, rain or shine. They are always reaching up and out, to embrace whatever experiences God wants to give them. That's how they gain new life.
The purpose of this life is to be willing to grow and experience, no matter how painful those steps of faith may be. We can't be afraid to love and give our hearts because '...that's what gives life it's richness and meaning' There's so much that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to learn and experience for the purpose of us coming to know them and becoming like them.
"I am the light of the world: he that followeth me...shall have the light of life."
I know that God's love for us is real and as tangible, warm and real as the sunshine. The purpose of His love is that we literally become new creatures in Him. That our burdens and our fears may be eased. That we can experience life and joy because our Savior Jesus Christ has felt, endured and overcome it all. We can find life, light and healing in our lives as we forever have faith and trust in our Savior and His infinite atonement.