I had an interesting experience a couple of months ago that was both frightening and insightful.
Zack and the kids spent most of the day at our new home cleaning out the garage so that we could move our furniture in instead of paying for a storage unit for one more month. While they were gone, I enjoyed some R&R....which was so nice! However, it didn't start out real well.
I had been on youtube for a moment watching some videos of my favorite dancers when I noticed a link to an individual who was an ex-Mormon and had served as a Bishop. I was curious and so I decided to click the link and watch. Although my intentions were harmless and more out of curiosity as to his reasoning, it is something that I should not have done.
He was bearing testimony of why he thought the church was wrong. He expressed that he and his wife knew that they were going to make it because the brethren of the church told them they would as long as they did certain things prescribed by the church. He said that they didn't have a need for the Savior until they were no longer members of the church....until they had come out of the fog and recognized the Savior. Before I knew it, I "felt" the Spirit testify to me that what he had said was true and right.....and almost immediately thoughts began to well up inside of my heart and mind that made me question whether or not all of this really is true. I stopped watching at this point.
The secret in all of this was the adversary.
I have struggled with feeling the Spirit at times throughout the last year. I was pregnant and while I am pregnant, I tend to be very emotional :-). Those emotions run so high that I feel ofttimes that they blind me to what the Spirit might try to tell me about important decisions that I might need to make. It is a very scary time for me....I don't want to make a mistake and all the while, I am stressed about whether what I am feeling is the Spirit or me. It is very difficult to deal with because I am one who needs to feel the Spirit and wants to feel the Spirit all of the time, however unrealistic that is.
As I stopped watching the movie, I decided to read my scriptures and the Lord blessed me to read this passage in Alma 5: "...And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God....I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by His Holy Spirit." I was reminded after I had finished reading that, that Satan will use any form of deceit....even if it means that he feigns the feelings of the Spirit to bring about his works of darkness. In this moment, Satan feigned the feeling of the Spirit to try and deceive me into believing something that I know is not true.....that the church is wrong and that this gospel is false. I came to know how close he is and how desperate he is to have us become his. He used the very thing that he knew I was struggling with, the very thing that I am already sensitive about and worried about. He doesn't care about us. He doesn't love us. He uses our very weaknesses against us. I already knew this but this experience was more real than words can express and cut me to the very core.
I am grateful for the scriptures, which speak truth. I am grateful for the Lord and His mercy which allowed me to read exactly what I needed to when I needed to. I realized that if I tempt Satan, he will oblige.
Sadly enough, however, I identified with this man and woman in a way that only my husband knows. I have struggled for years before I got married and even after I got married with something that I never told another living soul. I didn't even realize that it was a lie until a year or two ago....and then had to fight the uphill battle to undo the lie I thought was truth.
A year or so ago, I could have in all sincerity and honesty told you that I would never make it. I knew that when the time came for judgement, I would look my Savior in the eyes and tell Him that I was unworthy. This was something that I firmly believed.....and it was more than that, it was a fact about Amy; it was going to happen and that is just the way that it was. I have always been an "all or nothing" kind of person. If I partook of the Sacrament on Sunday and made a mistake on Monday, it was all over. I was done....there was nothing that I could do to fix it, to mend it or to make it go away. I wasn't going to make it. It could have been something as simple as missing my prayers or scriptures or FHE, etc. But if it happened, I would in a sense toss in the towel until the following Sunday, knowing that the week had been ruined because I had not been perfect. Don't get me wrong.....I would still keep trying but I knew that it was to no avail. I wanted to be perfect.....I wanted to be perfect because I wanted to prove to the Lord my faithfulness, my ability to be able to do it right, to make Him proud.....I didn't want to use His Atonement. It wasn't because I didn't appreciate it.....I couldn't stand the thought of Him suffering for me. I couldn't stand the thought of Him being disappointed in me because I wasn't perfect.
Unfortunately, I believed this with every fiber of my being.....until my husband and the Spirit made me see the lie for what it was. I didn't have to be perfect. I had to have a Savior and he needed me. He loved me and that is why the Atonement was performed.....I wasn't adding to His suffering. He had already suffered for me because He loved me. The Atonement made it so that I didn't have to be perfect. I could make mistakes and repent. This is something that we have all learned. I have heard this and learned this my entire life. I don't know where and when it changed in my mind. I don't know why and how I began to believe this lie.....but I did and it was damning me, literally, in my progression. The man and woman that spoke of leaving the church had left for the same reason that I very well could have. They had missed the boat, just as I had. The church doesn't teach us or tell us that we are going to make it or not. The brethren are not God. Christ teaches through His church that we will return to live with Him and the Father if we repent and use the Atonement to be forgiven and if we do all that we can do. They had missed the mark just as I had for all of those years.
I cannot begin to describe the liberation I have felt in using the Atonement more than I ever have. This journal entry might even seem trite to some. The words that I have written do not describe the depth to which I felt and believed what I did. At this point, I was able to also see through Satan's lie in feigning the Spirit. The weakness that I have begun to conquer made me realize that they had been deceived just as I had. I was so grateful and blessed to not have fallen away but to have continued on.
I was also reminded as I saw through Satan's deception that we have been told that even the great ones will be deceived in the last days. This man had been a Bishop, a shepherd for the Lord. He and his wife began attending bible study classes from another faith, which was done in all innocence. However, Satan feigned the Spirit with them as well and led them down a road until they were no longer headed in the right direction. He was deceived.....just as I had been for a few moments.
This experience was scary! I have been tempted plenty in my life and continue to fight temptations everyday. However, I saw a different side to Satan then I had before. I saw his desire to destroy me. I saw his ability to use good things for his evil designs.
I am grateful for my testimony but also for the humbling experience that it is fragile and must be nurtured. I realized that I could very easily be deceived as well and that I must be on my guard at all times!