Friday, November 25, 2011

More Than a Mighty Change of Hair...Part 3!!!

I was pretty hesitant to share this part of the story because it is something that I have held very close to my heart. It's gotten me through very difficult times and has pushed me to never return to where I was. I have prayed about it, and feel that it can be helpful to someone. So...

Beautiful St. George, UT
It was a tradition in my family that my siblings wrangle up their spouses and kiddos and head down to St. George, Utah to turkey it up at my parents. I love St. George so much because this is where my spiritual rebirth began to take place.The house was just starting to get packed as we awaited our feast. I was still really sick and not feeling my best. But I had to put on a good show, because it was time to be Uncle Elder Ika.

I have the greatest nephews and nieces anyone could ask for. They are my joy and happiness. Being away from them while serving a mission is definitely in the top three most difficult things I have had to go through. I have always been close to them. They were my first reason that I wanted to change and be better. It's because of the love I had for them, and them for me.

At the end of a very tiring and physically trying day, we set up shop in the living room to watch a movie. I had my little sweet pea (one of my nieces) as well as her two goofy brothers. We popped up some corn and started to watch the movie "Meet the Robinsons". We laughed and had a good time all the way through it. I remember how happy I felt as I listened to the laughs of these little tikes that I love so much. I remember their smiles and the hug that my little sweet pea gave me right before she fell asleep in my arms. The movie was just about to a close when I realized that my two nephews were asleep as well.

I was about to get up and turn the movie off, but a song started to play. I love music, and it didn't sound too bad, so I decided to listen to it. Here are the lyrics:

Let it go,                                                               Let it slide,                                                      All of my regret
Let it roll right off your shoulder                            Let your troubles fall behind you                     Will wash away some how
Don't you know                                                     Let it shine                                                       But I can not forget
The hardest part is over                                        Until you feel it all around you                         The way I feel right now
Let it in,                                                               And I don't mind
Let your clarity define you                                    If it's me you need to turn to
In the end                                                            We'll get by,
We will only just remember how it feels               It's the heart that really matters in the end

The lowest of low...
As I heard the words to this song, I felt something burning within me (nope, not heart burn). I was enveloped in love. I looked around me and saw three little angels, my two nephews and my niece. I felt a greater love for them than ever before. I now know that I was surrounded not only by those visible angels, but also angels unseen. I know my nephews and nieces who hadn't been born yet were there. My Grandparents who passed away years earlier, as well as many others, came to buoy me up.

In that moment, I knew the hardest part was over. I knew that I could put all the negative behind me. It was at that moment that I knew that all of the regret, disappointment, shame, guilt, sorrow, and every other thing that was weighing me down, could be washed away. I didn't understand how, but I knew that I would find out. I prayed and thanked God for my nephews and niece. I prayed and thanked Him for everything. I gave the most sincere prayer of Thanksgiving I have ever given Him.
To happier than I have ever been!

 A few years later and Pow!, here I am. I'm a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My life was transformed. God changed my life and gave me what I always wanted: true peace and lasting happiness. He continues to do that for me. I know that God can do the same for you. He will help you to overcome any weakness you have. He loves you. Don't take my word for it. Ask God what He can do for you.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More Than a Mighty Change of Hair...Part Two!!!

I felt like this little truck! Crushed!
Day two, three, four, five etc. were so lame for me after that incredible experience that fateful November 14. What in the world could happen you might ask? The anguish and pain I described in that last post was spiritual. Then I got hit with something I didn't really expect. I honestly thought that all of my problems would be over from the "you'll be OK" feeling I got after I had prayed. But pow!!! God saw to it that I would be humbled even more. Physically, I was crushed! I got sicker than I have ever been in my life. I started to experience physical pain that nearly destroyed me. I had experienced my spiritual rock bottom, but then I was blessed (yes, it was a blessing) with the opportunity to hit a physical rock bottom as well.

To summarize how I felt at this point in my journey, let's go to the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. In  the opening chapter, Moses describes exactly how I felt in verses 9-10.
"... and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth. And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing..."
I felt that I had been left to myself spiritually through my bad choices, but that I now needed to be left to myself as much as I could take. I was left unto myself, and all my physical strength left me. I felt near to death, and it scared me. I continued to pray with greater fervor than ever before. I would spend hours on end praying and pleading in my heart. It was so difficult to get through, but eventually I started to feel better.

Not an actual pic of me...but you get it!
This event humbled me so much, that I was becoming increasingly aware of the Spirit of God wanting to communicate with me. I found in those humble days that I was completely incapable of saving myself. This led to one of the most incredible experiences of my life; a night when I was literally surrounded by angels.

Tune in soon to read the end of this series. I promise, it's good. In the meantime, what blessings do we receive from humility?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Than a Mighty Change of Hair...

So I'm not going to be as goofy as I usually am on this one...well, I probably still will be. Oh! The music references will come later... This week is a bit of a special one to me. I consider it my own personal holy week; a week of remembrance. It was four years ago this week that I truly started on a journey that has changed every aspect of my life for the better. It's going to take a few posts to get this all out, but let's start with day one of the rest of my life...
Look up "idiot" in the dictionary and you'll see this picture.

Go back with me to the night of  November 14, 2007. Yep, that's me in the pic alright. What a dufus I was! To summarize a really long story, let's tell you where I was in life on that day. For one, I was at rock bottom. It was truly the lowest of the low. Miserable doesn't even begin to express the depths of my sadness. I was living a life that wasn't in line with God's teachings, and I was suffering the consequences. My life came crashing down on me, and the weight was almost more than I could bear. I felt a lot like how the Prophet Alma from the Book of Mormon did before his conversion took place. Here is what he says, "...I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments...yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror." (Alma 36:12-14)

Sounds pretty terrible right? Well it was. I will never forget that night and the way I felt (and I am so grateful I can't forget it!). It was in the quiet of that night, in my moment of greatest distress and humility, that I finally got down onto my knees and offered the first sincere prayer of my life. I pleaded that I would be delivered from the hell that I had gotten myself into. I petitioned God that He would lift the weight of my sins and give me some degree of happiness. I asked forgiveness for the hurt I had caused my family and friends. I remember at the end of the prayer, I screamed out, "I'll give up everything! Please take this away from me!"

After that prayer, I felt something within me telling me that everything was going to be OK. I didn't realize it then, but I had truly felt the power that earnest, sincere prayer has. I felt that I would get better, but it sure as shootin' didn't happen immediately like I wanted it too! The next few days were lame sauce...

Come back again soon to find out what happened next. In the mean time, ponder this question: What blessings have you received through adversity?