Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Let us make it a part of our everyday striving to open our hearts to the Spirit.

The article by Gerald N. Lund, “Opening Our Hearts,” from the Ensign, May 2008, 32–34, really reminded me of the great joy that I felt in my life as I began to open my heart unto the Lord and seek for the Eternal happiness that HE himself promises each and everyone of us.

This is how I felt and how many of you may feel. It is important that you understand that you are not alone. The Lord will answer you..... HE will provide. You might ask as I did, What will it require of ME?..... FAITH and OBEDIENCE and the Lord said it could be done, but NEVER said that it would be EASY.

As you read Lund's words, ask yourself how this currently relates or has related to your own life experiences?

"Early in our lives, we learn to guard our hearts. It is like we erect a fence around our hearts with a gate in it. No one can enter that gate unless we allow him or her to. In some cases the fence we erect around our hearts could be likened to a small picket fence with a Welcome sign on the gate. Other hearts have been so hurt or so deadened by sin that they have an eight-foot (2.5-m) chain-link fence topped with razor wire around them. The gate is padlocked and has a large No Trespassing sign on it. Individual agency (your right to choose) is so sacred that Heavenly Father will never force the human heart, even with all His infinite power. Man may try to do so, but God does not. To put it another way, God allows us to be the guardians, or the gatekeepers, of our own hearts. We must, of our own free will, open our hearts to the Spirit, for He will not force Himself upon us."

The blessing of agency is so sacred, that we are allowed to be the "gatekeepers" of our own hearts. WE must consciously decide to open our hearts to the Spirit. I remember wondering, so how do I do this?

Here is Lund's answer:

"While none of our hearts are perfect, the more diligently we strive to eliminate impurity, or push out things which do not belong there, the more we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. Note this sweet promise of the prophet Jacob: “O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love.”

If we are to depend upon our own strength and upon own wisdom, we are hardening our hearts, and therefor the spirit cannot dwell within our hearts.

The Lord has warned us of three natural consequences of having one’s heart set on the things of the world:

  • First, we seek to hide our sins instead of repenting of them.
  • Next, we seek to gratify our pride and vain ambitions rather than seeking the things of God.
  • Finally, we begin to exercise unrighteous dominion over others.

PRIDE is a natural consequence of setting our hearts on the things of the world. Pride quickly desensitizes our hearts to spiritual promptings. The condition of our hearts directly affects our sensitivity to spiritual things.

NOW HERE IS MY STORY.... and you will realize how it pertains to this post.

I had married the man of my dreams, very handsome and best of all he loved to do all the same outdoor adventuring that I did. After we had moved and settled in Iowa, away from all family, friends, the mountains, and everything that we were familiar with….I began to experience real change for the first time. I considered myself a good person who had a good education, a good family, and realistic goals. I was a very happy girl and wanted to continue to be that happy for the rest of my life. As time went on in Iowa, I began to feel like something was missing; a huge void and I became determined to fill that void that I was feeling in my life. I know that this church has made Aaron the great man he is today and it’s hard to imagine that at one point in his life, being with me made him happy enough that he would be willing to leave his church. It is so true that there are sooo many things in this world that can give you happiness, but I’ve found that unless this happiness comes from the living gospel, that it always ends up being temporary. So as you could imagine, it wasn’t long into our marriage, that Aaron was also feeling that same void. It wasn’t Aaron’s family, it wasn't Aaron, and it wasn’t even the elders, although they all played a key role in my journey, but it was the spirit that softened my heart enough so that I would know what I needed to do. I was 7 months pregnant and it was after much pondering, praying and pouring out of my heart and soul, that I was baptized on January 1, 2005.
As I looked out upon the 50+ people that attended my baptism, I was confident that I had filled the void in my life forever, but as you might expect, I was wrong…it was a few months later, when going to church became routine, that I began to feel this void again. In January of 2006 Aaron, Wes and I were sealed together in the Idaho Falls temple. Again, the void seemed to melt right away, to the point where I didn’t think I’d ever remember feeling it, but it took me a long time to admit to myself that this void was never going to go away forever. I think that I still have to remind myself from time to time. It also took me a long time to understand why the void was so important, but I have learned to appreciate and accept that this void comes from the Holy Ghost and from Heavenly Father and that it is actually a gift to each one of us. I learned of this gift as I was reading an ensign article last year titled FILLING THE VOID and applied what Victoria Anderson had written to my own life. She explains that coming to earth and leaving Heavenly Father’s presence creates a massive void in our lives. We lived with Heavenly Father in the premortal existence and felt his love for us. It was when I read that that I knew that this void was placed in my heart for my earthly journey so I would seek him again. As I seek to know my Heavenly Father, the void can be filled. Like I said, for me, this is a constant struggle, but a huge blessing. This becomes such a struggle for us because we must constantly search to fill this void. I find that there are many ways to do so, such as scripture study, prayer, family home evening, visiting teaching, reading the family proclamation, and most importantly visiting the temple. Heavenly Father is always our companion, especially while we are performing the sacred ordinances that we do while we are in the temple. By doing these things, we are reminded of all the knowledge that we have, as being members of this church, and also of all our own individual blessings. We can feel when Heavenly Father is pleased with our decisions and the choices that we are constantly making. We are reminded of how blessed we all are to know that there is an eternal plan. When I fill that void with spiritual means, I feel at peace, like the peace that Jesus promises we’d receive in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Just like that peace is a blessing, the void is also a blessing because Heavenly Father has created it for you and I and it can’t possibly go away forever, until we return to him again someday. I just want to challenge everybody reading this.... to fill their void with additional spiritual means instead of earthly means. It has really helped me to come to know my Heavenly Father and his love for me. Ultimately we have control over our own happiness, which means we have the control over whether or not we fill that void. We ARE the "GATEKEEPERS" of our own hearts.

My TESTIMONY (belief on the matter): I have a testimony that the spirit is strong and can change the life of anybody you know. When a person’s heart becomes open to the spirit, there isn’t much more that you or I need to do. I have a testimony that as we seek to know, love, and serve Heavenly Father, as well as others, our void can be filled.

Now, I knew that I was a happy woman, doing good things in the world, going places with my life, and just a good person in general AND I knew that GOD loved me for ME~ so, I often asked myself why I would ever need to change anything about myself, BUT that often triggered the reoccurring feeling in MY HEART~ like there was something missing. Have you ever felt like this?

I knew I wasn't going to be content until I found EXACTLY what it was that my life was missing. When those answers were attained, I was amazed how the discomfort of that VOID, quickly became my companion in my life. I would always be reminded of the LOVE that my Savior, YOUR savior has for you and I. I was able to open my heart to the Spirit. Now it is a goal of mine.... and will be forever, that EVERYDAY, I can strive to open my heart to the Spirit. "Since we are the guardians of our hearts, we can choose to do so. We choose what we let in or hold out."

The Lord is anxious to help us choose wisely. If we come unto him, he has SPECIFICALLY promised us two things on this topic:

  • “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with [His] love, … that we may be purified even as he is pure.” (Moroni 7:48)
  • And finally this stirring declaration of Paul the Apostle: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.

Thanks for listening to MY STORY. I would love to hear yours, whether it was years ago or recently. Many of you are still seeking and I know YOU too, will find the answers~ as have I. Your journey is of importance and it starts HERE and NOW, today. Each day is a NEW day, bringing hope, determination, and CHANGE. We need to continue to learn and grow. Change and growth are both very healthy, but *remember* It will NOT be easy~Stay close to the Lord, having that of an open heart, and the spirit will guide you! I wish you all the best of luck on your journeys. Stay tuned for the rest of mine!


  1. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your story and your testimony with the world! This is what I admire about you, your heart is open and beautiful!!! Your testimony will strengthen others and bring us all closer to our Heavenly Father....you have great courage! Thank you for being a beautiful example of a "Sister in Zion."

  2. Thanks Jessy. That was beautiful and, as usual, I've learned a lot from what you have to say. We love you!

  3. Jess, I just read your story. You have such a beautiful way of writing, I could just feel the spirit as I was reading it. I love your story and I remember the excitement and happiness I felt the night you and Aaron told me you were getting baptized. I still remember walking around Walmart with my cell phone talking to you guys with tears in my eyes. I also remember the happiness I felt at your sealing, seeing you and Aaron together, with Wesley at the alter-all in white, I was so happy for you guys, it was one of the most special times I have had in the temple. I know what you mean about the void, though I have never heard of it in that way before! I sometimes feel it and it makes me realize I need to be doing better! You are such a great example and I love your sweet spirit and willingness to be so open. Love ya, Melissa.