Friday, October 13, 2023

Stumbling Upward

I've mentioned in other posts that being on this journey we have met some unsavory folks who, when I met them at the time, I told myself that this path requires you to feel uncomfortable and break down barriers that come from being a "safe" and "faithful Mormon". I was deceived, or rather I was hurt by the actions of people more than once and each time I vowed never to let it happen again.

I strongly dislike being duped. I strongly dislike being deceived. I strongly dislike "getting it wrong". I hate getting hurt.

I'm pretty sure you do too. 

I tried hard to make sure I wouldn't "get deceived" again. I took body language classes and tried to learn the scriptures better to shore up any loose ends that would cause me to "get it wrong" in the future. I would look into peoples eyes in an attempt to see what I could see and I prayed for discernment and still..."bad things" seemed to come my way as a result of allowing this person into my life.

As I wrote in another post about Tim Ballard - I encouraged you to, "use discernment!!!" (and basically I wanted you come to the same conclusion that I did). I'll share something about my personality which is a major failing: I don't hide what I'm thinking - good or bad thoughts. I reveal almost everything about myself most of the time. With those I love I share everything and withhold nothing. It gives much for people to pick on. I have been hurt deeply by some who were closest to me because of this. It also means I may say something that is wrong because I think out loud.

When the church came out against Tim Ballard, I jumped on board in my typical personality of defending those I care about. Tim and his wife Katherine showed my family incredible kindness that went above and beyond. And so - if I care about you - I will fight for you. I put myself out there in a blog post and then as the weeks have gone on and the evidence against Tim has piled higher and higher I was in denial of it all. Today - I still don't know the answer of what is true and what isn't (update 11/5/23 - I read the court filings. It's very clear Tim Ballard was deceiving the masses. You can read it here but I don't advise it as it is disgusting in every way). I told you to use discernment when it came to Tim and I found I didn't entirely know all that discernment entails. I still don't. But I'm asking the Lord to teach me and I'm trusting in Him. 

For the last few years I have asked the Lord to give me a word for the year. This year He gave me the word: Discernment. I was SO jazzed. I naively thought that meant the Lord would likely bless me with the gift and I wouldn't be deceived again (or greatly lessen the chance of it happening). Side note: I've learned (and keep forgetting) that it is so important to ask the Lord questions when you hear something. Don't ever assume you know who it came from and that you know what it I did. 

Well, one thing after another led me to lay awake at nights asking myself, "What IS discernment? How do I keep getting it wrong? What am I to do?!"

On my quest for greater understanding I've asked the Lord to teach me and I've felt Him encouraging me to ask a few people to share their thoughts. I have done so and I hope what I write helps you in some way. Thank you for reading my thoughts, by the way. Your attention is precious so the fact that you would come here is amazing. 


1. People are messy. What a person was five years, two years ago, a month ago doesn't mean they are the same person today. Is not the act of laying down each night a symbol of death and each morning a resurrection? Can a person not change from day to day, for good or for ill?

2. Sometimes when we see another person we actually see our own hearts reflected back at us. This can be good and bad. Sometimes our biases and past experiences cause us to mis-judge or mis-discern the situation. It is important to ask the Lord to help you remove your desires and emotions so that you can know His will.

3. Jesus called Judas into the 12 apostles. And Jesus washed Judas' feet along with the other 11. As He washed Judas' feet - He knew Judas would betray Him. So Jesus had discernment, but it didn't mean He never had to bring someone who would betray him into His inner circle. 

4. Discernment and being deceived are two different things.  

I always thought that if I had discernment I would stop making "mistakes". I'd finally, "get it right!" And I would be leveling up in my journey towards sainthood. 

Or something like that. 

I imagined that discernment meant I would always have holy people in my life and I would never make a bad investment spiritually or materially. I had grandiose imaginings and I never bothered to slow down and ask the Lord to teach me what discernment really means...until now. And maybe that was His plan for me all along. 

Ruth's pillar of salt moment: Discernment, in my opinion, is so much easier when you're "on the covenant path" i.e. paying tithing and checking all the Mormon boxes. You just go to church a couple hours a week and you pay your dues and you do what you're asked in your callings and then you're guaranteed a Celestial life. Once you step off that path, or rather, once you step ON the path back to the Tree of Life (Jesus) there are mists of darkness that rise up to make you doubt everything and anything to get you to let go of the iron rod (direct connection to the Spirit of the Lord). It was so much easier when I was asleep. My children's path was "secure" (I know, I know, just let me vent already). It didn't require me to stretch myself to discern and to pray and to discern again and to pray again. 

While I am still learning from the Lord what discernment means, I understand now that if I have discernment it does not mean that I won't suffer because of the actions and choices of another. I may have to suffer because of what I need to learn so I can progress to where I want to be. What if I drew these people into my life for my growth? Or what if I allowed them to draw me into their life so I could bless them in some way or teach them something? Or a little of both...

When I look back at the unsavory characters I brought into the deepest parts of my heart, and was betrayed, I also see the unfathomable connections or lessons or gifts I obtained as a result of that person coming into my life. And, when no gift or lesson has yet revealed itself -  I wonder if that person perhaps needed me or my family in their life to show them something they needed to know or learn. And though it came at the cost of my heart and mind and sometimes with sums of money or the offering of my home or property for extended periods of time, it was frequently something my husband and I prayed about and felt to move forward with. And maybe I didn't "get it wrong" after all.

Now look, I don't want to re-write my past and be all like, "Wow! I never made a mistake! It was all meant to be for my growth!" and thereby cognitive dissonance myself into perfection. 


When you do your very best to keep the Spirit of the Lord with you and when you Seek His Will above ALL else and you pray to not be deceived it doesn't mean you will always interact with the holiest of people. I have this image in my mind that often pops up. It presents itself as a video game that I've never seen and I am not skilled at video games so it's interesting this is what I see. But I see the character of the video game on a quest and they get "off course" by a series of events. Being off course they find themselves in the forest and, not knowing which way to go, end up wandering for hours which eventually causes them to contemplate just giving up on the game. As they contemplate the absurdity of the game - they have a chance meeting with a scary old woman who shows a way out and also offers them a piece of knowledge that later comes to save their life when they are in a perilous situation down the road. Had they not met that unsavory old woman, they would have surely perished. But it was the very thing they needed to do to progress and "level up".

I was reading a blog post recently, also about discernment, that wrote a Joseph Smith quote in a new way (spacing it differently) and so it caught my eye. Here is the quote:

The things of God
   are of deep import; and

(1) time, and

(2) experience, and

 (3) careful and
(4) ponderous and

(5) solemn thoughts

   can only find them out.
   Thy mind, O man!
   if thou wilt lead a soul
   unto salvation, must

(6) stretch as high
     as the utmost heavens, and

(7) search into and

 (8) contemplate the darkest abyss,
     and the broad expanse of eternity.

(Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:295–96)

What caught my eye were the words: time and experience. 

I have had a fair amount of time and experience these last 13 years. And the Lord, for the last two years, until this one, told me to: REST.

Matthew 11:
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Taking His yolk...learning of Him i.e.: careful, solemn, and ponderous thoughts about what just happened. 

If we are to have discernment then a big factor will be time...and experience

And after that? 

Careful, solemn, and ponderous thoughts. Stretch high, search into, and contemplate things you never imagined and some things you never wanted to know. 

D&C 52:
14 And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations—

15 Wherefore he that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.

16 He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.

17 And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you.

What does it mean to obey the Lord's ordinances? In the church we are taught that ordinances are rituals we need to do to get to heaven. But the word ordinance means: Order or process. In the Bible it means, "anything declared right". 

Ordinance, broken down means: 

Obtaining and doing the Lords will! 

(For more discussion on ordinances you can refer to this blog, here.)

The Lord has given us a pattern that we won't be deceived (D&C 52). But it doesn't mean you won't avoid, "time and experience" with things. Yes, some people are actively choosing to do things that they believe are "the Lord's will" and they are mistaking their own voice, or the voice of a familiar spirit, for His voice. But only time and experience and careful, solemn, and ponderous thought will find it out for them. And for you. And for me. 

D&C 46:
26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.

27 And...unto such as God shall appoint ...are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.

33 And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen. 

1 Kings 3:

9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

The Lord has promised me that those who seek Him with all their hearts, shall find Him. May I ever find Him again and again as I, to quote Jordan Peterson, stumble upward toward the Light.