Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chapter 3: Tunnel Vision

Have you ever had those moments provided you to see a glimpse of your futures potential? Its almost like being handed a kaleidoscope but instead of trying to make out what your seeing through unclear fragments, you see with pristine vision and knowledge of what lies ahead for you? Anyone? I like referring to them as tunnel vision, since you only get a peek at your potential but only through a long dark tunnel, closing you off from the knowledge of your long, unmarked journey on how you actually got there. I only get them on very special occasions. The first one that I can actually remember was around the time I got my patriarchal blessing. It had mentioned some elaborate details about my future husband and kids. That's when it happened. I saw Jason Miller, (my boyfriend at the time of the blessing) in a nice kitchen leaning over the counter and lovingly teasing his children as fathers often do. It was only a snapshot that lasted a second. Nowhere in my blessing did it explain that scenario but there it was. It was so powerful and so precise that I knew it was meant for me to see. It was Jason, my husband for many years at that point teasing our children in our kitchen. There was no denying it, that was tunnel vision.

I have had a few more fun tunnel vision scenarios pop up at times I now see as critical times when the Lord knew I needed them to keep me following the right bread crumb path he had laid out for me to attain my future he had planned. I have actually passed and experienced only one tunnel vision so far that I had received a year or so before the actual event happened. It was exactly the same as I had seen and felt the year prior. That's why I believe in them so strongly.  All the others have been too far in the future to compare them too. So I wait. 

(Side note: Heavenly Father reveals personal things in very distinct ways, personally altered for that particular individual. This is just one way he does for me.)

One of my favorite tunnel visions was the confirmation of my fasting and praying as I was trying to know if I should marry Jason. I can't even explain how amazing that particular tunnel vision was. It was a much more detailed one then I had ever been given before and for the first time in receiving them, it showed just a peek of our future in the eternities. Ill keep the cute details for myself with this one since I hold this one the most sacred.

These tunnel visions only happen once in a blue moon and I only mention their existence because as I was handed the new and much more emotionally draining task from Heavenly Father in continuing my new instruction manual. I was caught for a time in utter confusion on what I needed to actually do in order to accomplish the new task, all while struggling with the question "Why?" the decision even had to be made. Like other tunnel vision scenarios before, they came at the most critical time when I needed them the most to help me visualize what was to come and to motivate me to make the right steps in getting to that end point. I was so grateful to have been given one at this particular crossroad.

It was in Elder David A. Bednar's talk "Come and See" where I found something incredible. Jason had been bugging me for a week or so to read it since it was one he recently listened to and loved and knew that I would love as well. I wanted to read it but for the life of me could never remember what the title name was when I actually found the time to sit down to read. Finally after a week or so of asking me if I ever read it, and him receiving the same pathetic answer, he finally pulled it up on his phone as we were laying in bed one night. As I sat there listening to the audio recording of the talk, something hit me strong. A story Bednar was telling, about his 2 young sons at the time who were both playing out in the yard. The younger of the brothers got scratched and was crying. The older brother took immediate action to making his wound feel better. He ran his younger brother inside, pulled a chair up to the medical supply cabinet and started cleaning the wound and dressing it with far too much ointment and plenty of bandages to spare. Once the scratch was cleaned and taken care of, Elder Bednar and his wife (who were observing from a distance to see if the boys had learned all they had been taught about brotherly kindness), noticed something peculiar. Once the younger boy got down from the counter, he took the remaining ointment and band aids outside to his friends and started addressing their wound free arms. Bednar continues the talk with how, as members of this church, we want to share with everyone the healing power we experience in our lives with the atonement and living the gospel to its fullest. Much like the ointment and band aids the little boy had dressed on his wound, making it feel better and soon be able to heal, the atonement acts as the same treatment but to much larger, spiritual wounds. This story struck me hard, not only because I can relate to having two young boys, who given a chance would make a mess in the kitchen with all kinds of ointment and ninja turtle band aids, whether addressing a wound or not, but that the story taught me something I had missed altogether about how the atonement can cleanse all in any situation they may face in their life. It was then I realized something amazing. I know it was blatantly obvious to most but to me it was not. I realized during the talk that the atonement wasn't there for just sinners but for those that had been destroyed due to others sins. It was the biggest *DUH* moment for me but the most spiritually uplifting one. I realized then that Heavenly Father was giving me more then what I was allowing myself to live with. My eyes were being opened to a whole new level of how big my bloom actually would be...

I then knew what the whole purpose of the instruction manual was actually for! It was huge! A whole lot bigger then I thought it was meant for in providing me the comparatively small peace I was looking for to escape the chaos I had rumbling around in my soul weeks prior. Little did I know what was actually brewing in Heavenly Fathers plans for me. It was intended for a personally scripted, easily understandable and accomplish-able instruction manual to the Atonement. The Atonement! Of all things I could have guessed it was being written for, the huge bomb of the Atonement was unfortunately not in my line of sight as possibilities!! But there it was, the actual reason for the manuals existence! A whole lot more chaos was raging in my soul that had planted itself there for a much longer time, with much deeper, damaging roots and he was going to attack THAT turmoil then the measly stuff about a house, car, beds etc... Pssh! Thats nothing. I can't even tell you how excited I was to know that I was about to embark on a HUGE journey of not only coming to a full understanding of the Atonement and how it really works, but to apply it fully to my life. All the horrifying things I went through in my life and all the trauma and toxic side effects it all caused in my life (PTSD, trichotrillomania, extreme panic attacks, anger, self doubt, self hate, self destruction, heavy and powerful memories that drag me down when they resurface on the occasion and many more) ALL will be made clean. Becoming uprooted and burned for the first time since they started to root into my daily routine around the age of 7. I never thought anything in the world could be powerful enough to even put a bandage on top of any of the side effects, let alone clear them out entirely. But in that small story of the 2 young brothers I started to come to a realization that there was one thing that WAS that powerful and so much more.

It talks about how the atonement will be a part of my life in my patriarchal blessing. The only problem I kept running into when reading my blessing from time to time was that I was not making gigantic mistakes in my life (something I thought the full potential of the atonement was strictly for... don't judge). For the most part (with the exception of small, everyday stupid "im human" sins I had under my belt). I really didn't have any gigantic, blaring siren sins that I needed the full power of the atonement for, to change my life around for the better. I really was only utilizing the basics and going through the motions of it for basic sins that everyone makes. I felt lost as to how the atonement would make such a huge impact on my life if I wasn't making a huge impact to use its full capacity. I freaked myself out thinking that my future held a dark secret that I would do something so horribly wrong that then I would need the full atonement for.... I really freaked out actually. haha

It was around the same time of me pondering the amazing "new to me" information about the atonement that a short but sweet tunnel vision came about. It was me, doing everyday things, playing with the kids, cleaning the house, talking with Jason etc... But there was something different about me. Something much lighter about my aura. I seemed free and un-burdened. I realized I was living life in full capacity of the happiness and peace that the atonement provided me because I choose to use it fully in healing all the hurt and trauma I had once carried. In the tunnel vision, I noticed that I had long healthy eyelashes and actual eyebrows with no picked out spots which meant my trichotillomania was healed, something that literally is nearly impossible to do. I could feel that my PTSD was healed and there no longer was any internal turmoil constantly raging in my soul. I was in full functioning order providing a happy fulfilling life for not only myself, but for my kids and husband. No longer was I dragging around a couple of gigantic, heavy ball and chains that were welded to my ankles for the nearly 20+ years I had carried them for prior. Those had vanished and I was free. 

I had successfully utilized all that I had learned from my instruction manual like it was second nature to me. It was an amazing thing to see and feel. Once the tunnel vision faded I heard a small voice tell me that there was a reason I needed to consider a very hard decision I was asked to consider before the talk or vision were given to me. I was told that there was a way for me to actually become that Melissa I saw and have always longed for. It would require a huge sacrifice however since in order to fully focus on the pristine process I had laid out in front of me, I needed to rid my life of all outside source distractions. I felt that if I had any distractions at all (outside of my small family dynamic of course), then my mind would not have full capacity to really allow all the teachings that would come to fully sink in and be able to plant its self in my life and grow. Outside distractions would cause damage if I continued in them and I had no room for damage. With that new guided and comforting instruction I knew fully that the newest task I had been struggling with had its final answer. I needed to let my passion for photography go completely. 

I knew why I was being asked to let it go. It was the one big distraction I had in my life since my business was now state recognized in 2 different states. This meant my clientele had my schedule packed full of sessions. Even putting a limit on the amount of sessions I accept a month was going to take me away from the most important lesson I had waiting for me. After I was asked to give up photography, I really didn't know what to think. Part of me was OK with it since I could just pick it back up again if I needed/wanted but the other part of me cried a lot. I love photography. I love the way I see the worlds natural beauty when scouting for new locations. I love the people I meet, the lives I change and the amazing spirit I capture with each new family or wedding picture. I love the constant learning curve it provides making it never get boring. I loved that my talent was being recognized and loved by many. I couldn't just drop it all, could I? It was then I realized that the art behind the photography was not fully the distraction He was referring to, it was the stresses I get bogged down with of the "behind the scenes" quirks all photographers have to deal with. The client's specific requests, complaints, and occasionally unrealistic expectations on how we function or should make our edits look. Those and many more stersses would weigh me down again if I ever got back into photography in the future. I understood that the scariest most permanent decision in this newest request was then being asked. I was feeling that I needed to sell all of my photography gear... My beloved camera and all off camera lighting equipment... I sat on that one for the longest time, going back and forth on if I could actually follow through with it. Selling everything would clearly make it all permanent and very very real. What would I tell my devoted clients? It was all terrifying. But after hearing and being inspired by the talk and seeing the amazing tunnel vision, I knew what I needed/wanted to do. My mind was made up and I was taking action.

I figured the real test was if Heavenly Father would actually sell my camera this time without Breaking it!!! haha I smirked very sarcastically and said out loud in my living room after my final decision was made and I had already posted my camera for sale. I said to Heavenly Father mostly jokingly, "If you break my camera again after getting a buyer, so help me I will never post it ever again no matter what I'm asked! You prove to me this is suppose to happen by selling my camera ASAP with NO malfunctions, then I will be convinced and happy to post everything else." ha!. I sold the camera in a matter of days with no glitches, absolutely problem free and very close to my asking price. I got his point loud and clear after that and followed through with my end of the deal and posted all of the equipment. Every thing sold in a matter of a week or so (except 3 items but I believe the income from those sales will be needed later so they are on standby for now). 

After my camera sold, ill admit I cried. It was a mixed emotions cry. I was sad to see it go along with my talent but I was happy to start and really commit to the power of the atonement I know will have in my life. It's something I have wanted far longer and with greater desire then a camera and photography talent. I was never left without comfort. 

There was no question in my mind as to why, after feeling so right about selling all that junk to afford the beds would I actually come up short. Allowing Heavenly Father to blaze a path to my next task. The immediately obvious blessing in selling my camera gear was the dollar amount I could put towards the beds. But the intended blessing went far deeper then that. The real blessing behind selling it was the degree of healing and blooming I would be given because of the sacrifice. Who wouldn't be ecstatic for that promise!?


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