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Lean Into the Longing: Developing a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ

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On a recent Sunday evening, I found myself needing to make some space for the Savior. The day had been filled with good things, church meetings and calling assignments, but I sought simplicity. Quiet.

The sun had set, but the weather was still perfect. Slightly crisp, with crunchy fall leaves on the ground. I walked up and down my street, back and forth, as I listened to some of my favorite Sunday songs. I pondered on the thoughts I’d had that day. As a Relief Society Presidency, we’d asked our sisters what topics they most wanted to talk about and discuss in our meetings. Overwhelmingly, they wrote down that they wanted to know how to develop a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I could relate. I looked up at the just-changing leaves through the streetlamps and thought about how far from the Savior I feel sometimes and how frustrated I get when my best efforts don’t seem to bring us closer together. I thought…

I want to pray and have it feel like a conversation.

I want to cry and be comforted.

I want to be protected and taught.

I want to laugh with you.

I want to hear Your voice. I want to be held in Your arms.

I want to be with You.

But I’m not.

Sometimes, I feel like all the things I cherish most about my relationships on earth are so hard to experience with Christ because He isn’t physically in my presence. I know we can experience Him. I know what it’s like to feel His love and guidance. I know by walking more purposefully along the covenant path, we can develop a deeper relationship with our Savior.

But, that night, I was filled with longing. I longed to be with Jesus and felt a keen sense of our separation. It’s interesting what happened next.

As I sat in those feelings and thought of all those things I wanted, I suddenly felt a reply in my heart.

Don’t you think I want all of those things too?

It wasn’t a rebuke, chiding me for not doing enough or falling short. He wasn’t saying if only I was better I could be closer to Him (no matter how true that may or may not be.) It was the same feeling of longing. I felt like Christ was telling me He missed me too.

At that moment, I realized that sometimes we underestimate the purpose and reality of the veil. We may inadvertently think if we check all the boxes, we can enjoy the sort of felicity with Christ that is set apart for another season of our eternal existence. As I leaned into this longing, my expectations about what our relationship will look like through this separation became more clear.

I can learn about Christ and how He works, striving to develop that nature in myself. I will deepen our relationship as I discover Him in His holy works.

I can use my agency to align my will with His as I strive to keep my covenants. I will deepen our relationship because I will begin to make the sorts of choices He would make.

I can be kind and patient with myself as I work to consecrate my life to Him. I will deepen our relationship when I uncover sparks of my own divine identity rather than crushing them with shame.

I can lean into my longing instead of fighting the natural distance between us necessitated by this mortal experience. I can look at the longing I have for Christ as a sign that I know exactly where I belong—with Him.

Artwork by Yongsung Kim
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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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