Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Divinely Guided

It's so interesting the way things work out. Last summer I had a contract to move out for the fall and winter semesters. Two of my friends were going to be my roommates and it was going to be so great. A few weeks before the move-in date, I started to wonder if I should move out or not. I was starting to really like my ward and was sad at the thought of leaving it. One night after FHE I was chatting with some friends and they were trying to convince me to stay. Promising me that we would have so much fun and hang out all the time if I stayed. Also, money was a concern seeing as how I had just gotten home from a mission, I had no job, and I wasn't getting any financial aid of any sort. My friend who was convincing me to stay was the RS president at the time and told me that she wanted to call me to be in the presidency and would do so if I stayed. So, with all of that in mind accompanied by a strong feeling that I needed to stay in the ward, I stayed. I sold my contract and used the money I got back from the deposit and first and last months rent to pay for part of my tuition, which was a big blessing because I don't know how I would have paid for it otherwise.

8 months later, school is over, and I have caught bug to move out again. Yesterday I was very determined to find somewhere to live even if it was just for the summer. I want to be independent and I want to meet new people. However, at FHE last night I was extended a calling that I have been wanting for sometime now. I even went so far as to request it from one of the counselors of the bishopric. This particular counselor sat me down and told me that he didn't even have to suggest my name for the calling because it was already on the list. I was so excited! Now, I have made the decision to stay in the ward. I feel like God is giving me callings to keep me in this ward because deep down inside I feel like the right thing for me to do is stay put.

I don't know why. Last summer I didn't know why. It's crazy that you can feel guidance and direction in your life but for the longest time you don't understand why you have to do something. I did date someone this semester that actually was a great learning experience for me and helped me to adjust into the dating scene after the mission. It was a good thing. But it's over now, so why do I have to stay? That is the question. WHY?

It's like when Adam was instructed to build an altar and offer a sacrifice unto the Lord. He was asked why he did it, and his response was "I know not, save the Lord commanded me." (Moses 5:6) I feel the same way. I don't know why I need to stay where I am, but I know that it's the right place to be right now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Don't Judge Me

Right now I am reading this book called Fearless Dating. I am a little embarrassed to admit to that, but it has been really helpful for me so it's worth reading. It has helped me to see beyond the expectation of just getting asked out. I have noticed in my dating experience that I feel this need to be asked out constantly or my dating life is terrible. You see the girls who go on dates multiple times a week and you feel like there must be something wrong with you because you don't. This book however, takes a totally different approach. I just finished chapter two, so I'm not that far in yet, but the whole first chapter is on prayer and the second chapter is on confidence and trying to be your best self. At the end of each chapter there is a weekly goal and some space to write down your goal. The first chapter's goal was to pray for direction in your dating efforts and to write down the impressions that you get. The second weekly goal was to write down your strengths and then pick 4 characteristics that you would like to develop and how (that is as far as I've gotten).

It has been so uplifting for me. Instead of telling me what I should do to go on dates, it teaches me how to make myself happy and feel good. It all starts from within. That is what Captain Moroni teaches in the Book of Mormon. He says "remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also." (Alma 60:23) This pertains so much to a relationship. I need to take care of myself and make sure that I am confident, happy, and strong before I can expect to have a secure, happy, and strong relationship. I remember learning on a hike at young women's camp (of course) that your group is only as strong as it's weakest link.

In relationships the same principle applies. If you've got solid metal on one link, and a few strands of wire tied together on the next, no matter how badly you want it to, that chain will never be able to fulfill it's purpose. It will not be strong enough.

Working on yourself and becoming your best self is where your foundation starts. Then, after you've got yourself well built and stable, you can add on to that foundation another firm and stable person to create something powerful and secure. We have been given a wonderful promise from God to help us acheive this. ". . . my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27, also from the Book of Mormon)

So, if you feel like a weak link, as I think we all do at one point or another, that does not mean you are stuck that way forever. That is what is so great about being children of the ALMIGHTY God and beneficiaries of the atonement of Jesus Christ. They have a power beyond our own that will make up for our weaknesses if we ask for help and humbly seek it. They can make us strong.

It's all a process that begins with the small things. Taking one step at a time. I think that is how every goal works. If you acheive your goal the first time your try, I don't think it was much of a goal to begin with. The good things in life are the things worth working for. And when you set and pursue goals with an "eye of faith" you will know that Heavenly Father is on your side and that you CAN reach them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Freedom to Choose

It's a commonly taught doctrine in my church that each person is free to make their own choices. Every action we take is a direct result of a choice we make whether or not we are aware of it. They teach, and I believe it, that if we make good choices we will be happy and if we make poor choices we will have to deal with the consequences. It's a simple concept right?

Here is where it gets complicated. Another significant and character-defining doctrine I have been taught is that doing the will of God will always make us happier than doing merely what we want to do. Many times we think we know what is best for us when in actuality it may not be that good for us at all. I think you all know what I'm talking about.

So, here is my two cents. Something that I have been learning pretty much since I got home from my mission. Well, actually, let me start from there. As a missionary you learn how to follow the spirit. You learn to override your own methods about how to get the work done and to follow the guidance that Heavenly Father is giving you. Our way of doing things comes from our very limited and ignorant manner of thinking whereas God's ways generate from seeing the whole picture. As a missionary you learn to stop working as an individual and to start working as a team with God. And that is when you start to be successful.

Why then, after learning such a valuable lesson, did I come home and revert back to doing things my way? I'll tell you why, because it's hard to give up what you want and what you think is best. Especially when you REALLY want it and you think it's going to make you happy. That's the key right there. You THINK it's going to make you happy. You THINK you know. So what happens when you get that feeling inside telling you that it may not be right? The Holy Ghost who tells us all things that we should do. Do you listen to that prompting, or do you trust your own "knowledge?"

Now you are at a crossroad. Do you do what you want to do or do you trust that God is leading you in a direction to help you be happy? How can we be happy if we don't get what we want? Isn't that the big question?

This is what has been on my mind lately. Do I have enough faith to give up what I think would make me happy to do what God wants me to do? Is it really going to lead to something better? It seems most unpleasant and it is VERY difficult right now. Will it get better?

I do not doubt that at some point in every person's life they will ask themselves these same questions. Probably numerous times throughout their lifetime. These moments are when we learn what we are made of. How strong is your faith really? They are like our own personal Gethsemane's when we can follow the example of Jesus Christ by saying, "not my will, but thine be done." There will be "bitter cups" in our lives that we will be asked to drink. I don't think the road to happiness is decorated with flowers and sunshine. The rain falls on the good and the bad.

Now, circling back to the main point of this post. You are free to choose. You can fly solo and end up wherever your whims and fancies take you. Or, you can work as a team with God. Telling him what you want and where you'd like to go and asking him to help you get there while remaining open to changes where God might put a little something extra in there that is better than anything you would have dreamed up. Really, just stressing a little less and trusting a little more.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proversbs 3 : 5-6

Friday, April 2, 2010

I forgot it was Friday

So, I'm supposed to do something awesome (like all of my other blogs that are so awesome), but I really don't feel like it today. It hasn't been the best week.

I have learned a lot this week about myself, the nature of human beings, and what it means to give your whole heart.

I want to chat about these things for a moment.

I have realized that I live my life half heartedly. I am afraid of being rejected or getting let down, so instead of being passionate about things that matter (because I can get pretty passionate about dumb stuff like Harry Potter, Superman, and Spock) I am more indifferent and passive because the let down might be too much for me. Call it a lack of faith? Me too. That is where the "whole heart" business comes into play. If you want to find joy in life, you've got to give your whole heart to something or someone.

In a relationship it cannot work if you are not willing to give your whole heart. Because in every relationship you have you will need to resolve conflicts and disagreements. People do dumb stuff and you can't hold that against them because tomorrow you are doing to do something dumb too. So, if you haven't openly given your whole heart to someone, those problems will arise and your relationship will not last. When you are completely invested in someone you will do the small things to make it work that otherwise you wouldn't. You will be willing to sacrifice. Heavenly Father knows what he's talking about in having his children make commitments and enter into covenants. If they didn't, most of his children would not do the small, daily things necessary to be happy here on earth and after.

So, the question isn't, are we compatible? or Do we spend enough time together? Those are important, but the real question at hand is, "Am I willing to give him/her my whole heart?" and the next question is "Is he/she willing to give me his/her whole heart?" When you both can say yes to that answer with true intention to actually do it, that is when you know you've got a keeper.

Here is how I learned that. I like to think that I'm awesome and that I can control how I feel about anything. WRONG. I do not have that power. I think I'm probably worse at that than the average person. Each of us has needs and they are real and important. I thought that I could just stop myself from being bothered by something if I wanted to. WRONG! I have needs and they cannot be brushed aside. It is the same way with everyone. Don't deny yourself of what you need. That is no way to be happy in life.

Relating this to our whole heartedness I have realized an amazing thing. When you have given your whole heart to someone you will be willing to do your best to fulfill his/her needs. And they will do the same for you. That is why everything hinges on that. If you can't give your whole heart and allow another to give you theirs, it cannot work out. It will be too hard and you will be unhappy.

"Thou shalt love they wife(husband) with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."
D&C 42:22

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