Monday, September 6, 2010

Thoughts from a Sunday Afternoon

Cardigans and scarves are some of my favorite articles of clothing, especially in the fall. I just get excited about them.

I wanted to post some thoughts on here that I had while at church yesterday. They are about "becoming" and "hope."

I noted that, especially in the light of my experience at the temple, the small things we are asked to do as members of the LDS church to bring us closer to Christ are mutually supportive: when I studied the scriptures before going in the temple, I had a deeper feeling of reverence and worship when I went in. When I went to the temple with that Spirit, it made it easier for me to want to read my scriptures later. When I do all of these things, it makes my prayers more meaningful and more like a two-way conversation with heaven. Having this Spirit (from doing the little things) makes me feel more whole and complete. I love that feeling, because it just feels so good and so right. This relates to my little tourist analogy, with three self-evaluating questions: Am I a tourist in the kingdom of God? (Going to all the popular sites, taking pictures, sampling the food during a short visit before returning home). Am I a student on a study abroad in the kingdom of God? (Living there for a while, experiencing the culture, and learning about it, but intending to return home after a semester or two). Or am I actively seeking to become a naturalized citizen in the kingdom of God? (becoming a member of the community, invested in its success, enjoying the rights and privileges available after a lot of hard work to get there). It's one thing to go through the actions like a checklist to say: baptism? check; full tithe-payer? check; full-time mission? check; temple marriage? check. Those are all good things that should be done, but that's not all that's required if we want all of the blessings available to those who follow Christ. If we want to become as He is, we need to do all the little things, forming habits and forming character, that lead us to become as He is. Faith, hope, charity, patience, long-suffering, loyalty, forgiveness, and other such traits are qualities that we need to develop in ourselves (with Christ's help) in order to qualify ourselves (with grace, after all that we can do - 2 Nephi 25:23; James 2:14-26). It's not enough to be a tourist - our goal should be to become citizens in Christ's kingdom.

With regards to hope, I found it particularly relevant in dating. As a friend of mine once said, "It takes faith to put your head back on the chopping block of dating." It gets really discouraging sometimes! To like someone, to get excited when you think you see a positive sign, to hope that they could at least be interested in you as a friend, and then to get shot down when they tell you that they just don't feel the same way. When that happens over and over, it feels like it's never going to work out. I tried a couple times to get myself to stop having crushes on guys at all... That didn't last very long (thank you, biology). What do you do when you feel like hope just leads to hurt? I learned that hope is inseparably connected to faith - you can't really have one without the other. God has promised that the faithful will receive every blessing entitled to them through their righteousness, if not in this life, then in eternity. I have received that promise for myself that I will find and marry a righteous spouse and have a family. But right now, I'm single. It takes faith to believe that God's promises will all be fulfilled (look at Abraham, who was promised to be a "father of many nations", and who didn't have offspring until after he was 100 years old. Talk about faithfully waiting for promised blessings). When you have that faith though, that God will follow through on His word, in His own time, it makes it easier to have forward-looking hope; you can move on and keep going instead of sitting down in despair and wallowing and complaining about how much life sucks right now. Having faith and hope gives you an eternal perspective that allows you to see past the momentary disappointments of today and look towards the promised blessings that are sure to come. I know that someday, if I keep doing all that I can and if I keep Christ as my first priority, I'll meet someone and he'll become my best friend (who I am insanely attracted to), and we'll be able to get married and sealed together as a family in God's holy temple.

Haha, one thing that I've discovered to be a huge help in dating and relationships with other people - being happy makes a huge difference! People are drawn to optimism, and happy people help others to feel good about themselves. When I started to make a conscious effort in choosing to be happy, I was better able to serve other people (giving someone a smile and expressing interest in them go a long way in making someone's day. Everyone wants to feel cared about) and I felt better about my own life. It is truly amazing the difference it has made; even my mother admitted this week that I've come a long way since I was in high school (which I am very thankful for). Life is just better when you're happy :)

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