Monday, May 30, 2011

Anxious-Nervous or Anxious-Excited?

I can't find the direct quote, unfortunately, but the post title refers to a question asked in the 1998 Parent Trap movie.

I'm leaving for Austria in less than 3 weeks. AHHHH!!! I'm not sure what to think, feel, or expect. I've wanted my whole life to travel to Europe, and I'm finally getting the chance. I'm going with people I don't know, to a place where I don't speak the language, living with a native host family, taking classes at a foreign university, traveling around a large city and using currency I'm unfamiliar with... It's tempting to be scared!

What's it called when you're thinking about your thought process - metacognition? It's a tricky process to narrate. I thought about the things that are intimidating and scary about this trip, and I thought about what I do know. Yes, there are things that could and probably will be hard, but the things that I am sure of make up for the uncertainties. No matter whether my fears are fulfilled or not, I know that Heavenly Father loves me, and that He is always in control; He won't give me any hardship that I can't endure without His help. As I remembered that, it was miraculous how quickly my fears were soothed. The unknowns are still unknown and yet to be experienced, but when I choose to trust God and have faith, the fear goes away. Faith and fear cannot coexist in the same mind. Here's a great scripture:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7 
(33) Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also receive good for your reward. (34) Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. (35) Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. (36) Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (37) Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
Doctrine and Covenants 6:33-37 
Beautiful and true. Amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

"I See the Light"

I've been in a thoughtful and occasionally sappy mood today. My roommate is getting hitched! So I was thinking about this song from Disney's movie Tangled (it ties for my favorite movie ever) and some of its possible applications.

Here's the lyrics, courtesy of the Sweets Lyrics website
All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here, blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be

And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were
Now she's here shining in the starlight
Now she's here, suddenly I know
If she's here it's crystal clear
I'm where I'm meant to go


Spiritual application: I wonder if that's kinda like what getting to heaven will be like. Here, in this part of life on earth, we largely walk by the light of faith; and faith gets us through and shapes who we become. But by comparison, in heaven it will all be there, plain to see. I imagine that some things will make more sense in that light, or from that perspective. I bet it will feel "warm and real and bright", and I'm guessing that heaven will have a very familiar feel about it. Light is such a fantastic analogy in the gospel: when we have light, we can see and understand what's around us. Now, this all said, I don't think that heaven will necessarily feel like another world; I believe that we can cultivate the light we have in our lives to the point where we can get very close to what we'll find there. 

..."other" application: I can't wait to be in love with someone forever! Haha. I do think that the kind of person I want to marry is someone who is my "other half," who makes my life more full, complete, and whole by being in it. Someone who helps me to see the full view and thus brings more light into my life. My most important relationship is with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I want a husband who is the same way, because that will bring us closer together :) 

Anyway, I really like this song, so I thought I'd share it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Discernment and Decision

This is a bit of an extension of the feelings I had last night.

Today was a real struggle. I had lots of fears going through my head, chilling my heart, and making it hard to choose happiness. Isn't it just deluding myself if I move past the sorrow? Isn't it better to be "realistic" instead of "idealistic"?

There's a quote I found from C.S. Lewis several months ago that I really like. It reads,
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means--the only complete realist.       
(p. 108 of The Infinite Atonement, by Tad R. Callister)
While this quote is very striking and insightful, it wasn't what I was thinking of earlier. My thoughts were, "I know that faith and obedience are the answer that will bring me peace... But right now I'm scared! I don't want to be passive - I want to be either a passionate, avenging angel or I want to totally withdraw myself for the fear of loss that comes with getting attached. I'm searching for something to do, but I feel helpless." I was just feeling down and downer, and going nowhere good.

Then, I thought about my actual thought process. Here are some things I know:

- Heavenly Father is always encouraging. He has faith in who I am and who I can be, and that's why He's given me this particular cocktail of trials and experiences - because it's how I can grow the most, do the most good, and be happiest.
- Satan is the father of lies; a deceiver. He wants me to give up, give in to despair, stop trying, and stop coming closer to God. He is the one who makes me doubt my ability to do good and make a difference.

When you put my feelings in that context... It makes it easier to know what to do with them.

Like I've said in past posts, while I might not have the absolute assurance and concrete answers to my problems that I would like to have, I do have enough to keep moving forward, and I can rely on faith to fill in the gaps. My trials aren't going away... But this is also what I know:

- Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. He suffered not only for my sins, but He experienced every pain I'll ever go through so that I can have a friend who understands me perfectly.
- Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are omnipotent and omniscient - they're all-powerful and they know everything - including and especially everything about me. They also love me more than I can comprehend (and for reasons that likewise are currently incomprehensible). Because of this love, ability, knowledge and understanding, and I can trust them with anything. Including my life, my dreams, and people I love.

If I've got those things down, everything else naturally falls into place. That's what faith is for - it fills in those unknown gaps with trust based on what you already know. So I'm taking a deep breath... and keeping on one baby step (or leap) at a time.


Loving people gives them so much more power to hurt you.

I'm tired of that pain, because it's a new, fresh, painful hurt every time, and I want to stop hurting.

But yet... God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

And I know that Heavenly Father is the one who makes all happiness possible, because when I follow the commandments, that is what I experience. That's what I know.

The choice seems obvious, but it's so hard. I have to keep loving people, even though I know they'll hurt me like nothing else. I have to exercise faith that romantic love will pan out; I have to exercise faith that God and love are stronger than Satan's power in a family; I have to exercise faith and trust that God loves me enough to let me hurt for a while so that I can learn and grow. Faith requires consequent action to be of any real efficacy.

I guess it really does take faith to love.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cute Music

I like this song, and this group, "He is We". They have some sweet songs and some funny songs. This is a sweet one :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Summertime Bliss

     I'm home from work. It feels so good to have my shoes off and trade jeans for shorts.

     I lay on my bed and close my eyes. The window is open, and a breeze whispers across my face and smooths over my skin. It's in the 70s outside in the late afternoon, and it's warm inside the apartment.

     I have 40 minutes before I need to be anywhere. So I relax and enjoy the moment, comfortably resting my head on the crook of my arm. I'm listening to "Replay" (Iyaz), "Just A Dream" (Nelly) and "Marry You" (Bruno Mars) on Itunes, and thinking about the weekend - about work, and hiking, and dancing and friends.

     Smiling, I'm glad it's summer. Because the weather is crazy, it's going to get down to the 50s on Monday, but right now, it's beautiful. I'm going to soak it in while it's here, letting the warmth and stress-lessness seep into my bones so I have something to look back on when the cold and stress return. Summers make me glad to be alive and young :) 

     Warm sun. Beautiful, fragrant blossoms on trees and bushes. Rugged beckoning mountains. Cool, sparkling water. Reverent sunsets. Sunrises full of promise and potential. Nights filled with dreams - awake and asleep - and days with honest sweat. Life is truly beautiful, and a magnificent gift (on good and bad days).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How Faith Helps Us Grow

I mentioned last month in a post a time when I was stressed and asked for a priesthood blessing. There was a cool lesson I learned with it that I shared a few days later in my ward (local church congregation) and with my family (via email).

One of the worries/fears that triggered my asking for a priesthood blessing was the fear of inadequacy - that I won't be good enough to pass all the tests in life. I wanted reassurance that "Yes - you can do it and you will be successful." Instead, I got some other wonderful blessings... but no direct answer like I was looking for. As I meditated on it for a while, I realized that while I didn't get the answer I wanted, I got an answer, and it was the one I needed.

In the blessing, I was told to rely on Heavenly Father with the simple faith that I know naturally and instinctively to act on. It's taken time to make faith a natural instinct for me - I hadn't even realized it was one (and that said, it's still a struggle sometimes) - but faith is the answer to my question "Can I make it?"

How can I grow in life unless I'm challenged? If I have all the answers, then life would be a breeze without exerting much effort on my part, and that would kind of defeat the purpose of life. Making decisions and acting on them are a significant factor in determining who I am. This life that we have has been given is a gift, and is given to us so that we may become something. Life is a long process of development. Why would a loving God take away from me the chance to develop my faith and become a stronger, deeper person?

I'm glad that Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves, and that He gives the best gifts (Luke 11:11, 13). He knows that I would benefit more from an answer of "faith" than an answer of "yes." He is always ready and waiting to give us more gifts and more knowledge - a lot of times, He's just waiting for us to ask and put some effort in! Because I know these things (and because I know about the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation/Happiness), I can move forward with peace, confidence, and happiness as I exercise my faith and trust my life in God's hands.