So... Here we go. Life is crazy. I have so much to say and so little, where to begin?
Well I just got back from the temple. It just so happens that the Jordan River temple is closed on Mondays, in case y'all were wondering. But we went to breakfast anyway. And I feel pretty good at life. We concluded that the Lord will bless us for our willingness to serve.
Honestly He blesses us for stupider reasons than that..
Sometimes He blesses us for NO reason.
Except that He loves us.
My parents are really good examples that way. It's no secret that I'm the biggest spoiled brat in the universe. And sometimes (okay, I'll admit it) I feel like I deserve it or I'm entitled to it or something. Pride is probably my biggest temptation. But I was headed in a completely different direction with this. What I was going to say is that my parents help me out and support me even when I don't deserve it! They do it because they love me. And because they give me tons of credit for the good things I do, and forgive me when I make mistakes. Yep, I even have amazing parents, it doesn't get much more spoiled rotten than me.
So I went on tour this week. It was quite a trip. When it's all said and done it feels like the shortest four days of your life. But when you're in the moment, it feels like you're destined to live on a bus with your friends for the rest of eternity. When it's over, you've changed. Whether you like it or not you're a different person now. And you have to discover and cope with the feelings of a new being. Things change. I am one of those things.
Elder Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy gave a talk just last week in General Conference about "getting on with our lives." He taught four ways of preparing for inevitable change in our lives:
1. Follow the prophets
2. Keep an eternal perspective
3. Have faith
4. Be of good cheer
If I may, I want to add to that list:
5. Put the gospel first in all things
6. Be grateful
I had another experience with tour that helped me learn, grow, and build my testimony. For months beforehand I was nervous to go on tour. The reasons why are too numerous to explain in great detail. One major stressor was simply the idea of being around so many people for so long. So many friendships and relationships to keep intact all at once is a great challenge for me! I was sure there would be teenage "drama" and plenty of contention and disagreements. I knew it would be a struggle for me to be surrounded by my peers for four full days. Nonetheless, I had a firm determination to enjoy myself. I was not going to hold back and let my anxieties stand in the way of the fun I could be having! I knew that to accomplish this, I would need strength beyond my own.
I can say sincerely that I was praying for weeks, maybe even a month in advance to be able to have a great experience on tour. And for strength for the entire month of April. Maybe I was a little paranoid, but I needed to prepare myself. From the moment I sat down on the bus, I could feel that strength pouring into me. Tour was full of great experiences, and trying ones, but through it all that strength remained. It was inside of me, but it was not mine. From somewhere beyond myself, I was being lifted and comforted through all emotional turmoil. From somewhere beyond myself, I found strength.
Now don't get me wrong. When I'm writing I tend to intensely dramatize things. That's just my style. And it wasn't like when I was on tour I was floating on some cloud ten feet off the ground. I didn't even recognize this "inner strength" I had found until the the third of four days! Sure I read my scriptures every night and tried to remember to pray, but it would be dishonest of me to pretend like I didn't have other things on my mind most of the time. How could I not with Prince Studmuffin hanging around?
Obviously living the gospel isn't about being a saint. Obviously the Lord chooses to bless us for stupid reasons, or no reason at all.
Except this. That He loves us.
In this last conference, Elder Rafael E. Pino said "Living the gospel . . . means that we will be prepared to face and endure adversity more confidently." Okay so maybe going on tour isn't considered "adversity" for most people. But it's definitely something that I needed help preparing to face and endure. Another quote from Elder Pino's talk: "This was the time to show loyalty to God and to acknowledge that we depend on Him, that His will must be obeyed, and that we are subject to Him." I believe that it is always this time! Especially in times of adversity, sure. But even in times of great happiness and security, or on little school trips to Seattle! I believe that the more we live the higher law when it comes to the little things, the easier it will become to live that law when we're faced with real challenges or temptation. If we practice living the commandments when things are running smoothly, then we won't have to struggle through and question what to do when times are hard, because we'll already know. "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." -Mother Teresa
I wanted to share one last thing in this newest post of mine. I wrote this months ago but it still stands strong!
"The most important thing for me in a guy is if he honors his priesthood. I don't care what he looks like, if he honors his priesthood and loves his Savior, that is attractive to me. I have noticed that young men who do not hold the priesthood often don't know how to treat young women. They are confused when I am annoyed by their immature, somewhat physical advances. A young man who honors his priesthood knows how to respect and admire young women without "coming on too strong." That kind of steadfast young man may not catch a girl's attention immediately, but will ultimately receive the kind of affection he is seeking from a virtuous young woman.A young man who desires to serve a mission is the only kind of young man I can enjoy going on a date with. This kind of young man makes me feel comfortable when I am with him because I know that not only can I keep my standards high in his presence, but he will encourage and make sure those high standards are kept."
P.s. To read more of Elder Snow's talk: http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1032-25,00.html
To read more of Elder Pino's talk: http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1032-14,00.html