Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Something uplifting?

Well, I've been looking over some of my friend's blogs. I realized that my last few posts have been a little cynical. I guess I just needed an outlet. Somewhere to vent that I'm allowed to sound like an uppity know-it-all and not have to be judged for it.

But now I just want to type up something more inspiring for the next post. I used to have good things to say.. I still do. But lately I have been denying my feelings so much that it's hard to get them out in the open enough to learn something from them and inspire others along the way.

I guess I'm in a pretty tough place right now. Most of my peers don't know the difference. A tough place for me still seems pretty amazing to some of them. Alright so I haven't stopped saying my prayers, and I'm still reading my scriptures every day, and I get around to some missionary work every now and then. But the last couple of weeks.. My heart hasn't been in it. I got so busy and exhausted the last week of school that "scripture study" became reading a few verses in sleepy ignorance before I fell asleep on my knees while trying to get through a prayer at one in the morning.

The hardest thing is knowing what I need to do. I know I have to get organized first. Clean my room, do some laundry, make some lists. Then, magically, things will start to happen. I don't know why it seems so hard sometimes. I know I'm not as happy as I could be, I'm just kind of sliding by. I think it's just that when we find ourselves in these gospel "slumps" we kind of numb ourselves and get lazy. We know we could be happier, but by now we've forgotten what being happier feels like, and we feel okay right now, so there's really no reason to try harder when we're doing okay.

Ever seen that show "World's Strictest Parents"? They send rotten, seemingly hopeless teenagers to a good, "strict" family for a week. ONE WEEK, and there is almost always a significant transformation in these teens. Emotionally, and even physically. It seems like every time the transformation comes because the teens find themselves in completely eye-opening situations. They have to take responsibility for their actions, and they find in themselves that they actually do want a promising future. They were just.. taking the easy route. It all goes back to the road of least resistance versus the road of greatest happiness.

I found this great talk from 1972. You really should just read the entire talk. It's marvelous. But I'll try to hit on all the good stuff. President Paul H. Dunn quotes three famous philosophers as the outline for his talk:

1. Socrates wrote: "Know thyself."
2. Cicero said: "Control thyself."
3. and the Savior said: "Give thyself"

"Know thyself"
This is fairly self-explanatory. And obviously something I haven't been doing so well since I've been too afraid to face my own feelings. Not only do we have to be honest with ourselves, but we have to know with no doubt in hearts that we are children of God. We have Heavenly parents and divine potential. President Dunn says: "The word can't is false doctrine in the Mormon church. When a young man says to me, 'I can't do it,' I become concerned because in a sense he is saying, 'I don't understand the gospel.' " We have to know who we are, and understand the power that lies within us.

President Dunn also details an inspiring story about Babe Ruth and his faithful, optimistic attitude. When someone asked Babe Ruth "What do you do when you get in a batting slump?" This is what he said:

"I just keep goin' up there and keep swingin'. I know the old law of averages will hold good for me same as it does for anybody else, if I keep havin' my healthy swings. If I strike out two or three times in a game, or fail to get a hit for a week, why should I worry? Let the pitchers worry, they're the guys who're going to have to pay for it later on."

This is easily comparable to our "gospel slumps." Just like Babe Ruth, we just have to keep swingin'. We just have to keep reading our scriptures and saying our prayers and we'll average out. And the pitchers that have to pay for it later on? Well they represent Old Scratch and his angels.. I always come out as a better person when I've been through trial, and that makes me a stronger force in the battle against evil. So while Satan may celebrate my misery, he's worried about later on because he knows if I make it through, I'll be even stronger than before.

Dunn later goes on to say
"It's one thing to be born with ability to succeed; it's another thing to harness it and to control it."
And before finishing with a story says:

"The Savior said, Take all that I have given you, harness it, discipline it, and then give it to the world. Give thyself."

It's really an amazing talk. You should read it. Go look it up on lds.org.

But anyway, where I was going with all of this is that a slump is just a slump. Everyone's allowed a slump every now and then, because none of us are perfect. But don't let it get to the point where it's really hindering your spiritual progression. Always try as hard as you can to press forward. The more you do, the more you will realize how worth it is to choose the path of greatest happiness. That's right, happiness. Don't be content with just okay, strive for something greater.

I pretty much typed this as a sermon to myself.. Sometimes teaching is the best way of internalizing something.

Happy summer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Once upon a missionary..

I love missionaries. I write letters to them occasionally.
I have a testimony of missionary work and the importance of it.
I'm in love with a missionary in Brazil.

The above statements are the facts of the case, and they are undisputed.
They are, in fact, true statements.

However, some LDS culture surrounding missionaries and the work they do baffles and even irritates me.

True: I am in love with a missionary in Brazil.
False: I am "waiting" for him to return in the hopes that we will one day be married.

"Waiting" for missionaries. Oh freaking brother.

First of all, girls, you shouldn't be steady-dating a guy before his mission anyway. He's got better things to do with his time. Guys, before your mission you need to stay far away from any relationship that threatens to turn you into a whipped mess. You have better things to do with your time, more eternally significant things to prepare for, more important spiritual matters that need to be the focus of your thoughts.

If you haven't been steady dating, that completely eliminates the need to "wait" in the first place. Problem solved.

Secondly, if you do happen to meet your future spouse in high school (Hey, I'm a believer now alright? I'm in love remember?), Heavenly Father knows it, and he'll make sure everything works out between you and said lover. It's not your job to question His intentions. He's omnipotent, all-knowing, all that jazz. Your job is to trust Him and live your life in such a way that manifests that trust.
Girls, "waiting" for a missionary is not trusting in God. I'm not saying you have to go out and throw yourself into the arms of the next guy that comes along. But just BE REAL with yourself.
Only 7% of girls who decide to "wait" actually make it the full two years, for whatever reason. You must be willing to accept the idea that the relationship may not work. Just as importantly, only 3% of girls who plan on waiting for their missionary actually marry him.

I'm not saying you can't hope that you'll end up with this preemie who seems to be the man of your dreams--Ive hoped every day for the past 6 months--just know that you need to BE REAL with yourself. You are not the exception to the rule just because you decide to be. You can't make things happen that the Lord (all-knowing, omnipotent, all-powerful..) doesn't have planned for you. It may not work out. Deal with it.

On the plus side, if it doesn't work out, Heavenly Father has someone even better for you in the works. Isn't that an exciting prospect? It seems impossible that there could be someone better right? But you'll never beat the Lord in a game of Jeopardy. He's the one who put all that knowledge in Albert Einstein's brain. He knows what's out there. Don't trick yourself into believing that you know more than He does.

True: I have a testimony of missionary work and the importance of it.
False: I tell evey non-member I meet that they are damned to hell.

No sir. I don't hand them a copy of the Book of Mormon either.
Talk to them about the church and my testimony of it daily? You betcha.

The key to having non-member friends is The Golden Rule.
"Treat others as you would like to be treated."

Ever heard of it?

If you want someone to accept your religious beliefs, you must first acknowledge and accept their religious beliefs. I have non-member friends that I bear my testimony to every day. Why do they tolerate such bold behavior? Because I don't ask them to agree, just to listen. I don't insist that I'm right, because to do so would be to insist that their beliefs are wrong. It's not my job to tell them that they're wrong. That's the Holy Ghost's job. Are you the Holy Ghost? I don't think so. So stop trying to get paid for his work.

End of current rant.