Sunday, March 24, 2013

On a Snowed in Sabbath

Sure, I'm disappointed that the earth is covered in the wet, cold, white of snow right -it being the end of March and SUPPOSED to be spring.

But in all honestly, the thing that was the worst for me was that the snow today took away something that I really needed: going to church, partaking of the sacrament, renewing my covenants, and recharging my spiritual battery.  I awoke to the snow with thoughts of forlorn disappointment.

(Totally not me, by the way.  I ADORE the snow, but REALLY, Missouri?  It's almost April.  This is not cool.).

Normally I would have immediately said my morning prayers, but I was awoken by text messages seeing what my status was with the snow and trying to confirm if church was happening or not.  I spent the first hour of my morning making sure everyone was contacted and told that church was in fact canceled. With each new text I felt more and more depressed about it.  How dare winter come along with one final massive blow and take away the thing I needed most at the end of this rather turbulent week?

Once everyone had been contacted, I took some time to pray.

The second I got on my knees, I felt I was being wrapped in the arms of the comforter.  My heart was filled, and a sure knowledge entered my heart that just because the elements prevent me attending church does not mean I could not have a meaningful and spirit filled Sabbath day.  I felt the warmth of the love of my Father in Heaven, assuring me and letting me know he knew my disappointment and of the worries and insecurities of my heart of late.  I knew that if I did all I could to try and keep this Sabbath day and make the most of it, I would be blessed.

I started it with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and my scriptures.  Then I read an article in the Ensign.  Then with my parents (whose house I'm invading to avoid being blocked into my home like I was the last snow storm) and Kailey, who was our guest, we watched "To This End Was I Born" and then listened to the Jeffrey R. Holland talk "The First Great Commandment"  from last October's conference.  We finished with going though the discussion questions of this weeks Sunday School lesson.

I didn't get to partake of the sacrament.  I didn't get to hear the testimonies of my friends and peers and be uplifted by them.  No singing of hymns with the congregation.  And I didn't get to share MY testimony, which is something I've been bursting to do since last Fast and Testimony meeting.

But the spirit was present, as strongly if not more strong than I would have felt at church today.

My testimony was strengthened.

And I felt at peace.

In my scriptures this morning I found my bookmark at the following verses (with good reason).

Romans 2: 2, 9-16

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good.
 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Be of the same mind one to another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."

Those bolded phrases really hit me.

I was reminded, as I often need to be, that I can be IN the world but do not need to be OF the world.  It reminded me of a scripture in D&C to Emma Smith to seek not worldly things but to "seek for the things of a better".  It was brought home to me that worldly doesn't necessarily mean material.  There are attitudes of the world, social norms and expectations that don't necessarily need to be sought or followed.  We don't need to let the expectations of the world wear us to nothing.  We need not be ashamed by those in the great and spacious building who watch mockingly from their lofty places.

Dissimulation: the act of deceiving.  "Let love be without dissimulation."  I don't think anything else needs to be said here.

Maybe it means something else to others, but "Be of the same mind one to another" means to be united in progression and purpose.  I also think it means being honest and communicate with one another.  Communication is one of those things I need to work on in my life.

The one that is most important to me lately though is this : to be patient in tribulation or trial.

Today my dad found this while looking though files in the house.  I've head versions of this before, but I would like to share this one with you.

It's called "Laws of Nature"
"I remembered one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out.  I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient.  I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it.  I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I was saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath. In vain.  It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding wings should be a gradual process in the sun.  Now it was too late.  My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately, and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

That little body, is I believe, the greatest weight on my conscience. For I realize today, that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of natureWe should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm."

-Nikos Kazantazakis

This analogy touches me.  Deeply.  Not only on a literary level (I love nature analogies) but on a spiritual level.

I've been a long time coming out of my cocoon.  I have only myself to blame for that.  But now that I am ready to come out, I find myself impatiently trying to force something that has to happen in its own time with its own natural rhythm.  I am being refined and prepared.  I am proceeding forward as steadily as I can.  I know I am doing what is needed, taking the steps that are essential to me spiritual and social development.

I just need to have patience.

I've been promised some important blessings.  Ones that I know I will receive as long as I am worthy.

But the waiting is the hardest part.  I know this.  Because I am imperfect I know I will faces those stretches of impatience.  Of doubt.  Of frustration.

The important thing is remembering these times-times when I know with a surety that I can become all that I'm meant to be as far as I hold steady to this path.

I was going to bare my testimony today in church but since the snow has prevented that from happening, I think it appropriate to share a portion of it now.

I have a testimony of the pure love of Christ, which is Charity.  When I need it most, I feel the deep abiding love my Father in Heaven and my Savior have for me.  It fills me.  It pierces me. There are times when I recognize that love as something that is felt for every single person on this earth.  In those moments, the veil of this mortal existence is pulled back and I see in others their glorious potential.  Suddenly I am filled with that pure love of Christ and it is directed through me to others.  My regret at these times is that my simple mind is insufficient to express this love to others in such a way that they can appreciate it for what it is.

I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know that as I follow His example my life will be blessed and enriched.

I know that as we seek to better ourselves through the refining nature of repentance we can constantly become better versions of ourselves and progress towards that eternal goal of celestial perfection.

I have a testimony of the divine nature of every one of us.  Within us we all hold a tremendous potential.  For some it takes longer to realize this and seek to achieve it.  I know we all have the ability to be the version of ourselves we wish to be as long as we hold fast to the rod and never lose sight of our eternal goals.

I have a testimony that every single challenge and trial that we face refines and defines us.  We are fashioning and molding ourselves into who we will be for all eternity.  That takes time.  And it's not easy.  As long as our faith never wavers and we do our best to endure we will come out the other side better and stronger than we were.

Maybe this snow storm happened because I needed today.  I needed a day like this.  A day to discover how enriching every moment can be as long as we are willing to make the most of it.

I hope all of you reading this know how much I love and appreciate you.  I only wish you could understand just how much.  But alas, even in my way I cannot express it in words.

If my love is this great, only imagine how much greater the love of your Father in Heaven is.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

On Mindy (AKA The Beast Within) Or Me Admitting I am a Little Insane

Today as I walked home, I stopped and listened.

To the peepers.  To the moving waters.  To the breeze that has not yet found her true voice among the trees.

I breathed.  It smelled of early spring.  Rejuvenating, invigorating.

All of it filled me.

I paused for as long as I could.

Drinking it all in.

After all that has happened this week, I felt revived for the first time.

And I smiled.  A true smile of peace and contentment.

It was a beautiful, brief reprieve.


NOTE: if you thought that was lovely and would rather not have your opinion of me tainted by my honesty, feel free to stop reading now.  You have been warned.

Now prepare yourselves because I am about to go into an extended metaphor that delves deep into the psyche of me.


Because I know there are several people who read this who would understand and right now that's what I need. Understanding.  Support.  And a good kick in the pants.

Remember THIS post?

This is an extension of that.

I've spoken here and there about the 19-year-old in my head.

This is all about her.  She is the beast within.

I think she needs a name.  At least for this post.  Because it gets tiring to keep typing "the 19-year-old in my head".

Let's call her Mindy.

So.  Mindy.

I keep her carefully locked away.  And by carefully, I mean she is shut off by whatever material my mind is able to muster at the time.  Lately it has been flimsy chicken wire.

I try to keep her complacent.  I've found that as long as she is starved of all things she desires she is pretty docile.  And so I have hammered a big sign by her cage reading "For the Love of Pete do NOT Feed Mindy".  Too bad it is invisible to all but myself.

People unknowingly toss her crumbs.  Nothing substantial, but it is enough.

Mindy can survive on very little-and a little goes a long way.  Before I know it she is relentlessly clawing at the chicken wire which begins to give way.  I wish desperately that my mind had invested in reinforced steel for her cage.

I can feel her gaining ground.  The enclosure begins to give way.  I try my best to patch up the damage.  But before long she has broken free.

She wrecks havoc.

Most often in the form of one of the most dangerous emotions: infatuation.

The state of being carried away unreasoned love.

A foolish, unreasoning attraction.

All in all, a stupid thing.

Here's what happens (exaggerated, of course.  But you get the idea).

Mindy sees the particular individual in question and instead of seeing him for what he realistically is, she plucks away every single possible redeeming quality.  THEN, she molds and fashions these into a kind of idol.  And it is him and only him she sees.  I (the mature 25-year-old) approach her as she kneels before him (praying to her false idol that he would just SEE her for what SHE is).  I put a kind hand on her shoulder.  I begin to try and help her see reason.

She lashes out.

Defensive of the lies she had told herself about this person.  This false religion she has created.

I present her with clear and obvious flaws in this idol.

Suddenly I am brought back to all those high school discussions on religion and the LDS church.  One side tries to convince the other they are right.  Both with convincing and knowledgeable arguments.

That is how Mindy is.  For every hole I poke into her logic, she comes along with an argument to fill that hole.  It's hopeless.

See why I never feed her?  Never let her out?

I don't mean that I seek to see only the flaws in people to save myself the aggravation of infatuation.  I just mean that I try to see what is real, rather than this perfect, false being that has been created by Mindy.

Her pillar of stone can never love because he does not exist.  Not as SHE sees him.  

I know that these feelings aren't real.  But for Mindy, they are VERY real.

All she sees is that he makes her laugh, shares many of her interests, pays attention to her.  Seeks her company.  These are all things she thrives on.  And they make her stronger.

So I do the only thing I can think of.  I try to remove the smorgasbord.  I starve her of what she craves.

But my attempts aren't always 100% successful.  I'm still the only one who can see that sign.  So there are still people feeding Mindy little bits here and there (often it is her idol unknowingly doing this).

And even after all this time, all my experience with infatuation (and unrequited love for that matter) I would think to create a cage of sturdier stuff.  Sadly I can only use what my brain provides.  And all I have is this chicken wire.

Sometimes I can reinforce it with boards or planks (provided by wonderful, loving friends and family).  But these have a tendency to rot away as time goes by.

Mindy is a beast. Sometimes she makes it really hard to be around those that I would simply see as friends.  It happened in high school, college, you'd think by now I would be past all this.

But Mindy is ever present.

So it is up to me to do what I can.

Truth is, I eventually win out.  The battle may be long.  I may lose ground several times.  But infallible logic always prevails.  And if not logic, the relentless passing of time will do the trick.  Eventually Mindy will see that the idol she has created is either rusting, crumbling, or simply never replies to her pleas.

It is in those times that I am there.  Just me.  Having triumphantly locked Mindy away.  And for a time, I feel blissful relief.  Peace.

Here's hoping I find that peace again soon.

Because right now, Mindy is winning.


Avoid false idols.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

On An Analogy and Lent

It's been quite a while. Every time I've gone to write an entry it seems excessively moody and self-pitying.

Now that I've gotten PAST that state, I think I'm ready to weasel my way back into the blogger-verse. 

And so...I give you an analogy I've been pondering lately.


She is the nail.

She may be galvanized, but she is not as strong as she seems.

But she does what she thinks is wanted of her.

Standing straight, she takes a satisfying plunge into the wood below with every new strike.

They are the hammers.

Each one taking its turn.

Every hit brings with it a thrill.  A smile.  

Because this is what is done, is it not?

That nail, she's just sitting there.  Standing.  Waiting.  What else is there to do?   

Soon she is flush with the plank.  


To end I offer a brief explanation for those who are confused. I hope this clears things up.

Note that I mean for this to be shared on the most amiable of terms.


I'm not Catholic.

I never have been.

Yet for the past 3 consecutive years I have observed, to some extent, Lent.

My first experience with Lent was in High School when I was friends with a Catholic girl.  She asked if I would give up something with her.  I complied.  Being in High School, I eventually failed (it was Soda and I LOVED me some Dr. Pepper).

In 2011, I decided I was going to give up Desserts (or sweets as some might consider them).  Those things that usually reside at the top of the food pyramid.  At least they did when I was in elementary school.

I did a pretty good job, I think.

So I did it again in 2012.

And again this year.  I'm surprised that it has been more challenging.  I feel I have more temptation and I'm more on my own.

This is the point I want to make.

I don't observe Lent because of some secret desire to join the Catholic church.  I've nothing against them but I am perfectly happy in my religion

I don't observe lent because I failed to follow through with my New Years resolution and this is my second chance.

I don't do this to gloat and show off my will power or to seek the attention of others.

I do it because it is a chance for me to prove to myself that I have self control.

I am in control of my actions.

I give up desserts every year because they are one of my weaknesses.

It says in the scriptures that God will make weak things become strong.

So this, I do for myself.

I think I should just start telling people that I am going on my own 40 day fast from my temptations instead "I'm doing Lent this year".  Maybe then my intentions would be clear.

Just wanted to clarify.

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