Thursday, September 12, 2013

What's the rush??

There have been times in my life where it could be said that I rushed in too quickly. I'm sure many of us have had those experiences at one time or another and there's something almost magical about them isn't there? It's a special feeling we get when we get all giddy and excited about someone and start to fall. My observation though is that there is always a decline or type of awakening. A time soon after where we slip back into reality and realize that the different things we really were excited about in that person, lose their luster or are joined by other traits that aren't as wonderful. Sometimes it's because we rushed in too quickly and have put our physical actions and affections beyond where that relationship really stands, and something feels a little off. It could just be the wrong person. Or, we realize that there are some things that are much more important we need to pay attention to and ways in which we really need to get to know the individual better and strengthen the relationship. I've read an article recently that talked about this and have been already, the last three months, thinking about timing and patience in relationships on my own. I've been mainly getting to know one really great girl and things are going well but again there's the whole timing issue that keeps popping up. So why is it so hard to figure out relationships? The timing and when you're a "couple" and when you're not but are just "seeing each-other" or "courting"? It can be complicated and tricky but if we take the right steps in the beginning we can save ourselves a lot of heartache and wasted time.
For me I think that there has been a big push in our generation to rush into knowing and finding out if a certain person is the right person. That's good and great and all but one big reason the divorce rate is dramatically risen the last 15 years is because of our inability to be patient. Among many things we as a culture and generation need to work on is how we go about dating. The expectations and presumptions we have; and the rushing to get to know someone. Seems that we try to find all the ways that person is who we want them to be and how much like us they are so we can feel safe in letting our guard down. Well guys... that's not right. That's not how you grow to love and appreciate; adore and admire someone. Trying to find all the reasons why we can accept this person and fall for them is not getting to know who they really are! That is only falling in love with the reflection of ourselves in them... not taking the time to see who the other person is in different situations and what their interests and likes really are. So often we end up simply talking about who we are and want to be- without actually investing the time to see it for ourselves and learn who this person really is. We have to stop loving people for how much of ourselves we see within them, and learn what real charity and Christ-like love is.
This is such a big struggle for us because we have these ideals that are put upon us from our youth. We think love is this fairytale that is supposed to happen a certain way and at a certain place or time in our lives. When really... the possibilities are endless and no one knows the plan but God. In rushing, in pushing, in staying up late every night talking to someone or spending every day with them it doesn't mean we have the instant ability to see who they really are. It doesn't mean that we have the right to ask them all the personal questions and dig into what we think will depict how happy we can be with them. What really makes the biggest difference is taking the time to let them show you who they are. And if you are patient and compassionate and loving you will see who that person really is in time. We want too much to rush God's timing and find out now- those things that are best allotted with time.
Letting time and the relationship naturally flow and progress takes trust in God and patience. It takes faith and security in who you are and what you have to offer. What love really is and what we think it's supposed to be growing up are two quite different things. Allow Heavenly Father the chance to show you what's best and have faith in His timing. Lets stop putting our time tables on our relationships and our lives in general and focus on really letting life happen. When we were kids it seemed so much easier because it was more simple, but also because we just let things happen. We didn't rush as much as we do now and didn't try to control what happens in our lives and dating. It was more simple and real and we should keep it that way. Let things happen in their own natural timing and try not to rush in and figure it all out before you've really given it an adequate amount of time. Trust that what's supposed to happen will happen in the right timing and meekly seek the Lord's guidance in pursuing healthy relationships.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just Believe

Something I've thought much about has to do with how we change. To me one of the most compelling factors of this life is our ability to change and hopefully do so in a way that improves our place in life- especially emotionally and spiritually. It seems difficult to make our way through life's choices and prove valiant to what we believe all the time. We often choose poorly and sometimes even hurt those we love. Especially on a more personal level to me- it seems that there are a lot of ways our hesitancies and doubt can affect the things we're able to do, and what we do or don't do. There are many times I find myself hesitant to push forward with something I want to or need to do. One classic example is homework. I don't like homework and having to study and be tested. I'm sure all of us have our insecurities and distastes for school work. However, I think it is compounded as we continue to think about it and put it off or worry. I've found that many times if I just think about it, realize what needs to get done, and then choose to do it and make it happen- it goes so much better and usually faster too. We make things harder than they need to be and often over think, over analyze, and just build up anxiety for no real reason other than anticipating it's not going to be fun.
Another thought is, that it may just be we're not sure what's going to happen. We may not know if this person we're interested in is the "right one." We might not have a clear answer as to what job to take or career path we should go down. The road ahead isn't very clear and we don't know... but that will always happen! There will always be unknowns for us to worry about. THAT is where faith comes in! That is why we have our own divine heritage as well as the support and help of our Father and Savior both to buoy us up, and to apply the atonement as we exercise our faith in our abilities and the Lord's love and support. We are to lean on Him and often lean on ourselves. Trust that you have the ability to make it through and make the best choice. And if you don't- then pick again! Few things in this life are set in stone.
A place of insight and reference for me on the subject has been Elder Holland's talk last conference entitled "Lord I Believe." He describes the account in the scriptures where a father brings his sick child before the Master and pleads for the Lord to show compassion. In reply the Savior responds "if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." And straightway the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord I believe... help thou mine unbelief."
 As Elder Holland points out, the father's initial response was in the affirmative. He speaks up and declares his belief, but immediately thereafter he pleads, "help thou mine unbelief." This hopeful father held the ground he already had, and first stepped forward- holding fast to what he already knew! Then ... AFTER he put his trust in the Lord, while also trusting in his own understanding and belief- he acknowledges his need for improvement. And gives us an amazing lesson on how we too need to stand fast upon the ground we've already won until further light and knowledge comes forth.
"The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue. It is the integrity towards the faith you do have and the truth you already know." "Do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have- leading with your unbelief... Don't let those questions stand in the way of faith working it's miracle." We must stand up for truth wherever we can find it. "In this church what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world everyone is to walk by faith." We all must apply the faith we have, and even some we don't have, through our belief, into the Lord's quite capable hands. We aren't put here on this earth to live our lives only in reaction to things we know... this world was designed to push us. This life was established to challenge us and to help us grow and we do that by trusting in what we don't always know. Which ironically is all in the Lord's hands. He knows, He understands, and we can put our trust in His all powerful, all knowing, omniscient, and eternally loving hands. And more especially when we do, He can bless us, He can heal us, and He will lead us to eternal life. But we have to let go of the doubt, the fear, and our own insecurities. Step forward first, then recognize your shortcomings but know the Lord has already secured your salvation and eternal joy- then keep calm... and cary on. These things I KNOW.

"Be not afraid, but believe."

Lord I believe:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Choose now

 It's been a while since I've been on here and honestly I wonder what to write and what others are struggling with at times. I want to write to help and make things a little easier for anyone who may come across these posts so as I formulate this one, please know that feedback and topics or references that I could expand on are always welcomed.
I feel like there have been multiple times the last few months where I've gotten a message about enduring trials. Three weeks ago today I was in Huntington Beach at a Mid-singles conference for the weekend. There were a lot of great opportunities to meet people and have fun but consistently, each of the three years I've gone, I enjoy the saturday workshops and sunday fireside the most. I feel like I get the most out of those.
I think society has been clouding our minds with some simple yet pervasive falsehoods. There is something that I've been noticing about how I and we are tempted. Often is seems like there is nothing mentioned about good or what's right- simply the thought that we should cheat a little. We should bend the rules a little, or that we need to change how we do something because of our circumstances. Well... I guess my question is this; When you give in to that and take the easy way out, the slightly dishonest way out, the "not that bad" rout, and the deviating path- How do you feel? Hind-sight is 20-20 right? How many times can you see it right after- that it's wrong? Most of the time probably, at least for the bigger things.
So what about the next time or the time after that or when you really slip- will the first time become more and more fuzzy? It DOES. That is how temptations work. That is how the adversary can get in to our minds and lead us down a road that is slightly off from where we really want to go. But eventually we lose the true perspective we once had and end up wayyyy far away from where we wanted to go in the first place.
So for me one of the reasons I've been thinking of, as to why we get in to these trends... is that we think we should take the easy way out. Sometimes we really feel like we should go around the problem and not deal with it. And although many times you can avoid things at the moment and do it again another time- sometimes you're just starting a bad habit. Every now and then you're doing it because of lack of faith. Lack of the little reminder that you really actually believe certain things and want to live a certain way. But it really just takes the little constant reminders of earnest prayer and communication with Heavenly Father, and studying His words. That can play such a huge role in your strength to hold fast to your best.
Life is about learning along the way. I am a big proponent of learning and I've found out that I learn most deeply and permanently as I endure trials. As I not just get through them- but endure them well I am able to understand basic principles of the gospel much more fully and can gain faith in whatever the Lord's will is for me. I know that we all can use some improvements in that area. Be strong in your convictions and in what you feel is true. Don't give in to the easy way because sometimes it's not just avoiding growing experiences but sometimes it can really hurt you if you slacken your commitments. Choose what you believe and how you want to live... then do it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tolerate or show Tolerance?

These last two weeks I've been learning and understanding something that I have needed for a long time. I've always had elements of understanding and tolerance in my life. I have often tried to understand others and give people the benefit of the doubt in my judgments. There has recently been some things learned that have given me a better ability to understand and apply true tolerance and I thought I would share. 

So what is tolerance. I used to think of it more as putting up with something you may or may not have any control over. Perhaps a certain person that bugs you, a child that is disobedient or bratty, or someone taking forever to get back to you or actually follow through with something they said they would do. We tolerate people and situations every day. But that's not tolerance. 
As with many things in the gospel there is a slight difference in these two very similar actions. But that difference makes all the difference to who we are, how we see others and the attitudes we have of life and those we are in it with. Now let me show you what I mean.

Lets say there's a mother who is trying to teach a child how to brush her teeth. This is going to take a few tries wouldn't you think? Well, she does too thankfully and goes over it each night for a week. She's already been teaching the child for a long time and helping her understand that it's important to do it every morning and night. So when the daughter gets ready for bed, brushes her teeth and goes to say prayers what does her mom and dad say and do when they inspect her abilities? 

They notice the drying toothpaste on her cheek and a piece of broccoli still stuck in one little nook, and they tell her to go try again. In this example there could be both tolerance or an attitude of tolerating. When Christ shows us tolerance, can you see Him being sassy or sarcastic and getting upset? I think of Him laughing just a little at our inability and also being grateful for our growth and desire to try. He knows where we are at. He knows that we sometimes just don't get it and will need time to progress and learn things that we need to understand. Tolerance embodies feelings of care and consideration. When you love a child it's easier to be patient with them and understand where they are in life. With your significant other or even just in trying to date and getting to know others we can run into this a lot. Sometimes we just need to remember that other people think differently than us. 

Recently I ran into this in dating. I was trying to get to know a girl who had some bad experiences with other guys before me. This happens to all of us in one way or another but this girl was really cautious. I gave her some space and tried to be patient but didn't get much further until I managed to talk to her about it. Thankfully we both came to understand each-other and I realized I hadn't considered what she had gone through or why she wasn't being very talkative. I knew I didn't understand and thankfully that is what made it possible for me to back off and let her know I was a normal guy that just wanted to get to know her a little better. Now after hearing about what she had dealt with before I totally understand why she had acted the way she did. I was glad that I didn't write her off and get upset because of my pride. Instead of tolerating her I feel like I was trying to show tolerance, understanding, and giving her the benefit of the doubt until I learned otherwise. 

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so... righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness, nor misery, neither good nor bad."

2 Nephi 2: 10-12 In my initial observation of these passages I did not at all think they taught about how to love others. These verses talk about opposition in all things, and how it must be so. I feel that if we can change our attitude and perspective of people sometimes, it would be much easier to be understanding and loving. If we could see the struggles that others have and the intricate and necessary part of life opposition is- then we wouldn’t judge them for those struggles... but simply love and appreciate people for who they are and where they are at in their lives. Having a realistic understanding of how challenges shape and improve us can help to appreciate and love people for who they are and the struggles they have.

If we can love one another enough to where we really want the best for that person I think we can easily practice Christ like tolerance. Similarly the Lord wants for us to trust in Him and know that those things he puts in our lives to challenge us can become strengthening experiences as we exercise our trust in Him. Work through them and understand that everyone else has weaknesses and struggles too. Be patient and understanding and I think your journey will be a little easier to handle. And you also will be blessed with the ability to understand and appreciate those that might otherwise frustrate and try your patience. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Past Present and Future

So this weekend I've thought of an interesting topic in reflection to my dating experiences. I just realized last night that I haven't gone on a real date at all this year until last night. Kinda sad... but I've been really busy and I guess I haven't put myself out there enough to get to know the few girls I may be interested in- at least enough to get to know them just a little better and see if they or I would want to actually go out sometime. I feel like you can't just ask someone out anymore and then get to know them... you kinda need to get to know them a little first, and maybe even see them a few times while you're out or at social events or church, then ask them out. At least that's the case the majority of the time.

So I was reflecting on some of the girls I've gone out with and dated a little and noticed that some I could just click with instantly. It was easy to talk and hang out and we got to know each-other pretty easily. Others you have to crack the shell a little and it takes time. I feel like I've been getting that a little more lately and it's just a little different but totally fine. Often when this happens it's neat because you really find a different person inside from how you first perceived them- and they're a lot more interesting. So I came up with a simple way to look at getting to know someone. There are three steps that you need to do in AT LEAST two dates (three is ideal) to get to know someone well enough to either keep it up or let them go.

The First thing we typically do when getting to know someone is to find out about their likes and interests to see if they have compatible hobbies and interests with us. I'll call this- getting to know their past. On the first date much of the time is spent getting to know where they grew up, the sports they played, hobbies or hidden talents they may have, size of their family, what the parents do for work.. etc. These things are their past. Last night on this first date- we learned all those things and as usual she asked me about my divorce and wanted to know about that. There were lots of "who have you been" questions, so I feel this concept is pretty solid.
You need to feel like you understand a small part of who this person has been and why they are the way that they are. It helps you to understand why they are in the place in life that they are in, as well as how you can identify with them and get along with them. It will help you to understand, and not just judge them.

The Second step is getting to know their present. You see where I'm going yet? ;) On the second date people are more likely to open up and try to get to know you better. They will be more themselves and you can do something perhaps a little less traditional than the first date so you can see a little different side of them. These themes all overlap within the course of getting to know someone, but the principle is the point... as per usual with me. When you spend time to get to know someone you can't be as selfish as you might normally think. So think outside the box a little and see if their different qualities would help or hurt over time. What makes them laugh and what are their favorites. If someone is quiet are you outgoing or talkative enough to pull them out of it to open up to people? Is it really part of their character or just a bad habit? Can they improve or are they always the same? What are they like now- with you in person. Also, what are they doing in their life to prepare for a family and a future. Do they like their job, their family, siblings, parents, church, themselves? You need to get to know who they are in the NOW and see how it works with you as well as what can they teach you. Too often we look at others with the attitude of what can they do for me? How are they exactly what I want- instead of how would they be compatible with me and balance me out?

The Third date or concept- is to get to know the person's future through their eyes as well as your own. Now this may not take three dates and it may take more, but the point is that these three things sum up the most important aspects of who a person is and how you're going to be able to work with them for a really long time. Yes marriage is work- incase you heard it was a fairy tale or something else. Of course a person's past doesn't matter a lot in some respects but in all phycological and emotional areas it will effect how they see the world. What they have gone through will reflect in how they react to things in the future. BUT the past can be improved and healed greatly for most people with proper counseling and consistent activity in a healthy lifestyle. Our minds are amazing at being able to heal and forget the past. Do not hold people to their past because it does not define them. What their heart wants and yearns for for the future is really what will effect the future the most. Find out what motivates them and what they want. The family is such a crucial part of a couple's future together so talk about how they were raised and what they want for their family one day. As you think about a person's future you may be able to see how you could fit into it or how certain things would really be a struggle.

Ultimately I think that if you have an attraction to someone and that they do to you (even if it's not magical at first)- you should give them a chance to show you a reasonably good idea of who they are and if you could work with them. Yes, there are times you will know right away it could never work out, it happens. Don't lead people on and don't drag it out. But if it might, or could, or you just don't know them all that well, then give it just a little time and effort. I was just talking to a buddy of mine last week about how -when you get to know someone and spend a little time with them it's amazing how much more attractive they become. You get a chance to really see who they are. It's a blessing to be able to do that and we need to remember it and take advantage of it when we can. In my opinion it's hard to objectively look at someone and see all these important things if you're in "la la land". Keep it under control for at least the first few dates. I've dated girls for a month or two before kissing them as well as the totally opposite end of the spectrum, and I know that time brings clarity. They'll respect you more and you'll better know how you really feel about a person the longer you wait- within reason of course. Three to six months would be a little much in most cases.

If you follow these three thoughts in dating and getting to know people I hope it becomes easier to think of questions to ask. Easier to get to know who they really are and... that you more naturally can grow to appreciate them and understand who they are, even if they are not The One for you. We are encouraged to "study it out in our mind" and make choices. This is the basics of how to do it. Stop pretending that you're the one in a million that's gonna fall in love at first sight and you'll just know after the first date. Take and put these sound perspectives into practice. I promise they will help- especially if you do fall in love at first sight. :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Resolving Regrets

Today in Elders' Quorum we had a lesson based off of Elder Uchtdorf's talk from the October General Conference. It is a talk I've listened to a few times since hearing it in conference and it amazes me that, just like scripture, each time we listen to or read those talks from the leaders of the church, we change. And I mean that in the way that we gain more from them, even different things, because we change. We go through different things over time and the Lord knows this. Which is why we are encouraged to always be studying the scriptures. We should be reading the scriptures daily- not because they change, but because every day, we change. 

This talk is such a great insight to how we often get stuck in life. We may easily find that we get stuck in a rut. We feel regret for not just the past but in the present. We want to be further along and further ahead. Perhaps the success of those who once were in the same place in life is almost torture for us to see. I understand that and feel it regularly. But we need to follow the counsel of the prophet in taking a more realistic look at our lives. Understand that we are, where we are. You are only going to change that by what you do today- not what you didn't do yesterday. Stop focusing on your faults, failures and regrets and choose to be happy. Choose to live your days.. like today, in the best way possible. 

Those ways that are best for us to live will change and vary through time and the course of life but Elder Uchtdorf speaks of three most common regrets of those who are on their death beds. As he speaks of in his talk- there is a nurse who makes a point to ask her patients what they regret most and what they would change. I'll leave you to look over these highlights from the talk and review it yourself. I like to watch them so I can see as well as hear. 

         ~Spend more time with those we love.
         ~Strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be.
         ~Find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.

Announcing that we will dedicate more time for family prayer, scripture study, and wholesome family activities is good; but actually doing all these things steadily will bring heavenly blessings to our lives.

So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial. (I've talked about this before- and I will again soon)

What we need to do is find a way to be happy with where we are now and stop holding out for the future. We are meant to be happy, to have joy, and to share that with those around us. So lets focus on that and stop letting our faults hold us back. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.

"it's hard to beat a person who never gives up" Babe Ruth

The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.
We do matter. We determine our happiness.
You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. 

We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”
His Atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart, and a determination to do better and especially to become better.

So let us put this into practice and apply His atonement to our lives. Take courage for we are in control of our destiny. We choose what attitude we look at life with and where ours is heading. As I've said before...  "Have faith. Trust yourself and trust in God. And if you start to feel overwhelmed... just focus on baby steps. One week at a time, one day at a time,  one task to do and you will do it. Maybe not the first time and definitely not every time. But we don't practice because we're the best at something: we practice because as we fail and push on... we change. And that change makes all the difference." Steven Hatch