Monday, June 30, 2014

Look for the Good



Look for the Good


Everything has a little bit of truth. Even if that which you disagree with glares out at you so much that you can't think about anything else, decide now to choose to look for the good when those moments arise.

Don't just say "you are probably right . . ," following the counsel given to newly married young men. But genuinely believe that there really is something right, because there is. something. that is right, or true, that you can choose to focus on. And look for that little bit. And focus on that little bit that you do see. Focus on the positive instead of whatever glaring negative thing may be staring down at you.

You may just find out after pondering on it a little bit more that there is more truth than you could initially comprehend. And then you will be grateful that you chose to focus on the good during that conversation or experience. You will be grateful to have left on a positive note, rather than in bitter tension filled with regret and remorse.

Either way, if you discover more truth than you initially could discern, or if you remain unchanged, you will become stronger and more confident. You will find more peace within as well as with others and your surroundings.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Responsibility for Emotions?

What is responsibility?

Isn't it just a little bit silly that I should ask the question? Many times I feel like I really should know. But more and more I think I really just don't know. very much.

A few years ago I signed up for a newsletter that highlights how to take responsibility for your emotions, and consequently your actions as well. A sweet lady by the name of Lynn Namka has made it one of her goals in life to help people learn to communicate and function in a healthy and positive, life-giving manner. I discovered her while searching out online materials to help me understand anger and what it takes to manage it, because I wanted to better understand it so I could learn how to better love those in my life who suffer from it. Well, come to find out, anger is a pretty common ailment that comes in many shapes and forms. And, come to find out, I wasn't as impervious to the emotion as I thought I was. I had been a happy host to the feelings and behaviors of the lesser known manifestations of anger. Little did I know. Oh how justification loves ignorance.

I just want to share a few of Lynn Namka's recommendations for taking responsibility for our emotions and behaviors. I looked it up last night because I was confronted with my own feelings of extreme anger after a somewhat frustrating day (I know, it was Father's Day and I had such high hopes. . . don't ask :). I hope someday to have worked out all the triggers (maybe in the next life?), though in the meantime the least I can do is to practice taking responsibility--even if I'm a little late and the damage has already been made.

One of Lynn Namka's recommendations for managing your emotions is to say to yourself, "in the past, I have chosen to feel . . . about this situation. Today, I choose to feel . . ." It helps to recognize the role of personal choice in the internal statements we make, and to use it as a measure of analysis to help us make better choices.

Examples:

I make myself feel:

  • angry when my mom . . .
  • depressed when my spouse . . .
  • sick to my stomach when my friend . . .
  • nervous when he . . .
  • guilt when she . . .
I choose to be:
  • angry when my sister says . . .
  • depressed when my friend . . .
  • nervous when . . .
  • upset over this event . . .
In this instant I choose to be . . .

Viktor Frankel, holocaust survivor and accomplished Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, believed that choice is the ultimate human freedom--the choice of attitude in any situation, no matter how adverse the circumstances. Convincing yourself that you have choice in the matter is the challenge.

. . .

I am so tired now; I would write more, but this will have to be another tbc post. Have fun 'getting your angries out' though ;) I know I need to make time for it :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Unity

:)

Unity.

Unity is not what I thought it was. Oh it is funny. It really is. To have some things be so important to you. So important that they become the focus of your attention, and then, well, not so important--at least not in the same way--not worth fighting over, at least; not worth making a big deal of, or of taking notice of at all. It really is very funny.

Unity.

Is it agreeing? Or is it agreeing to get along regardless?

Is it agreeing? Or is it letting go when you have every reason to harbor a grudge? When you have every reason to take and hold an offense, or a whole line of offenses? (Man your battleground!) Is it being thankful for the care in all its shapes and forms? Grateful enough to forget, and to not even bother with thinking about the rough edges except perhaps to amuse yourself with the irony? And grateful enough to not even care what has rubbed off on you? haha to not care for the things in yourself that you have despised in others, things that invite rejection combined with edgy and conditional love, and afterward, if you are lucky, amusement, combined with complete appreciation :)

There was a time that I had to know someone's past, someone's story, in order to have compassion. I needed some kind of explanation for 'bad' behavior in order to love those who have offended, or rather, hurt, or cut me in some way or other. It's easy(ier) to love when you know the other person knows and is repentant. Open penitence is always best, at least when the offense has involved you to one degree or another. But when the other person is clueless (or seemingly so), and arrogant, well man your battleground. You've got a storm coming. :) I know I have been on both sides. At first I thought, "oh, well, of course I had it coming to me. I deserve the rejection that I dished out so generously :), so of course it would rub off on me, or I would have my own issue that I might receive the same rejection...a taste of my own punishment. :)."

So funny it is, to learn to love and let go. completely.

So what is unity then?

Is it being on the same page? Or is it knowing your place on the page?

Does unity have its place in perfect function and harmony? Or does it exist as well in . chaos? What matters I think is where you see yourself.

Regardless of the form and function, you have a part to play, and you play a part regardless of whether you think it or not. Do you see yourself on the outside? Or do you see who you are? A part of the whole? Do you appreciate the whole of which you are a part? Or would you destroy it? Would you deny it?

When there are differences. Where is your heart? Is it tender? Or irritable? I suppose the better question is this: where does your heart stay, or land? For differences by nature cause friction, which by nature causes irritation. I have achilles tendonitis. This is a true principle. It is just the way it is. And irritation causes its own problems. But appreciation, sincere love and appreciation for the whole of which you are a part, does that not create unity of a sort--regardless the differences? While the other would divide.

If zion is the "pure in heart", a people "of one heart and one mind," perhaps you can have a zion of a type among people of extreme differences (D&C 97:21; Moses 7:18). Perhaps the one heart and one mind bit can be understood by the way you see yourself, as a part of the whole.

I do believe that a people who dwells in righteousness will have a special unity that is priceless, really, and it cannot be achieved any other way. My heart and soul aches for it. literally. But unity is found in the way you see yourself as part of the whole, as well as in groups of people who share a belief, standard, or way of living.

Perhaps there is more to unity than living in an 'agreeable' manner with your fellowmen. Perhaps it is more than just sharing the same basic beliefs and striving for the same Christlike actions. If you don't see yourself as part of the whole, and appreciate the whole of which you are a part, what does anything else matter?







Monday, June 2, 2014

Peace and Virtue--Holiness to the Lord

Today in Relief Society we discussed what it means to be endowed with power in the temple. As people in the class spoke and shared their thoughts, I fondly reminisced about my activities at the temple the day previous. I attended the temple with one of my roommates in the early morning, rushing out the door to not cause a conflict with my roommate's work schedule. Later on that day I went back with another roommate, this time to enjoy the beautiful temple grounds. The pink roses were in full bloom and were absolutely gorgeous! We laid on the grass behind the temple; my roommate took a nap and listened to an audio book while I read my own book. The breeze took the edge off of the hot rays from the summer sun, and I enjoyed the peaceful serenity of the temple with my roommate--the feeling of home and safety, of really being home and safe.

The temple is a symbol of beauty and virtue. The temple is dedicated to God. It is kept clean and pure to welcome His holy presence, that it may be worthy of His constant embrace.

As I thought about the day previous, and the many, many times I have been endowed with power in the holy temples of God, I realized that I find peace and relief in beauty, and in virtue--not just in holy temples, and on temple grounds, but in everything that is beautiful and virtuous. I realized that peace is power, and that virtue is also power.

I can recall specific times when I have removed myself from an unholy environment or situation and found such unexpected power and peace and even joy distill upon my body, mind and heart, relieving my spirit from the initial suffering at having to separate myself as a recluse--preferring companionship, but unwilling to let companionship take precedence over conviction and love of God. God is first, or at least I hope to make Him so in my life, and to faithfully repent when I fail to honor and love Him as I desire.

I can recall specific times when worthy music, and even the thought of beautiful and virtuous music, has filled my heart with joy and sweet release from the cares and burdens of daily life, empowering and invigorating my heart, body and soul.

That which is beautiful and virtuous is inspiring, ennobling, and increases our love of God and of all men. All men.

The temple has an ennobling effect. When I am in the temple I tend to sit a little taller, and think a little clearer. Some people say that the world leaves their thoughts when they enter the temple. For me, it takes some time to settle my mind. As I focus on the meaning of my temple covenants, peace of mind comes as I connect to the powers of heaven, and receive answers to my questions and concerns that trouble my heart. It happens every time. Every time.

When I walk outside the temple doors my step is more confident, sure, and free than when I walked in. I have left my burdens behind me, and I see the world through new eyes (Mosiah 24). The joy of life inside my soul brings light and color and definition to the world around me. The beauty of my surroundings shine with refreshing brilliance; peace, serenity and appreciation for even that which had troubled me before entering the temple exude from my soul. I am changed. I am new, made new through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Oh isn't it wonderful? Isn't it a miracle?

The prophet Ezekiel (to my knowledge) recorded the Lord's promise of renewal to those who seek His sanctifying power:

"a new heart . . . will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them . . . and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will . . . save you from all your uncleannesses" (Ezekiel 36: 26-29; 11: 19-20).

Isn't it wonderful and a miracle?

I wonder, how would I be different if I attended the temple more frequently? How would my relations be different? I wonder. I know I would be stronger. In many ways. For that is the promise. And it is sure. There is no room nor reason to doubt the change that is wrought in my being each time I in faithfulness attend. Why and how could I ever question such an intimate expression of God's love?

And yet the battles of the journey do stir up questions and even doubt/disbelief. In faith I respond with hope. I do not know, but I do know of my experience. And I know of my hope, which leads me through life's pastures--its valleys and shadows, its joys and its sorrows, through heaven and hell, its mountains and ravines--to a more desirable state of glory, truth, and incomprehensible beauty.

I hold on with hope. I believe in holding on with hope to the word of God, as a rod of Iron leading to the living waters, as I traverse through this life to the next. If I had a chance to get up and bear my testimony during fast and testimony meeting today, that is what I would of said. I am so grateful for the hope I have in Christ.

God is my witness, and the Spirit is my guide, and my Savior, well, He is my everything. I am nothing without Him; less than nothing.

May we all discover the blessing of God's grace, and enjoy the beauty surrounding us in clarity through the purity and virtue of Christ our redeemer. May the magnificence of His life enliven our hearts and minds to one day see as we are seen, and know as we are known, "having received a fulness of his grace" (D&C 76: 94).

I believe that we are daughters and sons of a living and loving God, our Heavenly Father, whose work and glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1: 39). There is nowhere on Earth where I can know my divine worth as a daughter of God as profoundly as in His holy temples--where His beauty and magnificence is preserved and treasured, and set apart from a fallen world that continues to crucify His Beloved Son and faithful disciples.

May we choose to believe. May we choose to hope. May we choose to hold to the rod, the word of God, that I believe--and have good reason/cause to believe--will lead us safely home.

This is my prayer.