Thursday, January 21, 2016

Nephi wrote, speaking of the messages of the Book of Mormon, "If ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ...And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye--for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things" (2 Nephi 33:10-11).

These verses always struck some fear into my heart while on my mission. Not the afraid kind of fear, but an awe and respect for those who've aided in the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, including the authors of the Book of Mormon. Anyone who truly believes in Jesus Christ will believe in the Book of Mormon, recognizing that it testifies of him. Many times, people mock my beliefs and fight to disprove the teachings I've received. I've come to see that it isn't the Book of Mormon on trial, but we will be judged according to how well we lived its precepts...we are on trial.

"And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?" (Moroni 10:27.)

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. And more importantly, I read the Book of Mormon daily. Knowing it's true is a one-time event...coming to understand and live the doctrine of Christ, as taught in the scriptures, is a lifelong commitment. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

To be a YSA...

Being a part of the "chosen generation" can be a confusing experience, especially when it regards dating and marriage.

On the one hand, we are told to analyze our dating partners. Are they faithful? How do they respond to trials? Can we communicate well? This presents some challenges. Why am I not getting an answer to my prayers? How can I objectively measure the strength of their testimony?? On the other hand, we're told to just "be good" and expect that things will work out. We're told that we'll "feel different" and "just know." My parents have often remarked that I only need to pick someone and "make them the one" for me. I'm told that I don't need to actually pray about it because God has equiped me with the ability to discern and make my own decisions. This leads me to feel guilty when a relationship doesn't work out. Am I a sinner because I couldn't make it work with him? Does that mean I'm not righteous enough to build an eternal relationship?

And then there's the speed of the relationship, which is yet another confusing aspect of dating at BYU. There are two separate and opposing mentalities: Some say, "why wait when you know it's right?" Others argue, "what's the rush?" What about kissing and physical affection? I think we make a big deal out of it. Am I less worthy because I've kissed x-amount of guys? (I've kissed four by the way, and I don't think that's excessive...right?) Does kissing a guy help jumpstart the relationship or help me know it's right? Contrastingly, is it something to save for when I'm 1000% sure that he's "the one?" And meeting the family is another thing. For the Strength of Youth encourages us to introduce those we date to our parents. At the same time, meeting someone's family can create vulnerability and intimacy in a relationship when done too soon. It can form expectations that the relationship will "work out" and that it's "serious." Additionally, it can cause the family to think badly of the ex-partner once the relationship has ended. I'm teased because apparently so-and-so thinks I'm "too smart" and "too prideful." I can't imagine what his family thinks of me, based on what my family thinks of him.

I'll be perfectly candid: Since returning home from my mission, I've gone on dates with more than 20 different guys. I go, on average, at least one date a week. Normally two. Always with different guys--so many of whom I've turned down because I wasn't feeling good about the relationship or I felt that we could both do better. Does this make me some sort of female "tool?" Because I get taken out a lot? Am I too picky? I'm told to date around a lot; my dad compares it to shoe-shopping. At the same time, I'm embarrassed about my dating history because I worry what people (especially potential marriage partners) would think of me if they knew how much of a "hot commodity" I am. I even worry what the girls across the hall must think of me! To always be seeing me with a different guy! I worry about what my Grandma thinks--I told her a few months ago that I was in a relationship...she cautioned me to date around more. She has no idea how many dates I go on!

Anyway, that's my jumbled collection of ideas regarding how dating as a YSA--especially in Provo--can be a confusing experience. It's fun, it's exciting, but it can really wear you out. Yet, I still have hope for something better. I hope it's clear when I meet him and I hope it's some day soon!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lollipops and leaders.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I didn't really have any friends. I remember one day sitting by myself in the hallway to eat lunch. Tanner Skousen, who was the Student Body President at the time, walked by carrying a ladder. He was obviously pretty busy, but he stopped to say "hello" and to ask me about the book I was reading. He called me by name. I couldn't believe that he, possibly the most popular student in the school, knew my name! I'll never forget how important he made me feel that day. Everyday leadership is about small acts of kindness of immeasurable influence.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

moment of clarity

For as long as I can remember, my Grandpa had dementia. He often said silly things and was usually incoherent. But I loved him deeply. I loved Grandpa for being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and for dedicating his life to service in the church and in his family. He and Grandma eloped to the Swiss LDS Temple and he was fiercely loyal to her and his children. He worked as a dentist for many years. He served a mission as a young man and later two more with Grandma. Grandpa was a kind-hearted man and he knew and loved the scriptures.

Three years ago, on Christmas eve, I was in Santa Maria with my family. We kneeled to say a prayer, me right in front of Grandpa. Being a Patriarch, he placed his hands on my head and asked for my name. We explained to him that we were only saying a prayer. He seemed flustered but continued to pronounce a beautiful blessing upon me and my family. After the blessing, my uncle offered a prayer and we went back to whatever it was we were doing.

Grandpa invited me to the corner of the room to talk. In complete coherence, he gave me very specific and personal advice about what I needed to do to be happy. He told me he loved me and soon after fell back into his normal Grandpa ways. I will never forget the advice he gave me and the love and respect I felt for him in those moments.

Grandpa passed away on November 3, 2015. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Santa Maria with my family and hear more about the life of the man who made my life the way it is.

Friday, October 30, 2015

"NEXT" and #ponderizing about hope

So my apartment has experienced 4 break ups in the past week and a half and it's been pretty discouraging all around.

Over the summer I almost dated someone, but things didn't work out. I was expressing my frustrations to my parents and my dad said: "I have the perfect four-letter word for this situation, and that four-letter word is: NEXT!" It was easy then because I knew that Heavenly Father had something better in store for me.

But it's not always that easy. Sometimes there's not a clear "next" and we have to wander in darkness for a while.

My #ponderize scripture for the week comes from Romans 8:

"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

If we know what it is that we're hoping for, then it's not real hope. God wants us to hope in Him! The second we define what it is that we want, we're limiting our faith and limiting His capacity to bless us.

The following verses read:

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

When we pray, we need only show our love and devotion for God. We don't need to verbalize what it is that we need, because often we don't know. The Spirit makes intercession for us by helping us feel confident that God will bless us with something better than we can comprehend. We have to hold onto that hope, patiently waiting for whatever or whoever is "next."

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The God who weeps.

I took a walk to the temple today and was expressing my feelings to my Heavenly Father. I told Him: "Don't you know how I'm feeling? Don't you know how sad I am?"

And without missing a beat, His voice came so clearly to my mind: "Don't you know that I'm sad too?"

God validates us. He can't justify sin, but He knows and understands how we feel. God made some beautiful plans in my life, but because of circumstances outside of my control, they all fell apart. God weeps with me. He knows what I'm feeling because He's feeling it too. And though He can see the big picture, and He knows what's coming next, He has enough love to pause with me for a few moments. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

C.S. Lewis

"The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not. 

I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and , instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

The the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - 'You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. 

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. "