Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Pain of Glass

Today I was sitting in my sacrament meeting at church and was just thinking and my mind just did its own thing and started imagining and thinking about my life. I realized that my life is a lot like a sheet of glass. I thought of it as I looked out the window at the mountains with the clouds rising over them like steam over the edge of a pot. The glass was a good representation of me.

For the most part I am transparent. People can see right through me because I am unable to hide anything. And when it comes to other people I can usually help them see the silver lining behind life and I can help them see a real reflection of who they are. I can help them see the good in life. However, when it comes to my friends when I let them touch me, they leave their mark. Sometimes it is a good thing and other times, the mark is not the best. Sometimes it takes time to really clean up what is left behind.

 I have been able to see a lot and experience a lot in my life and it has made me strong. Still, it doesn't mean that I don't feel pain. I still can feel and know what people go through. There are a lot of people however that don't treat others like people. They treat them like things, obstacles, and objects. People have to learn to respect one another because when we hurt each other we can break each other's heart. We can shatter. We can break into so many little pieces it is almost impossible to start trying to put them back together. Life is interesting when  you are made of glass.

He Wishes for The Cloths of Heaven
(William Butler Yeats)

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Finding Joy in the Journey

Last week on my day off from work, I went to Salt Lake to check out apartments to move to after the summer was over in anticipation for Fall and Winter semesters at the U of U. I probably ended up checking out about 20 different apartments that I had found and researched that morning. It was a long day to say the least. But instead of driving home when I was done to go spend time with roommates and friends in Provo I went to a park instead.
A few weeks earlier I had met a gorgeous girl at this park and had an awesome night getting to know her. All we had done was talk and walk around the park and it was super relaxing and a lot of fun. In fact, I was supposed to see her again that night but plans weren't solid to begin with and we were kind of playing it by ear so I didn't know what to expect. Anyways, I ended up following my feet back to the same park we had first met at. It was still pretty light outside for being 8:00 or 9:00 at night. So I decided to walk up a nearby hill, lay down on the grass and just look at the clouds. I was in slacks and a black button up dress shirt but who cares, it was a little wet grass.

So there I waited for a call or a text that would never come. I just laid on that hill looking up at the sky wondering what it would be like to have gravity flipped, pulled off of that hill, and go falling up to the clouds above. I imagined that I wasn't laying on the ground but on the ceiling of my room with the white fluffy floor far beneath my feet. I wondered what it would be like to fly among them and just feel the wisps on my face and through my fingers. Having the clouds condense into water droplets like a dew on my fingertips. Then I came back down to earth and saw how late it was getting.

To give this girl another chance, I walked over to a nearby ball field and watched a few local high schools play a baseball game. It was fun to feel the energy and watch the coaches and players strategize and try to get into each other's heads. I forgot how much fun it was to be in the atmosphere of a ballpark. Baseball is like golf, unless you love it then it can be pretty boring to watch or even play. I love both when it comes to golf but with baseball I love to be a spectator and not so much a player. The sound of the umpire and the voices from the dugouts and the stands, the smack of the pitch landing in the catcher's glove, the crack of the bat on a line drive, the sudden energy when a runner clears first and races to second base. The sounds of the game, the feel of the stands, the lights illuminating the field... It is so nostalgic and brings back memories of Fenway from when I was younger.

So the girl never called and she never came. So what. I walked among angels. I cheered on the underdogs from the stands. I know life continually moves onward and always is pushing me forward but I hope that along the way, I never grow up.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Me, Myself, and I

Everyone has gifts that are special and unique to them. They are the qualities that make them different than anybody else. Some people it can be the challenges that they deal with on a day to day basis. I have a friend who is handicapped and yet he takes things on like a champ. Others it can be their personality or specific mannerisms that can help them be picked out of a crowd. Typically I am good judge of character and I can see things that make people special and I am able to help them accent those characteristics and help others succeed. However, it is hard for me to do that in a mirror.

I know we are all our own toughest critics and we are the only ones that know the desires of our hearts. I hate how my weaknesses seem so blaringly obvious to me and sometimes I feel like they are inescapable. Typically I am an optimistic person and the other day I was catching up with friends. It started to get late. I needed to head home. As I was heading out the door, I started to join a conversation that I am very passionate about: relationships and dating. At the end of the conversation, I left feeling like I had made those present very awkward, defensive, and even possibly offended by what I said. The comment that helped me realize my mistake from a close friend who as I gave her a hug, said that I shouldn't be so cynical. That one reply hit me like a ton of bricks in the face.

If there is something I don't feel like I am, it would be cynical. So what made me respond that way? What pushed me to say the things that I did? Then I realized it. Fear.

I am afraid of being alone.

Some people understand me. I can write for hours and I am a deep thinker. I am perfectly fine going to a movie theater to see a movie by myself. I love to go for unplanned drives and long walks to clear my head and feel like I am going somewhere. I like to take time to talk with God and try to determine my standing before my Maker. I feel uncomfortable in big crowds and at parties but I like to have fun. And as independent and carefree and don't-care-what-anyone-else-thinks persona I put off, at the end of the day that bravado or courage or whatever it is still doesn't help me feel any less alone. And more than that, I don't care what everyone thinks of me. But what I don't think people understand is that I do care about what a few people think of me. I never want to feel invisible like I used to feel in high school. I literally would sometimes feel as if I would go completely unnoticed. I know that idea was probably only a feeling and not a reality but that feeling was real and so it affected my perspective. I never want to feel that way again.

The only safeguard I have is the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will try and plan things and maybe they will work out. At other times, they only work out part way. I can't remember how many trips I have planned where no one seemed to want to go and then later on, I found that they did want to but I was just not invited. I can't really accurately convey or express the emotions or feelings that created inside of me of worthlessness, un-wanting, and exclusion. But thank God, it wasn't the case all of the time. God could always be my sanctuary. I could always turn to Him. Still, it is hard to fill a life with Him in all aspects and there are certain ones where you need someone who can physically be there.

I don't know why I care so much. I don't know why I try to put myself in other people's shoes in order to better understand their perspective so I can better help and love them. Life and my parents have been great teachers. I hope to find someone some day that will care enough about my needs and wants as I will try to do for theirs. I hope they will protect and safeguard the physical nature of our relationship as I will try to do the same for the emotional and relational nature of it. I want my wife to not only trust me with her safety and well-being but with her heart, her thoughts, and her dreams. I want her to feel open in discussing her innermost feelings with me because she knows I will keep them safe. Until I find her however, I will have to settle with a relationship with myself and I don't know but there might be a reason for that.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Feeling As If I Am Un-Found

Sometimes my emotions are hard to explain and sadly enough I can feel the words turning in my head, not knowing what to say, my facial expressions that are typically so animate are instead stoic. I look tired, exhausted, feeling broken but knowing that I am not really broken but in reality I am un-found. I know that is not a word but I think it is more expressive than saying I am lost.

I feel like when you are a person like me you are not technically lost or broken but in trying to describe myself I feel like I live for others and many times not for myself. I don't feel like living for yourself is very fulfilling. My mission changed that in me. I feel like the greatest happiness and purpose can be found in sacrificing for the greater good and loving others regardless if they deserve it or not because of what they do but we all deserve love simply by who and what we are as human beings and immortal sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. I feel like love can be shown in different ways and sometimes in ways we don't understand. Sometimes letting others feel or experience pain is a form of love, letting them learn, helping them grow, and allowing them time to heal.

I want to run to people, to help them, but at times it is more important for them to learn to help themselves. The reason why I choose to go by my middle name as a pen name is because in some small way I want to try to live up to the man who I was named after. I want to live a life worth remembering. That doesn't mean I need to be extraordinary or do something amazing, miraculous, or wonderful. I just need to be consistent in helping the people around me feel that they can be something special. Our minds are an amazing thing. We think that there are things that we can and can not do and because we think that, it becomes so. If we just realized that we can do anything and that nothing is impossible, our world would be forever changed and the kinds of creativity and innovation that would spawn would be amazing. I want to live a life worth remembering by not letting a person slip by feeling like they are not worth something. I want to help others feel happiness and joy in their life. I want to show people that circumstances do not define us as people but who we are is defined by the perspective, choices, and moral integrity and character we possess and express at all times in our lives. There is truth in the idea of taking life one day at a time.

The thing is that we have to accept imperfection. God does. How frustrating it must be for a Perfect Being to have to work with imperfection constantly unless of course He is able to see the perfection in what may appear to be chaos. We will always need one more chance. I am not saying that we are addicted and unable to overcome temptation or the things that befall or tempt us. It is that once we have become strong enough there will be something else that we will need to do. There will always be something for us to overcome and more importantly become in mortality. So if we can accept that we are all in this fight together then we need to accept and try to see each other as God sees us, on the pathway to perfection. Darkness will always follow the light but it will never and can never be stronger than it. Our choice to do the right thing will always be clouded and opposed but nothing can ever take away our ability to choose unless we give away that power. We are always stronger.

 Obviously, my thoughts can get away from me at times and although I may believe many things, it does not mean that I am not tempted in feeling that I am alone. God never intended for us to be alone and we never truly are. In times of despair, fear, regret, or loneliness, we can call on Him and He will come to our aid. We need only turn to Him and we will see He was there waiting the whole time. But even then, God made Adam and Eve to complete each other and cleave to one another as two parts that together create a whole. We are incomplete without each other. God intended that He in that partnership between man and woman would sanctify that relationship and give it His blessing, protection, and even power so that we might comprehend and taste heaven on earth.

This returns my thought again to my feelings of late of being un-found. It is not that I am lost searching for my other half. A soul mate is not found. It is made. A relationship where two souls have come together and begin to create from two incomplete parts a cohesive pair comes from spending time grinding out the differences and smoothing out the strengths and weaknesses that each member offers individually. In turn, they can become a strong, supportive, single unit. They work together as if they were designed for one another when in reality, they became so. But again I feel like I know individuals that I would be willing to spend the time and effort to create a relationship and hopefully a lasting relationship with. However, the only way this process will work is if both parties want to come together. And that, I haven't found.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Real Judge

Every month's fast and testimony meeting is an adventure. You have people sharing all sorts of interesting stories, experiences, lectures, testimonies, etc. However this last Sunday, someone shared a certain Bible story that provided me with an interesting perspective.

We have the story of the woman taken in adultery and for the most part we all remember the beginning and the end of the story. Christ speaks to the Pharisees and Sadducees and says, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." The mob disperses and then later after the woman sees that she and the Savior are alone he tells her compassionately, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?" She replies, "No man, Lord." And Jesus said unto her, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

Christ does not forgive this woman for the sin because she had not yet taken the time to repent and seek forgiveness. The sin that she had committed when is second only to murder and denying the Holy Ghost so the gravity of her actions were great. However, if we stop and look more closely at the situation we will see something so loving and miraculous about this event.

All of the world is there pointing fingers, acknowledging and condemning her for her mistake. Yet Christ dispels the mob and asks who is left to condemn the woman. The only individuals that are left are the Savior and the sinner, of which the Savior does not condemn the sinner. He loves her. The only individual who condemns us is ourselves. We are the only one who can separate ourselves from Christ. He is willing to love us and allow us the time to repent. He will not condemn us. We are not too far gone. His sacrifice was infinite and eternal. His love knows no bounds. There is hope yet for this woman as there is hope yet for all of us. The gravity of the mistake does not condemn us. Our pasts do not condemn us. We condemn us. Christ is and will always be the Savior and will do everything in His power to help redeem and sanctify us so we can return home to our Heavenly Father. God's love is eternal. If only we could see ourselves through His loving eyes.

Refusing to Stop Trying

One thing I have realized in life is when the world begins to turn on you and things seem to feel like you might be overwhelmed, life is about to do something special. Things can always get worse and in this particular case, I mean "always." I had a friend want to catch up a bit today and see how I was doing. Well, right now life is only just a tad hectic.

I still don't have an apartment figured out for where I am going to be living in for the next fall with grad school. I don't even know if it is going to be in Provo and I am going to commute with the train or whether I am going to be in Salt Lake. I don't know if I am rooming with anyone that I know or if it is going to be random. I still don't have my check back from my last landlord with the security deposit and refund from pro-rated June. My work didn't end up paying me last week for anything and so combined I have about $1K of money floating around. And when it comes to schedule, I still am not sure I know how my summer is going to end. Fly home and paint house for my dad, quit work a week early and road trip to San Diego, switch shifts so I can go see a Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20 concert in Las Vegas... There is a lot up in the air and there is a lot that has already been shot down. I now know for certain that I officially won't be able to go on my graduation trip to Cancun. My family is still going to go because they have everything scheduled and work aligned and everything so I am glad that it won't be wasted but it definitely is a sucky situation.

But let me for a second put this all in perspective.

I have a lot of money is savings or still owed to me so financially I am stable and well off. I have medical insurance that covers me so I am not screwed because of my health. If I didn't have medical insurance then my diabetes would be considered a pre-existing condition and I would have to pay all of my diabetic supplies and so forth out of pocket and I would go broke entirely. I have a roof over my head. I am a alive. I don't have a family or kids to pay for so my expenses are controlled the best that they can. I have no illegitimate children I have to worry about or at least that I am aware of. I have no loans or debt of any kind and in all reality I have grad school basically all paid for. I am working and making money. I have a vehicle that runs still even though I think I may have killed the AC in it recently, it still works. Really life is good and it could be a whole lot worse than it is now.

Some days things are tough. All of the cards seem to point in the other guy's favor. You can't catch any breaks. Everything you seem to do is wrong. You can get discouraged. You can get down on yourself. But the big thing is that success doesn't create lasting happiness. Happiness creates success and happiness is based on perspective.

Things can be a whole lot worse even when things may be hard now. All it means is that if you refuse to stop trying, you won't let your circumstances stop you or tear you down, then you are choosing to become stronger. You are growing and good things are in store for you. Soon the rain will stop and the sun will come out and the blessings will come. You cannot control what other people choose to do or not do. But you can control how much you are going to let it affect you. What some people might feel would be the twist of the knife after the stab in the back, you can pull yourself out of your situation and learn from the lesson, find the hidden blessings, and be supportive and loving regardless of how you are treated. You can center yourself and try to put yourself in their shoes because we all have the same basic needs and wants, we just have a different perspective. So no matter how much life feels like it is going to hell in a hand basket, I refuse to stop trying. I refuse to give in.

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)"

Friday, July 5, 2013

Where Confidence Comes From

I am a good listener and I have been talking a lot with a bunch of different people at work. It is crazy how many people have issues not knowing who they are and they can recognize a confidence in me that I hadn't seen before. The difference between my confidence and other people is my confidence comes from self worth. I may not be the most handsome man alive or the biggest but I am at peace with myself and with my God and because of that, I don't care what any one else thinks of me. It's important to realize who you are as a child of God and to see other people in a similar light.