I've sat down many times over the last few weeks to write a post here on The Faith Friends blog. Each time I sat down to write, I felt like I couldn't compose my thoughts as succinctly as I wanted. So tonight I'm just going to write without worrying about the flow of this post (thank you for your patience if this doesn't make sense!).
Four weeks ago today, I gave birth to a little boy. During my stay in the hospital, I met some of the sweetest nurses. To me, they were like angels there to help me when my baby cried and I couldn't calm him, and there to help me when I cried because I was overwhelmed.
Meeting these angelic nurses reminded me that all of us have been given talents from God. I don't think these nurses know how much they touched my heart and my life. One nurse in particular saw my tear-stained cheeks after I met with a lactation consultant and sat down next to my bed to share with me her challenges nursing when she had her first child. (Side-note: My little boy had trouble nursing in the hospital and my meeting with one lactation consultant there was a very negative experience). Her words strengthened me and have stayed with me.
We all have been given talents. Sometimes we may think we're not making a difference in this world, but we never know who we touch through our words and actions. We should never doubt that we can (and do) make a difference.
The more I learn about history, the more I see humble men and women just doing what they felt God wanted them to do. This was my experience learning more about Martin Luther King Jr. at the Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta, GA.
It was incredible to watch the Civil Rights March on Washington, with over 200,000 peaceful protesters, to hear the speakers of the rally. It truly was witnessing a modern-day miracle via video footage.
After my visit through the museum I walked through the gift shop, the worker there asked me how I liked my visit. I responded with my love and admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and then added the further thoughts that had been bouncing through each turn and each wall in the museum; "he knew who he was." The gift shop employee nodded, probably wondering what does she mean by that?
What made Martin Luther King Jr. different? His faith and foundation in the teachings of Jesus Christ helped him to know who he could call upon for strength. Martin Luther King Jr. knew who he was, a son of God with a divine heritage. He knew that he was called of God for a great purpose, he knew and felt truth through the Holy Spirit. He was a humble, educated, true follower of Jesus Christ. He understood that God will help us fight our battles. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was more than himself, he was filled with the power and spirit of God and THAT is his greatest accomplishment-his humility and trust in God.
I learned so much about how to fight our own battles, no matter the enormity. I learned that when you fight against something you always lose. You are filled with hate, contention, aggression. You are not free, but are under the deceptive chains of the devil. This is one of his snares.
"And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothingconcerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell."
-Alma 12:10-11, Book of Mormon
When we are hard in our hearts we are spiritually dead, God cannot speak to us in this state and we are enslaved.
On the contrary I found that when we fight FOR something that is right we are filled with the spirit of the Lord. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for peace, justice, freedom- God was able to be with him to fight his battles. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a conduit for God to be able to fight the battles with all of his children.
- He knew who he was
-He was educated
-He fought FOR something. not against.
I found personal freedom in this discovery within the walls of the Civil Rights Museum. No longer enslaved in the fight against those things in my country that feel unjust- I will follow the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and fight humbly, ferociously, and peacefully for those freedoms that are true and right and important for me and my family. I will know who I am, a daughter of God, and I will have His help in this process.
My apologies. I haven't posted in a million years. I blame business school for repeatedly kicking me in the face for the past two months. Which brings me to my next point.
We are all faced with new experiences in life that have a "learning curve". If you are like me, you want to get through that time as fast as possible and get back to being a contributing member of society. The start of business school has been one of those experiences for me - but it can look different for everyone. Starting a new job, becoming a parent (again even!), moving to a new place etc. These are times of high growth and learning that stretch us past the point we often think we can endure.
Since I knew school was going to be one of these experiences, I tried to prep myself for it. I even made up some hippie mantras to tell myself as a reminder when I started feeling anxious. But it has still been so hard. And even though I have tried so earnestly to be successful in my classes, I have been royally failing a lot (looking at you fuh-nance midterm! that's how you say "finance" when you are uppity). But! I am still learning. I know more about business now than I did a month ago - and that in and of itself is a success. One of the most beautiful aspects of life is that the purpose is to learn - and to ultimately learn to be like our Savior. Oftentimes in particular periods of growth, God is the only one who can truly help us. I've come to better appreciate the times when I know the only way I'm functional is by the grace of God. It strengthens my relationship with and appreciation of Him. Goodness what a time to be alive :) God is there to make our burdens light, to lift us up when our heads hang down in weariness and to be our biggest supporter!
My three tips for times like these (because all the best advice comes in threes... ;) ):
1. Be brave
New experiences are scary. But truth is, everyone else is scared, too. You can do it and you will do it and most wonderfully - God will help you. Have the courage to try the things that scare you - because not only will that help you, it also encourages the people around you to be brave :)
2. Be patient
You won't be perfect the first day. In fact, you probably won't be perfect for a lot of days :) All you can do is your best and your best is good enough. Honest truth. I keep telling myself to "just sit back on it" - like you do when you are first learning to ski or wakeboard. Those first few seconds with all the water up your nose are a holy terror, but you just have to hold on and know that you'll eventually come out on top!
3. Choose to be happy
You will look back on times like these with fondness - I know, I know, I want to slap everyone who says that to me in the face right now. But! It's true. We love to grow. And these are periods of intense growth. Enjoy it for what it is and choose each day to find reasons to be happy.
Life can be crazy - but there is also so much reason to be grateful.
love you too much!
PS - If you are really feeling that patience theme - this is my favorite talk of all time that I think I post about waaaaaaaay too often:
"Patience" by Neal A. Maxwell
Recently, as I’ve pondered ways to more fully connect with God and take time for holiness each day, I’ve thought a great deal about my use of social media. A couple months ago, I deactivated my Facebook account. I found myself getting sucked into my Facebook newsfeed too often and mindlessly scrolling when I was bored.
I felt a desire to separate myself from Facebook because I felt like doing so would help me more fully live in the present moment and find more time in my day to connect with God. I am expecting my first child in the next couple of weeks, and I don’t want to spend the quiet moments of motherhood gazing at my phone.
Social media can be such a powerful tool for good that allows for sharing light and messages of hope. It’s one’s individual use of social media that determines whether social media is a positive or negative influence on one’s life. While I deactivated my Facebook account, I am still active on Instagram. I love seeing the pictures that family members and friends post.
While listening to others discuss the benefits and perils of social media/technology, it occurred to me that there are two main categories of social media users: consumers and contributors. I mainly fall into the category of a consumer. However, I want to be both a consumer and a contributor.
Through contributing to conversations on social media, we can be lights. We can brighten someone’s day. We can spread happiness. We can share our witness of Jesus Christ. There is value in consuming, but I think there may be even greater value in contributing.
One’s use of social media is a personal decision. We each get to decide what social media outlets we’re active on, how much time we spend on them, and how much we consume vs. contribute. I want to do a better job of contributing versus merely consuming.
These are just some thoughts that have been floating around in my mind – thanks for reading!
It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and focus on our own challenges. Then we learn of the suffering of others and our perspective shifts. That's happened twice for me this week. As I see the devastation and suffering in Houston, my heart aches. As I get updates on a cousin's newborn baby's health challenges, my heart aches. I feel motivated to look outside myself and try and ease the burdens of others.
But it shouldn't take a natural disaster or a loved one's health crisis to motivate me to love more fully and serve more compassionately. That being said, I am a human with weaknesses, and I sometimes suffer from what I like to call "center of the universe" syndrome :)
I am grateful for a forgiving Savior who loves me regardless of my weaknesses; who taught me by His example what it means to serve and to have charity; and who will help me love more deeply and serve more compassionately today than I did yesterday.
I love this quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance."
I am grateful for countless individuals who have been answers to my prayers throughout my life, and I hope I can do the same for others.
In June we spent time as a family in Nauvoo. It was so serene and incredible. We
were able to walk the streets, have one on one time with each kid, get custard, watch Sunset by the Mississippi and Just Plain Anna Amanda, connect with missionaries, walk the trail of Hope and listen to the vignettes by firelight and fireflies, visit the Smith family cemetery, walk around the temple, take a wagon ride, and just BE in Nauvoo without a care in the world.
It was extra special for me to walk the Trail of Hope vignette with Samuel as Brad stayed with
Marie in the distance (because she was restless). We were able to go from actor to actor,
listening to their particular story of leaving Nauvoo and traveling west. They told their 5 minutes
each by firelight as the sun was setting. It started at around 8:45pm for us, and by the end it was
pitch black outside. I felt so astonished once again at the sacrifice of the early saints. They really
just walked into the unknown-and literally “walked”. Hearing each story of faith was just
overwhelming, to then question if the saints would be willing to do something like that
today-would I? Walk out into the unknown with my children, crossing the plains??? It is very
hard to see myself doing such a thing. But then I had to stop myself and ultimately came to the
realization that I cannot compare life now with life then. They are different, but in the end -am I
keeping my covenants? I guess that’s all I need to worry about. I can still honor the saints and
love them and look up to their ability to walk in the dark, but it is going to be an uphill battle if I
want to figure out if I could do it just like them.
It was magical walking down Parley street with Samuel, he was riveted at each performance,
and at one point when the fireflies came out- right in the middle of the actor’s portrayal he yelled
out - “fireflies!”, he really is my son, we both love those magical creatures.
I loved the walk down Water street, with Marie sleeping in the stroller, Brad was down at the
edge of Parley street skipping rocks on the Mississippi with Samuel and I had my time alone to
stroll. I was able to just fully be present in Nauvoo and the quiet of Joseph and Emma’s home. I
tried to imagine myself there with them, how it would feel to walk up to the mansion house and
say “hello”, once again I couldn’t imagine it-and I had to be ok with just feeling a gratitude and
love for them and this place.
I wasn’t there in Nauvoo in 1839 or 1846, I am here in Nauvoo now, in the 2017s. My experience
isn’t the same as the early saints, I don’t have to walk across the country or sacrifice the
well-being of my children for the gospel’s sake. But I do sacrifice my time, talents, and abilities,
and everything with which the Lord has blessed me- for what I am asked to do in building up the
kingdom of God on earth. Some of that sacrifice is just plain old, day to day motherhood.
It’s not a measurable sacrifice, nor is it something formal or put on display. It’s just waking up
and being there, and trying harder the next day, and working to have energy and to be well-for
them, because they need you more than ever and more than anyone. That is my trek across
the country, it is the morning till night, day after day of loving these children and working to be
better at it.
I am grateful for Nauvoo. That it will always be there . That God chose me to be a part of it in my
day and age. It is a living, breathing, entity, and not stuck in 1846. There is a Nauvoo today, and
it has a purpose for the 2017s. We remember those who were there, we love them, they are
everything to the church, but Nauvoo I found this trip, is here right now-today-and it is relevant
and brings me the peace and sunshine I need to be the mother of this generation and of these
very special children.
I was reading my scriptures the other day and had flipped to one of my favorite verses, Phillipians 4:13. I was reading the chapter and came across a verse that usually doesn't get as much of my attention:
I think it would be awesome to be content with whatever my circumstances in life! So! I went searching for some more words on the topic. I came across a couple of talks that had great insights.
Neal A. Maxwell hits it out of the park with this talk
Another favorite is this BYU Devotional given by Mary Ellen Edmunds.
Elder Maxwell speaks a lot about being content in our "allotment" in life, allotment generally referring to our circumstances. Our responses to what has been given to us, the choices we make based on our personal circumstances, are what matter.
This quote particularly stuck out to me:
"Being content means acceptance without self-pity."
Kind of a doozy, eh? My baby sister is about to start high school and I'm about to start school as well (again! another master's degree! because why not?! #allthemaster'sdegrees #andhogwartsgraduationrobes) So! We've had some good conversations lately. She had some really difficult things happen in middle school (turns out middle schoolers are still the worst) that are still affecting her life. There are things that I wish were different about my life, too. It's hard to not feel sorry for myself when I compare the "worst" parts of my life with the best parts of other people's lives. And whether we are entering high school or established in our careers or in whatever state of life we are in, that comparison is never going to make us happy. Finding contentment within the circumstances, or the unchangeable aspects of our lives, is a task!
"Developing greater contentment within certain of our existing constraints and opportunities is one of our challenges... Neither should we pine away, for certain things outside God’s givens ... because there is so much to do within what has been allotted to us. "
A real "epiph" (as we like to call them) happened when I read that. I have a tendency toward thinking if I just accomplish x/y/z, THEN I will be doing something meaningful. Or THEN I'll be working at full capacity or doing something important. We don't have to wait to be content. Who even knows what I'm waiting for. There is plenty for me to be doing right now to help others and improve my own life if I would just open my eyes. And when I DO open my eyes, I am content.
Sum up! It's our choice when it comes to contentment. Mary Ellen Edmunds reaffirms, "Contentment comes from within much more than it comes from without." Three things I think we need to focus on to be content:
1. Be grateful for how our life looks in this moment (helping others/service usually helps with this!)
2. Have faith that there is a purpose and point to the current circumstances of your life
3. Don't get too caught up with the day-to-day. Honestly, will this really matter in a week/month/year?
And! If all else fails - read this Kanye quote and recognize the realness :)
Love you too much!
Happiness consists not of having, but of being; not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is the warm glow of a heart at peace with itself. - William George Jordan
Nearly seven years ago in Burlington, Iowa, I spent a day knocking on strangers’ doors and asked those who answered if they wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children. At that time, I was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission.
This particular day in Iowa sticks out in my mind because it wasn’t a normal day for me. You see, as a missionary in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission, I was stationed full-time at the church historic sites in Nauvoo. There I gave tours in the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center and other nearby sites. The purpose of my day trip to Iowa was to help sisters newer in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission prepare for their upcoming “outbound assignments,” where they would spend a few months in another state serving as proselyting missionaries. I had previously completed my outbound assignment in the Colorado Denver South Mission.
On this day in Iowa, I was nearing the end of my missionary service. During the drive to Iowa, I silently prayed to God and asked Him to accept my missionary service as an offering of my desire to use my hands and heart to always serve Him.
As I knocked on the very last door that day in Iowa, my heart filled with love, anticipation, and joy in regards to my future. No one answered the door, but as I stood on the doorstep, I felt in my heart that I was standing on the doorstep of motherhood. I felt deep down in my soul that my service as a missionary was acceptable before God and that my next major role in life would be to be a mother.
This was a tender and sacred experience, which I kept close to my heart. After I returned home from my mission, I graduated from BYU and moved to the Washington D.C. area where I had grown up. Months went by and then years went by without ever finding that “special someone” to marry. Sometimes I would think back on my experience in Iowa and wonder if I had conjured up those feelings I had on that doorstep. However, I still felt that the experience I had on that doorstep was a personal witness from God that His divine plan for my life included motherhood.
About five years after my mission concluded, I fell in love and married my husband in the Washington DC LDS Temple. Ironically, he was born and raised in Iowa. And now, nearly seven years since concluding my missionary service, I am pregnant with a baby boy.
If someone would have told me after my experience in Iowa that it would be seven years until I became a mother, I would have been very surprised. I would have thought based upon my experience that marriage and motherhood would come more quickly. However, I have learned that God’s timing is not our timing. Spiritual witnesses come to us in His time and in His way, and the actual manifestations of those witnesses also come in His time and in His way.
Last night, as my husband and I were reading in the scriptures, we read this verse from the Doctrine and Covenants, “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers,” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:10).
Being humble means that we trust in the spiritual witnesses we receive. And even when we don’t see the physical manifestations of those spiritual witnesses, we still continue to believe and allow God to guide our path. I am not perfect at this, and I am certain that it is something I’ll need to work on for the rest of my life.
As I look back on the last seven years, I am so grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had, and I know that they were requisite experiences meant to mold and shape me into the person and mother God wants me to become.
After writing my last blog post, I think I felt so relieved that I finally got the things I’ve learned recently down on paper because it meant that my brain finally had capacity to absorb more (I’ve got a big head but a small brain). As a result, I’ve been reading a lot.
Over and over again recently I’ve been reminded that life is hard. We’re all dealing with stuff. For some, it’s feeling like they didn’t succeed as parents. For others, it’s struggling with infertility. For me some nights, it’s loneliness. Point being, we’re all dealing with pain in some shape or form and sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. My pain may be different than your pain. You may struggle to understand mine and I may struggle to understand yours but sometimes I wonder if we would benefit from uniting as people who suffer rather than focusing on our differences and maybe if we could find unity in that, we could also find comfort in understanding the necessity of suffering.
I started studying suffering this week and while it started in a somewhat deep place, it ended with a middle school commencement address. And I felt like it might be worth sharing because maybe you’re feeling some of the same things I’ve been feeling. If not, it’s totally fine. It’s not you, it’s me.
Without getting too deep into LDS doctrine, as Mormons we believe that prior to this life, we chose to come to earth. We were presented two separate plans. One, Satan’s plan was that not a single soul would be lost because we would have no ability to choose. But we chose the Savior’s plan which was that we would come to earth and would be given the opportunity to choose for ourselves. We believe it is as we make choices and overcome opposition that we are able to become more like our Heavenly Father and that this becoming is the point of our existence. As Francine R. Bennion said, “Nobody is manipulating every human decision that would affect every human experience. If God did, we would have the kind of existence now that Lucifer offered permanently.”
We chose agency and as a result, we, in a sense, also chose suffering. We understood prior to coming to earth that in order to become what we were meant to become, we had to make decisions, learn from both the good and the bad, and respond to the decisions of those around us. In short, it’s this agency that makes life so dang good and also so frustrating at times.
Sometimes our own personal decisions make life hard and sometimes it is the decisions of others that make our lives hard but regardless of the cause, suffering is part of this life.
But why? How can a God who loves us bear to watch as his children suffer? Does he not care or is it because God himself has suffered and understands the value found in suffering? I’ve already mentioned Francine Bennion once, but this week, I read a talk she gave in the book, “At The Pulpit” and it absolutely blew my mind. The talk addresses this subject of suffering and while personal experiences sparked this exploration for me, Bennion’s talk fanned the flame. Bennion tells of a conversation she had with a group of BYU students who were discussing Voltaire and “the best of all possible worlds,” when one suggested that heaven will be a place where “everyone will be—happy. There won’t be any unkindness. No one there will be rejected or abused, or laughed at, or ignored.” Bennion then asked, “Oh, are you suggesting that God experiences none of these things now?” To believe this when we hear people take the Lord’s name in vain on a daily basis or when religious beliefs are mocked worldwide is asinine.
No, I think it is because of personal experience that God knows the development that occurs amidst our suffering.
This week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts spoke at his son’s ninth-grade graduation, and while he spoke from the perspective of a loving earthly father, I couldn’t help but think that his words seem to echo divine truth.
“Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty,” he said. “Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.
“And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”
Suffering is what we came here to experience. It is through opposition that we discover the true goodness and beauty of life. It is through our own pain that we develop empathy and other Christlike attributes.
Spencer W. Kimball said, “Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.”
Certainly we will experience heartbreak as we suffer the consequences of other’s decisions but I trust in the promise found in “Preach my Gospel” that “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” We may not be able to understand how it will all play out but it will be made right in a way that we can’t currently comprehend. I have always heard that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite but I don’t think I really understood the significance of this statement until I read the following statement by Bennion, “As I think of the Atonement of Christ, it seems to me that if our sins are to be forgiven, the results of them must be erased. If my mistakes are to be forgiven, other persons must be healed from any effects of them. In the same way, if other persons are to be released by the Atonement, then we must be healed from their mistakes.” This is not scripture but it rang true in my heart. The Atonement of Jesus Christ will make everything right. It will cure all pain. Maybe not in this life but eventually it will. On and on, forever and ever, the Savior’s Atonement will go on healing the suffering that we experience.
So what do we do in the meantime? Maybe we try to love a little better and a little more. Maybe we could try harder to remember that everyone around us is dealing with some pain and God’s heart aches for them. We can show our love for Him by loving His children. In a talk called “Latter-day Saints and the Problem of Pain,” David Holland tells of advice his father once received from Neal Maxwell, a former leader in the LDS Church, who said after reading a draft of a talk Jeffrey R. Holland had written, “Jeff, there is one place in the talk where you have been insufficiently careful of the pain in people’s lives. There are scars that go unnoticed, but you must see them. You must tread with caution on the hallowed ground of another’s suffering.”
I think our becoming will depend not only on our ability to cope amidst our own suffering but will also come as we see the scars that are not visible to the eye, as we seek to relieve the suffering of those around us. I guess ultimately my hope would be the same that Francine Bennion expressed before I was ever born:
“God is love, and our becoming so is what matters. I pray we may gain courage and faith to affirm the choice we made, to remember that we are active and alive and meeting suffering because God knew we could and because we believed we could. ...Let us love each other, mourn with each other, and sacrifice fear for courage. Let us seek reality and truth, forgiving ourselves and each other, learning to help ourselves and each other as we can. Let us become more like our God, who is good.”
On Monday, I will turn 28-years-old. This is somewhat of a freaky thought for someone who still feels like they should be 12. But I’m grateful for birthdays because I think they always allow an opportunity for introspection and reflection. This week I have been thinking about the last year of my life a lot. This year was honestly one of the hardest I have ever had. There is no one reason that it was tough but a lot of little difficult things that seemed to add up and still as I thought back on this year, I realized that I wouldn’t change anything about it.
This year taught me to feel and to process. It taught me to trust and to learn. And oddly enough, these lessons I’ve discovered along the way have made 27 one of the years that I think I will look back and cherish most in the years to come. I read a quote once that said “we write to taste life twice” and while 27 was a little bittersweet, I think I may want to taste it again at some future date so here are 27 lessons I learned from being 27:
1. Give God time to work things out
My roommate recently told me that she was telling her dad about a situation she was concerned about and her dad said something like, “You just haven’t had time to see how God makes it all work out.” If there is anything that I have learned in the last year, it is that somehow even when a situation may seem irreparable, He really does have the ability to make “all things work together for good to them that love God.” So we pray and we believe and we trust that if we are doing our part, everything will work out.
2. You will never regret the decision to be kind.
There was a time this year when I was starting to reconsider this statement but you can now take me to the bank on it.
3. G2G protein bars are everything.
This week my boss told me to never say anything “is everything.” It is now my goal to work that phrase into everything I write but really, G2G. I’m not kidding. They’ll change your life. And no, this is not sponsored.
4. Feel the pain.
Things will hurt. They will break your heart. Feel the pain. Acknowledge it. Ponder what you’re learning but don’t ignore it and don’t allow yourself to become numb. I heard someone say this year that “suffering is hard but it’s where it leads us that makes it necessary.”
Orson F. Whitney said, “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.” Along the same lines, Virginia Pearce said, “If our troubles can take us to God, we can be thankful for them.” I can keep the quotes coming if you’d like? No? OK, moving on.
This year, I have done yoga three times a week on average. I’m pretty sure it has saved my sanity. Namaste.
6. Drive your bus
One of my favorite things I learned in the last year was at a conference I went to back in March. The speaker said that she likes to think of our lives as a bus. She said that we decide who gets on our bus and where they sit. For example, if we want them to be the voice inside our heads, we make them a higher priority and they sit next to us on the bus. So drive your bus, put the people who deserve it in the best seats and reserve the right to kick people off your bus.
7. Learn to be OK with being alone.
One of my favorite quotes I read in the last year says: “The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person--without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.” -Osho.
I don’t know who Osho is but to him I say, “Preach."
I would add to what he said and say that I believe God is best able to communicate with us when we are alone. I also think that it is in moments we feel lonely that we are best able to understand the love of our Savior.
8. “Why not speak of the Atonement of Christ?”
I recently read a scripture in the Book of Mormon and a simple question within the verse struck me. It says “For why not speak of the Atonement of Christ?” It hit me that I should talk more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is the thing that saves us, the thing that gives us hope and yet, we only talk about it at church. We’re all struggling. Everyone is going through something. Life is not the highlight reel we see on Instagram. Life is tough but fortunately, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not just for sin, it gives us strength to recognize our weaknesses, to forgive and to believe. What would happen if instead of trying to outdo each other, we instead shared our experiences with the Atonement? I think the world would be a lot cooler but maybe that’s just me.
9. This life isn’t about having fun. It’s about finding joy.
I went through a little phase where I was having a ton of fun. The past year hasn’t been as fun and at first that was hard for me but then I realized that we aren’t here to have fun. On the contrary, we’re here to learn and ultimately to find eternal joy but that joy comes after opposition, it comes as we learn from the pain. I’ve learned that joy is so much better than fun.
10. Be a friend. Show up.
Brooke Romney, a columnist I work with, wrote a piece this year about the importance of being a friend rather than just being friendly. She said "Real friends call on birthdays and stop by just to say hello. Real friends watch out for your children and have your back when no one else will. Real friends do what is inconvenient, they make time for you and make you feel wanted. Real friends cry with you and want the very best for you. Real friends watch you make mistakes and forgive you. Real friends know you, really know you, and they love you anyway." There is a difference. I learned that this year. So take time to listen, go on walks, give rides to and from the airport, go to the baby shower you don’t feel like going to. Be a real friend and you will always have real friends.
11. Miracles happen and the greatest miracle may be a heart-changing.
I’ve heard that the greatest miracle may be a heart changing. I always thought when people said that they meant a heart changing and choosing to repent but I’ve learned in the last year that Heavenly Father can work miracles in our hearts by softening them, allowing us to see things from a different perspective or by allowing us to forgive. Nothing is cooler than feeling your heart change and realizing there is no way you could’ve made that happen on your own.
12. Take time to be holy.
One of my favorite hymns is a song called “Take Time To Be Holy” and there is a line that I have always loved that says “Take time to be holy, the world rushes on. Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.” In January, I started working in the temple and I feel like that is what it does for me. It gives me a place to get away from the world, to be still and to take time to be holy. Two words: game changer.
13. Country music concerts and hikes in the summer are never a bad idea.
Just trust me on this one. I'll even loan you my roommates if you want an enhanced experience with both.
14. Write down a list of what Heavenly Father thinks of you.
Back in March, I wrote down a list of what Heavenly Father thinks of me and threw away my mental list of what I think everyone else thinks of me. His opinion is the only one that really matters anyway.
Patricia Holland said, “Problems can be painful and dark and disappointing—but we are not painful and dark and disappointing. We are children of God and must see ourselves as God sees us, recognizing the positive in ourselves, the part God loves so much.”
15. Be an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ
My parents attended a funeral for a relative’s husband this year and at the funeral they talked about how he was an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ and how everything he did was in an effort to come closer to God. I hope that someday, someone can say that about me.
Boyd K. Packer said, “I’m not ashamed to say that … I want to be good. And I’ve found in my life that it has been critically important [to establish this intention] between me and the Lord so that I knew that He knew which way I committed my agency. I went before Him and said, ‘I’m not neutral, and you can do with me what you want. If you need my vote, it’s there. I don’t care what you do with me, and you don’t have to take anything from me because I give it to you—everything, all I own, all I am—; and that makes the difference.”
I want to intentionally do things that will bring me closer to Christ.
16. Value your experiences
The Bible says that “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” I believe that as we have experiences in choosing to follow God, the experiences are deposited away into a bank we can draw from when we need reassurance. In Malachi, God says in reference to the law of tithing, “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” He essentially says, “Just try it and see what happens.” I believe that as we try to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will have experiences that we can withdraw from our bank when we need something to believe in over and over again.
17. Everyone has a story.
I write people’s stories for a living. I love hearing other people’s stories but have never felt like my story had much to offer anyone but this year, my friend Chelsie started getting asked to speak at firesides. She asked me if I wanted to speak with her and at first I was reluctant. Let’s be clear, Chelsie has a really cool story. Mine is a lot less cool but in telling it, I’ve realized we all have a story to tell, even me.
18. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Confession: I was having a hard time coming up with the 27th thing for this list and my roommate said she would tell me something she thought I had gotten better with in the last year. And I feel relieved that she thinks that. In reality, some things just aren't worth stressing over as it turns out.
19. Heaven is a lot closer than we might think.
My grandma, Momel, passed away just over a year and a half ago. It’s interesting how often I have felt her. I’ve felt her at concerts, at church and on my drives to work in the mornings. One of my aunts said at her funeral that if one of Momel’s kids or grandkids were going to raise their hand in class, Momel wanted to be there to see it. It’s true, she tried to be everywhere and I think she’s taking full advantage of her current situation. The other day I was driving to work and had the thought that Momel was telling someone, “Morgan’s going on another first date, wanna watch?” It made me feel good to know that I was providing some entertainment. Here’s hoping she helps a sister out in that department...soon.
20. Be nice to everyone even when you don’t feel good
This year I flew internationally for the first time by myself. I was really sick with a bad cold on the day of my departure and got called up to the terminal counter to check my passport. I was nice and made some jokes to the guys at the counter and they must have been able to tell that I was sick. When I boarded the plane, I realized they had bumped me to first class. Here’s to being nice and to the airline ticket counter guys who were beyond nice. #FlyDelta
21. Life is unfair. Be grateful.
I was driving to work one day about a month ago when I looked out my window at the homeless people I pass every day on my way to work. I was all of the sudden overwhelmed with the sense that life is not fair and that I needed to be grateful for the life that I have. Since then, I have reflected on this thought over and over again. Things can change in the blink of an eye. Be grateful right now.
22. Forget yourself.
My dad has always taught me that if you want to be totally miserable all you have to do is think about yourself all the time. This year, it finally started to sink in. It can be really easy as a young single adult to fall into a “me” mentality because at this point I haven’t really HAD TO worry about anyone but myself for almost ten years. It actually takes an effort to not just become completely self-absorbed but I'm fighting it with all I have.
23. Get out of your comfort zone.
In the words of the Jillian Michaels exercise DVD we watched every morning on my mission, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I am the most cautious person on the planet but there is something super exciting about pushing yourself to do something that scares the heck out of you, knowing you could epically fail but also knowing that if you succeed, it could be pretty sweet.
24. It’s okay to be lost.
I can’t spoil a feature story I wrote that is going to be published this week but just know there is a really awesome quote about this point in that feature. I know you’re riveted now.
Have difficult conversations. Be honest. Don’t allow feelings of frustration, anger or resentment to fester inside of you. Don’t allow a perfectly good relationship or friendship to become ruined by words unspoken. When you really love people, you are willing to have difficult conversations at the risk that they may not like what you have to say. It may take some time but they will eventually realize that you said these things because you love them and they will appreciate having someone in their life who is willing to say the difficult things. Help the people around you feel confident that you are a person who stays and doesn’t run when things get tough.
26. Put first things first.
Charles Penrose said, “Why waste your time, your talents, your means, your influence in following something that will perish and pass away, when you could devote yourselves to a thing that will stand forever?”
Very few things will stand forever, make sure you are placing focus on the things that will. Remember who you are and make decisions based on that divine destiny. Don’t sell yourself short.
27. Love your people
A friend of mine recently said that years ago she asked her best friend, who is also a good friend of mine, if she should hide her "feminist tendencies" and her friend, who is pretty conservative, responded, "Are you kidding me? It's one of your best qualities." She then wrote, "This woman loves her people for who they are." I want to be known as a lover of my people. Thank goodness we're not all the same. And thank goodness for people who take us as we are and love us for who we are while we're learning what we came here to learn. Heaven knows, we're all just trying to figure this thing out.
Messages of Faith
Our blog contributors will deliver consistent messages of faith to try and help all of us come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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