I have always loved the song “Letter To Me,” by Brad Paisley. People can say that they have no regrets and that may be true but for me I know I have regrets over at least some small things in my life. I wish I hadn’t missed my great-grandma’s funeral for a basketball game and I wish I hadn’t thrown a shoe at my sister’s head on a family roadtrip. However, I also love the thought that, even in retrospect, we wouldn’t change certain things.
This week I saw a YouTube video that really made me think. It had people of various ages offering advice to their self one year prior to their current age; for example, a 10-year-old counseling their 9-year-old self. It made me ponder what my 26-year-old self would tell my 25-year-old self. I decided to try it out.
Dear 25-year-old self,
Calm down. I know that you just got home from your mission and you want to continue to progress but reading your scriptures for an hour a day was never realistic. It seemed like a good idea on the airplane on the way home but you have to cut yourself some slack.
You’ll lose your mission weight too so stop stressing about that. The tortillas were worth it and the people you ate them with changed your life.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. God has a plan for you just like he has a plan for them but the timing will be different. Be happy for your friends’ happiness and know that they will be happy for yours.
Speaking of your friends, you have hit the friend jackpot over and over again. You’ll hit it again this year. Cherish your old friends but make room in your life for new ones too. Sit on the grass and talk about life. Play with sparklers in the backyard. Go on hikes and slide down snow-covered mountains. Dance even when you feel insecure and sing songs until way past your bedtime. In one word: live.
You’ll soon learn that money isn’t everything and you’ll learn the hard way. This lesson is important and it will even affect your dating so that job at the charter school where you’ll make bank but be miserable, it’s necessary. Don’t be afraid to take a 50 percent pay cut and walk away, you’ll never regret it.
“Sometimes when things are falling apart they may actually be falling into place.” A friend sent us this quote this week and I realized that is a lesson that we keep learning, you and I, but then we immediately forget. A lot of things will seem to be falling apart for you this year but a lot of things will also fall into place. Look for God’s hand and be patient if you can’t see it immediately.
You will be set up on a million dates. It will be exhausting but you should probably still go. You’ll learn that funny is important but not as important as someone who is kind. You’ll learn the hard way that just because someone says they like you after kissing you doesn’t mean they’ll ever call again. As much as I would love to tell you that guy’s name and warn you not to go out with him, I think it was actually good for us. So go out with him and put your heart on the line.
You’re probably mad at me right now and wondering why I won’t tell you. Let me explain, remember on your mission when you would go teach one family, a family with whom you had shared sacred, precious experiences and out of nowhere they would break your heart and tell you they didn’t want to learn more? You were crushed. It literally hurt.
But then five minutes later you would knock on the door of a family you had never taught before and you offered your heart to them like it had never been broken, just hoping that they would accept what you were offering? That is what you’re going to need to do in dating this year. You may find love and you may not (wouldn’t you like to know?) but your mission softened your heart and made you vulnerable. Don’t give it a chance to become hard again. Pick up the pieces every time, piece it together and give it to someone else. You will lose nothing by loving. And God will heal your broken heart every single time.
“Have courage and be kind.” You’ll hear these words in the movie "Cinderella" (which you should definitely go see because it is magical) and it’s true. This is what your life will require in the next year. Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from taking risks and from being kind.
You’ll experience a lot of change this year and we both know that change is hard on us. You had a hard time when you first went to college but then you loved it. You struggled at the beginning of your mission and then you struggled when you came home. This year will be full of change. You’ll move four times in a little over a year. You’ll switch jobs multiple times. And you know how our parents are always talking about how they would like to move? This year, they are actually going to do it. All of this change will be difficult but just remember that change has brought about almost all of the best experiences of your life.
I would love to tell you that this will be the best year of your life but the truth is, just like every other year, it will be what you make it.
On a recent trip to Stanford campus I was impressed with this quote inside the school's chapel:
"There is no narrowing so deadly as the narrowing of man’s horizon of spiritual things. No worse evil could befall him in his course on earth than to lose sight of Heaven. And it is not civilization that can prevent this; it is not civilization that can compensate for it. No widening of science, no possession of abstract truth, can indemnify for an enfeebled hold on the highest and central truths of humanity. “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Mark 8:37, Matthew 16:26
Now that I am 30 I am able to say things like:
When I was in my early 20s I was interested in the philosophical find of truth, after all I was an artist.
What I found about art was that it was a highly logical way of making things simple. Creating a foundation of understanding that even the masses could connect and co-exist upon.
It seemed until that point I had a religious context of truth and was excited to fill my mind with philosophers past and present—who would teach me unknown understanding.
Scouring shelves at Barnes and Noble on my weekly Friday-night book binge I came across armfuls of this undertaking.
Understanding the making of humanity in the process of
1. where we came from,
2. why we are here
3. where we are going
This became my search through minds of all ages. Through pages of knowledge I came to find a lack of understanding.
Today this realization still holds true :
“spiritual events can be discerned only by spiritual senses” and “Any attempt to understand without the spirit, regardless of cerebral capacity, college degree, or worldly experience, is simply futile”- Elder Christofferson, quoted in the "Infinite Atonement" p281
The highest form of intellect and art comes from the God who is the creator of it all. I was reminded on our Stanford trip that true greatness and intellect comes from yielding to the enticings of His spirit. I know that He cares, and I know that He lives, and I love Him.
So! You might be wondering if I am always having car issues. I'm not. I love my car and it's fantastic. But! For whatever reason, it seems as though whenever I do have car troubles, I learn some big lesson from it. Here is the lesson I learned from the car accident I was in last week :)
First off, to save my pride, I will tell you that the accident was NOT my fault (even according to the other person's insurance etc.) I was driving over to Seattle after work to meet up with friends for a weekend trip to Canada (yeah - we get crazy and go to Canada sometimes...) Background: it was the first pre-season game for the Seahawks that day as well. So! Traffic was crazy. And while I was driving up the street, literally two minutes from my friend's house, someone pulled out in front of me from a side street. Despite braking and honking, I knew as soon as that car pulled out that I was going to hit it. Which - was equal parts scary and infuriating. Luckily, no one was hurt (other than my wrists being sore for a couple of days :) ).
After the impact of the collision, I sat there in the middle of the intersection a little stunned. I had never been in an accident before and was pretty unsure what to do next. The car that I had hit was immobile, but I was able to drive my car out of the way of traffic. Some kind people (or fans who wanted to get home to watch the game) came and helped to push the other car out of traffic while I ran down a couple of witnesses at a bus stop and made them give me statements on what they saw happen. Meanwhile the police were called and supposedly on their way. As the adrenaline started to slowly leave my system, I sat back down in my car and started trying to call my parents. First my dad, and then my mom. Neither were picking up. So then I decided to try and call my sister, whose phone is chronically uncharged, and she also did not pick up. I sent a quick text to my friends to let them know what had happened, and then it hit me. I felt so alone. My dad wasn't going to help me figure this out. My mom wasn't going to help me figure this out. No one was going to be there for me in that moment. And to be honest, that was the worst part. I've found that with most "big kid" issues I have experienced in life (not limited to just my car problems :) ), the worst part is grappling with having to deal with whatever is causing you anxiety by yourself.
As I was mentally trying to calm myself down and "pull it together Picard!", I had the overwhelming thought that I was actually not alone. And that God had been extremely present in the whole ordeal. Not only in preventing serious injury from occurring, but in making sure that my car still worked etc. I was going to be ok, and I didn't have to do it by myself because we were going to do it together.
Not to say that I have never thought or realized that the Savior has the power to comfort us and that we are "never alone", but for whatever reason, that message was conveyed SO strongly to me that day. I am not alone. I do not have to face anything by myself. And I am so grateful for a Savior who suffered through the ultimate loneliness in Gethsemane so He knows how to comfort me. Elder Holland gave a beautiful talk about this concept in General Conference a few years ago. (April 2009 to be exact :) )
Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”
While I am not necessarily happy that my car got a little smashed, and the resulting issues that I have had to work through :), I am very grateful for the lessons I learned that day. I am particularly grateful for the way that experience helped bring me closer to the Savior. It helped my relationship with Him, and faith in His power, to grow even stronger. I know that Christ is continually there for each of us, offering His love and support, and helping us to accomplish what we may not be able to on our own. And I am forever grateful for that.
Love you too much!!!!
My family has lived in the same town since I was six. They’ve lived in the same house since I was 14.
I was home a couple of weeks ago for my sister’s wedding. My parents had recently decided to put our house up for sale and a few people had come to look at it but I thought it was mostly to “test the waters.”
When it was time to come back to Utah, I walked out of the house without looking back, not knowing that it would be the last time that I would walk through those doors. About two weeks later our house sold.
My mom used to dream of living in this house. She remembers seeing the people who lived there before us pulling into their driveway and thinking, “I wonder what it would feel like to be those people.”
We ended up being the people that lived in that house. We found that the house was actually nothing very special initially, just a brick home on a busy road with a driveway from heck. But over time it became something special. Over time that house became our home because it is where my family lived a life together, a beautiful life.
It is where we played countless games of basketball on the slab of concrete in the backyard. It is where we did slip and slides in the summer and went sledding down our next-door neighbor’s hill in the winter.
It is where my parents sent three kids on missions and welcomed us all home. It is the house I dreamed of coming home to during my 18 months as a missionary.
It is where our dogs, Abby and Baxter always waited for us with wagging tails. It is where we eventually had to build a ramp for Abby to get up onto the back porch when her hip wouldn’t let her climb the stairs anymore and where she is now buried in the backyard.
It is where our nights were spent playing the guitar and singing together. It is where we had family home evenings on Monday nights and where we danced in the kitchen together. It is where the kitchen often smelled of brownies.
It is where we’ve read books together on the back porch and watched a million movies. It is where we’ve had luncheons after baptisms and baby blessings. It is where we’ve come home from dances and dates. It is where we’ve gone through breakups and heartbreaks.
Tomorrow my sister Julia will leave that house and go to college. It will be one more moment that has made our house a home.
I’ve had a bit of a hard time accepting the fact that I will never go home to that house. I’ll never pull into the worst driveway of all-time and climb the stairs. I’ll never walk through the door and hear my little brother and sister come running down the stairs to see me. I’ll never get home at night and see my dad sitting on the computer just waiting to make sure I made it home. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I am just grateful.
I’m grateful for all of these moments. I’m grateful that we’ve had such a beautiful life together in a beautiful home but I also know that it is not a house that makes a home.
President Thomas S. Monson said, “A home is much more than a house built of lumber, brick, or stone. A home is made of love, sacrifice, and respect.” That is what has made me love our home, it is the people I’ve shared that home with and the experiences we’ve had together.
In my favorite movie ever, "Father of the Bride," George Banks describes his home and he says, “I love this house. I love that I taught my kids to ride their bikes in the driveway. I love that I slept with them in tents in the backyard. I love that we carved our initials in the tree out front. This house is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and looks spectacular with Christmas lights. It’s a great house. I never want to move.”
But then he says, “But the thing I think I like best about this house are the voices I hear when I walk through the door.”
That is the thing I love most about our house: the voices I hear when I walk through the door but those voices won’t be there anymore.
I get to be with those voices forever and that means I can always come home.
Recently I’ve had friends who have lost one of their parents. I want to write this to them.
Something tonight caused me to weep. I bent over my chair and into a tub, filling it with tears and memories. And then I understood something I’ve recently asked God to help me with- forgiveness- I understood it completely.
Losing a parent is something I haven’t had to deal with; I cannot know what it truly means. I cannot know the depths of your despair, what triggers come to send you weeping. What I can know is what it means to forgive.
I felt it wipe over my eyes, through my heart, and into my soul as it happened without any coercion. That can happen for anyone, it can happen for you. Until one day you are sitting in a bathtub and wishing they could just be happy.
Possibly you may feel you need forgiveness, like I did earlier this week. Either sent in or sent out, it is all the same.
You may feel too much, that may be the reason for the heartache in the first place. It may travel too deep; bellowing from inside that it is “unreachable.” And if none of those things it may just feel like it’s too late.
But that’s what others thought when they closed a laden tomb. Despair followed with sorrow, and not quite knowledge of how to continue. No matter the painted scene on that Friday, two days later was Sunday.
We were sent here to forgive, but not just that, to be forgiven. Like this brown chair, twisting upward to my cradled body, you can be held. Arms can clasp your open wounds. There is no greater love than someone who has given his or her life for you.
Death is a reminder of that new life.
Because of Him everything that matters can never truly die and everything that hinders can be removed completely. The author of resurrection is also the author of oblivion. Let him take you and do both. He LOVES you, He is your friend, He is your redeemer. He is your Savior.
I'm almost 100% positive I've written about this talk before, but it's been on my mind a lot lately. One of my favorite talks given by Henry B. Eyring is entitled, "Mountains to Climb". (you can click the title for the link :) )
President Eyring spoke of an address Spencer W. Kimball gave about this topic:
I heard President Spencer W. Kimball, in a session of conference, ask that God would give him mountains to climb. He said: “There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.”1
He goes on to say that after he prayed for his own "mountain to climb", he was given a challenge more difficult than he had yet experienced in his life. I think if we were to all be honest with ourselves, we want to be good. And we want to be better than we were before. And so perhaps we, too, sometimes consciously or subconsciously (or VERY subconsciously :) ) ask God to help us become who He wants us to be by giving us challenges that with strengthen and shape us. And then the hike up that mountain begins! And sometimes we don't know how long the trail will be or how steep the incline is, or the level of difficulty of this particular hike. And we begin to question a) why are we doing this b) can we even do this?!
I remember going for a 14-mile run with my sister Hann once (don't even ask why I thought this was an ok idea, I think we were training for something? but it was in Oregon and it was gorgeous so life could have been worse). FYI Hann is a lot faster than me when it comes to distance running. And! she was the one who was keeping track of how far/long we had been running. There is no one in this world that I love more than my sister, but I think I was swearing at her in my brain for at least a good 7 of those miles, probably more. Because it was a looong run. And my competitive side wasn't going to let Hann totally paste me for all of those miles, I had to at least kind of keep up. But why did she have to be running so fast? And not even sweating? Or gasping? Or dying? And I had no idea when we were going to be done. And I somehow thought that she had forced me into this. And it was her fault that I was doing this stupid run :)
Comparatively, how often are we in the midst of a trial and think to ourselves, "God! Why is this happening!? Fix it!" And His response very well could be, "You wanted to be stronger, and this is the way we go about this. There is no easy way. There is no other way."
I may not have been happy about that one long run with my sister, but I was happy that it made consecutive runs easier. We may not LOVE our trials as we are going through them, but I do think we will be, or should be, grateful for the strength they give us for the future.
While I was a missionary my dad wrote me a letter very similar to this concept of "mountains" and the message is one that has stuck with me. He spoke of times in his own life, climbing mountains, both figuratively and literally, and how much more beautiful the view became with each ascending peak. He said to me, "Soon will be the day that you will be grateful and appreciative and understanding of the challenges that you have faced and you will find joy in this knowledge. The knowledge that your Father in Heaven loves you, and the knowledge that you Father in Heaven has a particular path for you in life."
I am grateful for the mountains I have climbed throughout my life. I am particularly grateful for the way they have helped me better know and love my Savior.
love you too much!!!
The concept of light has been on my mind these last few months, specifically Christ’s admonition to be a light unto the world. I am in the midst of my most busy season at work and planning my wedding. During this time, I’ve felt like my light has been dimming because of stress.
Two days ago, everything came to a “boiling point” when my hair appointment that I had been looking forward to for weeks was cancelled. I was so frustrated. (Disclaimer: I know a hair appointment is very, very low on the scale of life importance). This is the third time this appointment has been rescheduled, and this time the salon can’t get me in to see my stylist for three more weeks. When the salon called to let me know and then put me on hold, I hung up. I hung up because I felt so frustrated and I realized my light was gone. I was so disappointed in myself for being so frustrated that I didn’t want to have to speak to the woman on the other end of the phone because I just felt I couldn’t be loving in my response to her. I have yet to call the salon back because when I do so I want to be calm and kind.
Some would say that I have every right to be frustrated. This is the third time this appointment has been rescheduled. And I think they’re right – this is a frustrating situation. But what I don’t deserve is the right to be rude. No one deserves that right. Christ teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount that when a man asks you to go a mile with him, you should go with him twain. When someone smites you on the cheek, turn your other cheek also. This counsel is a part of the same sermon when Christ admonishes His followers to be lights unto the world.
To me, I realized Christ is reminding me that unfair things will happen in life. (Second disclaimer: I want to reaffirm I recognize a cancelled hair appointment is very, very low on the scale of life importance). We will get frustrated. But to be lights we must emulate love and kindness no matter what happens to us.
The challenge for me now is to recognize what can I do to brighten my light? The easy (and very valid answers) include reading my scriptures and saying my prayers. But what happens when we do those things and still find ourselves weighed down by the stress of life? I think the answer will come over a lifetime. I am grateful for a Savior, Jesus Christ, who will help me on this quest to become a “dim-resistant” light and to always shine bright with love.
Feel free to leave any ideas in the comments section. How do you allow your light to continually shine even (and perhaps especially) when you feel weighed down by stress?
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