Friday, June 3, 2011

#12 To-Do

Accept His Timing
It's hard when you have friends getting married or having children and you feel stuck. You want what they have, but comparison to others will not make you feel peace about your own situation. There is a time and season for all things. Ecclesiastes 3 reads "a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing." That is pretty specific and quite comforting to a broken heart. Elder Oaks gave a great talk at a CES devotional about how important timing is. Remind yourself that you want to live and do God's will. His is more important than your own. Here is the link to the full talk, but a few snippets of the text has been copied here:

In all the important decisions in our lives, what is most important is to do the right thing. Second, and only slightly behind the first, is to do the right thing at the right time. People who do the right thing at the wrong time can be frustrated and ineffective. They can even be confused about whether they made the right choice when what was wrong was not their choice but their timing.

In our service in the Lord’s Church we should remember that when is just as important as who, what, where, and how.

We prepare in the way the Lord has directed. We hold ourselves in readiness to act on the Lord’s timing. He will tell us when the time is right to take the next step. For now, we simply concentrate on our own assignments and on what we have been asked to do today. In this we are also mindful of the Lord’s assurance: “I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73).
It is not enough that we are going in the right direction. The timing must be right, and if the time is not right, our actions should be adjusted to the Lord’s timetable as revealed by His servants.
For example, we cannot be sure that we will marry as soon as we desire. A marriage that is timely in our view may be our blessing or it may not. My wife Kristen is an example. She did not marry until many years after her mission and her graduation.
The timing of marriage is perhaps the best example of an extremely important event in our lives that is almost impossible to plan. Like other important mortal events that depend on the agency of others or the will and timing of the Lord, marriage cannot be anticipated or planned with certainty. We can and should work for and pray for our righteous desires, but despite this, many will remain single well beyond their desired time for marriage.
So what should be done in the meantime? Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares us for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares us to deal with life’s opportunities—to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost. In the exercise of that faith, we should commit ourselves to the priorities and standards we will follow on matters we do not control and persist faithfully in those commitments, whatever happens to us because of the agency of others or the timing of the Lord. When we do this, we will have a constancy in our lives that will give us direction and peace. Whatever the circumstances beyond our control, our commitments and standards can be constant.
I return to the subject with which I began. Do not rely on planning every event of your life—even every important event. Stand ready to accept the Lord’s planning and the agency of others in matters that inevitably affect you. Plan, of course, but fix your planning on personal commitments that will carry you through no matter what happens. Anchor your life to eternal principles, and act upon those principles whatever the circumstances and whatever the actions of others. Then you can await the Lord’s timing and be sure of the outcome in eternity.

Monday, May 23, 2011

#11 To-Do

Acknowledge the change to your social schedule

As mentioned with amae, a break up most quickly effects your social schedule. You and your girlfriend/ boyfriend probably had a process or schedule of when you talked during the day, how often you texted one another, which meals you ate together, etc. So as soon as the phrase "just be friends" is muttered, there is a fast switch to the schedule.
This can be the most difficult part. Most especially if you have abandoned other friendship opportunities. 

If you recognize that the schedule and constancy will be lacking, then make plans to fill those previously filled times.
For example, if you are used to texting at a certain time, rather than change your schedule, it may be helpful to text a different friend at that time until you get used to not having it. If it was a long distance relationship, maybe you did the web cam every Sunday night. It feels normal and regular to do that every Sunday night, so if you don't it might make you really sad at first. So try to schedule things at the same time as you did with your former. This may help the transition process as you figure out a new schedule. 

#10 To-Do

Read the news

I had a fiance break up an engagement once. I went to work the next day and tried to be strong. I lamented to my co-worker about how sad I was and he replied, "Well if that is the hardest thing in your life, you ought to be grateful." 
I was furious and so hurt. I held back the tears until the end of work while I muttered rude things about him under my breath. 

When the sting of his comment wore off, I thought about what he said. I read the news. I read about poverty and hunger. I read about people who had loved ones die in tragic accidents. I read about the economy and so many people losing their jobs, filing for bankruptcy and losing their homes. 
As I sat in my clean and safe apartment and thought of my fridge stocked full of food, a steady paycheck, a functioning car, my health, my proximity to my family, a church calling, and a phone full of numbers of people I could call in an instant; I felt very grateful. Now honestly, the gratitude wore off in a few minutes and I started feeling sorry for myself. But I tried to keep up to date on national politics, local news, and foreign wars as the months continued. Each day, I felt a little more gratitude and less self pity. Until there was finally a point where I could confidently say, yes I am very grateful that my fiance breaking up with me is the hardest thing I have on my plate right now. 

Now, no one is telling you that you must feel that way the day after a break up. (Well some people might, but don't listen to them.) Peace takes time. The path to healing is not going to be overnight, but if you do wallow in self pity for weeks on end without any attempt to move on, then you're not helping anyone. In fact you are just hurting yourself more. Try to take the small steps. Just one news article today. Little strides forward each day. Listen to the hardships about people around you, and I promise yours will seem smaller. 

A year after my fiance broke up with me, I had a friend find out his wife was doing many inappropriate things behind his back. I got to watch the way he handled it and how difficult it was for his family. There were hospital visits, police calls, jail visits, and a lot of heartache. It is times like these when I realize how lucky I am that my break up was just a fiance and not a husband and I think, "Wow. I have so much to be grateful for." The more I learn about the hardships of others, mine didn't seem so bad. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

#9 To-Do

Expand your definition of the atonement.
Everyone has a different definition of the atonement- what it means on paper, in the scriptures, in Conference talks, and most importantly what you have personally experienced. Maybe you have seen a friend make some choices that were contrary to God's commands and prayed that he or she would just use the atonement and be able to repent. The simplest definition may seem to be the process of repentance and the healing power that can come after we make mistakes.
But when you go through something that really hurts or just doesn't make sense, you start to see the expanded purpose of the atonement. You realize that even if you didn't make any wrong decision, you can still use the healing power to lift you up. When someone betrays you or when you have to say goodbye to someone and make changes in your life- it is difficult and He knows that and knew that. Thus, His atonement can free you from pain.
But how do you do that? I think it looks different for everyone, but it ought to start with a deep study of Matthew 11: 28-30.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and  lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
How do you apply this concept to your feelings each day? Drawing inspiration from this scripture no doubt, LDS music artist Hilary Weeks wrote these words:

He knows your heart
He knows your pain
He knows the strength it took just to simply breathe today 
He sees the tears that you cry
He knows your soul is aching to know why 
He hears your prayers each humble word
When you said you couldn’t face another day He understood 
He knows the path when you walk blind
Though you've felt alone He’s never left your side

He knew there’d be moments when no earthly words
Could take away your sorrow 
And no human eyes could see what you’re going through 
When you’ve taken your last step and done all that you can do 
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

He’ll bring you peace and leave you hope
And in the darkest night he’ll comfort you
Until you know the sun will rise and each new day
You will have the strength to live again

And in the moments when no earthly words 
can take away your sorrow 
And no human eyes could see what you’re going through 
When you’ve taken your last step and done all that you can do 
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

He hears you when you’re crying in the night 
He hears you when your soul longs to fight
Till the morning will come 
And the light of the dawn reassures

That in the moments when no earthly words 
can take away your sorrow 
And no human eyes can see what you’re going through 
When you’ve taken your last step and done all that you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

Her words are absolutely true. You may need to read them and then re-read them again. 

In 2001, Brigham Young University's Museum of Art purchased Carl Bloch's painting of Christ healing at Bethesda.
Carl Bloch, BYU Museum of Art
 The process of buying the piece and shipping it to BYU was quite the process. I took a friend from China to see the museum. She is Buddhist and had heard little to nothing about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As were walking through the exhibition, we came to this piece. It is practically life-size and awesome to behold. Our tour guide told us the story in the painting: of the sick and the blind who waited all day for an angel to touch the water so they could be healed (John 5: 2-9). 

The rest of the tour group moved forward but Nora stayed at the painting and asked me more questions. After I had answered the technical questions to the best of my ability, she said,
"So was the man healed?"
I replied,"Yes Nora he was. He certainly was." 

The scripture beneath the painting was a perfect fit for this moment. 2 Kings 20:5 reads
I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee.
The power of the atonement comes in many forms, not just the act of repentance. You may have just been baptized into the fold or maybe you have been a member since you were 8, but this process of understanding the whole and complete definition of the atonement will certainly be a life-long task. Allow yourself to be grateful for this opportunity to learn and be healed at the Master's feet. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

# 8 To-Do

Reacquaint yourself with yourself. 

If you have been in a long relationship, especially if it is a relationship that is not going well, sometimes you can lose track of yourself. You may have gotten so involved about making things right and pleasing the other person and sacrificing your wants for theirs. While this is a great skill to develop and there will certainly be this type of peacemaking abilities strengthened in marriage, take advantage of this opportunity to just be you for a little bit. This time between relationships can be a time to remember yourself, your own hobbies, eating habits, preferences, friends, etc. Enjoy the chance to get to know you again.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#7 To-Do

Read the book What I Wish I Knew When I was Single: How to do Life as a Young Adult.

This should be a high school graduation requirement, or at least seminary graduation requirement. Popular LDS speaker, John Bytheway, is a great author and adds a nice humorous tone to a difficult and sometimes painful topic. I had a friend who read this book after a broken engagement and she felt like it was her saving grace through that difficult time.

One excerpt from the book:
"If you're a young woman, you turn and face the world with many options. Suddenly you must make decisions. You're on your own and it's your big chance on life's stage. Ready or not, it's time to fly solo."
He has the book broken up into different sections. It begins with the post high-school phase and what it means to be living on your own and some suggestions of ways to handle that. He explains that part of the reason being a single adult is so difficult is because you feel like you aren't living the commandments. We have been taught our whole lives that the most important successes we have will be within a family environment and so when we are working towards a marriage relationship and it suddenly ends, it is very painful. We see our friends getting married and having children and we get constant "motivation" from our parents, neighbors, and peers that it is our time to do the same thing. However, this complicated part of life is the only commandment that is not completely in our control, which can make it harder than some of the others. But the best thing we can do when we're not in a relationship is to focus on what we can control. You still control your happiness and agency. This is still your life, whether it is how you imagined it or not. John Bytheway suggests, taking a careful inventory of current habits and change the things about you that might be pushing people away. Don't focus on what you can't control, but rather make improvements for your future.

The book is available at several libraries, but I did find a few on amazon for a very nice price.

#6 To-Do

Avoid songs, movies, books, & memories that are based on romance. 

At some point you will be able to handle the bulk of pop-culture, but until then do yourself a favor and avoid the pain that you may experience. Expand your world by coming up with other sources of happiness than just the person you were dating.