Monday, April 28, 2014

Every Good Thing

Lately it's been easy to notice and be grateful for the Lord's hand in my life. When He is not in your thoughts, it's easy to pass events off as just coincidence or your own effort. However, I have realized that everything I do is because of Him. He reminds me of what I need to do. He gives me a quiet suggestion of how to be better, and then it's up to me to act on it. Truly, every good thing comes from Him, and it is through Him that we are able to do all things. 
"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things." - Alma 26:12, Book of Mormon
In the Church, we learn that we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism. This gives the recipient the right, whenever he or she is worthy, to have the Spirit to be with him or her at all times. But the truth is, the Spirit was influencing the person long before they made the commitment to be baptized. He worked almost silently in their hearts, slowly changing their perspective and adding new ideas.  Lao Tzu taught, "A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." Many times we forget the Lord and really how much he has enabled us to act in our own sphere of influence and to choose the good so we may reap the reward.

I guess this post is a tribute to the Lord and a testament to my recent change in perspective. Repentance denotes "a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world." So, according to this, I am repenting and becoming more like Christ and Heavenly Father, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to progress.

Enjoy this uplifting song.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Social Skills

I've been thinking about my friend's example recently, and here's what I've learned: every social event is an opportunity to learn and grow. This friend taught me that there's a lot more available than what you see.

First, a quote: "If all you know is what you see with your natural eyes and hear with your natural ears, then you will not know very much." - Boyd K. Packer

And another one: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.” - Henry B. Eyring

So, since we know that there's a lot going on, and that people don't always show or tell exactly what they're feeling, then there is an opportunity to serve. If you're just aware and observant, you can read people's body language or their energy and respond appropriately. You can help someone without them asking for it.

I experienced this somewhat recently. I tried to keep these tips in mind. I went to an activity and the first part had concluded, and everyone was going into another room for the activity. I said hi to a girl I knew, and she told me of a recent struggle she had. I didn't prompt her to tell me about it, and I don't know how many people she had told, but I tried to listen with love to what she was saying and try not to interrupt or take her situation and compare it to mine. At the end, she thanked me for listening to her, and t felt good to have been available for her at that time.

I think the hindrance to observing people and responding accordingly is self-absorption. It can happen even in a conversation with someone--turning the subject back to you, not really hearing the feeling behind their words, not truly listening, interrupting, thinking about other things you have to do rather than listening to them.

This is a major shift in my previous thinking. Instead of waiting to be acted upon, now I see it as I am being given opportunities to act, to observe, to take the initiative, to get outside my comfort zone, to put someone else's needs above my own. I got the thought the other day, "Instead of expecting to receive, give." That takes effort to keep in mind, but it's necessary to adopt if I'm going to become more like Christ.

I thought about my life goals the other day. My first thought was that I wanted to learn how to give everything to the Lord: my heart, soul, will, desires, talents, wisdom, abilities, everything. There's a great quote about that from C.S. Lewis:
The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
But then I thought of the scripture in first Corinthians: 
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
So, my foremost desire should be to love, to love God with all my heart, might, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. I recently watched the 1982 film, Ghandi. He lived by an absolute truth that one person is not higher than another and that we are all brothers and sisters. It made me reflect on my tendency to act in accordance with the environment that I am in. I tend to take cues from others on how to treat the people around them. I want to live by absolute truth. I want to cultivate love for all. 

If I have love for others, I will focus on their needs and listen with love. I will be mindful of the souls around me who need my help, and I will have love enough for God that He can whisper to me the promptings I need to act accordingly.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Makes Me "Cool"

I read on reddit once that just because you travel to a new place doesn't make you cool. I tried to explain that to someone last night. Just because you change your surroundings, you don't elevate your status, whatever that means. I guess it makes us appear cool to people that we don't know that well, like an acquaintance or a potential employer. If you are from Europe, you could travel to multiple countries in a week. Plus, it's not uncommon for people to be bi- or even tri-lingual. Maybe it just seems cool from the American perspective. 

Anyway, I contend that what makes us "cool" are experiences. Just because I am planning on going to Peru doesn't make me extraordinary, but what I will learn will add to my character and personality. The mission was a great thing n my life, but it wasn't just because I changed my surroundings; I worked hard, I sacrificed, I developed my social skills, time management skills, and self-discipline. I learned how to work closely with others toward a common goal, among other things. So I guess it's not the change in scenery, but the skills involved in adapting to that new setting, that makes us more interesting and seasoned individuals. 

People ask me why I'm going to Peru. Apart from the "to travel and I've got an internship" answer, I like to say "to experience life, gain more confidence, grow, be more independent, and develop myself." As I come closer to leaving, I'm reminded how crazy this idea is. 

But I won't give it up. I will follow through. And you can see who I've become at the end of it all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Meta: This Blog

The purpose of this blog has changed. At first, it was a way for me to write my thoughts and attitudes down 1) just to get them out of my head, and 2) to possibly have a responsive audience to give me feedback. I bought a journal, and it has taken over the first purpose, and I continue to speak to live people to share my ideas.

I have been trying to move away from the idea of leaning on others and telling them everything that I think about. I shouldn't need validation from others. I am capable of keeping my own little secrets and not sharing them with anyone else. Can't just having the Lord as my friend be sufficient?

So you see, this is why I haven't blogged as much lately. I haven't defined the new purpose for this blog. It is not a journal. It is not a cry for validation. Perhaps it should just be its own record. Perhaps what I learn I can share, not so others will glorify me, but that perhaps my lessons learned will benefit others.

Quote from the day:
"It's not what you do; It's what you become while doing it."