Friday, September 15, 2017

Receiving and Giving Love

I think most of us have at least heard of the 5 Love Languages. They are ways in which we communicate love and receive love from the people in our lives. The 5 love languages as described by Gary Chapman in his book series, The Five Love Languages, are Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. We each have a dominant or primary love language that we “speak”. When there is someone we desire to express love to, whether a family member, a close friend, or another person, we tend to do so using one of these five languages…the one that feels most comfortable to us. As recipients of love, we tend to feel loved the most when someone speaks to us in our own primary love language. The Five Love Language series does a great job at teaching about each language, and how to communicate love effectively by learning to speak the primary love language of the person we wish to express love to. I support the idea of learning to speak each of the five love languages for a couple reasons. First, to indeed learn to communicate love in meaningful ways. The second reason, and the purpose of this blog post, is to become familiar with the five love languages as a means to recognize more abundantly when love is being communicated to us. An expression of love has two parts, the giving part, and the receiving part. Just as when two people who originate from countries of differing languages attempt to communicate, there can be misunderstandings or miss-connections when people of differing primary love languages attempt to communicate love. Love is a connector; the authentic giving and receiving of love, connects us. Connection returns us to humanity; it returns us to who we truly are, individually and collectively. Learning to recognize when love is being communicated to us increases the amount of love we feel, and connects us with the giver even when the language used is not our primary language. The intent of the giver is to communicate love, and I don’t think we want to miss that. Communicating love authentically in one’s primary love language can be vulnerable and scary. In doing so, the giver offers us more than love; a deeper view into him or herself, into the fibers that constitute his or her being. What a beautiful gift for someone to share with you and me, a view into themselves. What a great loss if we do not recognize it; if we miss both the love being extended, and the opportunity to see the giver as part of his or her authentic self.

In recognizing an expression of love, we must remember that there are different kinds or levels of love. An expression of love or kindness can be as simple as offering a smile or holding the door for someone, which may not require the level of vulnerability as more intimate expressions of love. Nonetheless, they are both expressions of love…connection. They says, “I see you.” “I see your need and I can help.” Being seen is enough to feel loved sometimes.

It is unfortunate that we, on a large scale, wait for something to give us a reason to connect. A few recent examples; 9/11, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and other natural “disasters”. I put disasters in quotation marks because on one hand, they physically do make a mess. On the other hand, these natural events put us in a place to choose great triumph, and choose triumph we do, every single time. We choose to bring ourselves together…we choose to connect to ourselves and to our shared humanity. We return to a place of love, caring, compassion; we empathize. What beautiful gifts. What if we chose to see our shared humanity every day? What if we chose to connect with the humanity of the person checking our groceries at the market, or the people we pass in the isle, even that smile will do, or a hand on the shoulder in appreciation, or a genuine “thank you” with eye contact.

I invite each of us to become more familiar with the five love languages, especially the ones that are not our primary language. Let’s begin to look for even the smallest expressions of love in our daily lives, then identifying which language is being spoken. As we do so, I believe we will feel more loved, and be more inclined to see opportunities to share love in even these small ways in the ins and outs of our days. 

Happy Loving!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Who Am I?

I have been wondering over the past few months who I really am. Sometimes (a lot of the time) I feel like the only place I feel "home" is when I am spending time WITH myself; sometimes it feels like I am BY myself. I feel at home when I am WITH myself, because I can exist as I am, I don't have to be a certain way; I am connected with self.
Somewhere along the path I learned that I wasn't good enough as I was; I disconnected from self. I learned that I had to be something or someone different in order to be "good" and accepted, or connected with someone else (I KNOW that is a false statement; my feelings, judgment, experience, or maybe just my perception, tell me otherwise); I hide, believing that I am less than, inadequate. At times I act confident when what I really feel is insecure and afraid. I don't want people to see how insecure and afraid I am. It takes so much energy to act the opposite of how I feel, but how do I exist in this world insecure and afraid? There's more I could say, but I'll move on for now.
There are moments when I am WITH myself; when "I am" present, happy, free, and self-connected. Very few see those moments, or come to know the true, happy, free, self-connected me. If I could exist in a world of my own creating, I would flourish, and all experience would be enhanced, because it comes from the light that is me, a light that is uniquely me, a light that is bright.
I share with you this "moment WITH myself" of presence, happiness, freedom, self-connection, and light, to bring this part of me from the shadow into the light. I like to dance...sometimes. Thank you for reading.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Constructing a world of Wholeness.

I returned last evening from a weekend retreat (New Warrior Training Adventure) where I felt "at home". I've experienced this once before at another retreat. These retreats are mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically challenging. The "at home" feeling comes, I think, from the amount of safety that is felt as one shares parts of his deepest self with others, knowing that no judgement will be made about them or their life experiences, thoughts, beliefs, or desires. Having returned, I woke up this morning wanting to still be there. I could recall the chill of the morning, and the sound of the drum in the distance. I imagined I was still there. Alas, I was not still there. I started feeling depressed earlier as I could feel the weight of my world returning. One thing I took away from my experience this weekend is that I, again, have the power to change aspects of my life that do not fit. I don't have to continue to do things the same way, or be the same person just because that's what people know, or because that is what I want to be. What I REALLY want to do, and literally be, is authentic, without the fear of others opinions or judgments. I love myself, and God loves me, and my family loves me, and I know I am a good person. That is knowledge; what more can a person ask for? The New Warrior in me refuses to fall back into previous ways of being and doing. Yes, I am an optimistic person most of the time, and I have learned to look at life situations through a higher “lens” than I did in the past. That absolutely helps, but it does not mean that my life is figured out, or that I have the answers. The truth is, my life is hardly figured out at all. I mentioned a few things that I know; something else that I know is that the answers are coming, especially as I take steps in my life that lead me to them.
I know that the world isn’t a “safe” place, like the retreats I have been on, to be authentic and share personal stuff. With the knowledge that I have, the only opinions or judgments that I value are from others who love me; so, to satisfy the Warrior, and step away from the past ways of doing and being, I share with you that my life has been harder than you know. For the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter how any of these experiences came to be, only that they are currently present in my life. I find it extremely difficult to allow an emotionally intimate relationship to continue to develop once the relationship moves past “friends”. It feels sticky to me; emotional boundaries within the realm of a dating relationship are very hard to define for me. I tend to go into, “take care of” and, “make better” mode with the other person. I am better at “friend” boundaries, but once the relationship starts to enter the “more than friends” realm, it is like there ARE no boundaries. I have been more of a giver than a receiver in my relationships because it is what I know. It doesn’t take much “giving” to me, for me to feel loved. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when those with whom I have relationships give what I feel is too much, and I start to feel claustrophobic (likely due to introverted tendencies that I have). I then step back to get some air. I only need to know that I am loved, and so, genuinely. Quality time, even just a little bit, is remembered. Gifts, and acts of service are meaningful too, also in moderation; they are remembered and valued as well.
Three years ago my life completely changed when I realized that my attraction to guys was not a phase that would end. The moment of that realization, my life changed; believe it or not, it changed for the better. That realization triggered a river of opportunities that have improved my life, the relationships with my parents, with myself, with God; and I met some brothers who became the closest friends I’ve ever had. My life is so much better now than it was before the realization. I cannot wish this part of me away because of what it has done for me. I cannot be upset at God about it. He knows it’s there. He knew it before I did, and I know He loves me just the same, but I feel His love more now. The experience of knowing what I have learned from this is very important to me; I wouldn’t give up the attractions if it meant I had to also give up what I have learned. Getting married and having a family was always part of the plan I had for myself. Two years ago, I accepted that it may not be part of my life experience, and I became OK with that. There are other honorable things I can accomplish, and ways that I can make the world a better place in ways that are unique and authentic to me. I know that God has a plan for me, and it may include marriage and a family, or it may not. As long as I love myself and continue to work on myself, I’ll reach the best end. I believe that my life is rolling forward towards that best end, and that is where comfort and peace come from.
A world of love, acceptance, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, and compassion is possible; it takes ears from each person to listen with the intent to understand, instead of to judge, defend, separate, or preach. People who hurt people either intentionally or unintentionally, are hurt people. Said another way, hurt people, hurt other people. Hurt people can be healed. This is also true, people who are healing, heal other people. Healing is possible, it is happening. My life’s mission is to construct a world of wholeness by loving myself and others, and helping others do the same.

If this has touched you in a positive way, and you desire to experience healing, I’d love to hear your story, or part of it. Thank you for reading part of my story.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Source of Life's Savor.

The point I attempt to make in this post is this: Wellbeing, peace, joy, wholeness, love, and gratitude, are only connected to mortality (money, career, material possessions, education, any type of status other than Child of God, friends, family situations, etc.) as we allow them to be, and until we recognize their true, immortal source, and attach them there. The immortal source of our wellbeing is God, our father, and through the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ we have the opportunity to overcome mortality. Knowing and trusting the immortal source of our ever-enduring worth while in mortality can be a Heaven on Earth.

The Source of Life’s Savor.

I currently have $47 in my checking account and zero in my savings account. By the end of this week I will have less in my checking account. I have just under $20,000 of debt, and I work as a merchant application underwriter. I am 35 years old, and will be 36 in two months.

As I drove home from work tonight (9-8-15), the gas light came on in my car. I stopped at the gas station to do as I have done over the past few months, to put $20 worth of gas in my car, making sure I didn’t spend it all in one place. As long as my car has gas, I can keep going to work. I bought some groceries yesterday, $33 worth at Wal-Mart. I came home, and with the groceries I made some homemade guacamole, and baked an ear of corn to make Elote. As I was cutting the green onions for the guacamole, I felt somewhat as I imagine the widow of Zarepath felt, but on a lesser degree. If you remember, she gathered sticks to make a meal with the last of her oil and flour, for her and her son to eat, then die. I know that that meal will not be my last (I hope not anyway), but I felt like I was using part of the last that I had, as there is not money for more until next week. We recall that the prophet Elijah asked her to make a cake for him first, then for her son and herself. If she did this, the jar of flour would not fail, neither would the jug of oil run dry until the Lord sends rain again upon the land. Again, as I continued to cut the green onions, I began to feel a gratitude that was not familiar, a gratitude for the fact that this meal was going to be just as delicious as it had always been. Gratitude that even though I had used some of the last of my current resources to purchase the ingredients, and that my financial situation is what it is right now, the goodness and the savor of this meal would not be diminished.

Over the course of my life when financial resources have been limited, I would allow that circumstance to affect all areas of my life in a negative way; I would allow it to “change the savor” of my life, and life wasn’t as good. I would worry, worry, worry; I would feel physically ill. These rough financial situations would disturb my spiritual, emotional, mental, and social wellbeing, as well as physically as I have mentioned. I would decrease my social interaction because my mind was completely occupied with the stress of the situation, and I wasn’t myself. I felt like I was less; less than I should be, less than I had previously been, less than others (and I) expected. I felt like a failure, and unworthy to be around people. My entire wellbeing was dependent on having money, and when the money I had went below what I thought was acceptable for myself, my wellbeing went down with it. My wellbeing was attached, and dependent on the amount of money I had. It doesn’t help that I have been so determined to change my financial situation, that I have made several decisions to invest in this opportunity, and that opportunity; which only perpetuated more of the same. That is another story. Over the course of the past 2 ½ years I have changed my source of wellbeing, and it was significantly noticeable tonight. As I continued to prepare dinner, and continued consciously be grateful for it, I recognized also that felt peaceful; I wasn’t stressed, nor was my worth was tied to my financial situation. I was whole; I was loved; my worth had not lessened; and life still tasted good. I knew that God loved me just the same, and that I loved me just the same. Two years ago when I started taking these steps to improve, I knew that there would be sacrifices and difficult times. What I have learned, and specifically recognized tonight, is that what I am sacrificing are all of the negatives I experienced previously: the fear, the stress, the attachment of my wellbeing on every level to my finances; I am separate from my finances. Money is an object, has no feelings, nor is not alive. It cannot determine, nor control, nor have any say in my wellbeing unless I give it that power. I no longer give it that power; it has been given to God, as has my fear, and the attachment of my wellbeing to my financial situation. In place of what I have “sacrificed”, God has offered peace, love, wholeness; and I trust that the jug of oil will last, and the jar of flour, remain.

I am whole, independent of anything, through the atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ, and my offering up to Him of fear…that is all it was, fear. It is replaced with love, trust, and confidence in Him. He provides the way each and every day despite my imperfections; His ways are higher than mine, and I am so glad for that. It is beautiful and comforting at the same time that I am never left alone. He provides the way patiently as I learn, and as I stumble at times; even through the stumbling there is a way, there is always a way. I don’t have to go alone, for He is always with me, showing the way with a loving, strong arm which is ever reaching out to me. He is the way to lasting peace. He knows me, and I am learning who He is to me as we develop a personal relationship. I love Him, and I am grateful for the peace He offers in place of sacrificed fear. He lives; He must; He has to! In His name, Amen.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The love of God, and the Savior - Charity

The lesson today in gospel principles was on charity. There were great comments regarding charity, what it means, and the difficulty in gaining this attribute of Christ for ourselves. A comment was made suggesting that charity can be gained by acting out of love, care, and compassion for, and towards someone else, rather than feeling obligated to do so. If acting out of love, care, and compassion for someone else, then we will have desires and energy to serve those who could use the help we can offer. It is the idea of feeling compassion towards someone, recognizing that there IS something I CAN do to improve a situation, wanting to do so (out of that compassion), and acting accordingly, that allow charity to sprout within us. The conversation then went the route of putting others needs before our own. Then, it went the route of how much easier it is to love others than it is to love ourselves because we know ourselves better than anyone. We know our flaws, our weaknesses, our shortcomings, and our sins, so it’s easier to love others than it is to love ourselves. It was at this point in the discussion that I started to feel some dis-harmony with what was being said, and truths that I have learned for myself over the past couple years. I speak from my own experience, as there was a time I cared for, and served others more than I cared for, and took care of myself. Over the course of years, I was emptied. I was more than emptied. I reached a point where I was giving something that I did not have. I had not been taking care of myself mentally and emotionally while giving mental, and emotional support to others. I realized I could not continue to maintain certain relationships as they currently were, and be ok myself. My experience is not an example of what it means to put other’s needs before our own. Why had I not been taking care of myself? Because I cared about others more than I cared about myself, I didn’t know how to take care of myself. My life experience has shown that I care for the things/people I care about, and I wasn’t high on my own list. My more recent life experience shows that I am better able to care about others, and help others, when I have first taken care of myself. When I take care of myself, I have that which I can give to others, love, which in my experience, is the foundation on which charity is built. Even the definition of charity says so, being, the pure love of Christ. I believe that Christ acts out of his love for each of us in charitable ways we can describe as, merciful, gracious, patient, consistent, kind, caring, forgiving, gentle, compassionate, encouraging, understanding – ALL UNDERSTANDING, and infinitely present, to name a few. When I am taking care of myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially, I can act out of love (charity), and present some of those same adjectives in my daily interaction with others, AND I can be those adjectives to myself because I am very high on my list these days.
How did I manage to move my name to “very high” on my list? When I realized that God’s love for me, and The Savior’s love for me were independent of anything, and UNCHANGING, my own view of myself changed. My love for myself was less than desirable, in fact, I didn’t know how to love myself, and somehow, I assumed that God’s love for me was similar to my love for me. I didn’t know how to let love in, from me or anybody really. God did, however, miraculously show me that His love is completely independent from how I feel about myself, as is my Savior’s love for me. Even how I was, in that very moment, God, and His son, loved me, and I could feel it! I felt it like I never had before. I thought, “If God loves me, and my Savior loves me, which I know they do because of the way I feel it, then why can’t I love and accept myself in a similar way? If they love me, then I can love me.” I had been holding myself up to a standard in order to “be” accepted by God, and good enough for Him to love me, hoping that someday it would be worth it, and that He would see that I AM good. Two things: 1. I don’t have to put a standard above what God does in order to “prove” that I am good enough, even for His love. He loves His children, period. He is our Father, and we are created in His image. He sent his Only Begotten Son to live, and die for us so we can live with Him (God) again. Is that not love!!! 2. Throughout the creation, God “saw that it was good.” It’s not until the last verse in Genesis 1, after the creation of man, that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” God creates only “good things”, even, “very good” things, and people. We are each good enough for His love. He loves each of us independent of how we feel about ourselves. If you don’t love yourself, or think you are not good enough for God’s love, let go of it. Let go of ALL the reasons why you don’t love yourself, or why you think you are not good enough, and ask God to replace those reasons with His love. He already loves you; I don’t know that He can love you more than He already does.
When we let God’s love into our hearts and lives, and when we allow His love for us to define how we feel about ourselves, it is then that we can truly obtain charity, because God’s love is sustaining. It allows us to expand. It multiplies as we act from it, divides as we share it in charitable ways with those whom we interact, and it is ever increasing in its reach.
4 Challenges:
1.                   Believe that God loves you, because you already are “good”.
2.                   Let go of the reasons you don’t like, or love yourself, make a list.
3.                   Let God’s love fill the space where those reasons have been residing.

4.                   Find ways to be charitable to yourself (remember the adjectives).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rocks into Diamonds

                                                                                                               January 18, 2015

There is a tale of a young man who passed by a wise old man. The old man asked the young man for his help, the young man hesitantly agreed. The wise old man gave the young man an empty bag, and told him to put rocks in it. The young man, not understanding the purpose of it, but finding it easier to obey than ask questions, found some rocks and put them in the bag. Upon returning the bag to the wise old man, he said to the young man, “that’s not enough, add more rocks.” The young man, grudgingly put more rocks in the bag. Again returning to the wise old man, he was told, “more rocks”. The young man put just a few more rocks in the 2/3 full bag before handing it to the wise old man for what he thought was the last time. The wise old man gave the bag back to the young man, “No, this is for you to carry until the end of the day.” After a few more words between the two men, the young man took the bag of rocks and carried if for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, he put the bag down, and pulled out a rock, wondering the point of it. To his surprise, a rock he did not pull out, but a diamond. He looked inside and found that each rock had turned into a diamond. The young-but now a little wiser-man was sad he hadn’t put more rocks in the bag, but glad that the wise old man had returned the bag twice to him for more rocks. Some experiences or situations in life seem like rocks, not worth much, and we’d rather not carry them around with us all day. They are too heavy to carry; we’d rather rid ourselves of them for good. If we ourselves rid ourselves of the rocks, we can’t have the diamonds at the end of the day. Throughout the day, it is the Savior’s atonement that slowly turns our rocks into diamonds. Application of the atonement brings change. It changes heavy rocks that we say aren’t worth carrying, into diamonds with such worth, we never want to let them go. Sometimes we have circumstances that are hard to carry. But it can be done with the help of God, and in the end, there are diamonds to show for the work we, and God have done, in carrying the rocks throughout the day. I want to share some diamonds I have found in my bag over the past couple years.
Hello friends! This is going to be quick (not quick), but informative, and hopefully helpful for someone. Maybe some of you already know, some of you may have ideas, and some of you may be surprised. The truth is, I am attracted to guys. I realized, accepted, and began to come to terms with this fact almost two years ago. My life has improved so much during this time. That may sound backwards, but it’s the truth. The first diamond I want to share is: I am good enough for God, His love, and His acceptance. For a long time I tried to prove that I was good enough for God, feeling that I was not good, and that I needed to overcome something that was inherently wrong with me, but that I could not put my finger on. I am good enough for God. I don’t have to try and be good enough anymore. There is good inherently in me. That does not mean that I don’t have to improve. It means that I am good enough to be called God’s. Diamond number two: I know God loves me, every part of me. I learned it because I felt it, and now I know it. Diamond number three: I accept myself. I am more accepting of myself, and I am easier on myself. For many years I was hard on myself for making mistakes, and doing the wrong things ever and over. I would mentally and emotionally tear myself down. I wasn’t good enough for myself, so there was absolutely no way I was good enough for God. I learned that that direction of acceptance is what was backwards. My acceptance of myself does not precede or define God’s acceptance of me. I learned that the opposite is actually true. God’s manifestation of His love, acceptance, grace, and mercy, can define how I see, and accept myself. I can define my own self-acceptance after God’s acceptance of me. God’s love will never falter, therefore, my love for, and acceptance of, myself need not falter. If I am good enough for God, then I am good enough for me, and anyone else. Diamond number 4: God loves YOU! After experiencing this great feeling of His love and acceptance in a way I never had before, I understood that I am no different than His other children, and that He must love each of you at least as much as He loves me. He loves you, I know it because I know He loves me!
When I accepted that this was a part of who I was, I very quickly recognized I didn’t know where to begin, to start dealing with it. I knew that aspects of my life would change by default, due to the new perspective. I told God that if this was real, which I knew it was, that I would give it to Him because I had no idea how to manage it.  I also quickly recognized that it was too big for me to handle with my current life experience. Again, I knew my life would change, and if I gave it to God, He would take care of me, and the best outcomes would be had. That very day, my life started to change for the better. It was like God literally took my life, and started making it better by putting key people, and opportunities right in front of me. I have learned a great deal about myself; how to take care of myself mentally and emotionally, how to say no, and when to say yes. I have learned, and am still learning how to communicate with people, and create and maintain mentally and emotionally healthy relationships. There is still lots to learn, and I am looking forward to that. Definitely, my life has improved a great deal in the past almost two years. Not to say that it has been all easy. Growth is hard at times, and I’ve experienced emotions to an extent that I hadn’t before. I’ve learned its ok to feel. I can feel angry, sad, scared, and even happiness and joy, and they can be expressed. Anger can be felt, and expressed in ways that are beneficial, and healing. I don’t hold my emotions inside like I used to, and that is healthy. I have also learned that it is ok to care what I look like. Let me rephrase that, it’s ok to look like I care what I look like. I always cared what I looked like, but I didn’t want to look like I cared, or didn’t want others to think that I cared. I know, it’s kind of messed up, but such was my life.
I share this “new” aspect of myself because I am not afraid of it, nor ashamed of it. It is part of who I am, and, I now know that I am acceptable to God, and I accept me. The truth is, I was always acceptable in God’s eyes, but not in my own. I share it also because accepting the attractions has been a catalyst in moving my life forward in positive ways like it has never moved before. The lessons I’ve learned as mentioned above are so valuable, and I wouldn’t trade them. I think there are potential catalysts (rocks) in all of our lives that can propel us forward if we allow them to. There are diamonds to be found in the bag of life’s experiences. Life can be hard. Yes, there are struggles, and hurt, and lots of other experiences along the way. There is also light, happiness, joy, family, friends, and even miracles. Under it all, is a love of God for each of His children. He loves us more than we can comprehend. I know God lives, and that He loves His children. It’s a very beautiful thing. If you don’t feel it yourself, let God be God to you personally. He will, in His time and way, manifest Himself, and His love to you. He has to me, and I am no different than you. My life isn’t where I want it to be, nor am I where I want to be. But I AM happy where I am, and where my life is going, and where I am going. I don’t know the destination, but I do know that I am on a path to creating a continually improved life, and becoming a better person, both of which because my relationship with God is improving, and that is enough to make progress in any area of my life that needs it.
Another reason I share, is because I feel that the knowledge I have gained through these experiences, not everyone has; I didn’t for most of my life. The knowledge I have gained, and the experiences I have had (diamonds I have found) are not just for me; I want people to know what I know. The way to share what I have learned is to be real, authentic, and unafraid to just be me. I am learning that as I come out of my shell, and just be me, I can help others without really trying, and that is beautiful. I don’t share this to seek attention, but to help anyone who may be having a hard time with situations in their lives. Life may not be how we want it, but there are basic things that if we have, life is better, even if the situations themselves don’t change. The first step is acceptance of situations as they are, “Yes, I am carrying this bag of rocks.” Then, recognizing what we CAN do to improve upon the situation, whether it be ways in which we can act to change the situation; changing our perspective or view of the situation;  finding the good that is there to be found in that situation; or learning from it. There is always something to be taken from any given situation, even if it is experience. It is possible to choose to not be the victim of our situations or circumstances.

I am inspired by people who are authentic, and unafraid to share themselves. I want to help myself, and others improve our lives. For me, it’s learning to be real, and allowing myself to be real while stepping outside of my norm. I have energy to be myself, I don’t have energy to be, or pretend to be someone else. I am happy to be me. I am actually excited to have shared some super valuable diamonds with you. Thank you for reading, God bless!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Boxes In Our Lives Labeled, "ART"

A little over a month ago, I was in my room, thinking about my life (I do that kind of a lot), and I was feeling very content with who I was, and who I was becoming. I had for many years thought that I must try harder in order to be good enough; good enough for me; good enough for God; and at the same time, be the person that others needed/ expected me to be. In my mind, I wasn't good enough; for me, or for God; and I was tired (literally) of being the person others needed/expected me to be. I take credit for that because I allowed it to happen. I unknowingly allowed myself to get to a place over time, where I didn't know who I was. What I did know, was that I was trying reach good enough. I may or may not have been good enough for other people; in my mind I wasn't. I was trying to be good enough for God, and yet, never reaching good enough for God. I had allowed others to depend on me, and I didn't know how to change things without completely rocking the, completely flipping the boat over, in those relationships. And I thought that by doing so, the message I would be sending was that I didn't love these people. I DID/DO love these people, so I was trapped, keeping the seas calm on the outside for the benefit of others, while waves were crashing on the inside. I thought it was my responsibility to...I could say a lot of the steady foundation, the rock, the glue that held things together; even things that were not my doing, but for which I felt responsible to hold together.

Then last year I came to realize that it IS within me to completely flip the boat over; and it needed to be done if I was ever going to change the way I interacted with people. I learned that I DO matter, that I AM good enough, FOR EVEN GOD! And if I am good enough for God, then I am good enough for myself, and what other people think doesn't matter! I realized it was not my responsibility to take care of other people in ways that were not healthy for myself. I learned that I CAN, and NEEDED to take action that was self-based. I needed to take care of myself first, mentally emotionally, physically, spiritually. 

Over the course of the past year and a half, that is what I have done. I have taken charge of my life; I flipped the boat and changed for the mucho mejor, certain relationships, I have set boundaries with them, and others. My life is SO much different now than it was 2 years ago, and SO much better! I have also been learning during this same time, who I am; what I like, what I don't, what I want, who I am, and who I can become. I realize that my potential is much more than I currently am, and that is a beautiful thought. 

This brings me back to where I started. A little over a month ago, I was sitting in my room, thinking about my life, particularly where I had been, and came from over the past year and a half; and where I currently was. I was happy; with my life; with the progress I had made, and that I was presently making. As I looked around at my room, my bed was unmade, there were a few shirts, a book, my phone, and a couple pillows on top. My scriptures were on the floor, along with 2 boxes of other books I hadn't decided where to put, even after 5 months, and some shoes. My computer desk had papers on it, fingernail clippers, a starburst from a friend, my glasses, and some pens. My room was not spotless, neither was it a complete disaster. What it was, was beautiful. Why? Because the unmade bed, with the shirts, book, my phone, and the pillows, along with my desk, and the floor, were...are you ready for this?... allowing me to be me. Everything in my room, exactly how it was at that moment, and at any other moment, is there to support the life that I live. No one else's room looks like mine, which makes it unique. To me, it WAS beautiful. It was completely mine, and I accepted every aspect of it. I was very content!

Shortly after that experience, like 30 minutes later, I was reading in a book called, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. A portion of that book talks about perfection. For all those previous years I thought I wasn't good enough because I wasn't perfect. Over the past year and a half I have come to be grateful that I am not perfect. It's way to hard to try to be. What I CAN be is any amount better than I was yesterday. It's not about perfection, it's about progression, and progression is progression. Now, I CAN be perfect through the atonement, and that is our purpose in life; to be perfect, even as He is perfect, which is possible through the atonement. The atonement is SO amazing, that it even covers our imperfection in using the atonement, mind blowing, I know!! Anyway, back to the book, and my whole point in writing this blog post. A re-cap, 30 minutes later, after looking around at my awesome room, I'm reading in this book...Ok. I read this, which I can't even explain how I felt afterwords, because it fit "perfect"ly with the experience I had just had in my room. Brene quotes Nicholas Wilton, the illustrator of one of her earlier books:

"I always felt that someone, a long time ago, organized the affairs of the world into areas that made sense--categories of stuff that is perfectible, things that fit nearly in perfect bundles. The world of business, for example, is this way--line items, spreadsheets, things that add up, that can be perfected. The legal system--not always perfect, but nonetheless a mind-numbing effort to actually write down all kinds of laws and instructions that cover all aspects of being human, a kind of umbrella code of conduct we should all follow.

Perfection is crucial in building an aircraft, a bridge, or a high-speed train. The code and mathematics residing just below the surface of the Internet is also this way. Things are either perfectly right or they will not work. So much of the world we work and live in is based upon being correct, being perfect.

But after this someone got through organizing everything just perfectly, he (or probably she) was left with a bunch of stuff that didn't fit anywhere--things in a shoe box that had to go somewhere.

So in desperation this person threw up her arms and said, 'ok! Fine. All the rest of this stuff that isn't perfectible, that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else, will just have to be piled into this last, rather large tattered box that we can sort of push behind the couch. Maybe later we can come back and figure where it all is supposed to fit in. Let's label the box ART'

The problem thankfully was never fixed, and in time the box overflowed as more and more art piled up. I think the dilemma exists because art, among all the other tidy categories, most closely resembles what it is like to be human. To be alive. It is our nature to be imperfect. To have uncategorized feelings and emotions. To make or do things that don't sometimes necessarily make sense.

Art is just perfectly imperfect.

Once the word Art enters the description of what you're up to, it is almost like getting a hall pass from perfection. It thankfully releases us from any expectation of perfection.

In relation to my own work not being perfect, I just always point to the tattered box behind the couch and mention the word, Art, and people seem to understand and let you off the hook about being perfect and go back to their business."

This really did completely confirm that my life is basically art; and it's acceptable, it's a masterpiece!! There are pieces of my life that I don't yet know what to do with, that does not mean in any way that I can't make progress in the areas that I do know something about. Neither does it mean that I am a failure, because I can pull things out of my box labeled Art, at any time, and see if they fit somewhere. If so, fantastic, if not, I'll put it back for a while. What it does mean, to me, is that the possessions in my life, my bed, my car, my computer, and everything else "my", are part of my life and have the purpose of serving me in the creating of my life masterpiece, which is the growth and development of my person. I am not to serve the possessions in my life; take care of them, yes, but serve, no. They are to serve me, and I am to serve others. The definitions of art can be as numerable as there are people to define it, which is fantastic, because it means that my art, IS perfect.