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!

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