Thursday, September 27, 2012

a little more on love

My mom sent me a link to this blog today that shared some lovely thoughts on loving others.  I could repeat the words, but I think I'll just send you to the original, because it's beautiful.

Love is the grand motive.  I hope I can come closer every day to making it my motive.
"Love is what inspired our Heavenly Father to create our spirits; it is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins. Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope.” 
-President Dieter F. Uchtdorft, April 2010 "You are My Hands" 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Optimism & Ethical Phenomenology

Recently I've been thinking a lot about what it means to have charity, what it means to be happy.  Two things I learned today have helped with that.

Today a devotional was given in which the speaker outlined five ways to be positive in a negative world.  I was a little skeptical at first, but I loved his approach on what is most important.

1) Remember that righteousness does not mean perfection.  
He told a story of how once his daughter heard him say a "bad word".  She ran to mom and said, "I thought dad was perfect!".  The mother, in her wisdom, said, "Dad isn't perfect, but he is righteous."  And that is enough.
2) Life is really hard, but keep trying anyway.
Sometimes all we can do is get back up-even though we know how easily everything can be pulled out from under our feet again.  He quoted one of my favorite verses of scripture as well, Doctrine and Covenants 123:17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
3) Keep your eyes on Heavenly Father.
He told a beautiful story about his daughter being put out for surgery, and how she looked into his eyes and listened to his calming voice as the anesthesiologist administered the drug and she eventually faded away.  This reminds us that our Heavenly Father is always nearby- we need only look into his eyes and hear his voice.
4) Heavenly Father's approval is the only approval that matters.
When others' thoughts are what matter to us, often we don't live up to our potential.  We forget that our eternal Father is our loudest and most enthusiastic cheerleader- and it is only His approval that will matter in the eternities.  Those who truly love you will seek to help you gain His approval by aligning their ideals with His, not by forcing their own upon you.
5) Look for and remember the true joy in our lives.
This was perhaps the most poignant point for me.  He talked about keeping a daily journal, and how daunting that can seem.  But then he noted that President Henry B. Eyring once talked about how he wrote just a few lines in his journal every night by answering this one question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”  It is in those moments- the moments when we recognize divine inspiration in the form of tender mercies, humor, or promptings to help others- that we experience true joy.  And looking back at those moments will help us to remember that we aren't left alone- there is always something in our lives that reminds us of our loving Father who watches over and cares for us.  It is so easy to forget, and so difficult to remember.

Ethical Phenomenology
A few hours later, in class, we discussed Ethical Phenomenology, a perspective championed by Emmanuel Levinas that holds that our values and ethics are the most important part of our existence.  From this perspective:

1) It is our nature to care for and be responsible for one another.
2) It is our infinite responsibility to care for one another, and we are reminded of this by the distinct and unique faces of those with whom we interact.
3) We can betray our inherent goodness, but it will always be a betrayal.

I love this idea, because I believe it is very true and fundamental.  We are responsible for how we interact with others, and when we follow the divine example of our Savior, we learn the importance of caring for each person around us, because they are our spirit brothers and sisters.  This is no small calling.  And I would propose that, through our world of distant relationships that occur over telephone, texting, and the internet, we so easily lose sight of the true humanity of those around us.  It is so much harder to deny the needs of a person when you are sitting face to face with them than over the phone or email.  It is so much easier to be self-centered, self-focused, and egoistic when real human interactions with others are rare.  I would purport that social interaction isn't just a fun part of the way we are wired as humans, but the way in which we connect with and meet the needs of others- for whom we have a fundamental responsibility.

Now, I don't mean to say that we should sacrifice our own health and sanity to do this.  In fact, as my sweet boyfriend reminded me this weekend, doing so is actually just as selfish as not helping in the first place, because we must be able to take care of ourselves to the extent that we aren't depending on someone else to come pick our neglected pieces and put us back together.  We all do the best we can with ourselves, while remembering that we are a universal human family with responsibilities to love and care for one another.  We do this first and foremost within our families, and then, as time and means permit, we reach out to those in our communities and around the world.  But we are deceiving ourselves if we think our sole responsibility is to ourselves.  We are here to love and serve one another, just as we have seen exemplified in the loving sacrifice and service of our Heavenly Father and our Elder Brother.

So those are my thoughts for today.  It's been a good day for pulling together ideas that have been in my head for ages, and it feels relieving to write them down.  I love learning things that help me develop my worldview in ways that are more and more consistent with the way things really are, and in ways that will help me to be a better sister, friend, girlfriend, daughter, and child of God.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

meaningful moments

Recently I've been a little prone to complain about the daily grind of life.  About the dullness of waking up early every morning to go to the gym, attending a long day of classes, and then spending the evening after dinner with more homework.  Sleep, wake up, and do it all again.

But every once in a while, there are moments that shake things up.  And to be honest, they happen more often than I acknowledge, and they are what make life worth living.  They give life meaning.

Moments seeing my boyfriend smile constantly while eating food, watching roadrunner cartoons, and chatting with friends.
...when I get to help a struggling student understand material and prepare for a test.
...when I accidentally step in a puddle, almost get upset, and then jump in on purpose!
...after class with my English professor when I come to understand that the "cowboy" ideal of men in our society is attractive, but true manhood is so different than John Grady Cole.
...when I lay in bed for ten minutes before getting up, contemplating the beauty of the world and the blessing of being alive.

It's easy to get hung up on the little things of everyday.  But life is so much better when I focus on making meaning in all of those moments.

Also, it's about time.  I'm going to read this book.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A great day...and baseball

Today was a great day- went to the farmer's market (tomatoes!), drove to Lindon for car errands, made loads of delicious food (including my first successful batch of guacamole), watched BYU football cream Weber State, finished up some homework, laughed a lot, and had a lovely evening tonight watching "A League of Their Own".  I'm glad we both love baseball movies!

One quote from the movie I loved:

"If it was easy, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great."  

It's true- it is the hard parts that make life great.  And the hard parts that make the good parts so much better.  Like how my sweet boyfriend told me over and over again today how much he liked the guacamole I made.  Or when he saved me the last bit of the lemon bar.  Or when my roommate made my bed and straightened up a little in my terribly messy room.  Life is hard, but the hard is what makes it great.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

thank you, Yellowcard, for saying the words my heart couldn't find

You never know how much you want something until you have to fight for it.

I loved you first.
I love you still.
I always will.