Monday, November 23, 2009
Joseph Smith was in liberty jail during the winter of 1838-1839. While there, he and his companions were forced to walk in a stooped position, they were given contaminated food that was sometimes poisoned, they were freezing and when they had access to a fire, they had to breath constant smoke. "Pen, or tongue, or angels," could not adequately describe "the malice of hell" that he suffered there.
For some of us, we are in that hell. Either through no fault of our own, or through poor choices, we are surrounded by that hell. We can, however, turn that hell into a prison temple. Of course, the prison in which Joseph Smith was trapped in was not like our temples; it lacked beauty, purity, and cleanliness. So how can we call it a temple? And what does the title of "a prison temple" teach us about the love of God and how that love is manifest?
It teaches us that we can have beautiful, profound, inspired, and sacred experiences with the Lord in any situation we are in. I believe that with all my heart. We can have these experiences when we are faced with the insurmountable, the unjust, and the cruelest opposition and odds we have ever faced.
In one way or another, we will all spend time in our own little jail. We may face things that we do not want to face for reasons that may not be our fault. In fact, we may be trying to live the absolute best that we can, and for those reasons face difficult circumstances. We may face ridicule or persecution, we may endure heartache and separation from loved ones, and we may even be left hungry, forlorn, and alone.
These difficult lessons teach us that God uses these opportunities to reach into our very souls, if we do not curse God for our problems. "He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples--or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace.
Everyone faces trying times. When this happens, we sometimes fear that our friends, family, and even God has abandoned us. We may be tempted on occasion to cry out with bitterness of heart, "Oh God, where art thou...? How long shall thy hand be stayed...? Yea, O Lord, how long shall [we] suffer...before...thy bowels be moved with compassion towards [us]?"
I want to tell you right now, that when these moments come into our lives, that we cannot succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that he does not hear our prayers--whether uttered aloud or from the depths of our souls. He is right there with us, where He has always been! Our prayers are heard. And when we weep, He and the angels of heaven weep with us. He is your father, and you are his child. Even when unmerited things may be done to us by our enemies but also, in some cases, by those whom we thought were friends, we must remember that God is with us. Jesus Christ said, "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up".
We must also always remember that just because difficult things are happening, it does not mean that we are unrighteous or unworthy of blessings or that God is disappointed in us. We have to remember that no matter how miserable we are, we are in very good company. The same thing happened to the Savior of the world. He had been falsely accused, been torn away from family and friends, cast into the hands of murderers and yes, he was triumphant. So if the Savior himself, the most perfect being to ever live faced such injustices, we cannot expect that we will not face some of what He endured. However heavy our load might feel, it would be a lot heavier if we did not have the Savior who had gone before us to lift that burden with us, and for us.
We don't want to look for sorrow. We don't want to become martyrs. Trouble seems to find us when we're not looking. But remember that when you see a little bit of your prison coming for you, that God has not forgotten you, that He has been where you are, and that He will provide for your deliverance and comfort.
Finally, and this for me is the most difficult, we must learn to remain calm, patient, charitable, and forgiving. Even when faced with distressing circumstances that make us want to lash out at friends, or God, we must remember that "no power or influence can or ought to be maintained...[except] by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned".
I believe the most poignant example of this is when the Savior was hanging on the cross and said, "Father, forgive them; for they know now what they do". The real test of our Christian discipleship is when things are not going smoothly. That is when we get to see what people are really made of and how committed we really are. When we are able to handle such difficulties with charity, and patience, the spirit of God can reach us. It cannot penetrate a heart hardened by hate or anger, self-pity or vengeance. That spirit can only find access to us when we have a heart striving for the principles of true discipleship.
It is hard for us to be cheerful in these situations. In fact, there are those who no matter how hard they try, just can't seem to smile. But that doesn't mean we can't be optimistic. We can always hope for a brighter tomorrow! In those cold and lonely hours, we can turn to the Lord, wait upon His mercy, and see his arms stretched out towards us. He does love us.
Finally, I want to leave you with the testimony of Elder Holland. I can wholeheartedly testify to what he says: "I testify that heaven's kindness will never depart from you, regardless of what happens. I testify that bad days come to an end, that faith always triumphs, and that heavenly promises are always kept."
Friday, October 30, 2009
This did come as a surprise to me and Jay's family but still, Jay was my friend. I knew Jay had thought his decision through and was choosing something that he thinks is best for him. I fully support him in his decision, as long as what he is choosing is what he really wants and is making him happy. Now, I come to my next point.
Some of Jay's friends are real jerks. Jay has told me how they have treated him and it has absolutely disgusted me. Keep in mind that his friends are LDS who consider themselves "Christians" and profess to live as Christ had lived. Some of them have called Jay evil, misguided, or lost. Some have even gone so far as to cut off ties with Jay.
I am not a stranger to this occurrence. A "friend" of mine told me she could no longer be my friend because I was gay. She told me that I made her feel dark inside. Now, she only started feeling "dark" inside after I told her I was gay...and her bishop also suggested she not hang out with me because I was a bad influence. Ya bishop, you're right, gays recruit other normal people and turn them gay.
So anyway, I don't think it's appropriate for people to treat anyone like Jay has been treated. If you claim to be Christian, why don't you show some Christian love and love him no matter what?! According to your beliefs, he is a child of God, so why are you treating him as if he is a child of Satan?
In my mind, if someone were to fall away from the Church, I would feel more compassion for that individual. They have just lost a huge support system in their lives and will need helping hands to rebuild their shattered lives. It seems to me that people in our faith are really nice to investigators, and people that are still a part of the church. But as soon as those people turn their backs on the church, the once seemingly nice people turn horrible and attack the "non-believer".
I know it is a little difficult to see things from another persons point of view, but that's one of the wonderful challenges of life! We should revel in the opportunity to learn new perspectives and broaden our horizons! I'm not trying to say that I'm a master at this, but I try to be understanding and non-judgmental. We are all human and just trying to make it through this life as best we can. Who am I to judge something that may work for you even if it didn't work for me? I can't. That's just not right.
For the most part, my "coming out" journey has been relatively easy. People haven't attacked me for what I've done or ridiculed me...at least not to my face. I sometimes wonder if I had decided to leave the church, if my experience would be similar to Jays...
To all you Jays out there, your true friends are there for you. They may be hidden in the shadows or may be people you haven't contacted for a while. You will be heard and you will be understood. To those of you who attack the Jays, you will be judged just as harshly at the last day as you judged those around you.
I have always been confused as to what love is supposed to feel like. Is it supposed to feel like a yearning to be with someone? What about just wanting to be in the same room and talk? Is it supposed to make your heart hurt or make you feel like your skeleton is gonna jump out of your skin? Or is it a calm feeling of peace, comfort, and a general understanding and feeling of belonging?
I know right? Too many questions! The reason I write this is to vent some of my frustrations. I don't feel like I know what to do anymore. When I try and think of myself in a romantic relationship with a women, I get really weirded out. When I think of myself in a romantic relationship with a man, I also get really weirded out. Am I consigning myself to a life of loneliness here? How am I supposed to feel physically intimate with someone when I am uncomfortable in either situation? I just don't understand what I'm supposed to do.
It's hard to tell people about how I'm feeling because most don't have this problem. People who have same-gender attractions seem to have picked a side of the fence, and gone for it. Neither side of the fence feels good. I hate that the thought of me being happy with a man fills me with horror and guilt. I hate that the idea of me being happy with a woman fills me with discomfort and shame.
I wish it was possible for me to be physically intimate with someone. I'm not meaning intimate as "sex" here. I mean it as just cuddling and being close. I wish there was someone that I was ridiculously attracted to, and they were attracted to me. From my experience, people find you attractive until they get what they want from you. Then you're just another tool they used for their happiness.
I dunno if this has made sense at all but it's just how I'm feeling and it's been a while since I've written...
Thursday, October 1, 2009
We are all connected.
But what if there's a wall,
Which makes you feel rejected?
This brick was from that fight,
That cost you a dear friend.
While this ones for that pet that died,
When life seemed at an end.
The moat is filled with tears,
Of the most bitter kind.
Tears that seem to swim their way,
Until you've but gone blind.
The guards are at the door,
To keep you from harms way.
But there's another thing that can't get in,
That you'd really wish would stay.
People really love you,
Or so they seem to say.
But your guards have fought it back,
And kept that love at bay.
Now you sit alone,
With nothing coming in.
People climbing up the walls,
In the hopes to raise your chin.
Sure there's lots of tears,
Enough to fill that moat.
But there's more happiness and joy,
To keep you safe afloat.
As you've probably guessed it,
It's time to destroy those walls.
It's time to take life as it comes,
The highest peaks and falls.
But how do you destroy,
What has taken years to build?
Something so massive and vile,
That's left you unfulfilled.
Will you do me a favor,
As soon as you find out?
Come rescue me from my castle,
I've lost the strength to shout.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Now, this is the part where it gets tricky. We all use people. If you deny that well, you're wrong. We need people to survive! At the very basic level, we use people when we are buying our groceries. We didn't grow them ourselves. But on a more substantial level, we use people in order to get basic psychological needs met. This includes the need to be loved, to be cared for, and to be intimate.
I recently had someone get quite upset with me because they felt that I had used them. Well, it's true that I had used that person. But I did not go into that relationship thinking to myself, "hmm, I wonder how I can suck the life out of this person, get everything that I possibly can, and then leave them in the dust..." Heavens no! I tried to explain to him that I valued our friendship because it gives me an opportunity to be emotionally intimate with someone else. And I suppose that means using that person to meet a basic biological need of being intimate. I don't know why he felt like me trying to be emotionally intimate was using him but...I digress.
My point here is that I think we are all a little too quick to jump into the blame game. If something goes wrong or something doesn't quite feel right, we start pointing fingers at the nearest target. I don't think this is necessary.
For example, a man at my work, who I had always known to be single and a really nice guy, was caught trying to date someone from work. As it turns out, my "single" friend is actually married. I was quite shocked to find that out. But then I realized that it didn't really matter. Now I am not saying that I approve of his choice to date women outside of marriage. What I am trying to say is that it is not my right nor my place to judge that man. How can I judge him when I know nothing of his circumstances, and nothing of what he's going through? I can't and I won't.
Our lives and our hearts are connected to others for a reason. We could not survive in this world alone. It has been shown in study after study that in order for a person to maintain a healthy persona, they must have regular social interaction. This may include using someone to vent to, using someone to pull a prank and have fun, or using someone to be physically or emotionally intimate.
Okay, so I think that's all I really have to say about that subject so I think I'll step down off my soap box now :)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Who grasp at your very soul.
They say to tell the difference,
Is to reach your final goal.
I cannot tell the difference,
And it's tearing me apart.
Where are the hands to save,
To give a place to start?
People say there are people,
Who pull you this way or that.
They say to tell the difference,
Will keep you from going flat.
I cannot tell the difference,
And people are turning back.
Seeing that I won't choose sides,
So they leave me in the black.
Your friends are only friends,
If you follow the path they chose.
Choose something wrong and you will see,
They'll leave you with their foes.
So make a choice if you dare,
And find your friends at last.
I refuse to make a choice,
And am forgotten fast.
People say that we need help,
A sort of guide and friend.
Someone to take our hand,
And guide us to the end.
As I've had my share of guides,
And listened to their advice.
I've realized they're only guides,
As long as you pay a price.
Perhaps being torn apart,
Isn't nearly so bad.
As committing myself to something,
That I could never have had.
Everyone gets a piece of me,
And I am torn asunder.
But now there's no more fighting,
Which begs us all to wonder--
Is it worth having a piece
Of something you loved so much?
Maybe all you really wanted,
Was another piece to clutch.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
But I know it's their way of showing that they care. And I think I've grown closer to people since I came out. People have begun to see me in a different light. They can see how I've really struggled and they have tried to share some of their intimate stories. I wanted to personally thank everyone who has shared one of their trials with me. It helps me keep things in perspective, and it helps me know that people care because they're trying to relate to me.
So...where to continue...well, I have noticed that people treat me just a little bit differently now! He he he. I get the questions like, "do you still notice attractive girls?" or "any new boys in your life?" and stuff like that. I think it's fantastic that people are so supportive! And just so you know, I have yet to have a bad reaction to my blog...at least to my face.
I write this blog now because my heart is torn. It feels like people are trying to make me take a side. They're making me choose my friends, and my enemies, and putting me in a position to fight.
Well, I don't want to fight ok? I think this is one of those things where I don't have to choose a side. Yes, it is possible to be gay and still be in the Church! I promise it is! So, I will not lose my religion, and I will not change a part of me that I really like.
Phew...now that being said, my heart is still torn. I really don't know what to do. When I'm with a girl that I really enjoy being with, I feel an emotional connection. I feel like we could be friends forever and just love life! However, there isn't that physical spark that makes me wanna cozy on up next to her. I can still love her emotionally, but I just can't do it physically.
Now with a guy, I feel like I can do both. But here's the interesting thing. If, for instance, I really like a guy, the more I get to know them, the less attracted I am to them physically. Is that weird? I would assume it's kinda weird since most people, after they get married, don't slowly stop being physically intimate. That's just not how it's supposed to work! Well, that's what I would assume anyway.
So, I dunno what to do. Is it possible to find a woman who would not want a physical relationship? Unlikely...even if she was in a wheelchair she'd still want some physical intimacy...trust me, I've thought about this. Is it possible to find a man who wouldn't want a physical relationship? Even more unlikely 'cause it seems to me like most gay guys move a lot faster when it comes to physical intimacy than women. And is it even possible for me to be happy in either relationship trying to be within the Church? I have no flippin' clue...
I am coming up to a turning point in my life. Grad school is fast approaching. No I haven't applied anywhere yet, but that's where more confusing, and yes more stress, comes into play. I have tons of friends here in Utah and in states round about. If I leave, I could make a brand new start and really choose what I want with little to no outside pressure because I won't know anyone. However, I need a social support system. Without friends and family, at least someone close by, I feel like I am nothing. But if I stay, will I be able to stay close to my convictions? Or will I be missing out on a huge opportunity to grow? I don't know those answers either...
So anyway, I know that's not the happiest post in the world, and I will try and write more and tell you of some of the lighter sides of things that have been going on. But I just wanted to get that in the open. Feel free to comment and tell me what you think. I'm always up for suggestions :)
Monday, June 15, 2009
Back in high school, I began having arguments with myself. I would be taking a shower and be arguing in my brain back and forth. I now know that arguing with yourself isn't a good idea because nobody ever wins. Anyway, I was arguing with myself about feelings of same-gender attraction.
Now let me just say something right here. Just because I have these feelings does not make me a sex-starved pedophile. I do not go prowling around Provo looking for gay guys to hook up with. You guys know me, and know my personality. These feelings do not define me. It's just another part of me like saying that I love to laugh, or that I love to snowboard.
All right, so these arguments in my head really started to drag me down. I felt like I was being forced to choose between my religion and my feelings. From what I knew, I felt like I was sinning just by even consider I had those feelings. I think I really hurt myself by thinking that.
I did some research on lds.org and found that having these feelings is not a sin. Having feelings of same-gender attraction is never a sin! It also seemed to me that there were other people out there like me, which gave me a little bit of hope for the future. The article also said that I would be able to partake of all the same ordinances of the Church as any other faithful member. To me, the idea of doing that really kept me going.
The first time I really came out to myself and to my best friend was my freshman year of college. It had been a few months and I had been feeling particularly lonely that night and I really just couldn't take it anymore. I was terrified to talk about it but it actually turned out a lot better than I had expected. My friend acted as I wish everyone would act. I told him I struggled with same-gender attraction and his response was, "and...?" That is what a good friend would do! I believe he really understood the idea of those feelings being a part of me, but not defining me.
To say that all of my experiences with other people were like that would be a total lie. I have been surprised and am very grateful for the love and support I have received. I have also been shocked by the actions of some. I am constantly amazed at how insensitive some people can be. Maybe people don't realize it but there is always someone watching. And what we say can really hurt someone who's battling with an internal struggle.
Some of you may have now realized that this is the main reason I have not chosen to serve a mission. This is not a challenge I would like to deal with out in the mission field. It would simply be too much for me to be trying to preach the Gospel while still trying to figure out where I fit in with the Church and with God. Not serving a mission does not make me a terrible person FYI. I will still receive the same blessings; it may simply take me a little longer. God will always use a person to accomplish His work. God will work with that person on their level in order to teach them what they need to know.
And I believe that is what God is doing with me right now. I have had a lot of experiences lately that have really pushed my testimony to the limits, but have also strengthened it beyond measure. I have officially decided after much meditation, study, and prayer, to not pursue the gay lifestyle (i.e. pursuing intimate relationships with other men). Don't get me wrong, I will still associate with my gay friends, and I will always value the gay side of me. It has taught me a lot, especially in terms of being non-judgmental, becoming in tune and in touch with my emotions, and loving people unconditionally.
I hope to also convey something else to you. Being a psychology major, I know that there are real genetic, and environmental factors that go into someone who is homosexual. I hope you know that homosexuality is not a choice. Why would I choose to live these last few years of struggle, doubt, and fear? Why would I choose to give up my dreams of having a wife, 2.5 children, a dog, and a white picket fence? Why would I risk losing close friends? I wouldn't, ok?!
The reason I am coming out to everyone now is because I need help. I need to know that I have support from loved ones and that I can call on you when I am really struggling. Today has marked a turning point in my life. While the feelings of homosexuality are not a choice, I do have a choice on how I am going to live the rest of my life with those feelings. I have chosen a difficult path and I do not treat my journey lightly. I hope and pray that you will be here for me, as I hope I can always be there for you in your time of need.
Just so you know, I know this Church is true. I know that God has a mission for me to do on this Earth. I know He will guide me to touch the lives of people around me, and hopefully change them for the better. I do not condemn those who have chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle. They are seeking happiness in the way that they feel is best for them. I am choosing a different way of seeking my own happiness.
Please, if you have any questions, ask me. I am not afraid to talk about who I am. I know who I am, and I love who I am. Also, thank you so much for being my friend. I look forward to taking this journey together.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
There's the "hi" friend - this friend is the one that you've perhaps met in one of your classes or see every so often and you just say "hi" to them. Beyond that one word, there really isn't a whole lot more communication. When you're walking with other friends, and you pass a bunch of "hi" friends, you may be seen as quite popular! So maybe you should keep these guys around.
There's the "where are you from, etc" friend - this is also someone that you haven't had a whole lot of communication with. You know when you meet a new person, especially at school, you ask the typical questions like "where are you from, how old are you, what's your major" and other things of that nature. You can usually continue these conversations for a long time where there isn't anything more beyond the occasional question and response. It's a polite way of basically saying, "I think you're an all right person, but I don't see us being friends." But hey, at least you're socializing a little bit!
After that comes the "occasional hangout" friend - you finally asked the person for their number and/or facebook account. After all, being a friend on facebook means you're real friends right? So, if you're desperately bored, you may give this person a call to hang out for a little while. You may even invite them to a party that you're throwing! But that's just 'cause you wanna get as many people as possible. These people could perhaps grow into a normal friend if they pass some of the "unwritten rules" of friendship. I won't go into the details of those rules but you all have your own.
Then there's the "friends until we leave [name of institution]" friend - these people are a lot more common. You are friends with them all through high school or college and you really enjoy spending time together. You guys hang out often, eat lunch together, and just do lots of activities. You always say after the year is over that you will stay in contact. But they soon move away, or maybe even just go to a different school. Soon you guys become "hi" friends because all you do is poke each other on facebook or write on each others' walls and say "I miss you". Don't worry, you could become friends again, but it'll take a little bit more effort than those pokes...
Finally, there are the best friends. I do believe it is possible to have many best friends. These are the friends that really care about you no matter what you do. You could've just told them that you never want to see them again, but they'll come back, and probably even apologize even if it's not their fault. These friends have seen you at your worst, and still love you. They know some of your insecurities, and can even tease you about them because you know they'll help you with it.
I have quite a few best friends. Some live across the country, some across the globe, and one is even with me right now! I appreciate everything these friends do for me. They love me, appreciate me, and some even look up to me (for reasons which I have yet to figure out).
The reason I write this post is because a lot of people believe as I used to; that anyone who knows your name could be a potential best friend. I'm afraid that this is false. You click with some people and just don't with others. When you're feeling haughty and wanna be popular, say "hi" to a lot of "hi friends" and when you're feeling down and lonely, you could surround yourself with a mix. But when you're really desperate, rely on your best friends.
And don't be afraid to test limits with your friends. Ask them after telling them something really personal if they're ok. If they struggle, then maybe they can't handle what you told them. You can always ask your friends how far they will or will not go with you. Don't be afraid if some turn you down. Some friends just can't handle every minute detail of your personal life. But hey, you can always find more friends. God never wanted us to be alone. If He did, He would've created one world, for each of us.
I have been very blessed,
By your sweet, tender care
And all I wish to say
Is how I wish you’d be there.
There when I first kiss,
And there when I find true love,
But I know you’re watching out for me,
As I feel your gaze from above.
I can still see your smile,
And those caring, light blue eyes,
That have captured the hearts of many,
And lifted your disguise.
While many couldn’t see,
The beauty inside of you,
There are those of us still here,
Who really always knew,
That your heart was always giving,
And pleading for those in need
As you rushed right by their side,
With ever-increasing speed.
I remember all the good times,
And never recall the bad,
I remember I could trust you
And always say that I had,
One of the greatest brothers ever,
Who could DJ a song or two,
And would always make me laugh,
As he did to you.
I have but one regret,
That I couldn’t say goodbye,
To my fantastic older brother,
But I’m so happy to see you fly.
You’ve beaten all your struggles,
You’ve made it to the end,
And I just can’t wait to see you,
Just around the bend.
This is a talk I wrote last year for Sacrament Meeting in my singles ward. I hope you enjoy it!
Hello brothers and sisters,
It’s really nerve-wracking to see you all here this morning. This is only the second Sacrament talk that I’ve ever given in my life so I ask your forgiveness for my nervousness …I’ve been asked to speak on the talk given by Elder Uchtdorf , The Point of Safe Return. I’d like to share a story shared by a dear friend about an older brother who seemed lost forever:
Dave was in Junior High when it all began. He had always been close to his older brothers and would always go out of his way to help ‘em out when they needed it. Unfortunately for him, and without him even knowing, his older brother Will began abusing that relationship. About once or twice a week, Will would go and pick up his younger brother Dave from Junior High and take him out to lunch. Seems like a nice brotherly thing to do right? Well, at first Dave thought it was too. But after lunch, Will would take Dave to the bank and kindly ask if he could borrow some money. “Of course I’ll pay you back,” Will would always say. Dave, being as trusting as he was, would gladly lend him the money, thinking that his brother would pay him back. But soon, that borrowed money started adding up. David had no idea what Will was using it for but he still trusted his older brother. Dave was only doing what he thought was helping his older brother but little did he know that he was feeding a drug-addict. Soon, things started disappearing from their home and Dave’s own room. One night, Dave was woken up by rustling sounds coming from his room. It was Will, claiming that he couldn’t sleep and that he needed some headphones. Again, Dave shrugged it off and went back to his sleep. Sadly, Dave’s bank account was emptied that night by his brother. Will’s parents had some idea of what was going on but they didn’t want to worry Dave so they never really explained the situation to him. But eventually Dave found everything out. Have you ever been in a home where you fear for your safety? Where you fear for your belongings? Where you fear that something terrible will happen to your brother? This is exactly how Dave felt. Will continued to steal from Dave. Dave changed his PIN, moved to a different bank, hid his stuff, but Will would always manage to get into his money and other valuable items. He emptied Dave’s bank account twice, and stole countless items from him, and his entire family. The whole situation seemed to come to a standstill when Dave, while using the computer, leaned over to find a needle on the table. That’s when his parents told him that Will was addicted to Heroine and that he had been for a while. Dave suspected something like this was happening but it was almost impossible to believe. Their parents did everything they could to help their struggling son. They sent him to clinics, to re-habilitation centers, and countless other doctors, specialists, and therapists, in a desperate attempt to help cure him. They all thought Will was doing a lot better until one unforgettable day. Dave was quietly studying for a test on the downstairs couch when he heard his mom calling Will’s name. Will had always liked to take long baths to help him relax and today seemed no different. Will had been in there for a while and his mom was just going upstairs to give him his laundry. She knocked on the door and asked Will if he was getting out anytime soon. There was no answer. She knocked again, thinking maybe he had fallen asleep. Again, there was no answer. She knocked harder and harder until she was pounding on the door. She began getting desperate and grabbed a key to open the door. Then she started screaming. She screamed down at Dave to call 911. Dave ran to the phone and dialed 911. He had never called 911 in his life. While Dave was calling 911, his dad had called his uncle who rushed over to help. Dave ran upstairs when he got a hold of someone and started giving directions to his dad and uncle. The first thing Dave saw when he went upstairs was his brothers seemingly lifeless body. He had overdosed. The 911 operator gave directions, which Dave tried to repeat as best he could. An ambulance arrived soon after and took Will away. Dave’s parents went in the ambulance and Dave was left with a neighbor from across the road. It seemed like Dave’s life was coming to an end. His brother had almost died after everything he and his parents tried to do. The situation seemed hopeless. Will did recover and returned to live with his family. After some time of being sober, he moved out to live on his own. He still relied on his family for financial support but other than that, Dave thought the problem was over. And to a point, it was. Will didn’t use drugs anymore but he soon began to become incredibly depressed at his entire situation. Little to his family’s knowledge, he had made a plan to take his own life. Thankfully though, Will had been using the internet recently, in a forum group, and had posted his plan. One person had seen the post and immediately called the police who rushed to his apartment to find him barely alive. Had it not been for that one person, Will would have died. Dave’s entire family was pushed to the limit at hearing this news. There was nowhere to go, no one to turn to, and it seemed there was no hope in sight…
Will’s life is still a mess, because of his bad choices and the consequences of those. On the plus side, Will has been clean for some time and is living on his own and almost completely supporting himself. But there is still this problem of a hopeless situation. Now, this story might be small in comparison to your own problems, or it might even be bigger than your problems, but it still serves as an example of what people might call “a point of no return”.
Do any of you feel like you’ve reached this point in your lives? Is there something in your life that constantly haunts you and causes you so much pain, you can barely stand it? Do you feel like you’re some “special case” that no one can reach, and that not even the atonement can touch? I hope you’re all listening carefully. I want to give any of you who are feeling like this a message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is a message of hope, peace, and happiness through the Atonement.
Satan, "the father of all lies" (2 Nephi 2:18), "the father of contention" (3 Nephi 11:29), "the author of all sin" (Helaman 6:30), and the "enemy unto God" (Moroni 7:12), uses the forces of evil to convince us that this concept applies whenever we have sinned. The scriptures call him the "accuser" because he wants us to feel that we are beyond forgiveness (see Revelation 12:10). Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a "point of no return"—that it is too late to change our course. In our beautiful but also troubled world, it is a sad reality that this attitude is the source of great sorrow, grief, and distress to families, marriages, and individual lives.
Satan tries to counterfeit the work of God, and by doing this he may deceive many. To make us lose hope, feel miserable like himself, and believe that we are beyond forgiveness, Satan might even misuse words from the scriptures that emphasize the justice of God, in order to imply that there is no mercy.
I know it’s hard not to listen to him sometimes. We try and shut out that voice that tells us we’re beyond hope. We mustn’t give up hope in the power of the Atonement and we have to endure to the end. If you’re doing the best you can with what you have then just keep going! Protection against the influence of the devil comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the good news that Jesus Christ has made a perfect Atonement for mankind. It is the message of love, hope, and mercy that there is a reconciliation of man with God.
Sin is the willful transgression of divine law. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the gift of God to His children to correct and overcome the consequences of sin. God loves all of His children, and He will never cease to love and to hope for us. The plan of our Heavenly Father is clear, and His promises are great: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world . . . might be saved" (John 3:17).
Christ came to save us. If we have taken a wrong course, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can give us the assurance that sin is not a point of no return. A safe return is possible if we will follow God's plan for our salvation.
We have received this plan from the highest authority in the universe, even God, our Heavenly Father. This plan was prepared from before the foundation of the earth. It is a great plan of happiness, a plan of mercy, a plan of redemption, a plan of salvation. This plan enables us to experience a physical existence, including mortality, a time of probation, and to return to the presence of God and live in eternal happiness and glory. It is explained in the doctrines of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Following this plan has beautiful eternal consequences for us individually, for our families, for generations to come, and even for generations who went before. The plan includes divine reconciliation and forgiveness.
Divine Forgiveness is only possible when we claim the blessings of the Atonement. Don’t be stubborn in thinking that you can do this by yourself. Reach out to that Almighty hand that is reaching out to you and grab on to it! Hold to that with all your might. President David O. McKay said, "Every principle and ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is significant and important . . . , but there is none more essential to the salvation of the human family than the divine and eternally operative principle [of] repentance".
We need a strong faith in Christ to be able to repent. Our faith has to include a "correct idea of [God's] character, perfections, and attributes" (Lectures on Faith , 38). If we believe that God knows all things, is loving, and is merciful, we will be able to put our trust in Him for our salvation without wavering. Faith in Christ will change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with God's will.
True repentance brings us back to doing what is right. To truly repent we must recognize our sins and feel remorse, or godly sorrow, and confess those sins to God. If our sins are serious, we must also confess them to our authorized priesthood leader. We need to ask God for forgiveness and do all we can to correct whatever harm our actions may have caused. Repentance means a change of mind and heart—we stop doing things that are wrong, and we start doing things that are right. It brings us a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general.
Take it one day at a time brothers and sisters. We all mess up. Take some comfort in knowing that there is a way provided for us to go back to our Heavenly Father. Even if your sins are serious in nature, keep working at it. God knows how hard you’re working and He will lift you up. Take comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ is fighting beside you and there is no way you can lose with Him at your side.
Have you ever walked out of a Bishop’s office or got up off your knees from a sincere prayer with your Heavenly Father and just felt lighter? What a wonderful gift of peace that is. President Spencer W. Kimball taught: "The essence of the miracle of forgiveness is that it brings peace to the previously anxious, restless, frustrated, perhaps tormented soul. . . . God will wipe away . . . the tears of anguish, and remorse, . . . and fear, and guilt". But remember that although we do cause a lot of our grief, there are some things that are simply beyond our control. But the Atonement is powerful enough to take away any pain, and wipe away any tear.
President Harold B. Lee said, "When you have done all within your power to overcome your mistakes, and have determined in your heart that you will never repeat them again, then . . . peace of conscience [can come to you] by which you will know that your sins have been forgiven". There are times when we may remember past mistakes and yes, they do cause us some pain. It’s important for us to remember some of that pain so we don’t repeat our mistakes. But, God will lessen our pain once we have truly repented. We will remember the pain, but God will remember our sins no more.
Jesus taught us eternal truth when He taught us to pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. . . . For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not . . . neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (3 Nephi 13:11, 14–15).
Therefore, extending forgiveness is a precondition to receiving forgiveness.
For our own good, we need the moral courage to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Never is the soul nobler and more courageous than when we forgive. This includes forgiving ourselves.
Each of us is under a divinely spoken obligation to reach out with pardon and mercy and to forgive one another. There is a great need for this Christlike attribute in our families, in our marriages, in our wards and stakes, in our communities, and in our nations.
We will receive the joy of forgiveness in our own lives when we are willing to extend that joy freely to others. Lip service is not enough. We need to purge our hearts and minds of feelings and thoughts of bitterness and let the light and the love of Christ enter in. As a result, the Spirit of the Lord will fill our souls with the joy accompanying divine peace of conscience (see Mosiah 4:2–3).
I quote a poem used in Elder Packer’s talk entitled “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”:
’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone!” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game—and he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand
As hard as it sounds brothers and sisters to attain forgiveness, it is worth it. Why deal with all this pain, guilt, and suffering by yourself? Be humble enough to get on your knees and plead with the Lord to help you. Talk with your Bishop and allow him to help lighten your load as well. We must do as the Lord simply asks of us and place the burden on His shoulders. I hope and pray my words, or the words of the Spirit have touched you in some way this morning. I know this wonderful message of the Atonement has greatly blessed my dear friend Dave and his family and I hope and pray that it will bring some peace to your soul. God bless all of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Ok guys, so, my summer job has been working for Comcast. Sort of....I work for a company that works for a company that works for Comcast. Anyway, the basic gist of my job is taking people through some benefits that they have online with us. Sounds pretty simple, yes? Well, yes it is actually. It's ridiculously simple...The problem comes in when I interract with those people who are just out to get someone...never a good day when that happens. So I'm gonna talk about them first.
For those of you who have ever worked at a call center, you know grumpy people can make or break your day. Now, I'm not out to sell people anything. Which is always a plus. But people treat me like I am trying to sell them something. They keep telling me "I don't want to pay anymore" and when I explain to them that they are already paying for what I want to show them, they get all confused, and hang up on me. So I say to myself, ok, I'll let you squander in cybernetic oblivion. I didn't care about you anyway.
Continuing with the grumpy situation, I get those people who tell me all about their problems, how much they hate Comcast, and how much they hate me 'cause I'm a terrible representative. Ok people, first of all, I'm trying to show you over $300 worth of software and you hate me? Second of all, telling a lowly peon in the Comcast department all of your problems, isn't going to do ANYTHING! If anything, it'll make me grumpy, and I'll cancel your service... And lastly, if you hate Comcast, why are you still paying for it?
And then there are the old people. This really confuses me. A lot of the time, when I call them, they tell me they have just bought a new computer. Ok, these old people don't know how to use a computer period! I think they heard somebody tell them they needed a new one and they assumed "oh, if I get a new one, I'll never have to LEARN how to use it...it'll take care of itself!" I'm pretty sure that is their thought process... So anyway, I start talking to them and they pretty much only know how to turn on the computer and nothing more. When the computer starts up, I ask them to open their internet browser and they ask me "what's that?" Which is the point where I smack my head on the keyboard. My first question, why are you paying for Comcast Internet when you don't even know what the Internet is, or how to access it? But ok, you're paying my salary so whatever. For the next hour, I take them through a very painful process of simply setting up their email and repeating it over and over again because they just don't understand. I never even get to any of the programs that we have for them because they'll be so confused and it'll take me so many more hours that I don't even bother. They're happy with just email. They're old. They're simple. But at least I made them a little happier.
Now then, there are a couple of things that I hear a lot while working here. One of them is "why are my rates going up?" This question is asked by those people who don't bother reading the fine print when they sign their contract with Comcast. Let me tell you something peolpe, that "One Year Deal for $100" only lasts ONE YEAR! Ugh! Of course your rates are going up! Your promotion expired! And so then they're all like "oh then I'll just switch to Qwest" and I just think to myself, have fun switching back and forth every year when your new promotion expires! Man people are dumb sometimes!
Now, I know that some people out in the world are actually busy and don't have time to talk to us for a night or two. But the problem comes in when we call them continually and ask "can we do the orientation now" or "how about now" and it feels like we have to chase them down! That's just ridiculous. Now, I'm not suggesting that you have to be rude or anything, but if you don't want something, just tell us! I'm tired of asking "oh so is there another time we can call back?" and the person just says "oh just try me again" and leaves it at that... What am I supposed to do about that?! Do I tell all my coworkers that it's time for tag the next couple days and we waste time trying to get someone to talk to us?! No! 'Cause that is retarded! If you don't have the balls to be a grown up and tell me you're not interested, go move back in with your parents...
So I got a new car the other day and it is amazing! I got it on....Tuesday of this last week. It's a little bright red 2005 Hyundai Accent 4-door sedan with 23,000 miles. It's definitely a change from my monster van so I'm still getting used to driving it. But there are so many things that I love about it! I think one of the best things is that it gets over 30 MPG! My van got...eight...miles to the gallon! Crazy I know! I do miss how much space and how much pure awesomeness came with my van, and the moodlighting was amazing too. But lemme tellyou about my new car!
I have officially named it now. I named it Eva after Alie suggested it when I took her for a ride after I first got it. The name really fits it though! Now, you all need to think of the movie Wall-E 'cause that's where Eva comes from. Eva, in the movie, is very sleek, fast, cute, little, and has a really BIG personality. The same goes with my car. I mean, I already add a lot of personality to the car 'cause I'm a pretty defensive driver and I actually know how to drive, unlike most Utah drivers, but now it has even more because this morning I got my subwoofer installed in the back. Now it's a super loud, speedy, awesome machine! I love how I can zip in and out of traffic and accelerate and brake with ease. My van's brakes were kinda funny....it took a while to stop and that has caused some problems in the past. I also love the growl my new car makes everytime I accelerate.
The inside of a car is also very nice. The seats aren't nearly as plush as the van, nor do I have carpet, but it's still really nice. I think the best feature is the working AC! In my van, I really didn't have AC. When it did decide to work, it would just blow out of the defroster vent in the top of the car and nowhere else. Needless to say, the people in the back weren't too pleased with that. But now in my new little car, I'll get in the car, wait for about a minute, and then the air conditioner is already ice cold and ready to go! And, the air blows out of those front vents...ahhh, pure bliss.
So now, after driving my car all around the place, I've noticed some definite differences from the van. First of all, I'm so low to the ground! I'm so used to sitting in my giant van far about the rest of the world where I felt very intimidating if I wanted to be. Now I can't really intimidate anyone else... I've also noticed that I get other peoples' lights reflecting in my mirrors! That's so weird! Again, because my van was high, I didn't have to deal with that except for Semi's and huge trucks. I do like how much easier it is to change lanes 'cause I don't have such big blind spots. And, when I turn around on a small street, I don't have to do like six-point turns anymore!
Anyway, that's pretty much it for my new car Eva. She's gonna last me a very long time and I'm loving her already. I can't wait to take you guys for a ride in it!
Ok, so, as most of you probably already know, I hate Utah drivers with a passion. The only people I have found worse than them are Florida drivers. So anyway, the topic of discussion this evening is going to be moving over BEFORE turning. Not doing so is one of my many pet peeves.
I'm driving along on a peaceful Thursday night. The traffic is minimal, my music is good, and I have just come from a party. Then, all of that comes to a vicious stop when the person in front of me decides to stop in their lane, and then make a right turn. My question is this, what's the point of that big side space on the right side of the road? I guess it must be there for fun or something 'cause I see a lot of people not using it!
So, I want you all to listen, and listen closely. Before turning, get into the turning lane. Is that too much to ask?!
To go along with that. Now some people are a little more intelligent than others and do realize that that lane is for turning and that they shouldn't block traffic to swing off to the side street. Have you ever noticed how long that turning lane is? It's pretty long. Did you know your car has little things called brakes? They work wonders! Did you know, they can actually stop your car while it's moving?! Incredible I know! This brings me to my second point. When you are turning, or getting ready to turn, move ALL the way over, and THEN slow down. Don't impede the flow of traffic because you can't work your breaks when you want to pull into the left-turn lane! Ugh!
I will admit that I'm not the perfect driver. But I think these things are just some common courtesy issues we should all be a little more aware of. Oh and believe me, I'll be ranting a lot more about Utah drivers in the days to come...
So usually I tell this story as my little "your dumbest moment" when we're getting to know people in wards and class and stuff. I hope you like it! Lemme just give you some background first.
When I was about ten years old, an amazing invention had been made available to the public. It was the glorious blowgun! My brothers had gone to the Navy outlet store or whatever about a week earlier and bought their amazing new toys. Of course, being the naive, copy-catting brother that I was, I wanted one too. After all, my brothers were the envy of all their friends, I wanted to be too! So the race for the blowgun began! When you're a kid, and you see something you want, you will find a way to get it no matter the cost. I ran into the house and begged my mom to let me buy the blowgun. Of course, the answer was no. I had to work for my toy! So I started saving up my pocket money and soon I had enough money to go and get it!
I remember the drive to the outlet store. I couldn't wait to get my hands on that shiny long tube of black plastic. Of course to me, it was far more than plastic, it was my first step towards world-domination!! Mwahahahaha! When we finally stopped, I jumped out of the car and ran towards the blowgun section. Had I known that there were so many neat-o accessories, I would've brought more money! But it didn't matter! I got the basic set which included the gun and about ten darts.
Now let me just explain to you how the darts in blowguns work. They're small and skinny like flu-shot needle. And, they come with a nifty little thing on the back of the dart so when you load it in the gun, it doesn't pop out of the mouthpiece. Now, that's pretty brilliant now that I look back on it! The people who made those darts were pretty smart. I did poke myself again quite a few times trying to put those plastic ends on the darts but finally, I got everything together and I was ready to go have fun. Now, you know those warning labels that we all think are very funny 'cause they seem SO obvious...? Well, those are made for me.
Before I went outside, I created my own amazing dart board, consisting of a piece of paper and markers. Oh you should have seen the majesty of it! It basically basked in its own glory! So anyway, I was having a lot of fun in the backyard doing target practice. I was doing pretty well for being so far away so I decided to get a little closer to just see what it'd be like to practice closer... He he he. So anyway, I blew on one of the darts and it didn't go out all the way. So instead of just tilting it up so the dart would go back to the mouthpiece and be stopped, I sucked it in. And it was stopped by the mouthpiece so stop freaking out!
The problem came in later. I began to have a lot of fun with blowing the dart halfway out and then sucking it back in, only to have it stopped by the mouthpiece. Then, my brain decided it was time to change it up a little bit. I guess I was just a ten-year-old with a death wish. So I turned the blowgun around, so that the point where the really sharp dart came flying out at speeds over a million miles an hour, was facing my mouth. More like, IN my mouth... Then I decided to play a game where I would see how high I could get that metal shaft up the blowgun, without it getting in my mouth. But then my body decided it was time to gasp for no reason. Maybe a butterfly flew in front of me and scared me or something, I don't remember! But before I knew it, there was a long metal dart sticking out of the roof of my mouth.
At this point, time seemed to stop. I just kinda stood there in shock looking down at the hot-pink plastic end of the dart that was in my mouth. It was a strange sensation. But then I realized that the strange sensation coming from my mouth was a LOT of pain! That's when I began screaming and running around in circles. Ok, point one, I scream like a girl. You can imagine how funny that looked. Point two, if you've ever seen me freak out, you'll know it's hilarious. Point three, put point one and two together, and you get a hilarious mental image so just stick with me on this.
So then I ran into the house screaming "mom!" at the top of my lungs...or...at least the best sounding version of mom I could create with a big piece of metal sticking out of my mouth. I found her in the kitchen and I expected a motherly response where she would be concerned, help me to the bathroom, help me clean up, and then give me an ice cream or something to sooth the pain. But oh no, you know what I got? My mom looked at me, shook her head while LAUGHING of all things, and pointed me towards the bathroom. What kind of response is that?! Well, I went to the bathroom, managed to get the dart out of the roof of my mouth, it was pretty stuck in there, and then I put away my blowgun and never touched it again...
So I guess the main point of the story is the next time you laugh at those ridiculous warning labels, just remember. It was created because someone used it improperly...
"Blowgun: Warning, do not aim at face or mouth. Never inhale."
So, this is the real me I guess. I love people. I am loud and draw attention to myself because I know that will help people with their own problems. As long as they’re laughing with me, they’re not sad and hurting inside. Sure, they think I might be a bit immature and sometimes, I do really enjoy not having to grow up. But when people sit down and talk to me, they realize that I am a lot deeper than I appear. I reach deep inside myself and into my own experiences every time to help people when they ask for it. Anytime that anyone asks for a favor from me, or advice, I really try to put my heart into it. I know that maybe if I give enough of my soul to who I’m trying to help, they’ll stay with me no matter what.
I struggle with my spirituality sometimes but seriously, who doesn’t? I know in the end that God will take care of me as long as I try as hard as I can. Even if my trying is really bad, I know it’s acceptable in His eyes because it’s the most I can give and that’s all He will ever ask of me.
As for people trying to spread rumors about me, I’m not sure about that one. People can say what they like about me but I know who I am and if they’re trying to hurt me, it’s probably because I’ve felt something in them that they were trying to hide. I know how lonely pain can be and that’s why I ask them if there is anything I can do to fix it. Even if I can’t fix it, at least I can make the process a little less painful.
I stay in touch with what’s popular around me because I feel insecure about myself sometimes. I keep up to date with technology, fashion, culture, music and any other recent trends in order to be the person everyone expects. So, I guess you can call me a bit worldly. I don’t let that worldliness get in the way of who I am most of the time. I guess I try a little too hard to be what I think people are expecting of me. The thing is, people like all the stuff above that came before the worldliness. So I guess that means that I get confused with actual expectations and perceived expectations. And it’s because of this confusion that makes me depressed sometimes and go back inside my head. I feel like I’m a smart person and if I just think about things long enough, it’ll solve them.
The problem is, that’s not true. I’ve started thinking so much that life has passed me by for a while and left me standing still. So, now here I am, trying to live in the moment and balance those feelings from my heart, and those thoughts in my head. I can’t be in one place or the other. I can help them know they are loved and where to turn but that’s about it. I’m just a companion on their journey, I am not their answer. I am really optimistic though, even when I do get depressed. I know it’ll work out eventually so I don’t worry about trying to “fix” how I’m feeling. I know the right feelings will guide me. And most of the time, I’m pretty happy. So that's me...