Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sabbath Day Thoughts

I've been thinking a lot about what am I supposed to be doing in my life right now. I have come to a crossroads and it seems really important that I figure out as soon as I possibly can what will make me happy so I don't end up wasting any time. I know everyone says I don't need to figure it out right now, but trust me—I really, really do.

I remember reading a very powerful quote from Elder Holland that I found in my mission binder, and recently I was searching for it but coming up with nothing. Luckily, today I was reading through my study journal and found part of the quote that made it pretty easy to find the rest. Though it's always hard to hear, this is a powerful message for me.

Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time, or so much of your money, or so much of your work, I want YOU. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here or a branch there, I want the tree down! I don’t want to drill the tooth or crown it or stop it. I want it out! Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires; the ones you think are innocent, as well as the ones you think are wicked. You give me the whole outfit, and I will give you a new self; in fact, I will give you myself, and my will shall become your will.”
The terrible thing, of course, the almost impossible thing is to hand over your whole natural self, all your wishes and all your precautions to Christ. But that is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do  instead is to remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life and yet at the same time to be reasonably good. We’re all trying to let our mind and our heart go their own way, centered on money, or sex, or pleasure, or ambition, and hoping in spite of this to behave honestly and humbly, and that is exactly what Christ warned us we could not do. He said a thistle could not produce figs. If I’m a field that contains nothing but grass seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short, but I shall still produce grass and never wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be plowed up and re-sown. It is the difference between a paint, which is simply on the surface, and a dye or stain that soaks right through. He never talked vaguely. He said, “Be perfect,” and He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the whole treatment. “See, I have chosen you, you haven’t chosen me. You come to this on my terms, and I want you for the full treatment.” Now, that’s hard. But the sort of compromise we’re hankering after is harder still; in fact, it’s impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird, but it’s a jolly sight harder for an egg to learn to fly. We are like eggs at present, and we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. Someday, you will have to be hatched or go bad. It is hard for an egg to become a bird, but it IS impossible for an egg to learn to fly.

It is certainly not easy to align my will with my Heavenly Father's, but He has an even bigger vision for me than I have for myself.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Every spark of friendship and love will die without a home

Before leaving Provo, I had some of my dear friends make me CDs that would capture the essence of them. One of the CDs (the one that I ended up listening to the most on my long roadtrip home) had the song "Intervention" by Arcade Fire on it. I heard the song once before, but I clearly misunderstood the important lyrics that can be found in the title of this post.

I could write an epic poem about my friends, but instead, I will simply write an ode to all the people who gave a home to the spark of friendship between us. About ten months ago, I was recently home from my mission and preparing to go back to BYU to finish my last year. I was scared out of my mind, because although before I left I had ample friends, I had barely reconnected with any of them and was so worried that I would spend my last eight months in Provo weird and lonely. It took a bit of an adjustment, but I came out on top.

A lot of the people that formed a part of my life this past year were old friends from all walks of my life, including EFY, freshman year, study abroad, old wards, etc. But a lot of my friends were new, and new friendships always require nourishment. It took work to turn that spark into a real friendship, just like it took work to reignite my old friendships. It was definitely something I was invested in, since friends are outrageously important to me, but it takes [at least] two, and I am so grateful to all the people that were willing to put time into it as well.

At the risk of being way too sentimental (when I am ever not that way?), I would like to thank my friends for being who you are, because I truly love you and appreciate you being in my life. Having people to spend time with and laugh with and share things with is so valuable to me. I know that things change as time passes, and even the best friendships fade, but at the very least, I have been happy in large part due to the intelligent, hilarious, and considerate people around me.

Thank you. Thank you for not letting these sparks of friendship die. May they always grow stronger.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

#questforhappiness

Once upon a time, in my sophomore year of college, I was lamenting my sad life to a friend who suggested I do one thing to make me happy every day for a week. In the beginning of May, I mentioned that week to my roommates and we decided to make our own version of it, but together, and for the entire month of May. We each came up with ten things we wanted to do and we planned our month accordingly. Even though we didn't quite accomplish every day's task, we had a lot of fun and we encountered happiness.  Too bad I left it in Provo shortly thereafter.

Here is a rundown of each day's task. Feel free to skip this part if you do not care at all, or study it carefully if you need ideas on how to find happiness. Pictures included.
May 4: pick a flower [success]
May 5: meet someone new [success]
May 6: reference as many song lyrics as possible in conversation [failure for me]
May 7: cartwheel in public [success]
May 8: paint our nails the same color [failure]
May 9: prank someone [mostly a failure, though we made a valiant effort to thicken Mark's drink]
May 10: wear something gold [success]
May 11: sort people into Harry Potter houses [success for my roommates, failure for me]
May 12: watch the sunset [success]
May 13: wear seven pieces of jewelry [success!]

May 14: eat a kid's meal at the Creamery [success]
May 15: eat only fruits and veggies [failure—we went to Sonic Happy Hour instead, haha]
May 16: roommate dinner with my favorite food [success]
May 17: sleepover in the living room [success, plus Jessie and Walter joined us]

May 18: go dancing [semi-success—we danced to at least one song each]
May 19: tandem biking [success! one of the best days]

May 20: Temple Square [failure—we sat outside the Provo temple and watched missionaries instead]
May 21: play tennis [success]
May 22: doorbell ditch [success]
May 23: roommate dinner with Katie's favorite food [semi-success—Cambrie didn't eat with us]
May 24: bodyrock to "Call Your Girlfriend" [failure]
May 25: buy matching clothes [failure—we looked but didn't find anything we all agreed on]
May 26: go rollerblading [semi-success—we all went Classic Skating instead]
May 27: wear matching outfit to church [success!]

May 28: music video to "Call Me Maybe" [success]
May 29: jump into a swimming pool with all our clothes on [success]
May 30: roommate dinner with Cambrie's favorite food [failure]
May 31: shaved ice [success]

Looking back, we failed at more tasks than I thought. But the important thing is that we got to spend time together and we got to have a lot of experiences that we would not have had otherwise. And we found happiness. Look at those smiles.

I am probably going to start another [lifelong] one pretty soon, so feel free to leave a comment with suggestions for daily tasks. Parameters: can be done alone, can involve the beach.

Stay tuned!