Monday, June 27, 2011


Today is a "I only slept for six hours" day.

Today is a "I feel like I did the right thing, so there" day.

Today is a "is this ever going to get better?" day.

Today is a "my brain keeps going in circles..." day.


Today is also a "thou art careful and troubled about many things" day.

Today is a "be not afraid; neither be thou dismayed" day.

Today is a "be still and know that I am God" day.

So, today, I might just be okay.

Friday, June 24, 2011

dear future self,

I think about you a lot. I think about where you are going to work, who you are going to love, what you are going to look like, who is going to love you. In short, what your day-to-day life will be.

Mostly, though I think about who, exactly, you are going to be. Someone strong, yet deeply sensitive? Someone who does not compromise the right, yet forgives and empowers? Someone who is true to herself, yet makes sacrifices to bless others?

I demand a lot of you, Future Self. I see you as a person of deep strength and profound calm, unruffled by the obstacles and pains life throws at you. I know that you hold people to your heart, absorbing their hurts and loving them tremendously despite their weaknesses. I know that you are fearless, in a quiet way; infallibly serene in your knowledge that your God is firmly at your side, and therefore you can do anything.

Oh, but dear Future Self, I just don't know how to be you yet. I am so far away from fitting your description, and so I question, all the time, whether or not you and I are actually the same person. Whether or not I am capable of being you. I hold my now-self to your standard and I just fall so short of it. Yes, in my best moments I resemble you, and that briefly gives me hope. Mostly though, I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that you are so far away still, and I don't really know how to get there.

And yet, it's your faith, Future Self, your gospel-attained brilliance, that reminds me to love my now-self too. I don't know much about the long road between me and you, but I do know that it requires steady, simple choices in favor of the Lord over everything else. If I am ever going to meet you -- the giver of hugs to small children, the cooker of nutritious meals, the tranquil and delighted lover of a good man; in short, the heart of her home -- then I need to be okay with meeting me every day as I look in the mirror. And as mixed up as my now-self is, the only way to do that is via the Savior.

And you know that, too. You know that the only way you became who you are is to take it one day at a time.  I know all too well that there are a million things that could go wrong before I get to you, but focusing on that doesn't increase the likelihood of getting there - just my anxiety about it. And, wouldn't you know, Future Self, that anxiety just distracts me from the real work of living up to the potential that is you.

Future Self, I'm so excited to meet you one day. I'm sure you'll arrive in my life quietly, gradually. By that time I'll probably have another Future Self to look forward to. Regardless, you know yourself well enough to know that you can give yourself a big, grateful hug on my behalf. You are the goal, even while you are the one who reached for the goal.

Because I know that, I'm going to try to think about you a little bit less. I know you're there waiting for me, even if I don't know how long the road is between us or how many times I'll get lost along the way. I do know that Jesus Christ is as excited about you as I am, and He's my unfailing guide, shining a light and teaching me about Him along the way. I know you wouldn't want me to be afraid, and I'm not when I'm really listening to Him. And I know you forgive me for being distracted sometimes. That helps me to keep coming back.

Thank you, Future Self, for knowing Him and knowing me...for finding joy in my weakness because it demonstrates His strength.

"Hold on thy way. ...Fear not...for God shall be with you forever and ever." 

I'm taking a deep breath and hoping to be a little more like you - today.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

redefining beautiful chaos

The subtitle of my blog, "living a life of beautiful chaos" used to be very meaningful for me. My life was chaotic, but it was delicious. I was busy taking a million opportunities that I'd never had before. I attended class full time, worked part time, volunteered on campus, nurtured my roommates, flirted to my heart's content, magnified my calling, maintained a positive relationship with my family, and made new friends on an almost daily basis.

Can I just say - WOW. I am so impressed with myself. I had no idea I was capable of so much, or could have so much fun and fulfillment doing it. It was, indeed, a life of beautiful chaos.

After a while, though, the bustle began to wear me down. And down. And down. Before long, I was operating at a high level on the outside, and a very low level inside. I was, in so many ways, exhausted. My beautiful-chaos-life turned into metaphorically snarfing donuts 3 meals a day. I had scurvy of the soul, and a spiritual sugar-coma to match.

Dark days indeed.

It took months to really "detox". I spent a lot of time belaboring the point that I am a worthwhile person regardless of how much I get done in a given day, or how many prestigious positions I hold. I insisted I wasn't just a "professional;" I am also an artist, a learner, a lover. Yes, putting forth a lot of effort comes pretty naturally to me. However, some of the wisest advice I was ever given in college was "You can do anything you want to do. You just can't do everything you want to do."

It's high time I stopped trying to do everything - and I am trying, though it feels a little like rehab. I just know that there's a limited number of things that will fit into my life, so I am working on fitting in only the very best.

However, I think it was my experience with "a life of beautiful chaos" that taught me what the very best is. I found out that I have a talent for sharing truths and insights, whether in class or (you may have guessed) in writing. I love service and learning. I am fun-loving, a little dramatic, and driven. And I love - LOVE - the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Knowing these things, I more easily pick and choose the activities and people that fill my life. I am a teacher - I will go to grad school and someday (hopefully) teach at a university. I am a chainbreaker - I will do everything I can to make my home an ideal place to be, so that my children have the best start in life possible. Even if that means I wait for marriage for a long time.

With that in mind, "beautiful chaos" means something different these days. My days are simple: I work, I come home, I go to a church function or find a way to pass the evening at home. The chaos is on the inside, as I cope with the frustration of unrealized potential and unfulfilled dreams.

Nonetheless, it is beautiful. Even these times of burden have meaning. Heavenly Father is perfecting me, one difficult day at a time, and somehow, I choose to be grateful for that. Or, at least, I will try.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

labor and wait

I've had a series of profound, uplifting thoughts today that I'd love to share one by one. However, I don't want to overwhelm or bore I'll just share one that, in my opinion, sums up all the rest:

Let us, then, be up and doing
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing, 
Learn to labor and to wait.

(Thank you, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)

As you might have guessed, I have been struggling lately to do the right thing even though it's not what I want. I am so grateful for those moments, though, when it becomes obvious that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Someday, I WILL be good at this. Maybe in like a thousand years...but still.

This is life, and no matter how it turns out, I still have to be "up and doing" in one way or another. That's just how life works - even inaction counts as use of my agency, and I say that from experience. So really, what counts is that I have "a heart for any fate." My heart can handle any fate, because whatever fate comes to me, it is the one that Heavenly Father and I have worked out together. It's just...believing that is really hard sometimes. I forget that I'm an eternal being and these are temporary, mortal problems.

That's why I like the last line: learn to labor AND to wait. I can be really good at the laboring part - too good, sometimes, which gets me into trouble now and then. But I am learning to not just labor, which comes naturally, but to also wait. Wait on others and their agency, wait on my life to have circumstances favorable to what I want, wait on myself to grow and develop enough to handle it, wait on Heavenly Father to give me the go-ahead.

And someday He will. I doubt that sometimes, but I do not doubt today. Today I understand that yes, He could tell me yes or no, and He could tell me when and how. He could, but He won't, because I am too important to Him for that.  I am here to become like Him, not to get what I want when I want it. He has not removed the burden of my unrealized hopes, but He has lightened the load and strengthened my shoulders to bear it. That's the most beautiful part about it, I think: I still get to keep my dreams.

Friday, June 17, 2011

better with Him

Today, I woke up with a thick husk of anxiety around my heart. I tried prayer; I tried positive self-talk; I tried deep, relaxing breaths. It wouldn't budge. Life and I were simply not friends.

And not only did life bother me today, but it bothered me that life was bothering me, if that makes sense. Previously this week, I had been gloriously content with my theoretically crummy life. Not today though. By early afternoon I was ready to just to go home and detox, away from outside demands, and figure out what on earth was wrong with me.

I thought about it all day. Now it's bedtime, and I can only think of one potential cause for today's funk.

Last night, Danielle and I watched The Producers. I laugh so hard at some parts of that movie, but the essential message of the movie is that it's OK to be a schmuck. It makes poor moral choices look fun, dramatic, and generally preferable to more correct behavior. According to Article of Faith #13, it just plain falls short. And knowing that, I watched it anyway.

But, come on, isn't it a little melodramatic to blame today's funk on that? Could a choice that simple really make such an impact on my day? Could choosing 2 hours of semi-crass entertainment actually affect my attitude toward every other aspect of my life?

It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense...but I think the answer is yes.

Gut reaction? "But it shouldn't work like that! It shouldn't be that big of a deal! Ugh, how ridiculous." Ordinarily I'd explain away that reaction, thinking it's only a big deal for me, that somehow I'm the exception. That I need a thicker skin so I can decide to watch a movie like that AND still keep the Spirit. But I don't think that's right either. There's a universal truth in play here, I think:

Yes, the Spirit is sensitive. But we are so much better with Him than without.

Because frankly, it's not even about the movie. It's about the choice, and I need to choose to make the gospel the dominant influence in my life. The Spirit pushes out discouragement and distress, but when I push out the Spirit, for whatever reason, those negative, distracting feelings are sure to follow. So I will try to believe that the renewed influence of the Spirit follows repentance just as surely...I will try not to get too discouraged. I will try to remember that the Atonement makes everything, including me, turn out OK in the end.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This week, getting ready for the day has been a slow process. I have uncoiled myself from the semi-grotesque position I sleep in lately, have gingerly placed my feet in front of the other until I arrive at the closet. There, I ponder what shirt will be the easiest to put on, what jeans will rub least. This is what happens when you bring a sunburn home from the beach.

So from the outside, this morning started out like any other day lately. Yet, it was very, very different.

A friend told me yesterday, as we chatted on the phone, that she thought the most wonderful feeling in the world was to stop hurting. We can easily overlook the absence of pain, she said, but the transition from pain to not-pain is an exquisite joy. That stuck with me. Every word for the absence of pain -- comfort, consolation, relief -- indicates a bubbling up of happiness from a deep place. A place as deep as our hurt, I daresay.

I submit that fear is its own kind of pain. And I feel like I have so much to be afraid of...the things I want are so far away, by distance and time, by life stage, by personal development. How am I ever going to get there? How am I ever going to deserve it? How am I ever going to figure this out? How is it ever going to be OK for me to want it now if right now, it's still so impossible?

I don't have answers to any those questions, and that scares me. But today, for the first time in a long time, it was okay. This morning, sunburn notwithstanding, was different. In a merciful reprieve from my fear, the Spirit bore witness:

I may not understand the methods. I may not like the consequences. But the right thing is still the right thing, and as His daughter, it is my responsibility, duty, and joy to do it anyway.

It doesn't really change the situation, but lately I stopped praying for the problem to be fixed anyway. I've just been asking for the burden to be lightened or for my spiritual shoulders to be strengthened enough to bear it. Heavenly Father has been infusing my life with that, and today it coalesced. It startled me, this cup-runneth-over, renewed faith that seemed to bubble up from nowhere.

No, I still don't have the one thing I most want, and I don't know how to get it, or if I'll ever get it at all. But I know - I testify - that obedience brings goodness to our lives, and as a result, there is no need for fear. It doesn't always make sense, and it doesn't guarantee immediate sunshiny consequences. But it is the only thing that brings peace instead of regret, love instead of resentment, faith instead of fear.

Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ is rooting out the regret and resentment and fear that I have internalized. There may still be consequences. I may never fully understand. But I know that I will be blessed if I obey.

So I pray. I wait. And I obey.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2011 of doom...well, sorta

It's been a hard year so far.

I fell in love, and it hasn't worked out like I'd hoped.
I graduated from BYU-Idaho, and I miss my life there more than anything.
I found a job, but it is far from what I believe my "calling" to be.

At the end of last year, I told everyone that I felt like I was watching my house burn down. Everything about my life was going to change, in my opinion for the worse, and there was nothing I could do but stand there and watch it happen.

In some aspects, the ashes are still smoldering. I am still mourning the loss of that life I'd made. I'm not fully convinced that I can't have it back, and I keep trying to find a way to go back in time and make things right -- to make my house fireproof.

About now I'm supposed to say, "but I know it doesn't work like that." I can't quite bring myself to say it. I WANT it to work like that. Lately I am learning, over and over and over again, that I am really fond of my own set of values. I've got this life philosophy, this set of values that I'm terribly fond of. According to it, there are things in my life that should work. They should make me happy. But they don't.

That's because my values and philosophies have very little to do with the Lord's. It doesn't take much...just buy into a few of Satan's lies, and there you have it. You start to believe things that simply aren't true, that have nothing to do with reality. Then you start to question reality because it doesn't match your ideas of what it ought to be. It's exhausting. And sinful.

On the other hand, my patriarchal blessing directs me to make the gospel the dominant influence in my life. Doing  so allows me to be sensitive and obedient to the Spirit -- even when I don't personally agree.

I may not agree with, or understand, the turn that my life has taken this year. However, I know that my Father in heaven loves me. I know that I am important to Him. He is much more concerned about my character than my temporary comfort, and He is determined to purify me.

Despite my protests, He knows that deep down, I still want to be purified. I still want to be worthy of a Godly throne one day. I still want to claim my rightful place as His daughter, one who serves with her whole heart and every ounce of talent she possesses. Heavenly Father is going to get me there...I just know it!

It's just that sometimes, His ways are not my ways. His methods are so over my head that they seem inside out, backwards, and just plain wrong. But they're not, and through the Atonement, Jesus Christ softens my heart so I can obey anyway.

Yes. I can obey anyway.