Time, Reflection & Love

I strongly dislike the phrase, “Time heals all,” because it doesn’t. Healing comes from within and from personal perspective and desire to change. Without the will to move forward and to learn from what has placed someone at a low, you cannot change, you cannot learn and you certainly cannot feel the true emotion of a high. I think that through time, you find a way to fill the voids, whether they’re temporary, tangible solutions is entirely up to you.

My tennis coach once told me that I can “make a situation an obstacle or an opportunity,” and though it applied to an important tennis match that depended on the outcome of my match (that I was currently losing and felt defeated), it can be applied to any situation. It’s all about perspective. If you constantly see the negative in things, that’s all life will be to you – a negative experience. Whereas if you take a negative experience and try to find one positive thing (a “silver lining,” if you will), that can be the strength and wisdom you hold onto, the one thing to pull you through that negative situation.

For example, I used to view love in a superficial, skeptical perspective. Over the years, I’ve actually come to realize that I’ve always valued the entirety of love and the many faces it presents and that viewing it in such a black and white perspective was merely a reflection of the recent situations I was involved in. About three years ago, I met a man that drastically changed my perspective. Though at the end of the day he ripped every ounce of hope I had for a future filled with love, he left me with an overly cliche that actually was brought to life nearly a year later when I met the love of my life. He said to me, “You’re a beautiful, intelligent young woman and I know that you’re going to find a man who will love you and give you the time and attention you deserve.” Of course, at the time, coming from a teary-eyed, broken hearted point of view, I rolled my eyes and sobbed for two weeks. I dated a couple of guys in between, but about a year later, I met another man that swept me off my feet. He was in a similar yet drastically different situation that allowed us to feel the same emotions and understand each other’s perspectives. I think that’s what truly brought us together. We each bore our truths and in that we found a deep love for each other, we found the desire to fight for each other and to protect each other and to please each other. It was the first time I felt complete. It was the first of many firsts and the feeling of true happiness through that of true love is something I simply cannot put into words. I can simply just say that my boyfriend is the best thing that ever happened to – he is my silver lining.

New Year, New Me

55251-new-year-new-life

Not going to lie, last year, I spent most of my time being angry and frustrated. While it wasn’t a particular person or event that sparked that – and yes, I know I have a lot to be grateful for and I acknowledge that whole heartedly – but for some reason, upon reflection, I realized that I spent most of 2016 “soul searching” if you will. I think I spent a lot of time being angry and frustrated simply on the feeling of being stuck at a place in my life I so desperately didn’t want to be anymore. But like most things in life, you can’t control everything and you don’t always get what you want. I think in reflection of certain events that happened, I’ve come to conclude that everything is where it needs to be and those still in my life are here for a reason – as well as those that have left were for the better.

With that being said, I wanted to approach 2017 with more focused goals and getting back in touch with myself and who I wish to become. I’ve set some pretty big goals that I’d really love to achieve this year. Some might be outside of my control, but I’m hopeful that in good time and with hard work, it will eventually happen. I’m trying to focus myself on meditation (peace) and positivity. Those are my two “themes” for 2017. I’m going to try to let go of the past, of the things I cannot change; to work on progressing forward and maintaining all that I do have currently; and to push myself to reach longer-lasting goals for the future. I think this past year, I’ve made some significant steps forward and I only hope that this year is even better, and if I’m lucky, with deeper lunges into what I hope to be better days.

Like I said, I’m truly grateful. I am by no means ungrateful for anything that has happened. I think 2016 was a transitional period for me and for the revolving parts of my life. I think headed into 2017, with clearer perspective and finding peace with certain things, I definitely have great faith and hope in this New Year. For the first time, in a long time, I’m excited to see where this year leads us. I wish you all the best in your own goals and ambitions for this year as I’m sure you’re bound for success (if you’re not already where you want to be).

Sorry: Life Got in the Way

​WOW. Life has been crazy! I apologize for my lack in posts. To be frank, I haven’t had the time or motivation to post anything. However, for the few that read this, I apologize for reeling you in just to abruptly stop.

So let me see if I can find something even remotely inspirational or enlightening at all…

I am currently enrolled in a community college and am taking a “refresher” introduction to psychology course – as I am looking to change fields and pursuing my second passion: psychology. It has been a blast so far. It’s definitely difficult maintaining that work-school-life balance, which obviously you can tell hasn’t been the smoothest transition for me. Not to mention that somewhere shortly after I began this blog, I switched to working the third shift (or the “graveyard shift” as some people like to call it).

I suppose I could center this post around Thanksgiving and upcoming Christmas celebrations.

Let’s see… Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s not only a time to truly reflect and count your blessings, but also a time to be with those you love (while stuffing your face with delicious food). I’ve always loved Thanksgiving because as being a survivor of suicide, I think it humbles you. I mean, I can’t speak for all suicide survivors, but there’s nothing better than being surrounded by people you love and the reminder that you are loved. Last year was my first Thanksgiving away from my family and it was extremely difficult as I am super close with my family. This year was even more difficult as my brother is going through a nasty divorce and this is his first holiday without his soon-to-be ex-wife. He’s on the east coast, so with me being on the west coast, it’s extremely rare to see him face-to-face. I spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s “family” (I put family in quotation marks because they aren’t his biological family – they’re his best friend’s family that he grew up with). While it’s nice spending time with him and his family (and don’t misconstrue this as ungrateful or selfish by any means, as I wouldn’t trade it for anything), it’s just not the same. In exchange, we spend Christmas with my family. I did it that way because I’m from the Midwest and my hometown almost always has a White Christmas (yeah, it’s definitely weird being on the west coast with palm trees and sand, and no snow in December through March!). I think it works out. But I guess my point is that spending Thanksgiving away from my family might be incredibly difficult for me, but it just makes me that much more humbled to still have them in my life. Being away makes me love them deeper and makes Christmas so much more bittersweet.

I’m not going to lie, I’m excited for Christmas because I’m hoping for a special gift from my boyfriend this year. I mean, I’m not trying to put any expectations on it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting impatient (not that there’s really ever a time when I’m not impatient). I know good things come in due time, but it feels long overdue. Regardless if this special gift comes or not, I’m truly excited just to be reunited with my family. I miss them so much. Living on the west coast sucks. It might be sad to say/admit, but the only reason I’m staying on the west side is because of my boyfriend. I’ve made it blatantly clear that I do not want to settle down here.

I feel like I’m not getting anywhere with this post. If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me! Hopefully you’ve found something inspiring or enlightening in this post…if not, well… I’m sorry.

Oh! I went on a hike recently with a member of the Church. She’s great. I’m truly glad I met her despite my absence at Church every weekend. If you don’t know already, I’m not baptized yet. I’m taking the long, beautiful journey to baptism. Anyway, this woman reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get together to chat. She wanted to do something outdoorsy. So I said sure! We ended up going to a nearby, small mountain and climbed to the top where we found nice big rocks to sit on (although, they weren’t actually that nice to sit on…) while we chatted. We talked about marriage, politics, addiction, growing up in the Church vs. converts, etc. It was a very intense conversation, but I think we both found a lot of answers in each other. She kept telling me about how she loved my frankness and genuinely innocent curiosity for answers. She said I was a “breath of fresh air,” and honestly, she is too. She’s just the nicest, understanding, patient and humorous friend I’ve made so far. I have to add, I’ve been here for about four years now, and she’s honestly the first person I would call my “friend” and by “friend” I mean someone whom I didn’t meet through my boyfriend (yes, those are “friends” but they’re not mine, if that makes sense?). Not that that’s important.

From an Outside Perspective: Part 2

One of my biggest concerns with the LDS Church has been their view on same-sex marriage. It’s difficult for me because while I’m not part of the LGBTQ community, it’s hard for me to agree with the opposition as I have family and close friends who are in same-sex relationships (many of whom are now married). I understand both sides of the spectrum, I truly do. This might be an ignorant way to approach the subject, but it is the one that I’ve accepted in regards to this issue at hand.

Through thorough research of both sides, I’ve come to accept the Church’s stance on the issue because it simply doesn’t affect me directly. I know many will argue that then I become the issue and I don’t disagree. However, I have found peace with my decision to accept it. My mother argued with me over it asking me what I would do if I had a child who was gay. I told her that’s where the controversy sparks because people don’t understand the underlying reason for the Church’s stance on the issue, which is that this policy (or change to the existing policy) was not made to project a hatred to the LGBTQ community (in fact, it was made for the exact opposite); also, not only is homosexuality fundamentally rejected in a majority of major religions, the LDS Church has never accepted it (which is also a point my boyfriend made, stating that the LGBTQ community who is or was part of the LDS Church act like this policy never existed, that with the Church further enforcing and elaborating on same-sex relationships they are maliciously breaking the family dynamic with a new concept that homosexuality should be accepted).

One thing I think people need to understand (and the controversy thereof) about the Church is that the foundation of their faith is in family. Ultimately, their belief is that homosexuality breaks that foundation as a same-sex couple cannot offer the fundamentals a family needs to survive (for example, a woman-woman couple would lack a father figure, breaking the dynamic of a mother-father dynamic).

To explain plainly to others who have formulated opposition towards the Church or don’t understand:

“The new policy says that once natural or adopted children living in a same-sex household reach 18, they may disavow the practice of same-sex cohabitation or marriage and stop living within the household. If the individual follows those two rules, they may request approval to be baptized, confirmed, ordained to the church priesthood and recommended for missionary service with the permission of the faith’s highest leaders, the First Presidency.”

One member’s response was: “As Mormons, we are pro-family and I find it hard to see how this lives up to that value. It just raises a big question for me as to would I want to continue to engage with an organization that outright denies certain essential ordinances, such as baptism to my children.”

“This is about family; this is about love and especially the love of the Savior and how He wants people to be helped and fed and lifted, and that’s the whole motivation that underlies our effort,” said Elder Christofferson. “We recognize that same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States and some other countries and that people have the right, if they choose, to enter into those, and we understand that. But that is not a right that exists in the Church. That’s the clarification. It’s a matter of being clear; it’s a matter of understanding right and wrong; it’s a matter of a firm policy that doesn’t allow for question or doubt. We think it’s possible and mandatory, incumbent upon us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, to yield no ground in the matter of love and sympathy and help and brotherhood and serving in doing all we can for anybody; at the same time maintaining the standards He maintained. That was the Savior’s pattern. He always was firm in what was right and wrong. He never excused or winked at sin. He never redefined it. He never changed His mind. It was what it was and is what it is and that’s where we are, but His compassion, of course, was unexcelled and His desire and willingness and proactive efforts to minister, to heal, to bless, to lift, and to bring people toward the path that leads to happiness never ceased. There’s no kindness in misdirecting people and leading them into any misunderstanding about what is true, what is right, what is wrong, what leads to Christ and what leads away from Christ.”

With all of this being said, what I gathered from all of what I learned was that the Church is doing this purely out of love and concern for the children of the Church. Children typically learn through example, so it would cause confusion (ultimately argued to lead them away from Christ) if they were taught that homosexuality is not accepted in the LDS Church, but then go home and witness their same-sex parents engage in behavior not accepted by Christ. I have found that people oftentimes misconstrue all of this as same-sex couples are no longer welcome within the Church and that’s simply not true. While they don’t recognize same-sex marriages or accept same-sex relationships, they don’t project any hatred towards the LGBTQ community.

I discussed this concern with missionaries and I explained how it was hard for me to accept this as I had family and friends who were either married or involved in same-sex relationships. They assured me that members of the Church still love and accept them as children of God, that this policy was founded on that love, to protect the children. I suppose I’m not great at explaining this either. I guess it’s just a matter of agreeing to disagree type of situation. You can either see the other side and just accept it. Or not see the other side and simply walk the other way.

I’m not saying I’m right or that everything I’ve said or read is correct. I’m more than happy to hear other perspectives. I think this is one of the most slippery slopes surrounding the LDS Church and I think it’s imperative to have open (and respectful!) communication from both sides to find ways to work through the differences. I previously touched on this in my former post, but again, here is a link regarding the new Mormon and Gay…which also opens a new perspective…that also reignites that controversy…

Families Are Forever

When I was younger, I always envisioned my future wedding and having a family. As I grew older and into my teenage, early 20’s, I began dating. I think during this time I lost sight of myself, of my faith and became calloused towards even the idea of love. I went through multiple tumultuous relationships, many of which carried a common theme: I gave everything to men who simply wanted one thing from me (and I’ll let you jump to that conclusion) and upon receiving whatever they wanted, they’d bail. Essentially, I was left thinking there was something faulty in me and in retrospect, the only thing I’m finding faulty in myself is my infallible ability to forgive and to love. Regardless of how calloused I became, a part of me still gripped onto the hope that good love would eventually find me.

I reached a point where I no longer wanted marriage or children. I would be perfectly content just being me. Perhaps it was my will to be independent. I’d like to think it was just my way of understanding that in order to be independent was to be content with being alone. Not necessarily in the dark, depressing tone of “forever alone,” but rather relying on yourself for happiness and strength.

I opted for online dating merely as a joke. I thought it was a sham despite some of my best friends finding lasting relationships through online dating websites. Being settled upon the idea of never getting married or having a family, I was okay with just flirting and “seeing what my options were.”

I had talked to a few men. I went on a handful of dates, but nobody ever really stuck. However, around November 2014, I began chatting with a man whom I truly grew fond of. He was simplistic, pragmatic and honest. He seemed genuinely interested in me and as much as that feeling was mutual, I was terrified. It was one of those situations that seemed “too good to be true.” Out of fear, I deleted my account and pursued other options. Upon those options failing me rather quickly, I returned to online dating and we stumbled upon each other again. He quickly asked me out (my theory is because he was scared I’d disappear again if he didn’t ask me out soon). We met up at the Cheesecake Factory, where we enjoyed great conversation and even better food. We agreed we both wanted to meet again. Within a week, we went on four dates. On the fourth date and after deep conversations discussing our pasts and what we hoped for in this coming relationship, he asked me to be his girlfriend (something that was sentimental to me because I had explained to him how in my past relationships, the relationship was never truly defined – I never knew if it was okay to call the guy I was dating my “boyfriend” or not).

Upon dating this man, I began to feel things I forgot I knew how to feel. I felt safe, secure and unconditionally loved. He saw past all my imperfections and loved me even deeper. He saw me for me. I know this all sounds cliché, but he reignited my love for love. And to fall in love.
Over time, I began to see a different side of love. The forever kind of love. During our conversations about LDS, I remember him explaining that families are the core to the faith. I didn’t really grasp this – I just thought “okay, they place a high value on family. I like that.”

I met with missionaries earlier this year. We visited the Temple’s visitor’s center (since I’m not a member of the church, I cannot enter the Temple). While at the Temple, we were shown this series of films that encompassed the importance of families. The series followed a family that loses a grandparent. The mother explains to her children that while she misses her father (their grandfather), she was at peace knowing that she would be reunited with her father in Heaven after death. At the end of her explanation, she says, “Families are forever.”

That line forever stuck with me.

I envisioned my wedding again. I envisioned marrying my boyfriend. I envisioned having children and naming our first one after our fathers. I envisioned building a family with my boyfriend. For the first time in a long time, I wanted marriage and a family. I wanted forever.

Power of Prayer: Emotional Discharge

​Sometimes I cry when I pray. They’re not usually tears of pain, sorrow or anger. They’re usually from feeling overwhelmed and being lost in life. After I pray, I notice that I always stop crying. I take it as a confirmation that my prayer has been received by Heavenly Father and that He will answer. It’s not to say that I don’t start crying again later or never feel overwhelmed ever again, but for that brief moment, I feel a rush of peace. There’s a calmness. It’s like being in a frantic state of mind and someone says, “Hey, what can I do to help?” And you tell them. And they do it. And suddenly you feel relieved. Like a weight lifted off your shoulders. Like an elephant exits the room. That’s what prayer feels like to me. Though my prayer might not be answered immediately, I know that those answers will come. Maybe in their own time, but I know definitively that they will come.

Finding Forgiveness & Moving Forward

“Don’t let who you used to be hold yourself back from who you can become.” –Al Carraway

There are a lot of things I used to do, people I used to know, things I used to say…all of which I can’t say that I’m proud of. However, I’ve always been a strong believer in change and that everything happens for a reason. Upon reading that excerpt from Al Carraway, it became clear to me that I can’t hold all the things I used to do or say and the people I used to know accountable for the person I become today, but rather, to use those experiences and friendships as a means to change and to become the person I want and know I can become. I used to feel ashamed of the places I had been, of the person I used to be, but again, that excerpt provided clarity that I shouldn’t be ashamed. Life is full of mistakes that help you learn some of the greatest, hardest lessons ever learned in life. What you lose simply makes you grateful for what you have. What you don’t have makes you motivates you to set goals and to make changes accordingly to achieve such goals.

There’s a song by Tenth Avenue North, “You Are More,” and it truly encompasses the lessons and light of every experience, every loss or triumph and rebuilding your life around what you’ve learned or experienced.

“This is not about what you’ve done, but what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been, but where your brokenness brings you to.
This is not about what you felt, but what He felt to forgive you and what He felt to make you loved.”

42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:42