Friday, January 31, 2014

I choose Love

     I decided today I wanted to do a post on friendship, specifically male-male friendships. I've done posts like this before, but I've seen it hashed over other sites over and over, so I decided "Why not?". And better yet (for me anyways because it makes it easier) I chose 2 characters from my favorite movie series and book trilogy. So what does it mean to have a true friendship? I'm not talking about a "homie", a "bro", the guy you shake hands with and say "whatsup?" to but never spend time with, the guy you hang out with, but never talk about emotions with. I'm talking about real friendship. A friendship where you feel completely accepted and loved. Yes, loved. And here we are, my example; Frodo and Sam from The Lord of the Rings.
     True friendship is emotional. It's not something on the surface. You can't be close to someone when your conversation never moves past "what's up?". If you can't express your true self to someone, you are oppressing a basic human need, one that everyone has, and that's the ability to express yourself. Guys are viewed as completely sexual beings. When you're with your "homie's" you're supposed to talk about girls, sports, "manly" things. You're not supposed to cry, you're not supposed to love each other, you're not ever supposed to say the word love, your supposed to be emotionless, otherwise, you're seen as weak, and often labeled as homosexual. The truth of the matter is homosexuality has nothing to do with the basic human need of emotional expression.
Frodo: I can't do this, Sam. 
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. 
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam? 
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for. 

I'm glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee... here, at the end of all things.
     Love, that being non-sexual love, is not strictly heterosexual. People need close relationships with the same-sex, close, emotional, bonding, true friendships. Look at the beginning of my life, I had no guy friend whatsoever, and the consequences for me emotionally were immense. There is nothing wrong, and nothing homosexual about hugging another guy, crying in the presence of another guy, expressing your heart, even loving one another in non-romantic ways. Even speaking of romance puts up walls for people. Romance has been skewed as well in the modern culture. Friendship can be intimate (of course not crossing the line of intimate sexually) and not be romantic at all. Example:
     My best friends are ones I can be completely open with. My friends who will hug me, tell me they love me, and care about me. The real me, the emotional and spiritual me. It makes me so sad to know that there are millions of people out there affected by social "norms" stating that any emotionally binding relationship between members of the same sex is homosexual. I feel monumentally blessed to have friends who believe otherwise, and who're willing to challenge social norms to truly love me and care for me. Christ loves and cares for all of us, male and female, all the same. God loves all of us, male and female. They love us all truly, they love us for who we are. Social "norms" have never altered God's laws, and they never will. I choose Love. I choose happiness. I choose to have true friendships. I choose my own destiny.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


     I think it's safe to say that this has been one of the most challenging weeks of my life. And not even in the way challenging is usually defined for me. The times I most often struggle, or at least what I struggle with are my spirituality, struggles with addiction, relapses, depression, relationship issues, etc. Those have definitely been present this week, but they weren't the forefront.
     Work sent me spinning in all different directions. It was like everything there turned against me. One day, my work phone breaks, I'm not able to make or receive the phone calls I need, the next day my computer is having major issues, and I can't do what I need to, then I didn't even have access to the systems I needed to do the work my managers were requesting of me, and I.T. was taking their time to get those installed for me. Then, once I finally got everything fixed and working as close to good as I could and once I start making progress with the job I've been assigned, my managers decide to throw me a curve ball, and have me start doing work I've never been trained to do, on a system they don't even know how to use, and a type of work that's time consuming and makes it hard to reach the #'s I'm expected to reach.
     Then I realize my medication I'm on for depression isn't even working anymore. My moods have been everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Even my best friend and family have observed that I can be super happy one moment, and as quick as 5 seconds later, become the complete opposite, depressed, sad, and angry within a time period as short as a few seconds. Now I'm having to consider my options. Maybe I need to get on mood stabilizers, maybe consider changing my diet. I don't know.
      Then there's been my relationships. Trying to balance everything has not been easy, and it's definitely taking a toll in my friendships and relationships. Even just last night I was out to dinner with my family, and my mood had plummeted low enough that I literally felt weighted down. My mood was so low that I almost felt like I could cut the air around me with a knife because it was so thick. My throat felt tight, and everything just seemed quiet. I know my family could tell, and I know my mood was affecting them. I ended up asking to be excused to see if I could step outside for a while to make a phone call to a friend and try to lighten the circumstances.
     I've seen behaviors resurface in my friendships now that I thought I had buried some time ago. Insecurity being one of them. Never knowing if I'm good enough, and always asking for reassurance. It's not something I'm proud of at all, though I am insecure in things, it has pained me to ask for compliments. I think ultimately it comes down to me being secure enough about myself, and keeping in the forefront of my mind at all times that God loves me, and that I love Him. Then there's this deeply rooted habit I have of seeing the negative so readily, seeing the things that could be better, but then having such a hard time seeing and truly appreciating the things that are already good.
     In short, my week has been far crazier than I wished. I've fallen into dark spots, been on some highs, and some very deep lows, and been moving between emotions far faster than I would like. But, as hard as life can be, and as hard as it can be at times for me to see the positive when the negative seems to be under a spotlight and magnifying glass, there has been positive.

     I have amazing friends, and amazing people in my life who love me and support me. I have a knowledge of where I came from, a knowledge of where I am, and a knowledge of where I can be. I have the ability to speak with my Father in Heaven, and have Him speak back to me. I have a best friend who loves me, and forgives me more than I ever have, and spends time with me making life much more bare-able. I have the blessing of a full-time job, as stressful as it may be. I have the blessing of the gospel in my life. I have the blessing to have a ward I can attend where, though imperfect, I can feel loved and learn of God.
     I don't know where I'd be in life if it wasn't for everything I've been through. If I didn't deal with SSA, I wouldn't have the friends I have now because I never would have met them. I never would've started this blog, or been part of the Voices of Hope Project. I wouldn't have the patience, love, courage, understanding, ability to love and empathize with people that I have. I would never have grown as close to God as I have. Much of this applies to all my struggles, addictions, depression, stress, every-day struggles. If I look back on my life, where would I be without them? God gave them to me not because He wanted me to suffer. God doesn't want anyone to suffer. He gives us trials, or at least lets us be tried because He knows that ultimately it will be for our betterment. Ultimately it will get us where we need to be if we learn to follow Him. Ultimately we will become our full potential through the lessons we learn.
     I guess I need to keep that in mind, life might be hard, but where would I be if it wasn't? I am loved, everyone is loved whether you feel like it or not. I can be forgiven. Life might be crazy, but everything will work out eventually. There will be pain, misery, suffering, and mistakes in life, but there will also be growth, joy and happiness, praise, thanksgiving, fun, enjoyment, and love. Life is full of many things, and is something that should be treasured as life itself is one of the greatest gifts from God.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

True Mind, True Heart, True Spirit

     I was watching my favorite cartoon series of all time; "Avatar: The Last Airbender". I've used quotes from it before, but this time while I was watching it, I picked up on quotes I hadn't really thought of before or picked up on. I think they are so amazing, and so true. And.... spoken from the mouth of a lion turtle ;)
"The true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost. The true heart can tough the poison of hatred without being harmed. Since beginningless time, darkness thrives in the void, but always yields to purified light."

     "The true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost." I loved this line.
And, of course, me being me compared it to my life, to the world today. Look at what's going on in the world; wars, contentions, lies, murder, abuse, laws being put in place against moral standards put in place by the Creator of this world, the Giver of Life, Giver of all Good Things, God. The world is filled with lies, every where you go, sin is seen as good, wonderful, acceptable, normal. Accepting those sins is seen as the only way to "love" someone.
     Yes, I'm going to bring it up; gay marriage. The world would have you believe that "love" is never wrong, no matter who, or what sex it is between. That God has no right to claim otherwise, and that if you do not support same-sex marriage, that you hate and persecute those who strive for it. What a lie that is, and yet how many people fall for it! How many people have fallen for the lie that "so long as you love someone, it's ok to have sex before marriage." that "revenge is ok, if someone has hurt you." that "it's ok not to forgive someone if they've done something wrong to you or someone you love." that "it's ok to judge and gossip and look down on others." that "there is no sin, God doesn't exist, we all die anyway." or even that "God does exist, but will beat us with a few stripes and forgive us all our wrongs anyway, we don't have to do our part because He will make up the difference whether we try or not." There are millions of lies spread throughout the world. They're one of Satan's greatest tools.
     Then, the other day I came across a wonderful scripture; "2 Nephi 2:13 And if ye say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away." Fits perfectly. If we deny the truth God has placed before us, we deny God himself, and if we deny God, we deny even ourselves, even our very existence, even the existence of life.
     "The true heart can tough the poison of hatred without being harmed." True heart can tough hatred, persecution, standing alone, being betrayed, and not be harmed. One of my best friends is a wonderful example of this. He has been through so much in regards to other people. So many people have stabbed him in the back, hated him for his decisions to follow God, been betrayed by people who called themselves friends', and been dealt a rough hand in life, yet still he loves without ceasing everyone around him. He forgives without a second thought. An even more perfect example of this is Christ. Persecuted, hated, betrayed, and finally sent to His death by the very people He loved so dearly and pleaded for daily. And even on the cross He begged for them to be forgiven, and still He loved them.
     If my heart and mind are true, I can weather all pain and lies, and not be corrupted; for "darkness thrives in the void, but always yields to purified light."

Monday, January 6, 2014

Don't Give Up, You are Loved, You are Beautiful (Playlist)

     I decided I wanted to make a "playlist" of songs that I've come to love that share a message that no matter how hard things may be, no matter how low you are or feel, that you're worth it, that God loves you no matter what. And so here they are in no particular order. Enjoy! I know I do.
     *Obviously I don't own the rights to any of these songs, or the videos. Nor am I stating that I support anything that any of these artists may claim or support. I'm simply sharing songs I've found which have been greatly uplifting and spiritual for me, particularly when I'm feeling low and needed a boost.*
P.S. If you're on mobile, for whatever reason the video may not show up. If that's the case, you can click on the link instead and watch the video that way.
Julie Yardley: Let It Begin

Josh Groban: You Are Loved (Don't Give Up).
MercyMe: Beautiful
Russ Dixon: Glorious
Shawn McDonald: Don't Give Up
Mandisa: Overcomer
Laura Story: Blessings

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Who's the Real Hero?

     There are things I'm good at, and things I'm not. That's true no matter who you are, we all have strengths and weaknesses. I just happened to realize some things I'm really good at, and things I fail at in these past couple days. Friendship, something that has always been a driving force in my life, is one of those things that I either do well in, or fail. At least, that's how it seems.
     It's relatively easy for me to meet most people for the first time. I know what's expected in greeting people, I know how to try to get small-talk going, I can introduce myself, ask how they're doing, see what they do in life, but without further invitation or influencing factors, that's about as far as it goes. Then there's the people I actually create friendships, or at least relationships with...
     I've noticed that it's a real rarity for me to find someone I can be my true self around. Looking back when I was in High School, there was a lot of people I was friends with that I thought I was being "myself" around, but in all honesty, I wasn't completely authentic. I was comfortable to be as weird and crazy as I wanted, but I wasn't my true self... The gospel, which is a huge part of how I define myself, wasn't something I felt comfortable talking to them with, at least to the degree and depth I would've wanted. I couldn't really share my struggles and get the understanding and support I wanted.
     Then after High School I found friends who could understand. And just over the past half-year since that time, many of them have slowly dissolved out of my life. That's the thing, unless I feel very close to someone (which again, is very rare for me), I have a hard time keeping in contact with them. There have been people I hung out with once or twice, and just fell out of their life after that because I forgot or was busy or just didn't have motivation... Looking back on it now, it makes me feel selfish. Maybe I am, I don't know.
     Then there's another thing. Even when I feel close to someone, I still struggle keeping the friendship/relationship strong. As I get closer to someone, my expectations rise, and when those expectations aren't met, I get hurt and close off. I have a hard time with long-distance relationships or with relationships where I don't get to see the person very often. For me, it's really hard to consider myself close to someone when I haven't seen them for a long time or ever really spent quality time with them.
     And so all of this creates a big circle for me. First, I have a hard time finding someone I can truly feel close to, second, I can forget to stay in contact with people or not have a desire to be in their life, and third, even when I feel close to someone, I still struggle, and the friendship can still dissolve. Lots of stuff for me to think about...
     It was while I was going through my old letters and possessions that I realized much of this. Reading letters and cards people had given me all the way from elementary until now made me realize how many people I've left behind. How many people I've had come and go in my life, many of the goings being on my part. It got me to thinking I'm like a big "recycler". Entering someone's life for a period of time, and then slowly dissappearing... There have even been friendships where I considered them a best friend and could never imagine not being their friend, and yet, now they're no longer in my life.
     I know this post might seem negative. Maybe my blog isn't the best place to journalize my life ;) but these are realizations I've had about myself. Who knows, someone who reads this might be able to related and feel understood or receive some help or inspiration. That's why I blog anyway is that there may be a chance for my words/writings to touch the lives of others.
     These realizations haven't even been all negative. They hurt, yes, and gave me a lot to work on, but at least it's making sense now. I had a friend who I was talking to today who gave me some much needed and amazing feedback: "Sometimes we help people for a certain time and that is that. We will have many people come in and out of our lives... It may be a very short time, and others might be a lifetime. Just be grateful that you were able to help them when you did have them in your life. God will put others in their life to help them if you can't be there. You can only do so much and God knows that. You miss people, but you also turn them over to God."
     I really needed to hear that today, and that got me thinking even more. Part of my issue is that I try to be everyone's "Savior", in a sense. In no way am I comparing myself to Christ,  but often times in my life I've wanted to help everyone. I wanted to be some amazing person who could take a bullet for someone, take a trial onto myself to relieve another, and just make people's lives better. I know I've impacted lives around me, some for good, some not so much. But no matter what i do, I can't fix, help, or save everyone. There's a limit, and a big on at that, to what I can do. Christ and God are the only ones that can do it, and they can do it perfectly. It hurts to think that I can't save the people I care about. It hurts to know I can't take away their pain, it hurts to know that I'm "inadequate" to reach my goal, as irrational and impossible as it is.
     The best thing, and really only probable thing I can do is be there for people as much as is possible and healthy for them and me, but more importantly to help them turn to and find God in their lives. I'm no superman as much as I may want to be sometimes. I can't save everyone, in fact, alone I can't save anyone. I can't take hardships, pain, or trials from people, all I can do is support and love them in their journey and point them towards God and Christ.
     My influence may not be what I want it to be, I'm not the "hero" of the world, nor will I ever be. But I can be my own hero if I let myself turn to God and if I let Him take care of me and those I love. I need to trust in Him more, and rely on His power rather than wishing I could do more than is humanly possible.
     Sometimes life is crazy. My brain, for one, is pretty crazy ;) How it came up with the things it did/does I may never know, but at least I know I don't have to be everyone's hero. God can do that, all I have to do is my part, and try to help others come to God. My best.That's what I need to focus on, doing my best, not making my best better than it can be.
I may not be the hero, but I know Who is;

      And with that, I'm going to pray now. Love you all!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Frozen Skin, Melted Heart

     This New Years Eve I was having a hard time emotionally. I was feeling disconnected socially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I guess you could say I was depressed. My depression now, when it hits, is so much less than it used to be, and for that I'm thankful. Anyway, back on subject. I was at a family/friend party when it all started to hit me. I just wanted to leave, yet here I was with 4 hours left until midnight, and 4 hours until I could go home. Lucky for me, my dad wasn't feeling well and decided to leave early. I went home with him.
     When I got home I decided I was going to go on a walk. It was dark, it was cold (winter in Utah; snow, ice, cold....), and I wanted to "run away", so to speak, from my troubles and just have alone time to think. On my way out of the house, I called my best friend for help. Before I was even out of my neighborhood, he told me to get down on my knees and pray. I tried explaining the situation to him, that I was in the middle of my neighborhood and would feel really awkward kneeling down and praying in the middle of the sidewalk in front of all these houses. He said he didn't care, he wanted me to kneel down and pray anyway. I reluctantly agreed, knowing deep inside it was what I needed to do.
     As I said goodbye to my friend before I knelt to pray, he told me he loved me and would pray for me too. By this time I had made it to the Sky-walk (what I call those bridges people walk on to cross busy streets above the cars.) I wasn't out of my neighborhood yet, and was still in view of quite a few houses, so slightly embarrassed and self-conscious, I knelt to pray. Kneeling on the cold hard cement, where I was vulnerable, visible, and desperate, I started to be humbled. I prayed to God, asked for help, thanked Him for all the blessings He had given me, and prayed for those I loved. As I stood up from that cold cement, I felt a weight lifted. It felt like the hurt and poison that was my negative emotions was slowly being removed from me.
     I decided then that rather than go through with my original plan of walking/running far away hoping to get lost or hurt, I would instead run up, down, and across the skywalk. All the activity got me warm enough that I took off my jacket. I felt a desire now that I hadn't felt in some time. I wanted to pray, I wanted to talk to God, I wanted to hear Him, and have Him hear me. I knelt to pray multiple times on that Sky-walk. I was becoming more and more joyful. I started dancing and singing, in full view of the cars passing below and anyone in or around their houses in view of me, but I didn't care anymore. I didn't care if anyone saw me praying.
     I kept running, dancing, singing, praying, until my lungs hurt from the cold. I felt elated, I felt so free, I'm sure I looked ridiculous to anyone who saw me, but I didn't and still don't care because I was close to God, and I've been without that for some time now.
     It got me thinking though, even though I feel distant from God at times, how blessed I am that He loves me anyway and always wants me back. How blessed I am that my testimony runs deep enough that I don't question most aspects of it when I'm struggling. One thing that perpetrated my mind a lot in the past was the question "would me marrying a man really be that bad?" and now, it doesn't even phase me. Maybe I'm just jinxing myself, but I feel like I've had that question answered plainly. I know it's not what God wants for me, or any of His children, and so I don't support gay marriage. Even in my times of questioning, that subject isn't an issue for me anymore.
     Even when I don't feel God's love, or at least don't allow myself to, I still know logically that He loves me. I've felt so blessed to have that knowledge and testimony. I feel so blessed to have taken what was once just belief, or just trusting in the testimony of others', and now to have it as my own real testimony.
     The thing is that the legalization of gay marriage in Utah didn't affect my decision to avoid sexual or romantic homosexual relationships. All it did for me was make me sad, sad for the people who will fall now because of the influence and choices of others. Sad for the world, and the US which is failing and falling into darkness. This once great nation is being destroyed from the inside out. We are becoming evil and corrupt, and trust me, there's already a ton of that anyway. It saddens me, but doesn't affect my desire and conviction to serve God, and for this I am thankful.
     It was with Frozen Skin, but a Melted Heart that I found God again, and for that I am thankful. May this New Year be prosperous for all, and may God bless and touch lives that they may turn to Him and follow Him in truth and righteousness.

Posted via Blogaway

Posted via Blogaway