Tuesday, November 17, 2015

God Still Loves Me

     My laptop that has been having physical issues for months was fixed in seconds by a tiny screw I found on my floor a couple days ago. And you know what? I know that God still loves me.

     I've had my current laptop for about a year now. My laptop has worked great, and has been the main place I work on school assignments, blog, work, etc. I had no complaints about my laptop until about 3-4 months ago when I noticed an unhappy clicking sound whenever I opened the screen, and eventually noticed what was happening. Every time I opened the screen, the hinges attaching the screen to the chassis would separate. They did not separate completely, but spread far enough apart that the screen sat at an angle, and I worried eventually they would split completely.

     I put off doing anything about it for a few months. I didn't think the issue was that big of a deal until I noticed the separation getting worse and worse, and eventually with the prodding and encouragement from my best friend, I decided to contact Dell and get my computer sent in for repair.

     My computer was sent out to be repaired a little over a week ago. When I sent it out for repair, it was my understanding that my computer was still covered by the warranty as I haven't even owned it for a year yet. I believed the issue would be covered by warranty because it was not caused by misuse (unless opening the laptop counts as misuse) and it wasn't accidental damage considering that I've never dropped my laptop, and carry it in a protective case.

     Well, when my laptop finally arrived at the repair depot, I received a call stating that the repairs necessary were not covered by my warranty, as it was deemed by the repair-depot personnel to have been caused by accidental damage. I tried speaking with multiple people at Dell to explain to them that my computer has never been accidentally damaged, and whatever happened to my hinges must have been caused by a manufacturing flaw. My best friend researched the warranty further, and discovered that the necessary repairs should most definitely be covered by my warranty, yet despite multiple calls speaking with multiple representatives, Dell was still unwilling to fix my laptop covered by warranty.

    After much stress and frustration, I got another call from Dell. No, they still weren't willing to repair it under warranty, but they told me they could repair it for $159.... $159?! I don't have that much money to just throw around, and certainly not for a repair that should be covered by warranty. After unsuccessfully trying to get the representatives at Dell to realize that it wasn't accidental damage, and that I wasn't lying to them, I finally decided it wasn't worth it. If I really needed to, I could throw some duct-tape on the hinges and call it good rather than waste hours on the phone with people who can barely speak English and aren't willing to believe me, or spend $159 on a repair that should have been covered. I told them to send it back.

     Well, a couple days ago when I was sitting in my room talking to my best friend, I noticed a small black thing on my carpet. At first, I honestly thought it was nothing but a piece of lint. I thought nothing of it. But for some reason, after a time, I decided I didn't like it, and picked it up planning to throw it away (still under the assumption that it was lint). Well, I picked it up and it wasn't lint. It was a tiny black screw that I had no idea what it went to, but it looked important. I decided to put it on my bedside table in case one day I figured out what it was for.

     Fast-forward to today. My computer arrived back from the repair depot. No, my computer was not fixed. In fact, when I pulled it out, I was disappointed and perturbed... The hinges were worse than when I sent it out for repair. I started to regret not pursuing the phone calls more. Maybe if I had been more determined and stern they would have covered it under the warranty that should have covered it in the first place. Then I even started regretting not paying the $159 they asked to get it repaired. I started thinking maybe the $159 they asked for would have been better than the chance the screen might soon fall off and the repairs associated with that.

     Well, I went through the next few hours feeling concerned, wishing I had done more to get my computer fixed, until suddenly, late at night when I should have been asleep (like right now, I should be asleep), I suddenly had a light-bulb moment. The screw! I had seen one just like it before on the back of my laptop! Eagerly, I flipped on my light, flipped my computer upside down, grabbed the screw, and looked at the back of my computer. But.... both screw holes I could see had screws in them, screwed in securely. A few seconds of feeling defeat.... but wait...

     As I looked at the back of my laptop in defeat, suddenly I noticed two holes near the hinges I hadn't noticed before.... screw holes! And one of them was missing! I stuck the screw in the hole and hurried downstairs to grab the tiny screw driver to screw it in. Success! One screw was missing completely, and the other was loose, so I put the one back in, and tightened the other, and flipped my computer right-side up.

     Nervousness... I start opening my laptop screen, totally expecting to hear that awful clicking.... relief.... excitement! It didn't happen! No click! Close the screen... check the hinges.... they're still connected! Breathe a sign of relief mixed with feeling ecstatic. My computer is fixed! Hallelujah!

     Then my thoughts started to turn to all of the different things that had happened or could have happened. I could have paid Dell $159 to "fix" my computer when obviously the technicians had no idea what the issue was. On all the phone calls, they said my hinges had gone bad. They obviously hadn't noticed a screw was missing.... and when it's your job to know what's wrong with a computer, and you can't notice a missing screw, well I'll let you fill in the blank. After-all, how many people have heard of a $159 screw? I certainly haven't, not even when you count labor involved in screwing it in, though it might be nice to get paid $159 every time you screw in a screw...

     Holy cow, what had happened leading up to this? My computer has been having issues for months, I have no idea what the issue is, I send it in to get fixed expecting warranty to cover it. No luck. Dell is unwilling to fix it without payment. I give up. Send it back. Find a screw in my carpet that I am beyond lucky to not have vacuumed up, lost, or thrown away without even realizing what it was. Get my computer back. Get a prompting. Check the back of my computer. Find the missing screw hole, stick it in, tighten it and the other screw, and voila! My computer is fixed!

     There are some people that might honestly be able to convince themselves that it was all a coincidence. Coincidence that I didn't pay $159. Coincidence I didn't vacuum or throw away that screw that had been on my carpet for at least 8 days (and I usually vacuum every 1-2 weeks). Coincidence that, at midnight lying awake in bed I suddenly have the impression that the screw I had since forgotten about finding anyway went to my computer. Coincidence that etc. etc. etc. But to me, it was not at all a coincidence. This was absolute proof that God still does, always has, and always will love me. Proof that I can still receive promptings. Proof that I still have God in my life.

     Tonight is a good night, even though it's way past bed time. I'm writing this post on my computer that works great now, and feeling so thankful and loved. God is perfect. I love life.

     Oh, and a note to my future self. Remember to trust in God and His timing. Listen to promptings. Remember that God loves you yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. Remember that life is good, even if it's hard, and you rarely see the big picture until it hits you in the face at the end. Oh, and remember you can always trust God more than some 'technician'.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Children of Same-sex Couples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out with a policy change Thursday that states that underage children of same-sex couples will not be allowed membership until reaching "legal age" and they "disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage."
     I first heard about this policy change while driving to work today and listening to the news. I'll be completely honest, when I first heard I thought maybe the media had misinterpreted something the  Church had said, then I thought maybe I was misinterpreting what I was hearing. When I got to work, I looked it up, and sure enough the internet and media had exploded with news articles about it. So it was true, I hadn't misinterpreted and neither had the media (at least about the actual policy, the media almost always overexaggerattes or misrepresents).
     So, still being completely honest, I felt really confused and worried. I even doubted a bit. But I didn't hyperventilate, and I kept calm. Some of the honest questions I had were "why is the Church holding children back for the actions of their parents?" "why can't these children get baptised until 18 and after they have disavowed their 'parents' lifestyle?" "aren't all people welcome in God's Church?". First, I feel it is important to point out that while I was having doubts and seriously considering these questions, I also wasn't immediately jumping to conclusions or becoming closed-minded or bitter.
     After the confusion and the doubt, I started to ask myself other questions. "Do I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Do I trust, follow, and sustain the prophet and apostles? Do I trust in Christ? Do I trust in God?" Etc. The thing is, despite the questions and the doubts, my beliefs I held yesterday didn't suddenly change just because of a policy change. My testimony, while not at its strongest right now, also isn't so frail as to be broken by something I simply don't fully understand yet. I trust in God, I believe in the Church, why should that suddenly change?
     I ended up asking my best friend (who is a fantastic resource for me) about what his thoughts were. One thing he shared with me that totally hit me was that what the Church was stating is aimed at the opposition the Church has, not just to gay marriage, but more especially to adoption in same-gender marriages.
     What he shared helped so much. While the Church hasn't necessary released an "official" statement about this decision yet (as far as I am aware), from what I did read this totally made sense. And you know what? If that is the purpose of this policy change (and I'll personally say that I believe that it is part of it, if not the main reason), then I totally back the Church. Why? Because I myself wished so strongly that during the years of legal battle over whether or not to legalize gay marriage in states or even nationwide, that those looking into the issue would look at adoption and marriage as separate issues. As strongly as I oppose gay marriage, I oppose even more the ability for same-sex couples to adopt children, and I feel it is fair and necessary that children have the opportunity to have a mother and a father. And, because I know there will be backlash from that last statement, let me just say I totally recognize that there are children with single parents because of divorce, death, or whatever. I totally recognize that, and have given my thoughts on it before, but don't feel it is important to rehearse again. In short, I know there are issues on both the heterosexual and homosexual side when you talk about having a mother and father, but it is much easier to have both in a heterosexual family, whereas it is practically impossible to have that in a homosexual family setting.
     But Mitchell, how is that fair to the children? First of all, this policy does NOT mean that those children can't attend Church, they still can! Even excommunicated members can still attend Church. Furthermore, they can still contact the first presidency. This isn't a doctrine, it's a policy. If the first presidency feel it's appropriate, the child can still be baptized, but as a policy it goes through the first presidency. By the way, it's the same situation if your parents are polygamists, including disavowing your parents practice of polygamy. This isn't as unique as you may think, it's not utterly ground shattering. Also, while baptism is an essential ordinance, so are the temple endowments and receiving the priesthood, both of which don't happen until after 18 anyway. So, again, realize that it is STILL POSSIBLE for a child of a same-sex couple to get baptised before 18 years old, it just has to go through the first presidency. They can still come to Church, and if any members or ward kick them out, they are violating God's commandment that all men are welcome to learn of His gospel.
     Ultimately, I believe that the Church is still true. How could something I believe in and dedicate my life to go from being totally true one day, and the next suddenly become false just because they changed a policy they still haven't released an official statement on or explained completely, and that many have misinterpreted and made their own opinions on? The Church is still true. God still loves His children. The world isn't ending (yet). The sky isn't falling. The prophets are still prophets. And I still follow the Church and have a testimony I cannot deny. If you're still having doubts about the Church, I challenge you to really do some introspection. Pray, ask God, review your testimony and what you know to be true, both past and present. Don't let a policy change that we still don't know everything about be enough to change your mind about God or the gospel.
     I have a testimony of the Church. I have a testimony of my Savior. I have a testimony of the prophets. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt anymore, that this policy doesn't make the Church untrue, it isn't evil, and God will keep His promises and reveal all His mysteries in the end if we are faithful.
     I love you all. Don't forget your Father in Heaven. He loves you no matter what your circumstance.

     If you'd like to read an article that explains it better than I can, read this one: http://lds.net/blog/buzz/lds-news/myths-on-new-mormons-and-gays-policy/ 

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015


     The other day, I was doing a brief check up on my blog (looking for any new comments, stats, etc.) When I was intrigued by one of the titles of a post from way back in 2013. I read it, and as weird as it may sound, I became jealous of my "past self".

     As I read the post, I felt inspired, I honestly didn't feel like I was reading something that I wrote. I didn't understand. How was I so good at writing and expressing my feelings back then? How was I able to so quickly and efficiently find peace and happiness even in the midst of trials? How was I so open to promptings and spiritual feelings? How was I......? The list could go on and on.

     I loved the post I read, but I also felt jealous of it. It led to a lot of introspection and questioning. The main question I asked myself was "what is different in my life now as compared to my life in 2013?" I just couldn't put my finger on it. I didn't understand.

     The thing is, in some ways I am doing better in my life than I was in 2013. I have a job now I feel very loyal to, I am enrolled in college through BYU-Idaho (through the Pathway program), I am doing better with my addictions than I was in 2013 (though definitely still not completely clean), I have a calling in my ward that requires me to serve others and actually work, so with all of these good things now that I didn't have in 2013, how did my life seem better then? What was going on?

     I realized a big part of the puzzle on Sunday. Perhaps I was happier back in 2013 not because of a lack of trials or because of high successes, but because I was grateful for what I did have. Back in 2013, I was much quicker to say "thank you" to God than I have been recently. I appreciated the people in my life more than I do now. I found happiness even in the midst of trials. I was closer to God, I prayed and read my scriptures more. I was more humble than I have been recently, partly because of circumstance (being compelled) and partly due to choice.

     So if there were positives and negatives then, and there are positives and negatives now, why the stark difference in happiness and quality of life? I honestly think one of the biggest factors in this has been my lack of gratitude. That's not to say I haven't been grateful about certain things, but I haven't been consistently thankful, I haven't been thankful about the little things. Another big factor is I have been fairly pessimistic. Dealing with depression doesn't make it easy to be optimistic, but I chose to be as optimistic as I could in the past, and I haven't been choosing it as much recently.

     So what can I do? Well, the truth is, I don't know all the answers. I do know, however, that I need to regain an attitude of gratitude (and no, I'm not just saying that because it's November). I honestly need to start thanking God for the big things, the small things, and everything in between. I need to be thankful to and for the people in my life.

     I also need to change certain habits. I need to start praying regularly, I need to start reading my scriptures regularly, and I need to serve others (which is something I've been lacking a lot in recently). While I'll never be the same person I was in 2013, nor should I hope to be, I can strive to regain the good qualities I had back then, and seek to gain new ones as I move forward and try to shape who I am and who I want to be.