Sunday, April 14, 2013

Acting Like a Married Man

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I had an interesting revelation the other day.  I was pondering the way I was living, the things I was doing in my spare time, and some of my thought processes.  I realized that I have been living like a single man.  Strange that it should take me eleven years to figure that out.

I also realized that this way of living is not the most conducive to a happy and fulfilling family life.  Surely this way of thinking is not pleasing to the Lord, and it is certainly not attractive to my wife, nor a good example for my children.

If I am honest with myself, this is not really news to me.  Deep down inside, I knew that I haven't fully been living as I should.  I am not a single man anymore, and it is time I stop acting like it.  It is time for me to live like a married man.

I also had the thought that if I start living as a married man, perhaps I will be treated as a married man.  But even if not, I will still feel better, because I will not have the guilt and shame that I carry as a result of not living as I know I should.  The Lord will approve of my efforts to change and improve, regardless of how or if others respond.

It's time for me to live as a married man.

Monday, February 18, 2013

At the Crossroads

I feel like I am at a crossroads in my life.  It's been awhile since I reached one.  There are three paths available to me.

One path leads to the realization of all of my hopes and dreams, both for myself and for my marriage.

One path leads onward the same way I have been going, which is a lonely place of mostly solitary travel.

One path leads backward to some of the things that I have left behind, which still whisper to me and beckon for me to return to them.

From where I stand, the paths look identical.  It will take some travel on each one before I can see the destination.  And once I am far enough to see the destination, the crossroads will be past my reach.

Deep down in my heart, I know the things that I need to do.  They are simple to understand (although that does not necessarily make them easy).  I pray that I may follow the promptings of the Spirit, so that I may choose the correct path, the one that will lead me to the things which God desires for me.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Correcting in Anger...or Love?

How many of you struggle with a critical inner voice?  You know the kind I mean.  The one that is constantly telling you that you suck, that you don't deserve good things in your life, that your best efforts will never be good enough.

I hear that voice often in my life.  It points out all of my mistakes, and it puts me through the wringer for them.  It saps away my energy, and leaves me an empty husk.  More than anything, it gives me cause to harp on myself for almost every mistake I make, big or small.

Now I am all about improvement and becoming more like our Savior.  That is a big part of this life.  But I have learned (or at least am trying to learn) that correcting myself in anger doesn't work.  It just doesn't!

How many of you have kids?  How well does it go when you correct them in anger?  If it's anything like with my kids, it creates hurt feelings and tears.  It doesn't work any better when I turn it on myself.  I've been ripping myself to shreds for years, and it hasn't worked.

According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result.  Continuing to rip myself to shreds will bring more of the same result.  It's time to try something different.  It's time to try love.

I'm learning that my internal self-perception is flawed.  At some level, my inner critical voice tells me that I am bad, flawed, terrible, etc.  If I can change that perception, that paradigm, I can change my world.  But until I do, no one will be able to get through to me, and I will be unable to receive the love that is there for me.  It's time to try something else.  It's time to view myself as the Lord sees me.

"He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him.  Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation...He saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price." -2 Nephi 26:24-25

When the Lord speaks about "all men" and "all ye ends of the earth", He is including me.  And He is including you.  Even when we feel otherwise.  We can love Him, because "He first loved us." (1 John 4:19).  This is His promise to you.  And to me.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Lesson from Pain

Last week, I had an opportunity to learn a lesson from pain.  I went in on Wednesday to have earwax removed from my ears.  I have this done every so often, as it builds up fast enough that I eventually become unable to hear (no comments about "ears to hear" from the peanut gallery, please).  I went in, and in the process of removing the wax, I was reminded about my weak eardrums in a most unpleasant way.  I had a small rupture in my left eardrum.

Now it was only a small rupture, but that is neither here nor there when it come to eardrums (perhaps that should be "neither hear nor there", but I digress).  I had a period of strong dizziness and pain, which mostly passed, and I went back to work.  About an hour later, the pain returned.  And this is not your standard scraped finger or bruise, or even slamming into a door.  This was pain that was a 7 or 8 on my 10 point pain scale.

As I sat there at my desk, hardly able to even think, and wanting to curl up into the fetal position, I prayed.  And my prayer was a most unusual one for me.  "Heavenly Father, what would you have me learn from this pain?"  As I said, most unusual.  My normal prayer in this situation would be, "Heavenly Father, please remove this pain, and as quickly as possible!"

The Lord did answer my prayer.  One of the most important things I learned from this experience was compassion.  Compassion for those who suffer.  Compassion for my children when they get leg cramps.  Compassion for my wife in her struggles.  And if I listen very closely to the Spirit, I can even find a little compassion for myself.

I find this compassion to be a very valuable gift, well worth a couple of hours of intense pain.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Forgiveness, Healing, and Trust

So, last month I made a big blunder in my relationship with my wife.  Actually, make that two big blunders.  I'm not talking the "Oops, I stepped on your toes, I'll be more careful next time."  No, these were full-sized anthills that I kicked up.

Although I would rather have the blunders back, the experience taught me a lot about the relationship between forgiveness, healing, and trust.

Did my wife forgive me?  I would say yes, almost immediately.  Does that mean that everything immediately went back to the way things were before my blunders?  Absolutely not.  Does that mean that she didn't forgive me?  Of course not.  Forgiveness was granted, but trust and healing take time.  It doesn't mean that forgiveness isn't there.  It just takes time to rebuild things.

Another way to look at it is to compare it to physical therapy.  Many years ago, I had the pleasure of a type three ankle sprain (swollen on both sides).  It was caused by a very quick collision, which was not on purpose.  But the fact that it was not on purpose did not take the pain away, nor did it immediately heal my ankle.  I went to physical therapy every week for a month to work through the pain and regain mobility.  I was also given exercises to do every night to help with the healing and recovery.

After working through the pain and the exercises and the struggles, my ankle was stronger than it was before it was injured.

I think the same can be true for our marriages.  Sometimes they can become stronger because of the pain and struggles.  Not that we should seek out painful experiences for ourselves (or, heaven forbid, for our spouse).  But these type of experiences will inevitably come as part of the experience of living in mortality.  As long as they are there, should we not use them to build ourselves and our marriages, to make them stronger than they were before?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Perfection - A Short Thought

Inspiration and truth can be found in the most unusual places.  I am an avid racquetball player, and I was surfing some racquetball web sites the other day.  On one of them, I came across a "Tip of the Day" from racquetball coach Jim Winterton.  His tip for January 15th was very profound:

"Perfection-it is a blessing and a curse.  If your goal is to be perfect, you will always fail.  If your goal is to strive to be perfect, you may succeed!  The difference between those two things is forgiveness of an error and keeping your mind in the present, not the past!" -Jim Winterton

 This is very good advice for racquetball players.  And it is also one of the best explanations I have ever heard about how we should strive for perfection.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Do You Want To Be An Awesome Husband?

Hopefully that question got your attention.  As much as I would like to take credit for the question, I must defer to Paul over at The Generous Husband.  This is a new series he is starting for 2013, and I am very eager to see what he has to say.

Would you like to be an awesome husband?  That is ultimately up to you.  It does not depend on your past choices, sins, background, or circumstances.  It doesn't even depend upon what your wife thinks of you (although I acknowledge that you, like myself, probably want your wife to think you are awesome).  Ultimately, being an awesome husband depends upon our choices, our attitude, and what the Lord thinks.

Intrigued yet?  Head on over to to The Generous Husband blog, and check out the 2013 Awesome Husband Project.  I want to be an awesome husband this year, and I hope that you do too!