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.