Thursday, June 18, 2015

When love is six years long

It felt like I was finding a treasure map. I unfolded the first piece of paper carefully, tenderly, and began to remember. The dates began in late May, 2009.  "I love you because..."
In a quiet, reverent moment, I turned back the pages of history to the beginning of Us.

We walked home hand in hand. Each day was a mystery but also an adventure. He captured me so completely I was hopeless. It was an unfamiliar feeling to my heart, and I knew that he loved me. Yet young love, though exciting as it is, is a meager start. I could scarcely imagine the love that would grow out of such ordinary beginnings.

Could I imagine today? Today, his love is six years long.

Could I imagine the precious gift of being chosen over and over again? He's given me his life. He's given me the gift of all of his years until the day he dies--and then, the eternities. He chose that. He chose me as the one to spend it with. He chose today, and last year, and yesterday, and the last 6 years, and many more to come. I thank God that Ben's love is mine, and I am his choice, today and forever.

Could I imagine what forgiveness would look like, entrenched over six years? Hurting and forgiving, hurting and forgiving, I grow softer and softer until that selfish, hard heart of mine starts to change. He returns my lashing out with kindness. My stinging words with an embrace. In the morning I see a smile on his face, and I choke back the tears in disbelief. I never could have comprehended how forgiveness would change me. I thank God for this man who forgives.

Could I have seen infatuation lived out in the day-to-day? Today I discover an admiral quality, again, as if for the first time. Laughing at one of his jokes that reminds me, yes.... yes, this is the same boy I fell in love with. It can come as an intense spark at odd times-- folding his socks, or watching him mow the lawn. Intently loving who he is, and what you are, together, over and over again.

Routine is how our brain works. But resigning to monotony is a choice.

Boredom is the opposite of gratitude. I write here to express gratitude for the one I love. To pause and remember how this routine all started in the first place, and give thanks to that boy who so graciously stole my heart and has kept it safe ever since.

Give the gift of appreciation. Nothing too small, nothing too mundane. Take the time to write out what you love and appreciate about someone today.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dear You Who's Broken

Note: this is a letter I wrote to myself on a particularly hard day.

Dear You who's broken,

You feel like you can't do anything right. How can you possibly go on when you haven't figured out one thing? Your weaknesses are so overwhelmingly obvious that no one can relate with you. Not one person.

You just want one person to comprehend how obvious your faults are to you, and how they tear at your flesh. You want to be able to do that Hard Thing every day.  All you want is validation, one person, any person, to understand that how you live is a good effort.

But it's not that. That's not what you really need, someone else to validate. But neither do you need a self-validation. What you need is God-validation.

If you were in Jesus' presence? What would he say?

His wouldn't be a pep talk. Neither would it be a condescending pat on the shoulder. His answer is: "I know you." His responses is always utterly and completely love.  He can love so well because He knows you better than you know yourself.

Those weaknesses you are concerned about? They are but a small blip on the expanse that is You.

You are God's daughter. You've inherited all of his traits. The expansiveness that is God is also what has been included in your soul.

What if this life is not about overcoming weaknesses, but about more fully accepting who you are? What if it's calmly, confidently, accepting that God is who you are, and the more you accept it the more you will see God in your actions. If you quit focusing on the "mistakes" and "weaknesses," and tried to see the expansive good qualities of God in your life, you would realize them.

What if instead of focusing on and rooting out your ugly parts, you instead covered them with all different shades of goodness. Becoming God. God's goodness realized in yourself.

Kindness of all different shades. Humility, happiness. Laughter. Smiles. Gratitude. Focus on these, think about them. Let them cover your whole outer shell. If you chance to peek under the flowers these produce, are your weaknesses still lurking underneath? Gone. They were never really the real "you" anyway. And as a bonus? They turned out to be fertilizer for those things you so wished for. All that's left of your dross, your dead, ugly parts is good, fertile soil.

Wipe those tears away now.  You just don't know yourself well enough yet. Not like Jesus does. Those weaknesses you're worried about? The ones you think make a longer list than your good points? You simply haven't gotten to know enough of the good points. And the list is long. Really long. Because it's God's list.

Fill your heart with gratitude that you are His! That can never be taken away from you. Embrace Him. Embrace all that He is, and give it wings to fly.

You are a daughter of God.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

feast upon the word

I looked out on the sea of eyes. It was silent as I took in a breath. "The Book of Mormon has the most Truth in it," I paused. 

"It contains God's word, and God's word in the way he wants it written. It's the most correct book on the earth," I stopped, my heart beating wildly. Thoughts I hadn't prepared were coming together, and coming out of my mouth.

"Wouldn't you want to share a book like that with those that you love? To show others the Truth you have learned from it?" I knew what I was saying was true, but these were not my words. God was using my mouth to teach me. As a teacher to others, my hope is that they would feel something, yet I felt something that day. And I have been forever changed since.

I've thought about it for weeks since I taught in Relief Society. I pick up and handle The Book of Mormon differently, now a precious book in my eyes. What had I said?

Joseph Smith calls The Book of Mormon "the most correct book on the Earth." Why? It has been translated once. God spoke to man, man wrote it down, and now it's ours to read and reread. If we want to read God's word the way he has always intended for it to be written, there is one book that is different than the rest.

Because The Book of Mormon is God's word pure and undefiled, it preaches Truth. In our world, many ideas are preached, sometimes subtly and others more overt. Some are true, others are not. Newsfeeds, blog posts, billboards, a conversation with a friend. We live in this world. We hustle and bustle, rising with the sun and laying down again at the day's end. Who's to say that we've interacted with Truth that day? How can one guarantee that God spoke to them today? Was God's voice was the loudest, the most often on their mind? How can you give yourself the gift of being in the world, but not of it?

The Book of Mormon. It was meant for this day, this time, a standard in a tilting planet. We can pick it up in the morning, read a verse midday, and close our day with His word. We can pair it with our meals, feeding our soul as well as body. We can devour it like the manna that it is, thanking God for direction in a world of tumult.

It lays there on my same dresser, yet it has changed. How grateful I am, I think to myself as I pass by it. This book is for me. This is God's word to me. It's like a fine ruby, no longer a familiar book from my childhood or a "to do" list item. I have now a reverence for this book I realize it has always deserved.

What would my life look like if I feasted upon the words of God? How can I start today to "flood the earth" (or flood my life) with the Book of Mormon? 

Life-changing, inspiring quotes about the Book of Mormon from a beloved prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, here.