What I Learned From Being A Menace To Society

In all fairness I do have to say that the "menace to society" quote attributed to Brigham Young cannot actually be found anywhere and so he may not have even said it :P But even if it is one of the "Mormon Myths" I still find it funny, and being a LDS woman who is 31 and unmarried if that quote was real I imagine it would be applied to me in some way :P

Regardless, my YSA years have taught me ALOT and I wanted to share some of those things. So lets have a list - we all love lists, right? :P

#1 - People are more important than things
A few weeks ago in fast and testimony meeting my RS President actually said this and I realized how strongly I agreed with her and realized that my single years have helped me to really understand this. What brings us the most lasting happiness, helps us to learn and grow, and ultimately become more Christ-like is our interactions and how we treat other people. It isn't the activities we necessarily participate in (obviously activities we do can teach us things and activities we participate in can affect our ability to have the companionship of the spirit, etc.) but the interactions with people in those activities and as we try and decide how we will spend out time. And because everyone is different, every single person will push us and challenge us in different ways and can help us grow and become better.

#2 - Give people the benefit of the doubt
Elder Holland said it well - "Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love. Assume the good and doubt the bad." This has been a struggle for me - I'm a very black and white person so when I could see it wasn't for Reason 'A' it was just natural to assume it HAD to be for Reason 'B'. A good friend has helped me to be able to focus on the good and to give people the benefit of the doubt especially those I care about. In any relationship if I look for the bad I will find it - ALWAYS. You can always find what you are looking for. So now I say to myself - what do I know about this person? What are some of the happy times and times that show me this person cares and wouldn't be doing anything purposefully to be hurtful in anyway. Helps me not to jump to Reason 'B', which can I tell you has made things alot better. Just a caveat though - I worked with domestic violence for over 3 years, so in saying "look for the good" that never means to discount or ignore abusive behavior.

#3 - Everyone has hidden hurts and struggles with something that seems to much to bear
This has been a big one for me to really learn and understand. It is amazing how really struggling yourself makes you more aware that even though you don't see it or ever even talk about it with someone that EVERYONE has those things they've experienced that have stretched, hurt, and been the cause of many tears just like I have. Makes me want to be more kind to others, but also more available to reach out to others. I've also realized some people are REALLY good and putting on a front that everything is perfect. I in  no way criticize people that are able to do this - I say it because it was easy in the past to think that they had no problems and their life was easy. That is never the case - everyone has struggles and though their struggles may be something that comes easy to me, it doesn't mean it isn't a struggle to them.

#4 - When you hurt, don't be afraid to cry
Life isn't easy and sometimes it really hurts - I HATE to cry as much as anyone but I've realized how important crying is and that when I hurt it is a GOOD time to cry and helps me to feel better. And I've realized in general that I do value all the emotions that I'm able to experience even hurt and sadness because I've realized that if I hurt or am sad it means I've invested in someone or something and I think that is so important. Especially investing in people, which often is the source of alot of pain, is also one of the greatest sources of happiness. So don't be afraid to cry when life hurts!

#5 - The Lord never gives us more than we can bear
And last but not least I've learned this even though it has been a hard lesson. I pray to grow and become better - in fact this is something I pray for everyday. Sometimes I laugh at myself when I'm really struggling and think - "Why do I pray for that!?!" Life is SO hard. But I have learned so much in those times and years of struggle and everytime I've made it through with the Lord's help. I feel like I've been stretched and stretched and stretched until I'm going to break and have no more stretch but when the next pull comes, as I turn to the Lord and plead for His help, somehow there is just a little more stretch for that moment. And then when it is all done I can look back and see a different persepctive because of what I've experienced. Hilary Weeks did a song in her last album that sums this up perfectly -
So while I would love to be married and have wanted it for a long time, I know the Lord knows me perfectly and knows the experiences I need to become the best I can. And I wouldn't trade the things I've learned!
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Beating A Dead Horse

I know alot has been said in the past few weeks about equality and same-sex marriage. I've read ALOT of posts with different perspectives and have been mulling in my mind what I felt I had to contribute to the conversation. As you see I didn't jump in very quickly to offer my two cents - and perhaps the horse is dead but I feel I have something to add. I have thought ALOT about these topics and while I have very strong opinions and beliefs, I also have a strong love and/or strive for that love for all people regardless of differing beliefs. So my disagreement with choices and others beliefs does not mean I do not care about them as people - but I feel it is important for me to express what I believe and speak out for what I see as wrong BEHAVIOR.

Lets start with same-sex marriage and why they Church is asking members to stand against it. There are alot of reasons and many different points and perspectives shared. But the other morning I thought of one of my all-time FAVORITE talks/trainings I've heard. And it was Sister Beck's training done with Institute and Seminary teachers a few summers ago. It was POWERFUL and was such a tool in shaping and strengthening my testimony of the family. I recommend everyone read the training that hasn't but I wanted to focus on just one statement she said that blew me away at the time and I've never forgotten.

She said - Anti-Christ is antifamily. Any doctrine or principle from the world that is antifamily is also anti-Christ. It’s that clear. They need to know that if it’s antifamily, it’s anti-Christ. An anti-Christ is antifamily.

This is one of the biggest reasons the Church is against same-sex marriage. Before anyone freaks out too much, give me a chance to explain :)

First - Yes in Church doctrine same-sex marriage is anti-family. As the Family: A Proclamation states, marriage is ordained between a man and woman. This isn't because it was a societal norm at one time, or even that there is research out there that shows kids do better in a home with a father and mother. But because the doctrine of the family and an underlying doctrine of the entire plan of salvation is that after this life we will live eternally as families, becoming Gods and Goddesses who create their own worlds and offspring. Last time I checked the only way for two people to procreate is when it is a man and a woman. I think sometimes we forget what the eternal plan is, which is why the Church stands firm on this issue.

So why is anti-family, anti-Christ. Well lets break down the role of the Savior. He came to this earth to live, set the example, serve those around Him and ultimately perform the Atonement so we can all gain salvation and exaltation. Exaltation is about eternal families and about what I mentioned above. So when we fight for a doctrine that is anti-family within the definition of family in Church doctrine, we are fighting against the Savior and all that He lives for and did for us. THE point of this earth and our lives here is ultimately about eternal families and the procreation of spirit children. Thus, the point of what the Savior did is about that as well. Thus, when we fight against the family, we fight again the Savior.

So yes, anything anti-family IS anti-Christ and vice verse. Too often I think we forget that when we take out one doctrine of the Church it does exist in isolation - our thoughts and beliefs about one doctrine are inexplicably tied to all other doctrines and when we say one thing about one doctrine we implicitly are saying things about all other doctrines in the Church. It is all connected together!

Now let me address equality as this has become a main header in the argument of same-sex marriage - that it is about equality.

But what is equality??

I think this is the million dollar question not addressed very often. Too often in the world and our definition, equality means sameness. But equality cannot be about sameness because there are very few things in this world that are exactly the same - and when we are talking about people there are no two people exactly the same.

So as I was thinking about this the other day I realized that equality cannot truly exist without truth - those truths that are absolute. Lets use for example, men and women. Much of feminism has fought for equality for men and women. But that equality most often takes the form of women being treated, becoming like and adopting the ways of men. How is that equality?!? Well and perhaps you say, well that isn't how it is supposed to be. You are right because equality between men and women can only be achieved by the recognition and acceptance of the absolute truth that men and women are DIFFERENT and have DIFFERENT roles. Both are essential and valuable. And equality happens not when men and women DO the same thing but are both valued and supported in their differing roles.

Now let me focus on same-sex marriage and the argument for equality. The Church has stated more than once that it supports the giving of benefits and other societal support to those in same-sex relationships. But that isn't good enough - proponents want it to be CALLED marriage not just receive most of the societal benefits associated with a heterosexual marriage. Why does the name matter so much? Because as people we want to feel JUSTIFIED in our behaviors and act as if society calling it something makes it something. But that again goes back to trying to say two things are the same which aren't? There is an absolute truth about marriage, which is that it is to be between a man and a woman for the reasons I explained above. Thus there can never be true equality that benefits all without the corresponding truth being applied.

The Lord loves all of us but there are commandments and laws. Right is not relative - there are absolute truths that do exist and all have reasons and purposes. And they aren't to discriminate or generate hate - it is because we are here on this earth to strive to become like the Savior and be perfected through the Atonement so we can live with Heavenly Father and our families through the eternities and create worlds and further posterity. And in order for that all to happen we must live by the commandments and laws given and to remember that EVERY law and commandment given is for our greatest benefit and happiness and will be the result thereof if we live according to them.
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I'm A Woman - Don't Call Me Emotional!

Emotions are fascinating things but are not understood very well I think :) So today I thought I would discuss emotions and the things over the past few years I've learned about them. Working with victims of domestic violence gave me alot of insight and access to so many emotions, and to those that had become so numb, they didn't really experience emotions. It was a very broad spectrum. And interacting with that and teaching about it made me take a close look at my emotions. The hard thing is that as people we often don't WANT to feel emotions - especially those we call unpleasant - hurt, sadness, vulnerability, anger, etc. So we often act like the ostrich who sticks his head in the sand, pretending those emotions don't exist. I do this as much as the next person - but lately I've been trying not to and I've been thinking and analyzing everything I know about emotions, so I thought I would share!

Lets talk emotions!

Emotions have two categories - primary and secondary emotions. This is important because of the biggest emotion categorized as secondary - ANGER. This means that the majority of the time, or almost always, when experiencing anger, it is simply a mask or a cover for another emotion - a primary emotion that we don't/aren't ready to acknowledge. The primary emotions are hurt, sadness, happiness, vulnerability, peace, fear, etc. Because many of the primary emotions we don't enjoy experiencing, we often experience anger in addition. The problem arises when we think anger is the PRIMARY emotion, rather than the secondary because you then can't resolve the emotion that is really driving anything.

Why do we experience anger with those primary emotions? Because emotions such as hurt, sadness, vulnerability leave us often feeling out of control or that we don't have control in a situation. Anger gives us a false sense of regaining or having control. But it can also stop us from experiencing and moving through an emotion so we can eventually move past it for the situation that caused it.

This leads me to another important thing to know and understand about emotions - too often we talk as if we have control over what emotions we experience. This is only partly true - what we ALWAYS have control over is how we RESPOND to an emotion. Part of this life is learning that - not learning how NOT to feel and experience emotion but how to respond in positive and uplifting ways to ALL the emotions we experience.

Ask yourself why we have emotions? What is their purpose?

Their main purpose is to tell us something as an individual - they tell us how we feel about a situation, experience, person, interaction, etc. Meaning the emotion we feel in connection with any of those things tells US something about how we view that situation, experience, person, etc. Now I can work to change and emotion I experience with certain events, situations, etc. but ultimately I don't choose the emotion. I choose the response, which ultimately helps direct the emotion.

What often happens when we think we control, which emotions we experience is we tell ourselves we aren't feeling such and such emotion and then go merrily on our way. But emotions never just "go away". They aren't like the flu or a bad cold :P

Let me use an analogy now - not acknowledging and experiencing our emotions is similar to us carrying around a bag - every time we don't allow ourselves to experience and work through and emotion, we stuff it in that bag. But as with anything with limited space - what eventually happens? There isn't anymore room!! You then have an uncontrolled explosion. Have you ever started crying at something small that you say to yourself, "Why am I crying at this, it is not a big deal at all!" but you can't seem to help it. Or you explode at someone and get extremely angry at a minor mishap or aggravation that normally you would have blown off. That is because your bag has gotten to full and the emotion has to go somewhere :)

Experiencing emotions - especially ones like sadness, hurt, vulnerability are ones we would rather skip. But they are important and necessary for us to feel. We have all experienced them - and if any of you are like me you just want to "move past it." When something happens that hurts me -and I feel hurt and sadness I often want to feel the emotion once and then be done. But emotions don't work that way - especially the hard ones. I recently had a friendship end - it was a friendship that mattered to me alot and I had invested alot into it. It was HARD, when ultimately, no matter how hard I tried or wanted to save the friendship it ultimately wasn't just my decision, and there is a lot of hurt and sadness tied to the ending of a friendship. When we love and care about people - we are vulnerable and that leaves us open to hurt and sadness.

Some days I'm fine with what happened and I accept it. After all I've had numerous times and days where I've almost felt overwhelmed by the sadness or hurt. And then of course with those two emotions I feel anger. I work through the emotion and sometimes think I'm done. But emotions have a way of sneaking up on you - you will see something that reminds you of the friendship or person, or do something similar to what you did together one time, or even just out of nowhere the sadness hits you.

The most important thing I learned in the last few months - is that I just have to be patient and experience the emotion that comes. I can't choose not to feel sad or hurt - I cared and those emotions are a part of that. But I can choose to work through the emotion - to acknowledge and accept WHY I feel those emotions but not allow them to overwhelm me. Ultimately, emotions allow and tell me one big thing - I CARE and that is what matters.
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