Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My List

Tonight I was flipping through my journal and stopped on an entry that I wanted to share with you:

March 23, 2011

I really should be going to bed, but I had a moment of clarity today, and I needed to write it down. It hit me that my ex isn't the right guy for me. The right guy will want to be around me all the time. He'll think I'm beautiful and will make sure I know that. He'll make me a priority in his life, regardless of whatever else he's dealing with. With him, I'll never question whether or not he's "into me" because he'll show me in the way he looks at me and how he touches me. He will want to kiss me and won't let months of dating pass by without at least trying. He'll hold my hand. He'll hug me more than just to say hello or goodbye. I won't have to work so hard to get him to pay attention to me or want to spend time with me - he'll do it on his own. I won't feel inadequate or ugly or unworthy of his love. I will feel like we are equally yoked. I'll be able to openly share my sadness and frustrations without worrying that I'm a burden on him. I will be myself and will be happy doing so. I will feel cherished. I won't doubt his intentions. I will feel secure in our relationship. I will put his needs above my own, but he will do the same for me. That way we will both be taken care of. These are things I hope for in a companion. I'm not saying he has to have/do all of these things, but I would like him to strive for it. I want to be loved and honored and cherished. These aren't things my ex is capable of doing for me. I hope he'll be able to do that for someone someday, but in my heart, I know I'm not that girl. I hate admitting that because I love him so much. I'm grateful that I love him, though, because it gives me hope in finding love again. It also gives me a guideline for what I can expect in the future. I'm sure Heavenly Father has someone amazing in store for me - someone with most of the qualities I adore in my ex but who can fill in the gaps where he was lacking. I hope I can find that guy. And I hope I can be the girl he has hoped for. I'm definitely a work in progress.

I've often wondered if I had unrealistic hopes of what I wanted in a companion. I avoided making those dreaded lists of what I was looking for because I felt they filled people with an unhealthy desire to hold out for that perfect person. Without realizing it at the time, however, I made one of those lists three months ago in that journal entry. As I read my simple words tonight, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude. I never would have imagined that only one month after writing and praying about them, I would find the exact man I wrote about. What a tender mercy! If I ever start doubting the Lord's hand in my life or feel that he's not answering my prayers, I will look back at this journal entry. It reminds me that I am not alone; I am honored and cherished by a loving Heavenly Father. All I have to do is ask and wait in faith, and he will answer my prayers. This knowledge gives me hope.

... But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
1 Nephi 1:20)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Expressing appreciation

"Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate
someone, don’t keep it a secret." ~M. K. Ash

A few days ago my mom told me that she has always thought of me as a happy person. This statement really stood out to me for two reasons. First of all, I haven’t seen myself as the most positive person lately and was beginning to wonder if I’ve always been this way. Hearing her words helped me remember that I am happy by nature and gave me hope that I can be that way again. The second reason her comment meant so much was because she doesn’t typically offer encouraging words like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and have no doubt that she loves me. I remember the flood of emotions I felt when I read a paragraph she wrote about me in my application to Ricks College. She talked about attending one of my volleyball games and being impressed when I was the only one on my team who didn’t participate in a somewhat crude cheer. I didn’t even realize she had been watching me and felt so happy to learn I was acceptable in her eyes. Moments like that weren’t common in my family though. Most of us have a difficult time verbalizing our feelings toward each other.

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly aware of my inability to express myself to those I love. Sometimes I feel like I’m emotionally stunted. I was especially aware of this in my last relationship. No matter how much I wanted to, I found it impossible to adequately express myself to the guy I was dating. I sometimes practiced conversations in my head so I could tell him what I appreciated about him and let him know how much I cared. When the opportunity came for us to talk, I blushed and stuttered and really struggled to get the words out. It made me feel like an idiotic school girl, so I just kept my thoughts to myself most of the time. I’m sad to think of all the opportunities I missed to point out his good qualities and thank him for the little things he said or did to make me smile.

This is something I want to change about myself. I’ve been making it a point lately to tell my friends exactly what I appreciate about them. I’ll be honest; it’s been a real struggle for me. Sometimes I’m only able to do it via text messages or e-mail, but I guess that’s a start. Over time, I hope to turn this weakness into one of my greatest strengths. People need to know that they are loved and valued. They need to be reminded of their redeeming qualities. They need to know they are accepted, regardless of the mistakes they’ve made (or will make). They need to feel safe in sharing their hopes and dreams, without fear of rejection or misunderstanding. I hope to feel that sense of safety in my next relationship. In order to feel that, though, I realize I need to first share more of myself. I’m a work in progress.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Simple things

I've been struck lately by the little things people do for us that leave a lasting impression. I'm not talking about huge gestures, like buying a laptop for a poor college student so she can succeed in school or helping to fund someone's mission (both of which happened to me). Those things will no doubt have an impact on their lives; I've been touched in many ways by grand gestures of love like these. I've also been touched by the little things people have done for me, such as calling me out of the blue (not realizing I was feeling lonely in that moment) or sharing a snack with me in class when my stomach was growling. These may seem like simple things, but they can really impact someone's life.

The other day at Institute, our instructor was talking about the 4 Ts of love: time, touch, talk, and teach. Touch is the one that stood out to me, as my primary love language is physical affection. During the lesson, he quoted Dr. Harold Voth who said that "hugging can lift depression." I completely agree with that statement - I've always thought there was something magical about hugs.

A few days after this lesson someone asked me to think about a time when I felt the most loved. I was surprised when the memory that came to mind wasn't something grandiose or spectacular. It was a sweet moment shared with a guy I was dating at the time. He and I had just gotten out of an Institute class and were standing by his car talking about our day. He asked me how I was doing and gave me a knowing look after I said I was fine. I then opened up about the struggles I was facing and how I felt so hopeless in being able to change my situation. He offered a few words of comfort and then pulled me close to him. I'm not sure how he knew, but that was exactly what I needed in that moment. Just a hug. A hug that told me he was there for me. A hug that reminded me I wasn't alone. A hug to release some of the pain and frustration I was feeling. A hug that would last as long as I needed it to. I got the impression he would have held me there all night if necessary; he wasn't going to let go until I was ready. As we stood there in silence, my racing heart began to calm down and my tense muscles loosened up. I relaxed my face on his chest and soaked in his familiar scent. I felt safe and secure with his strong arms wrapped around me, and for the first time in weeks I felt at peace. My burdens began to feel lighter as I sensed the love and concern he had for me. At that moment, I knew everything was going to be OK.

I sometimes wonder if he will ever understand the impact that simple hug had on me (or if he even remembers that moment). I wonder if any of us will ever know the impact we have on others with the seemingly trivial things we do for them. Even so, I hope we'll all continue doing those simple things.

During that Institute lesson, our instructor shared a story about a mission president's wife who was struggling with their new living situation. She finally hit her breaking point and exploded into tears while confessing to her husband how much she hated it there. Before finishing the story, our instructor looked at my friend and asked what he would have said in that situation. He thought for a moment and finally admitted he wouldn't know what to do for her. My mind immediately flashed to that night from many months ago. I looked over at him and smiled to myself thinking, "You would know."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Backfired love

Remember that post from yesterday? Can I please just take it all back?

OK, I don't really mean that - I'm just feeling frustrated right now. I hate when things I say come back to bite me in the butt. When I said I was going to love people more openly, I didn't realize just how vulnerable that would make me. Tonight I realized that if you're too kind and loving, it's that much easier for people to take advantage of you. Can't people just appreciate being loved instead of using it to their advantage? If it's so important to care about people, why does it sometimes leave me feeling so empty? Blah!

On a positive note, this experience reminds me just how lucky I am for the friends who don't take advantage of me but actually love me back. Fortunately, those kind of friends far outweigh the ones who take me for granted. So... thank you, my friends. I'm grateful to have you in my life. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Loving others, loving ourselves

I have an immense capacity for love; loving others comes quickly and naturally to me. I appreciate this about myself and consider it a special gift. However, I've learned to be very careful with this gift, as it often leads to disappointment and heartbreak. The other day I read a blog that helped me realize I shouldn't be so apprehensive when it comes to loving others. Rather, I should openly share that love with those around me, regardless of whether or not they are able to return it. I've started applying this in my friendships and already feel much better about life.

I've decided that my loving nature is my favorite quality. What do you like most about yourself? I asked this question on Facebook last night, and below are some of the responses I received. What can you add to this list? Post your response in the comments.
  • I have amazing eyelashes and a kind heart (K.G.)
  • That my body can grow great babies, and that I am creative (S.G.)
  • That I have a kind and loving heart and a beautiful daughter of God (D.L.)
  • My ability to laugh in the face of great trial and adversity and ... well... pretty much everything to be honest (D.G.)
  • My curiosity... I always want to learn more and know more about just about anything (C.W.)
  • I'm learning to love my new scar, which reminds me everyday that I beat cancer (M.P.)
  • What I like the most is that I am a hard worker, and that my self-esteem is robust and healthy (C.T.)
  • i'm quick to forgive. i also really like that i have such a great appetite....mostly for chocolate chip cookies and ice cream :) (A.M.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Control your thoughts

Earlier today I was talking to a friend about some things I’ve been struggling with, and I commented that I wasn’t really doing anything to help my situation. She stopped me and asked, "Do you really feel like you’re not doing anything?" I was taken aback because I hadn’t even realized that those words had come out of my mouth. In fact, I knew that what I said wasn’t even true - I have, in fact, been doing things to help myself. I even began listing those things off to her.

That conversation has been replaying in my head all day. With all of the negativity I expose myself to on a daily basis (at school, at work, while watching TV, etc.), it never occurred to me that I was exposing myself to much more within the confines of my own head. Have you ever thought about that? I’ve always been aware of the negative things I say to myself consciously, but I never considered how often I talk down to myself without even realizing it. I wonder what effect that has had on my self-esteem.

Last night at Institute* we talked about one of my favorite passages of scripture in The Pearl of Great Price*. Moses had just spoken with God who told him repeatedly, "Thou art my son." Moments later, Satan arrived and tried to tempt Moses. Multiple times he told him "Moses, son of man, worship me." Moses’s response always floors me. He looked at Satan and confidently stated "Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?" (Moses 1:13) Satan continued tempting him but Moses knew who he was and stood firm. What an incredible example!

I wish I could be more like Moses in times of adversity. After all, I know who I am. I am a daughter of God. Why is that so difficult to remember in times of challenge? How come it’s so much easier to look around and see the goodness in those around me? I’ll be the first to correct my friends when they talk down to themselves. It breaks my heart to hear that kind of negativity because I know it’s such a small portion of who that person really is. Shouldn’t we be just as aware of our own amazing qualities?

This week my goal is to be cognizant of the things I say to myself. When those moments of self-doubt creep in, I hope I can follow Moses’s example.

Who art thou, Satan?
For behold, I am a daughter of God!

*For those of you who don’t know what Institute or The Pearl of Great Price are, click here and here.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Lately I've been reflecting on an experience I had while attending church with my sister. This particular church had a band that played music before the sermon began. When the pastor began to speak, I figured the band would step off the stage. Instead, they continued playing as he spoke. It was kind of a cool concept to have background music while he was speaking. Unfortunately, the music was much louder than his voice, and I had difficulty hearing the message. The few words I heard were inspiring, but the rest got lost in the noise of guitar strumming and drum rolls. This experience has stuck with me over the years. It caused me to reflect on the noises I allow into my life that distract me from hearing the word of God. In the scriptures, it describes the "whisperings" of the Holy Ghost and states that the Spirit speaks with a "still, small voice." With all the noise around us, how can we truly HEAR the word of God?

Over the years, I've gotten into the habit of constantly surrounding myself with noise. Every time I walk into my quiet apartment, I immediately turn on the TV. It's not that I'm interested in watching it; I'm just uncomfortable with the silence. When I'm alone in my car, the stereo is always blasting. On school days, I wear my iPod from the moment I step out of my car until I reach the classroom. I constantly surround myself with noise.


Because when it's quiet, my mind fills with endless lists: Lists of things I've neglected to do and people I haven't called, of chapters to read and tests to prepare for, of bills to pay and groceries to buy, of choices I regret and decisions I need to make, of unanswered questions about my future. When it's quiet, I remember my failures, my fears, my weaknesses. I think about the people I have loved who will never love me back and I remember the emptiness I received in return for that love. When it's quiet, I remember how lonely I am.

Maybe that's why I'm always turning on the TV or the stereo or my iPod. It's all I can do to keep myself from getting overwhelmed with life. And you know what? It works. That's also the problem though. I can't feel much of anything with all of this noise going on around me. How can I be comforted if there's a band behind me, overpowering the words God is speaking to me? How can I receive answers if I can't even feel myself breathe?


I've decided to turn it all off. Turn off the TV, turn off the stereo, turn off my iPod. Not all the time, of course. I do love my music, after all. And how can I go a week without getting embarrassed over something idiotic that Michael Scott says or does? Occasionally, though, it's OK to listen to nothing but silence. It's not going to kill me if all I can hear is the ticking of the clock or the hum of the refrigerator.

As I was driving to San Antonio last night, I remembered my goal and turned off the stereo. In that hour-long drive, I received some very distinct impressions about my life that I might have otherwise missed out on. Yes, I did feel a little overwhelmed by all the craziness flying around in my brain. And yes, a few tears did escape after all that pain wasn't masked anymore. But you know what? I'm OK. And I'll be OK. Because I realized this:

The noise we allow into our lives may distract us from whatever it is we're hiding from, but it will never take it away. Silence, on the other hand, opens the doorway for reflection and personal revelation - both of which can provide healing.

I'm setting aside time each day to allow more silence into my life. I think you should too.