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.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I love hugs. They make me feel loved and protected and just plain happy. If I don’t hug you every time I see you, we’re probably not very close. That’s just how it is.

So anyway… there’s this guy I used to have a mini crush on. We went out a couple of months ago, and I realized he will likely never be anything more than a friend. Some people just belong in the friend box.* One thing that tells me we will never progress beyond friendship is that the dude cannot hug. Seriously! Every time we say goodbye, it’s the most awkward experience ever. It’s like that uncomfortable first kiss you see on TV where the people bump foreheads or noses or teeth. Yes, it’s that awkward. Can two people be so incompatible that they can’t even hug properly? After I last saw him, I decided I’m downgrading him to the “friendly acquaintance” level. What’s the point of hugging someone when you always walk away feeling like a complete idiot afterward? No point.

Am I the only person this ever happens to?

*For all of you married people who are secretly judging me please understand that I’m not writing this guy off after only one date. Truth be told, I’d probably go out with him again if he asked - I just know it’ll never go anywhere. Cut me some slack.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Leaving our nets

Have you ever told someone to call you if they ever needed anything?  Sure you have.  I can't tell you how often I've used that phrase in my lifetime: To new church members, to family members, to coworkers, to the sisters I visit teach, etc.  It's one of those polite things people say but that nobody pays much attention to, like "How are you?" Never once has someone taken me up on my offer to help if they ever needed anything.  Not until tonight, that is. I answered a call from an unknown number and was shocked to hear the voice on the other end.  It was someone I've spent a very limited amount of time with but who recently cut me out of her life (even though I was hardly a part of her life to begin with) because she "needed a break" from all things church-related.  That's why I was so surprised to receive her call.  I was especially surprised when she said, "I remember you saying I could always call if I needed anything. I feel really bad asking for your help, but I need it."

Wow!  She called ME.  I hesitated at first because her request was somewhat inconvenient and I didn't know how to manage it around my school schedule.  Then I realized something.  In life we are given rare opportunities to prove what we're made of, and we have to be careful not to let those moments pass us by.  Do I want to be that person who worries more about how *I* will be inconvenienced, rather than about helping a friend in need?  Or do I want to be the one who tosses her nets aside and acts?  We need to take advantage of these small opportunities, regardless of whether or not they fit conveniently into our busy schedules.  Maybe this is my moment to prove that I'm not quite as selfish as I think I am.  Maybe this is my chance to make a difference in somebody's life who is really struggling right now.  Who knows?  There's a good chance I'll never hear from this girl again after I do this favor. That doesn't really matter. What matters is that I chose to respond when the call was made.

Will you do the same?