Sunday, August 14, 2011

Time After Time. . . .

Today I was out on a lovely Sunday drive with a charming young man when our topic of conversation veered onto a childhood subject I find myself continually excited to force my girls to experience. I say forced because they have no control over it, and rarely see it coming. The most warning they receive that this event is quickly approaching, is me shouting "Hang on!" over top our usual singing or loud laughter.

Let me start at the beginning: When I was a young girl, my dad owned this big, yellow Ford truck. Back when my home town was small, you could hear this truck roaring down the mountain side from his work as he headed home. I loved this truck dearly. For me, it was an iconic part of who my dad was, and to me, he was a cowboy, mullet and all. Now when we were younger, seat belts were not only not enforced, but most of the time weren't even in the vehicles I rode around in. But this leads me to the fun part, when my dad loaded us three older kids in the truck to go anywhere, we always had to pass over this large gutter out of the neighborhood, and my dad being the child at heart kind of guy he is always drove over that gutter at full speed causing us to fly into the air and bounce back down onto the colorful seat with a grin the size of Texas. That is one of the fondest memories I have of my dad, sitting there in his truck with him in his blue jeans, white t-shirt, straw cowboy hat on, Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash playing loud and him pounding out the beat on the dash board as we bounced around the cab.

So as for all great traditions in the world, you want to pass them along to those little ones that follow in your wish-you-were-a-better-example footsteps. This is the tradition I force my girls to love. This is the surprise I always look forward to on certain stretches of roads and that same little gutter just past my house.

Now today's lovely Sunday drive didn't only spark that story to my mind, but grew a topic of conversation from it that led to a very simple statement, "You must find joy in life. Even if it's a bump in the road." The Lord is like our personal GPS. He is going to say, "Turn left" and drive us through bumps, ditches, pot holes, detours, construction, wrong turns, traffic jams, 4th of July weekends, uneven surfaces, dead ends, cattle crossing, off road, and Arizona. All the while, your ac goes out, the baby is crying, you get a flat tire, your alignment is off, you're stuck behind a double belly gravel truck throwing rocks, you hit a deer (Or in my case an owl. Ask me if you ever really want to know.), drive past the great salt lake when the humidity is 100%, wish that you had another cd besides Justin Bieber's greatest hits, the sun hits you right in the eye and all you have to drink is yesterdays warm Diet Coke.

Why do you think the Lord would do all of this to us? Why does he intend on us hitting the rocky parts of life? My belief is that he wants us to find the joy in it. Through adversity we learn. Through our trials we are sculpted and shaped into someone new, someone stronger, someone who is more prepared for the next detour in life, and ultimately someone who is happy. The Lord wants us to be happy. He wants us to smile and giggle and be joyous! Even, when times are hard.

When my sister lost her baby boy five years ago, I remember at the viewing her smile. I remember that she smiled at everyone while I blubbered out in the hall and hid because I couldn't handle it. But there she stood, greeting everyone that came through with a smile. She will forever be for me, the shining example of strength, love and faith in our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus the Christ. I know she didn't want to "Turn Left" but she did, and she did with a smile.

For those of you who read my blog somewhat regularly, you'll know that I don't usually know where I'm going with most of them. Once again, I don't know where to lead, so I guess I'll just lead off. I'll be the first to say life sucks. Life is hard, and life is very hard. But what I've learned through all of my "left turns" and especially my "I'm not turning left, are you kidding me?" turns, is that the Lord gives you those little moments of happiness, joy, or peace that can help you through, you just need to look for them. So the next time the baby is crying and you are driving through your metaphorical Arizona, try and figure out what joy you could have in that moment and pull over, grab that kid and love him until he falls asleep and you can continue on your way. Or like when you hit that owl, completely shattering your windshield, instead of thinking the worst, maybe smile and be happy that you now have an infamous story people are going to want to hear you tell over and over again. Or when you hit that same bump you always hit every time you go down this same road, you smile and make sure the kids don't see it as a bump, but more as a fun part of life.

So I ask you this, Have you hit a bump in the road today?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Space They Cannot Touch. . . .

I haven't blogged in a while, and I feel it was due to a shift in my thinking. As most of you who read my blog know, I usually write about my dating life on here. My last post was around the time I started dating someone exclusively, but upon our break-up I wondered why I started dating him in the first place. I've dated since then and realized he was so far from what I truly wanted, I feel almost ashamed I called him my boyfriend.

So why did I chose to call him that? Why did I accept that as my best?

In early spring I wrote a talk that I needed to give in church about forgiving yourself. I remember that the member of the bishopric, a close neighbor, actually dropped by the house to ask me to speak. I almost laughed out loud because there was no way of me avoiding this moment. He was standing at my door asking me, how could I say no to that? Deep inside I was honored to be asked to speak because I rarely get asked, but when he told me the topic I almost started to cry because I knew the Lord wanted me to speak on this subject so I would listen.

I'd like to share a part of that with talk with you. The question raised is why some people have a hard time forgiving themselves.

For the most part, the difficulty lies in the fact that we have the deepest and most personal insight to the transgression. It happened to us, and only we know and remember the depth our Godly sorrow reached. The Godly sorrow that changed us from the shame of our transgression to the mournful heartbreak our offense towards God truly was. In essence, we went through our own personal Gethsemane. We whole heartedly took upon us our sins and claimed responsibility over them. We spent our days praying, willing to pay the price for forgiveness. We experienced pain, sadness, shame, guilt and humility, among other emotions that weighed us down. Bringing us to our Savior’s feet in search of the healing power only His atoning sacrifice can bring.

For some this process can take a great length of time. It can take such time that we become accustomed to the feelings of guilt, shame and sadness. They become a part of us, they become a part of our identity. Our belief system becomes one of where we tell ourselves, we are not worthy and we are constantly reminded of the things we do not get to do because of our sin. We are being held back until we are worthy to move forward again. So for some, when that moment of forgiveness comes, in that twinkling of an eye when we are changed as it says in 1 Corinthians, old habits can still die hard.

When God forgives us, the scriptures say that “He remembers our sins no more.” This does not mean that our all-knowing Father in Heaven forgets our sin, but rather he chooses to not bring up our sin in a negative way. Forgiving yourself is not about forgetting. It is about not bringing up the offense to yourself in negative ways. Forgiving yourself is simply letting go of what you are holding against yourself so that you can move on in Christ.

This talk filled my thoughts late last night as I pondered past relationships, including my former marriage. I realized that in relationships, because of my less than perfect past, I was seeking to be accepted over what was acceptable. (After my divorce, I literally felt like a discarded piece of trash.) I needed to be accepted by others because I wasn't accepting myself. I wasn't letting go of who I was which stopped me from believing in who I am now.

So I now look at life a bit differently after I finally listened to my own words. I have to put all of my trust in the Lord just to survive my day. He knows the intent in my heart, and if I listen, he will guide me to where I need to go. He is the one that accepts me, and if he loves me, I trust him enough to love myself.

God is not only okay with us liking ourselves again, He prefers it that way.