Sunday, December 14, 2014

Float On

One of the scriptures we read in class today was James 1:5, which is a pretty popular verse in my religion. It says "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that give to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." Our teacher read us the definition for the word upbraideth, which is "to find fault with, or reproach severely."

That definition brought on a whole new meaning to that scripture. You can pray to God about anything and He will never scoff at the things we ask. Our Father will never judge us, He will never be angry with us, He will never pick at the faults we all have. He truly loves us unconditionally, in a way we can never fully comprehend.

As 2014 draws to a close, I've been thinking a lot about where I was this time last year. I was starting to recognize that the relationship I had with my missionary out serving was destroying me emotionally and that it needed to end. I was struggling to adjust to a new school and let go of the anger directed at the school I had left behind. I was juggling three jobs and full time school, trying to manage my ever-growing to do lists. As my 20th birthday was approaching, those adulthood questions began to nag me even more. What am I doing? Is this what I want to do with my life? Are these the types of relationships I want to have? Who? What? Where? When? How?

So much has happened in that year. So many blessings, so many miracles, so many triumphs. And yet there were so many heartaches, breakdowns, and failures. Through everything that has happened, I'm so grateful my Lord was there with the unconditional love I so desperately needed. I'm grateful I could come to him when I had really messed up and He responded with words of forgiveness and mercy instead of the anger I had expected. I'm grateful that in moments of pain, He responded with feelings of comfort and peace. I'm grateful that when I had no one to turn to, He responded with the assurance that He had all the time in the world for me.

After this lesson, I was thinking about the Christmas present I could give to others this year and I've decided on practicing unconditional love. Love with no strings attached. Love that doesn't change with the seasons or the mood. Love that pushes through barriers and climbs out of pitfalls. Love that I have received for years and years from my Savior.

Behind that though, I learned today that I need to have that same love for myself. If the Lord, the most powerful being in existence can see past my shortcomings then how dare I let them take over my life? If the Lord can forgive the sins I've committed, then how dare I use them as proof that I'm unworthy of love? If the Lord is willing to pull me out of my dark places, then how dare I let myself give in to that pain? If the Lord will never give up on me, then I have no right to give up on myself.

Life progresses. I'm progressing with it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hurts Like Heaven

The way life has been taking me these past few weeks has made me recognize people again. Individuals with stories. Outsiders with hopes and dreams. Socialites with dirty secrets. The soft spoken with loud tales. The outspoken with unspeakable challenges. People are kind of beautiful that way. We're all hiding things and bearing heavy burdens in our hearts while effortlessly pretending all is well.

People are experts at building facades. We're the wardens of our own prisons. We're the monsters hiding under our own beds. We're the gatekeepers to our own fortresses.

One of my favorite books of all time is A Thousand Splendid Suns. It is hauntingly and heartbreakingly beautiful. Never has a book brought me down with so much emotional weight, but in the end, the heartache is what makes the experience beautiful. The book has so many ugly chapters but is beautiful in the power that it has over you. It is beautiful in the impact it casts upon the reader. It is beautiful in the way it inspires.

I had the chance to talk to my lovely friend Kenna the other day. She told me that it's quite easy to ask why all of the challenges of her life have happened to her. But the answer is that these challenges make us more able to relate to others. We become tools in the lives of other by our shortcomings and mistakes. We become a friend to those who think they have no where to turn to. We become a bridge that links past pains to future happiness. We become impactful and inspirational.

Everyone person that will ever walk the earth is a book filled with ugly chapters. We carry horrible secrets, mistakes, shortcomings, faults, and illnesses. We are all far from perfect. No two books are exactly the same. However, if we use these ugly chapters to teach, uplift, and inspire others, ugly things are made beautiful. Suddenly we discover purpose and a reason to continue. We understand our place in the universe. We recognize light in places that are very dark.

Be willing to open these books when invited. Be willing to listen to the experiences of others. Be willing to take in their triumphs and downfalls. We all have a lot to learn from each other.