Does it Really Matter?

FeaturedDoes it Really Matter?

I’ll admit, the last 2 or 3 weeks have been both very spiritual and very challenging. On June 6th I officially received my signed Temple recommend again. I haven’t had a valid one since 2014. On June 9th me and some friends went to the Las Vegas Temple to do an endowment session. My first in about 3 and half years. I was so excited to go again and a little scared. You see, on October 9th 2010, I went to the temple and took out my own endowments in the Manti Temple. Consequently, it was the same day that we were doing the endowment work for my deceased brother, Ryan, on that day as well. It was a special day. So many people came down for the session. It was a full session and to boot, the temple was closing after that day for 2 weeks to be cleaned so it was a packed temple all day that day.  So on June 9th, I went back to the temple with a small group of friends. It was so wonderful to be back. Just like in 2010, I thought, Yes…..I’ve arrived. I made it.  Sounds amazing right? Well, for most people it would be, and for me, don’t get me wrong it was amazing. My closest friends met me in the Celestial room and hugged me and welcomed me home. It was so surreal. I imagine that is what heaven is like, when we pass away we are greeted by those who have passed away before us and they give us big hugs and welcome us home. They’ve just been up their waiting for us to return.

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So that was the big day, I didn’t even make it out of the dressing room into the chapel before having the spirit hit me so strong. Already tears in my eyes but trying to hold it together. During the session, I cried more. This will become a theme for the next few weeks. Crying. It’s like I have a faucet in my head that just turns on whenever it feels like it. Here come the water works.  I’ve never been so much of a crier before. I mean, yes I cry, but seriously, this was getting ridiculous. I went to the temple 2 more times after June 9th, and each time was more special than the last. However, in between these special temple visits (I’m going again tomorrow by the way), I have felt a deep depression. It bothers me that I can have what I worked so hard for and be able to experience these miraculous blessings for myself and on behalf of the dead, and then feel depressed the rest of the week. I find that notion unsettling to say the least.

 

I think this happens to me often. I never really analyzed it before, but I have spent months preparing to go back to the temple. I’ve been laser focused on it. Now that I’ve achieved that, it’s like I have a bit of a lack of focus. Maybe that’s kind of the same thing that returned missionaries experience when they come home from missions. They’ve spent all that time devoted to serving others and then they are supposed to integrate back into their former lives. I’m sure it’s not quite the same, but maybe it is similar. I spent all that time just focused on this one thing and then when I achieved it, it was like, great! Now what am I going to work towards now? So I think that is a bit of the issue, and it’s not that I don’t have things I need to still work on and progress towards and fix, we all do. It’s that there isn’t that focus. There is so much you could work on and progress towards that it’s almost like, what do I do first? Where do I go from here? Does it really matter?

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Does it really matter? What an odd rhetorical question that is. Seriously, everything matters right? Here is where I think some of my problem lies, I think everything matters now. Okay maybe not everything. I can make decisions about what to eat or what to wear without praying to see if I’m right. However, I find myself in a position of what if I make the wrong choice? What if I turn left and I should have turned right? What if I take the wrong job? What if I close my business and it’s not the right thing to do? What if I choose one debt management solution over another and I choose wrong? What if I make a decision for my family and it’s wrong? Literally the what if’s can go on forever. So the thought I had tonight is….does it really matter? Does all of that really matter to God? Am I just needlessly stressing myself out? Am I praying about things and not getting clear answers because God literally doesn’t care which of the what if solutions I choose? So the thought that came to me is it doesn’t matter. It makes no difference to God if I take one job over another. It makes no difference to Him if I pick one company over another. What matters to Him is that I make a choice. That I make that choice based on the information I have on hand. What I’ve been doing is waiting for Him to make the choice for me.  I’ve been being passive and hoping he’d tell me if I was right or wrong. I’ve been so afraid to make a wrong decision (because let’s face it, I’m good at wrong decisions) that I haven’t made any decisions. I’ve just, instead, resorted to standing still instead of moving in one direction or another. Waiting for the path to carry me in one direction or another as if it was some large conveyor belt that could move me. Driving my friends crazy with my indecisiveness.

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In the process of me standing still and waiting for answers to come, I’ve become paralyzed. The adversary is using my new-found spirituality and prayer against me. Making me think that I am somehow doing something wrong because I’m not getting the answers to my prayers. The truth is, I’m getting them, I’m just not understanding them. I’m not understanding that no answer, possibly means that God is saying, eh….do it if you want to, it is inconsequential to me or to you whether you do or you don’t. As long as you are living righteously and providing for your family, I care not where the funds come from, or as long as you pay your debts, I care not how you pay them.

My depression probably has some other things tied to it as well, but I think the lack of action on certain worries is a part of it. I’ve failed to act out of fear of making the wrong choice, however, in not making a choice, I’ve just failed to act which doesn’t get me anywhere but stuck. I think the Lord doesn’t care which decision we make over another as long as the choices are both righteous choices. It doesn’t really matter to Him.

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Finally, I’ve determined that what does matter is serving others. Serving our families, our friends, our communities, our country, and yes even our ancestors by doing temple work for the dead. Heavenly Father cares not about how we earn our money as long as it is legally earned and he doesn’t care much about how we spend it as long as we pay our debts. I’m sure he cares a little how we spend it but not really that much. What he does care about is if we have served. If we have helped another in need. If we have committed to doing temple work for those who passed before us. That is what really matters to him. Henry B. Eyring stated in the First Presidency message for July, 2017 the following:

“In the Master’s service, we come to know and love Him. We will, if we persevere in prayer and faithful service, begin to recognize the hand of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life. Many of us have for a period given such service and felt that companionship. If you think back on that time, you will remember that there were changes in you. The temptation to do evil seemed to lessen. The desire to do good increased. Those who knew you best and loved you may have said: “You have become kinder and more patient. You don’t seem to be the same person.”

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The idea is that we are all here to endure to the end, but the message of President Eyring is how well do we endure? Anyone can endure but do we endure well? Me, not so much. So that is definitely something to work on along with my patience, service, and of course continually moving forward and not staying stuck. I think the combination of those things might be the spiritual balance I need to avoid the ever-present spiritual hangover I get after coming off of an extreme spiritual high only to crash to the depressive low. I want to strike that perfect balance and maintain the perfect spiritual buzz and just ride it all the way to eternity.

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So basically, my major epiphany is that whenever I make a goal, I go full force at it until I reach it and then after I reach the goal, I have this void in its place that causes me to come crashing down to this low point until I find something else to fill the void of that goal. Usually another goal, but what happens is eventually I get burned out on the high/low yo-yo existence and I just crash for an extended (seemingly permanent) vacation. This is usually where I hit the “screw it” button and go off the rails. So this time, I feel like I need to perfect not just enduring, but enduring well. Get outside of myself, get outside of my head, stop thinking that I have to be so laser focused on one goal. Maybe the answer is to make smaller goals that don’t require quite so much energy. Also, the other epiphany was that God does not concern himself with every decision I make in my life, and it’s okay to make some of them without waiting for him to tell me “yes” or “no”.  Because sometimes it doesn’t really matter.

Finding Strength in Unholy Places

Finding Strength in Unholy Places

I started this blog around 5 weeks ago. As stated in my first blog, I wasn’t sure why I started it. I am still not sure. I think it was a need to get my thoughts out instead of holding them in to fester. For some reason, typing them out was easier than just talking to someone in person. I think because if I suddenly spewed all of these thoughts out on a person they’d be overwhelmed or at the very least, avoid talking to me again. I’ve probably over shared in some of my posts, inadvertently. You see, my posts are very much just an idea that my stream of consciousness runs away with.  I’ve learned recently that I should at the very least, not publish all of my thoughts. Live and learn right?

So back to my current thought, finding strength in unholy places, I’m sure that title seems strange. It is, in the sense that unholy is subjective, but the strength is real. So what do I mean by that? Well, I mean that my life is very much unorthodox when it comes to most LDS, married women’s lives. I’m sure I’m not the only one with my circumstances, but I’m the only one I know of.  I haven’t always found strength, in fact until recently I would just buckle. I suppose that was easier, or at least I thought it was. Quite frankly, it only seemed easier at the time.

 

As I sit in my living room, the night before fast Sunday, fasting for the first time in years, my thoughts are on strength. I’m looking at the pictures on my walls, which is a Hodge-podge of pictures such as: a gorgeous picture of Christ with a child on his lap with the quote from Matthew 28:20 “For Lo, I am with you Always” inscribed on it, family photos, a picture of the Manti Temple and the Las Vegas Temple, posters from the suicide prevention website, “To Write Love on Her Arms”, my brother’s eulogy, the Proclamation to the Family, Football memorabilia, Motorcycle paraphernalia,and a large painting of a motorcycle club that my husband belongs to, among other things. I realize the things that are important to me. My family, first and foremost, Christ, my deceased brother’s memory,  music and the biker lifestyle. Pretty eclectic right? I have always felt comfortable (at least after I got older anyway)  in most situations. I am adaptable to most things. I can be comfortable sitting in church on Sunday by myself and also comfortable  hanging at the bar later on. I am comfortable listening to (and I love) rock and roll, #aerosmithisthegreatestrockbandever, country, punk, alternative, underground bands, etc. You name it, I am probably comfortable hearing it. I don’t flinch at curse words the way some people do. I am comfortable letting strangers sleep on my couch (well, strangers to me, my husband usually knows them or knows someone who knows them) but still strangers none the less. So when I say, strength in unholy places, I mean places where the spirit generally doesn’t dwell. My house for example. The spirit dwells there temporarily, but never permanently, by virtue of external factors that may come into my house.  I love the life I have. I think maybe a few months ago I might not have said that. The lifestyle catches up to you at some point. But, having reevaluated how I deal with the situations, I find that I do love my life. I love the bikes, and the noise, and the friends/family, the smell of cigarette smoke and whiskey. I love the loud music and the lyrics and the feeling. I love the company that stays at my house at a moments notice. I love riding on the back of my husband’s Harley in a pack of other Harley riders, heading down the road with the wind in my face and tunes blasting in my earphones.

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What I have found, is that I can stand alone in these places, in these situations, and I can still be me. That I don’t have to buckle under them to make things easier. I used to think I did. But now I know I don’t. So I find strength every time I go to a bar and I stand alone. I find strength every time I find the joy, the pleasure, and the fun in the situation that others may find cringe worthy. That yes, I can even laugh, dance, and make jokes, and that I don’t have to buckle. The strength comes from within me, regardless of the holiness or UN-holiness of the situation. What I lacked before was the faith in myself that I could stand alone. I always stated that I didn’t lose my faith in God. I really didn’t, it was faith in myself that I lost.

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I get that it isn’t a lifestyle for everyone, and not everyone could exist in it. But this is my life, this is where my journey took me and it’s chaotic at times, and it’s loud, and it’s atypical, but it’s perfect. Yet, I also find strength in the scriptures, in the church hymns, and the talks and lessons in church. I find strength at the temple, just walking around the temple grounds. I find strength in friendship and in music. I find a lot of strength in music I think. It grounds me, regardless of if it is rock and roll or if it is a beautiful piano solo of a well-known hymn. I think that everyone should find what brings them strength and figure out how that fits in your life regardless of how typical or atypical it is. I truly believe that the Lord understands each of us individually and understands that different things strengthen different people. I don’t feel like there is a one size fits all recipe to finding strength in the gospel. So whether you find it at church in a pew, or on the back of a motorcycle, or in playing music or singing music, or however your strength is revealed, remember that you can find strength in any situation because the strength is within you because the light of Christ is in all of us and we all have the ability to feel that strength. We just have to reach inside ourselves and find what triggers that strength in us. You can always stand in holy places, even if you stand alone and even if the external environment is unholy because the holiness and the strength lies within you.