Apathy

So I have pretty much the coolest job ever. I program independent video games. So I make things like FTL, Rogue Legacy, and Spelunky. It’s pretty much awesome.

Cognitively.

If you did that, you’d probably wake up every morning stoke to get to work, fix the next problem and have something really cool to show for it.

I love working with my partner. He’s great. I’ve always wanted to do something with him professionally, and this perfectly fits our training and strengths. But I have a hard time caring.

I want to make money as much as he does, I want to make enough that I can support my family (future), and I want to make enough for him, so his wife can stop working if she chooses.

But I’m still rather apathetic each morning when I consider my prospects. Is this normal for a job? Should I not be excited to do something I’ve always thought was awesome? Is my apathy common? Is it related to the depressive mode I’ve been in for a few weeks?

I don’t know the answers to all the questions. I don’t know what God has in store for me. I know He wants me to be more than vestigially interested in what I do.

So I keep fighting. I keep going to work every day, I keep focused on my and our goals so we can be successful. As I fight, I find purpose in the struggle. I may remain mostly apathetic, but maybe I will find purpose and motivation. God gives only good gifts. Somehow this apathy may be one of them.

I’m afraid, really afraid

I moved this week. As this posts I will be sitting in church with people who have known me for several years, and whom I feel comfortable around.

The familiarity and sociality of these people is the main reason I chose to move. A week ago Friday it wasn’t on the radar, but when I was offered a contract on Saturday, I spent the next 36 hours considering it and chose to make the move.

The things I’ve dealt with the last several months are real. I have yet to really understand the breadth or depth of how I am affected by them, but I know I’ve faced the darkest most difficult times of my life.

I did it alone, and as I felt some of that depression returning to my life, I felt that moving to where I have social support would be a positive choice.

But the thought hit me today:

What if this divine door to a more supportive area/ward was opened because I’m not even close to coming out of the darkness I’ve been in and it will get worse for a long time before it gets better? What if this move is meant to provide me support as times get only more difficult?

That scared me shitless. All I could think was, “Dear God, Please No. I don’t need that.”

I couldn’t do anything but cry and pray and beg that wouldn’t be the case. I want some relief. I want to be myself again. I want to be able to talk and laugh and not have thoughts of incompetence plague my brain.

As those thoughts went through my mind, it was hard to believe the incredible blessings that were being pronounced as I participated in temple initiatory.

One day my shoulders may be able to support the burdens I am given. One day perhaps I will have a testimony of being able to endure and overcome this.

For now, I have only a belief that I will not be given more than I can overcome. And if things do get harder, I’ll know I have people around me who know and love me. I hope things get better, and eventually they will; but I’m tired of struggling being the current purpose of my existence.

Season of thanks: Mom

I love my mom.  She’s the perfect example, mentor, role model I could have.  (She wouldn’t agree, but I might be able to convince her a little.)  Some may say it’s cliché to put her as the first entry during my season of thanks, but I feel it’s the right thing to do and it is fitting.

Aside from the obvious “she sacrificed herself to carry and birth me,” she has done far more.  During elementary-school summers, she would sit me down for half the day (it may have only been 90 minutes) and I had to to school work.  I hated it.  I fought it.  None of my friends had to endure that type of torture.  And I made the experience hellish for her.  That’s probably why she stopped doing it.  But I’m grateful now.  I frequently look back and know that my desire to do well in school, my confidence that I will, and my desire for perfection were molded during those summers.

My school teachers were ok with me missing a few math problems or having a few grammar errors.  My mother never was.  I spent hours (sometimes hours each day) going back and redoing my work.  Because I hated redoing so much, I learned to ensure it was done right the first time.  (Some of this mindset continues to today.  The desire to be right is so strong that I never check my answers on tests because I trust I read the question carefully enough the first time and that I did the problem right.)

She also made me play the piano every day for 30 minutes.  I would often slough and do less work, messing with the timer or putting the clocks ahead (I did this during time-outs too because I have no patience.)  I regret it now.  I regret that the choice offered me was to either play the piano or play sports.  Obviously I chose sports, and now I can only sight-read very slowly and can only play what I have repeated over and over and memorized.  But the important thing for me is I learned to appreciate music.  Although she usually chose songs I hated or didn’t know, my mom often played the piano when I was little.  I complained about it, but those songs (“Born Free” and “The Blue Danube”) echo in my mind today.

I didn’t often bring friends home, but she talked a lot with me about who my friends were and why I liked them.  She taught me to choose my friends carefully, to know why they were my friends.  I still talk with her frequently about my friends now.

She taught me something far more important about friends.  She taught me that friends are family, and friends of family are family.  She would often go out of her way to ensure we had interactions with friends.  After grade six or seven, I cooked up a plan with my friend Addison Pica to go climbing (I definitely had a middle school crush on her).  It was mostly due to my mom’s effort with Addison’s parents that the trip worked out.

My mom taught me to love people and want the best for them.  Sometime she didn’t approve of who I brought home–mostly in principle–sometimes in character.  Before my mission, I dated Ruth (Andrews) Chandler for seven months (or six–the timing got strange at the end).  My mom was not keen on the idea of me having a girlfriend.  But she accepted it and worked hard to learn about Ruth and learn to love her.  (For me dating Ruth was the best possible thing that could have happened before my mission.)  I’ve seen this pattern from my mother with other women I’ve dated.

She never approved of one person I dated, despite spending a lot of time with her during several visits.  Looking back, I wish I had been less infatuated with the girl and listened more to why my mother, despite attempting to love this girl, never could.

My mom adopts people.  My best friend during high school was Jenna (Furniss) Ralph.  She had a greater influence on me as a friend than I can express in words, and it may take us until after we die and communication is eased for her to understand why.  To the point, my mom loved Jenna like a daughter.  She learned to love Ruth like that.  My mom thinks of my oldest friend, Maren Kennedy, as a daughter.  Maren is involved in a theatre group back home and my mom always goes and supports her productions, and she always asks me what’s going on in Maren’s life.

This is a pattern my mom has shown since before I was born.  She wanted 12 biological kids (that’s a lot, I know) and I’m grateful there are only two of us.  But she has “adopted” children (especially daughters) since before I was born.

My mother consistently reaches out to love those around her.  She shows Christlike love for them and will serve them however she can.  My mother taught me to value my mind and has been formative in setting me on the path toward a Ph.D.  She taught me to accept and try to love people, even when they might not be what I expect, or someone I would normally love.  She taught me to love music, to love intelligence, to love others more than I love myself (possibly a lot).

Because of her example and her tireless forcings, I am now grateful for her example.  I now try to emulate that example.  She is probably not the mother she expected to be, and she likely regrets some things she did.  But she is the mother I need and should have no regrets about that.  I cannot imagine a more perfect mother.  I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to be her son.

_________

Challenge of the day: pray for 10 minutes and only thank God for what you have.

Accountability

Any of you who have had an in-depth discussion with me recently know I have been on a kick about agency. You ask me, “what should I do?” and, like a very wise person I know, I answer, “Do what you want.” Well, at least that’s my answer to most people who already have an idea of what they ought to do. For people who are completely unsure or who I think need guidance I am an endless source of unwanted advice. That said, I still try to end the discussion with “Do what you want.”

I take great comfort in the fact we must each answer for our own choices. It makes sense. If my friends came to me for advice and I had to answer to God for their choices, I would not have any friends, nor would I choose to share my opinions. But we will each answer for our own choices. Therefore we have two burdens on us: (1) choose to do what is best for us in all situations and (2) suggest people do the same–this is an action we must answer for also.
So when it comes to you to choose, do what you want. But want to do your best and what God wants you to do.

Why?

Why do we do things? What is our motivation? What makes our society a (usually) low-abiding society? Why do we feel good about being nice to people and helping others?

Simply, because it is Right.
Inherent in each of us is the knowledge of right and wrong. Children understand this concept, especially if they are well-parented. But often we begin to philosophize answers as we ‘mature.’ I’ve noticed in myself that this philosophizing usually is justification for doing what we know is wrong. ‘It’s not that bad,’ or ‘once won’t hurt,’ or you would if you really loved me’ plague our society and warp the minds of our youth. These youth grow up thinking these things and then pass the same twisted morals on (but more on this another time). The point is we make excuses for our poor actions (things we know to be wrong) and believe our justifications are truth.
But truth couldn’t come form man. We are too fallible, we vacillate too much in our beliefs. Not to mention what is ‘acceptable’ to society changes over time (take the media for example). Truth only comes from one source: GOD. He teaches us through scripture and prophets more about what is right and what is wrong. These former abstract concepts become absolute when we realise our Eternal Father gave them to us. They will never change. They are, by definition, perfect.
It is up to us to be humble enough to follow them, to accept them as God’s truth. But it is our choice as individuals. What will you choose? Purpose to life, to be like God by living His truths, or a purposeless life, motivated by the desires and words of those around you?