How can I want revelation when revelation led me here?

I’ve always tried to follow revelation as best as I could. When I recognized I should do something, I did it with the expectation good would come of it.

While talking with my bishop yesterday, he said I should seek revelation about dating. That set me off and contributed nastily to the spiral I was already in.

How I can I want to seek revelation when following revelation is what landed me in the situation I’m in now? How can it possibly be a good thing to specifically seek revelation about dating when the last time I did that I was in a relationship for 16 months that I was expecting never to end? How can I seek for revelation when I was told in words as clear as “if you both work hard at it, you’ll have a very good marriage” and then not have that ever happen–God knowing full well that the girl is/was not in a place where she trusts herself enough to be in a relationship of that level of commitment?

How can I trust God not to put me through the ringer again when He knew the outcome of that revelation that started this entire experience more than two years ago? How can I want to seek divine guidance when I followed it to become a teacher and then had to leave for my sanity’s sake?

How can I want to do that to myself again? How can I want to seek for something that theoretically makes my life better when for the last year doing what I felt inspired to do has left me a humiliated shell of who I was?

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Given a choice, I would never go back and change the decisions I made. Starting to date the girl based on revelation was the best decision I made to that point in my life. God knew how strongly I’d fall for her. He knew that giving me clear revelation about our potential future would cause me to do certain things. I wouldn’t trade those 16 months for anything.

Revelation gave me the best things I have in life. Revelation also caused me to end the relationship when she didn’t have the strength to. Revelation encouraged me to leave my job and protect what little of me there was left. Revelation helps me rebuild myself each day.

Trusting Father is difficult. I don’t expect He’s enjoyed watching me suffer. I don’t expect He will stop my suffering, either. I have some expectation that, no matter what, He is in charge, and because He is good, the things He gives me can only be for good.

The things I’ve been asked to do, and the consequences of my actions have been more difficult than I ever expected I would deal with. I daily ask for strength to deal with the difficulties of that day. Asking for more is thinking too far ahead.

But I don’t want to again go through what I’ve been through. I don’t want to have my heart and my being torn out and shredded into pieces. Thinking of that and considering it as a possibility causes me to spiral out of control. But if I must go through it, I will. Jesus drank His bitter cup. Mine is not the bitter cup of the world’s sin, pain, illness, and struggle. Mine is specific to me. I may ask for its removal, as He did, but when faced with it, I will not shrink.

All I want is to be understood (and/or loved)

For years I’ve toyed with the idea that some of my social discomfort is based on some diagnosable trait. Maybe I’m slightly autistic or something. I have no real clue. I was looking for an explanation. 

I don’t understand everything about myself. I know as a certainty that I have some things, that I am some things. But going through this period of depression and having ups downs and relapses made me question how much I really know about myself. 

I want only to be understood. I want to understand myself. I want to have someone else who wants to understand me and works at it. I’m grateful (it doesn’t always help) to have a God who understands me. 

Barring understanding, I want to be loved. It would be nice to have both. But if I’m loved (by myself and by others) then I think not being understood would be bearable. 

Sometimes crying is all you can do

I complained a lot about moving. I had some reason to. I thought I was going to live where I was for a while. I thought I was going to enjoy the job I had, the location, and my life. When none of those things were true, I didn’t really turn my mind around and decide that moving would be an ok thing to do.

So moving didn’t sound like any fun. It wasn’t. Unlike all my previous moves, I had some friends help out. That made the insanity of getting everything I own (and everything I ever owned–my parents cleared my out of their home last July) much more bearable. I hadn’t have help moving previously, so it was nice to have some friends step forward and help.

My room still isn’t perfect. I don’t know where it all fits yet. But I’m in and every moment here has been better.

I sat in church my first Sunday in my new ward and just cried.

With so much building up for so long, sitting in church among friends was just Right. It simply was. I knew so many people and so many of them knew me. I knew they cared (some of them) and I knew God loved me. Moving back was a brilliant showing of God’s love for me. He knew I needed people nearby whom I would trust enough to share my burdens with. He knew I needed love in my life from people I hardly knew.

And so I simply sat in church and wept. Wept out of happiness. Wept with gratitude. Wept with the love of a kind Father filling my heart and forcing out some of my deepest fears.

I was surrounded by friends, but the poor girl to my right didn’t know me. I hope she didn’t feel too strange, because sometimes all you can do is cry, and you shouldn’t apologize for that.

Why you should be using Tinder (If you’re not married)

We often think that failure should be avoided at all costs. It’s the worst possible thing that is we can do. This paradigm is beat into our heads throughout our education process, and we’re not taught failure’s critical role in our individual growth. 

We learn most from the things we do not immediately accomplish. Those are the things we study more, work harder at, and actually remember. 

So if you want to get really good at something, you should go push yourself to do stuff and fail as quickly as possible while learning everything you can from the experiences. 

And now we return to the subject: why you single people should be using Tinder. 

My brother told me his entire focus while dating was to find women he didn’t want to spend his life with. There’s an incredible amount of wisdom in this, but this view feels cynical to most people. 

Your reaction may have been: “I date to find someone I want to spend my life with!” Of course you do. But consider the opportunity to use proof by contradiction. Assume the logical opposite of the thing you want to prove and prove it false. 

Just as valid. Same outcome. 

So where does Tinder come into this? Tinder changes the game for you. I started using it on a whim, but it’s been incredibly valuable. 

By meeting complete strangers who like pictures you post and a blurb you write about yourself, you gain experience quickly. You rapidly iterate your dating experiences and meet people you would have otherwise. 

In essence, you fail over and over and learn about yourself and other people. 

Can it make you cynical? Probably. I have a friend who constantly got unwelcome propositions via Tinder. After a large number of these, she asked me what about her profile and / or swiping strategy matched her with more than her share of douches. So we chatted about how she was approaching things and figured out some ways to improve her matches. 

So if you’re not dating enough or you’re continuously dating the same schmucks or people who don’t interest you, try Tinder. Learn something about yourself, the people you meet, and find people you don’t want to marry. 

I’ve been doing it for months, and I’ve had some fun relationships and found a lot of women I don’t want to marry. Maybe in the process I’ll prove the opposite and find one I do. 

Temples

The primary song goes “I love to see the temple, I’m going there someday.”

It’s true. I love to see the temple. I am going there someday.

The way I’ve felt the past several weeks though is, “I love to see the temple, I’d really like to have the peace that comes from it. But I can’t motivate myself to go.”

It’s been really hard to feel that way. It’s not that I don’t want to go, that I’m unworthy to go, or anything else. I just can’t get myself to go.

When I realized that I lacked the motivation, I was forced to question whether I’d fallen into another depressive funk.

That was scary.

Being forced to consider that you struggle with something you thought was a one-time, mostly environmentally-influenced thing is scary. I never want to be in that dark, dank, dismally depressed place again. I don’t want to consider it as an option, but as my desire to go to the temple strengthens, my motivation to go decreases.

And that’s as scary as considering what Hell is. Because that was as close to Hell as I’d like to ever come.

So struggles happen. I still experience really dark times. I’m considering some things that should really help me get out of this funk. One of them is going to the temple.

I’ll get the motivation. Even if it’s convincing a friend to drag me there. The peace of the temple is worth it. I want–I need–to be there and benefit from the strengthening power it provides.

The sun will shine again, and temple worship helps me see a glimmer of light along this path I tread.

The light along the path

I can make choices, but I can’t see all the consequences of the choices

A few weeks ago I started dating a girl. It was a really positive experience for me and we complemented each other in many ways.

As time passed, I saw more and more that I was regressing into some traits I wasn’t comfortable with and realized that continuing the relationship would not continue to be positive for me.

I was faced with a pretty ugly decision. It has been many months since I felt as needed and as valued as I did with her. And I knew I would be giving that up to return to the dating world of talking with random (sometimes really odd) people at church, online dating, and tinder.

How do you even make a decision like that?

How do you balance the fact you feel valued and needed more than you have in a long time against the strong likelihood it will become more and more unhealthy for you over time? How do you balance the need you fill for the other person and the desire you have to fill that need against the need you have to stay mentally healthy? How do you deal with the knowledge that you’re going to drastically hurt someone?

Making hard decisions sucks.

And you never know what will come from them. At what point will God stop opening doors? Will He ever? Will He be here for the person you hurt? Will He be there to comfort you in all the pain you pull onto yourself in that moment and for the days and weeks afterward?

Will He trust you to meet and become friends with or date someone else after doing what you did?

Probably.

I tried to follow inspiration. I had some ideas what were most important in my life and what Father wanted me to do. But most of it was based on what I felt I needed, on what I wanted to do.

I made a choice. I knew some consequences. I haven’t seen them all yet.

I’ve made a lot of choices recently. I quit my dream job. I don’t know what will come of that. But I relied on what I felt was right and the inspiration I received.

I can’t see what comes from my choices, but I can trust they are good and Father will make something positive out of them.

Accepting and giving love

I’ve had a lot happen this week. It may turn into several posts.

I like to consider myself a fairly normal person. The people who know m best know how accurate that may or may not be. But I hope things I experience are things you can relate to.

I have a need to be loved. Coexisting with that is a need for validation. I come across a bit conceited because I don’t really like the fact I have those needs and because I greatly dislike false validation.

However, I experience fear every day that my efforts are not enough, that what I’ve accomplished in life severely lacks, that I may never accomplish what I believe I can or should.

Heavenly Father knows my needs. He knows my fears and concerns. He knows what I need to grow, and what I can endure. When I receive priesthood blessings, He always tells me He loves me and is pleased with me. That is a great comfort and always needed.

We are aware that we often only accept the love we feel we deserve. I know that is very true for me. I have difficulty accepting love during my darkest times. I have difficulty having hope for future blessings and experiences when those times happen.

Believing others when they show me love is important. It’s something I can improve and something that will make a difference for me. When I have hard times, I can ask friends to speak with me and listen to what they say and how to see their love and Father’s reflected in them.

I was able to be that person for a friend a few weeks ago. She’s had a rougher past year than I have, and as she told me about it, I sat, listened, let her cry, cried with her, and did everything I could to show I cared and to reflect the love Father has for her.

It was apparent she’d been having trouble accepting how much someone could care about her. It was good to be the person she needed then.

Some day, I want to be with someone who sees me for who I believe I am, who loves me in spite of my faults and fears, and who I believe when she says I honestly deserve all the love she and my Father give me.

Until then, I get to learn from friends, and I get to rely only on my Father to learn to accept love in my life. The reality is we deserve more than we accept, so it is up to us to open our minds more and be wonderfully accepting of the love and kindness we actually deserve.

The person behind the most obvious characteristic

I’ve been pondering how I can better love those around me. I have friends with all sorts of mental, physical, emotional, and religious challenges. From depression to anxiety to eating disorders, fibromyalgia, homosexuality, autism, substance addiction, to pornography addiction.

These things–especially depending on how often my friends mention or focus on it–often become the basis for how I perceive them.

“Jeff is a really good guy, even though he’s addicted to pornography.”

“Amy is super-productive for someone with depression.”

“Emily is really cool for a lesbian.”

“Alfred is the best divorced guy I know.”

And perceiving them this way is wrong.

Heavenly Father loves each of us because of who we are, not what challenges us. When we consider the eternal perspective, we must realize that what people many struggle with the most are not eternal aspects of their character.

The fact I spent the last six months incredibly depressed are not an eternal aspect of who I am. However, it taught me critical lessons about myself and empathizing with others and impacts my return to Father’s waiting arms.

My friends may experience pain and trials. They may be depressed, divorced, missing limbs, chemically imbalanced, same-sex attracted, or all of those.

They are children of a Loving God. They may or may not accept that fact. But I can. I can love them for who they are. I can love them for their eternal characteristics–characteristics that may be strengthened by their challenges.

So the way I perceive them, the way I love them must be informed that these trials are temporary. After mortality ends, none of these things will be challenges they face. Anxiety, depression, amputation, same-sex attraction, divorce, eating disorders, addiction, and so many other things won’t affect us any more.

Those then won’t be the things that define my perceptions of my friends. Nor should they be now. If I can change my above perceptions to:

“Jeff is a really good guy.”

“Amy is quite productive.”

“Emily is really cool.”

“Alfred is one of the best guys I know.”

Then I show the love Father does and I focus on their whole worth as God intended.

The people I meet are not defined only by their most obvious characteristic(s). Those characteristics and experiences might end up making them better people, but they are temporary. They will not last beyond mortality. And if I do not recognize that, I do myself and them a disservice.

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.

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

Home

The phrase apparently goes “Home is where the heart is.”  I believe the phrase was meant to be symbolic of where the subject’s thoughts and preferences lay.  I don’t agree with that interpretation.

For the last 6 years I’ve lived away from home.  I spent one year at university, two years in Toronto, and returned to university for the past three years.  Although I love visiting my parents (what the symbolic interpretation of the phrase would imply is “home”), I know this isn’t where I live.  However, it is home.  But only so far as I am living here for the next 10 days.  Then I will return to the place I normally sleep and where I pay (too much for) rent and live 96% of the year.

But that wasn’t always home.  I’ve been in three different complexes at university this year.  Each of those places was home for the time I lived there.

So what is my home?  It’s the place where my physical heart beats.  It is wherever I am.  Wherever my head hits the pillow at night, that is home.  Home is literally where the heart is.  And to make the symbolic statement true, I have to work to love where I am.

Maybe there’s a lesson in that…

Love where you are; you never know how much longer you will be there.