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.

Our challenges affect us forever

I didn’t ask to have the year I did. In fact, I fervently prayed for a completely different set of experiences. I worked really hard for things that I felt inspired to pursue, things I knew would be blessings in my life. I strove to land a full-time teaching job. I worked to be appointed as a head coach. And I fought tooth and nail to keep my relationship together and make progress toward making eternal covenants with her and God.

Now, none of those things exist in my life. I have no contact with the girl, I don’t teach for pay, and I no longer am the head coach. All those things I worked for, all those things that mattered most have been taken away. To top it all off, I experienced depths of depression I never thought possible, I mourned more deeply than I expected I could, and I quit the things I thought would bring me the most long-term joy.

But my heart is opened. I feel more deeply now than I ever have before. I’ve learned to draw on the pain I experienced and the worries I have about my future to empathize with friends who experience trials and challenges in their lives.

I wrote last week about seeing the people behind their trials. The things I experienced make me better. The long-term perspective shows that I am more like Father than I was last year.

But I am not the things I experienced. I am not a failed teacher. I am not a depressive. I am not a bad coach. I am not a failure as a boyfriend.

Viewing myself as these things limits my growth and improvement. Taking these experiences and recognizing lessons I can learn from them, has shown me to see my friends behind their trials.

The largest take-away is I must actively be pursuing the things that matter most. I value helping others. I value serving. I value following Father with trust and faith.

What I experienced this last year teaches me to be spiritually strong. It teaches me to follow God and be more like Him. I will be forever affected by my experiences, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On finding peace through self-doubt and assistance

Last week was my last week teaching. For reasons outlined in my previous post, as well as many professional reasons, I felt it was necessary to step away from full-time teaching and focus on other endeavors.

It was a difficult choice to make. My mental state made it hard to believe I was doing the right thing: I was abandoning the students who needed me and the students I knew I could help. I brought them things they had never experienced and never seen before. And I was leaving them to pursue personal interests and money. I was leaving them behind for filthy lucre.

However, there is something to note. I needed to take care of myself. The more time I spent at school teaching, not being prepared, and not able to succeed as I envisioned I should, the more I would have spiraled downhill.

I asked myself all the questions you would have: can you stick it out another semester? You’re teaching all the same classes, doesn’t that make it easier? You’re leaving a consistent paycheck for an unknown future. Why?

To those I say, I considered them all. I included the knowledge that I wasn’t my intellectual best and asked those around me who knew my struggles for guidance. I prayed and pondered and felt I was making the right choice.

I investigated jobs that would be more consistent. For now,that’s not the way I need to go. (I have a potential job offer outstanding, and that might change things; however, I would have to be strongly inspired to know it was the right choice.

For now, I am where I am. For now I am balancing the passion of video games with the creative desire to build a company and a brand.

I have a partner. I have support in the business, and I have someone I can lean on when I don’t have the ability to drive the business forward.

More importantly, I have Partners. I have a Savior who understands my individual struggles. I have a Father who knows what I need to develop into a Son of character and success.

I keep them in mind as I move forward in faith. For that is the only path to true success.

Lost time

Sometimes I get distracted. Last semester was an example of that. My life kinda went out of control after the last blog post. But I’m in a better place now. I suppose that type of thing happens to everyone.

But I don’t have that time back to use better. And now my final semester of grad school (I hope?)–next semester–will be harder than it could have been had I not gone off track last winter. But I wouldn’t really trade anything else in my life for where I am now.

I believe I know where I want to go. I know where I’ve been and I like it. I also know many of the roads I can take forward. Many of them I don’t like.

I’m grateful for revelation and inspiration as I try to find the paths Father has set for me. I’d prefer to have it laid in front of me, so I will worry less. But if it were, I could blame God, and He doesn’t work like that. I have to be responsible for my own choices.

It’s part of enjoying the journey.

Season of thanks: Empathy

The footballing world was shocked by the announcement of the death of Gary Speed today (article, ESPN).  The former Premiership great and current Wales manager was 42.

I’m grateful Heavenly Father has blessed us with empathy.  Because we all need support, we have been given the ability to understand the feelings of others.  Obviously we can never understand exactly how someone feels because that is directly determined by each person’s interpretation of his/her life experiences, but we can get close to understanding them.

My heart reaches out to express my condolences to the Speed family, to Mr Speed’s wife and children.  Only in my imagination can I begin to imagine what it would be like for my father to die at his own hand.  But I know it would be a horrible feeling and those children will be affected forever.  I empathize with the psychological struggles they will have as they search for understanding of their father’s action.

I know enough from my own experience being single and enough learned from talking with single parents that I would never want my spouse to die, let alone at such a young age or while children were at home.  Honestly, that may be one of the things that scares me the most about getting married–potential to end up where I am now before I’m out of my 20s.

So as I feel for others’ pains and struggles, I am grateful for that capability.  It helps me understand what Jesus did while He was in Gethsemane.  He experienced all the pain, sorrow, guilt, sin, and consequences thereof of every one of God’s children.  He did this to pay the price and so when we are in our darkest times, we can take comfort and strength in knowing we are not alone.  Not only can He empathize, He went through it.

But giving us the gift of empathy, we can begin to understand what He did for us.

Season of thanks: Football

This is about the real kind, not American.

Football is probably the best metaphor for life that exists in the sports world.  Or, at least, it’s the one I’ve thought most about.  For 90 minutes, players run, defend, find holes, and attempt to score.  Compared to other sports, scoring is rare, but is generally well deserved and highly celebrated (check out this awesome celebration from Icelandic football).

The point is life is full of struggles.  Often those struggles can go on without any sight of success.  You may be making great runs into open space, but the passes aren’t finding you.  You could be under an onslaught from FC Barcelona and barely keep your head above water defending.

Sometimes the struggles pay off; sometimes you can knick the ball into the back of the net and celebrate three lucky points away.  Other times, you knock the ball into the back of your own net and give up three points at home in the 95th minute.

Football encompasses the ups and downs of life.  It takes struggles we face over months, years, or a lifetime and puts them on a pitch, in a way we can understand, for 90 minutes.  Learning life lessons from each game I watch is what I’m grateful for.  Sometime I win, sometimes I lose; sometimes I’m promoted, sometimes I’me relegated; but there’s always another game to play.

The choice we make is how we play it.

Christmas

Christmas is about potential.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who grew up to be the Saviour of all men.  We collect as families and close friends to celebrate what will be.  Maybe I’m not making sense.

Before the world was formed, God had a plan.  His spirit children (us) needed a world to come to and experience life in a body and learn how to master bodies.  He knew we would make many mistakes and needed a way fo us to be able to return to Him.  (He is perfect and imperfect people can’t come back to stay.)

Jesus Christ volunteered to come to earth as a mortal, like us, and suffer more than any man had ever suffered.  He would experience the entirety of human experience and atone for all pain, lost, sickness, and sin–all imperfections–so we could return to God and live with Him forever.

We had known Jesus for a long time, and knew He was the only spirit sibling we had who could possibly make good on such a promise.  We supported this and looked forward with faith to His life.

On Christmas day (or what we celebrate as Christmas day), Jesus was born to a virgin mother.  Heaven had such trust in Jesus that angels proclaimed his birth across the world.  A new star appeared, telling everyone the Saviour was born.

It is the beginning of His perfect life we celebrate today.  We celebrate the potential of a tiny baby child; born in the muddy, flea-ridden stable; lain in an animal’s feed trough for a bassinet to become the perfect example to all mankind of how to live and how to return to God’s presence.

Christmas reminds us of our potential.  Each of us can choose to be like Jesus.  We can live following His example, repenting of our mistakes because He atoned for our sins.  His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary’s Cross allows us to repent and have our sins, though as scarlet blemishes on our souls become white as driven snow (see Isaiah 1:18).

Jesus allows us to fulfill God’s plan, to fulfill our potential as children of the Most High.  We can achieve limitless heights because He performed His mission on earth.  We each must do the same.  We must follow all His commandments and help other do the same.  We must find and fulfill our purpose of life.

Then we, too, through Jesus’ atonement that rights every wrong, will realize our potential as we stand before God and are ushered into His loving arms once again.

Jesus Logic

At first this may sound a little blasphemous. It’s not, I promise. (As an aside, I freaking hate toaster ovens. I can’t even toast things properly.)

In Toronto I met a lot of people whose opinions about Jesus varied. “He was a good guy.” “He was a fraud.” “He taught good things.” “He was the Son of God.” “He was a charlatan.”
While opinions are well and good, we can know Truth. We can know exactly what Jesus was/is/will be. The Spirit will guide us to this knowledge as we are prepared.
However, what helps me is whether things make sense. Regardless of what my mother claims, I feel I am a logical person whose opinions are based in fact and reason. Thus we shall take a lawyer-influenced look at Jesus and His claims.
We know Jesus taught many things taken as truth and as beneficial. However, are they really? Can we really trust a man who claimed he was the Son of God? In a court case, if a witness is proven to have lied on the stand, even once in hours of testimony, the entire testimony is often discounted and the witness is assumed to have lied about everything. This must happen because picking truth from lies is impossible.
Similarly, we can put the testimony of Jesus on trial. Without doubt, the claim that he was the son of a God and a mortal woman is the most questionable he ever made. If someone can disprove that claim, the entirety of his teachings falls apart. Thus the Beatitudes become useless–for they are obviously taught by a liar, His commands to love one another become unnecessary, etc.
Following that track, any teaching that has come since derived from Jesus’ words is also false, any teaching from other perceived great men (Ghandi, Confucius, Mohammad, etc) agreeing or citing Jesus must also be taken as false. As you can see, claim Jesus is only a great man and not 100% what He said He was leads to the disruption of much of the moral code the world follows.
However, if He is the perfect Son of God–a knowledge any willing person can gain–all of His teaching (even the ones you don’t like) must be true (because He could not lie) and must be followed in order to gain the Eternal Life He promises to His disciples. This is the case because the Son of God would have full authority to speak on any subject, and His words would be eternal law. Thus evaluating Jesus’ claim to divine sonship is the crux of most arguments about Christianity.
So the decision comes to you. Will you throw away the morality of the world by believing He is less than what He claimed to be, or will you discover whether He is the Son of God?
My knowledge is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died and was resurrected so each person who ever lived may gain Eternal Life by following His teachings. Logic supports it and the confirmation of the Spirit irrefutably confirms it.

Genius

So I was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and came across this awesome quote. It’s pure genius.

“In the great literature of progressive societies, love is a verb. Reactive people make it a feeling. They’re driven by feelings. Hollywood has generally scripted us to believe that we are no responsible that we are a product of our feelings. But the Hollywood script does not describe the reality. If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.
“Proactive people make love a verb. Love is something you do: the sacrifices you make, the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world. If you want to study love, study those who sacrifice for others, even for people who offend or do not love in return. If you are a parent, look at the love you have for the children you sacrificed for. Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions. Proactive people subordinate feelings to values. Love, the feeling, can be recaptured.” (p. 80)

The End?

I question the sanity of those who think death is the end of existence.  To be sane is to be of a sound mind, not mad, or mentally ill, reasonable.  What reason would there be to life if this were it?  Why would we want to stay in a place full of pain if there was no hope for future existence?  (Of course, on the opposite extreme, why are we afraid of death?)

My thoughts aren’t centred on morbidity, really.  Just the insanity it is to think that death really is the end.  If one believes in Christ one believes in live after death–that’s why Christ came:  so we can live again.  That’s the whole point!  And not only will we live again, but we will live where there is no pain.
Hello!  Purpose brings sanity.  It is reasonable to exist for a purpose.  It is not reasonable to think that somehow life could suddenly pop into being (because no matter how many little evolutionary steps you break it down into, life still has to come; and life doesn’t come without God)–scientifically, philosophically, or otherwise.
So to believe that life just appeared with no prior thought on a random chance is insanity.  And to follow that track and use it for the “proving” there is no purpose to life and obviously there cannot be an afterlife, is just ludicrous.
Christ lived.  He died.  He is now living because He was resurrected.  And we will all be resurrected, too.  “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Use your brain, be sane.