Sunday, November 29, 2009

Peace Unto Your Hearts

Author's Note: I wrote this essay for a religion class at Brigham Young University. It's really really really long. But I felt like it was worth sharing, so here 'tis.
At some point in our lives, I think each of us have felt lost or bewildered by the decisions we face. Confusion, uncertainty, and fear creep in and make us wonder if we are heading in the right direction. Everyday we make decisions, some big, some small. Often we do not even realize how the decisions we make that may seem small can greatly affect us. When facing all these choices, how can we gain guidance and direction from our Lord?

This question has often been on my mind during the past few months. I have recently realized that as a junior at Brigham Young University, I am facing many big “grown-up” decisions. Between deciding if I should apply for an internship, go on a study abroad, spend my summer in India working for a non-profit organization, I have had a lot of questions to face. Ending a happy relationship, trying to get back into the dating game, and starting to think about putting in my mission papers have only added to my feelings of uncertainty and my need for the Lord’s guidance. We have been promised that if we keep our covenants, we “have every right to a positive outlook on this life and on the next.”1

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we find many examples of the Lord explicitly and purposefully guiding the prophet Joseph Smith and the many others who were vital in building the foundation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As these great men and women faced new challenges and questions, the Lord blessed them with guidance. The founders of the Church truly were taught “line upon line, and precept upon precept…” (D&C 98:12). As they moved forward, reestablished the Church, and delved deeper into doctrine, they were taught and guided by Heavenly Father and our Savior. By searching the Doctrine and Covenants and the teachings of prophets, apostles, and other wise scholars, we can better understand the ways in which Joseph and his companions received the direction that they needed and emulate their example.

In D&C 112:10 we are instructed, “Be thou humble and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answers to thy prayers.” I believe that this instruction to be humble requires two steps. First, we must humbly acknowledge that we need the Lord’s guidance and direction in our lives. We must seek his counsel through studying the scriptures and the teachings of modern prophets as well as offering prayers in faith. Second, we must display the humility to accept the direction that we have received. This second part is something that I have greatly struggled with as I have received answers that I am not ready to accept. I now recognize that I was lacking in faith like Martin Harris and, to some extent, “set[ting] as naught the counsels of God” (D&C 3:13). When we repeatedly disregard the guidance the Lord has given us and return to him with the same question, He allows us to make our own decision. “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’ ” 2

We must remember that the Lord will not make our decision for us. We must first “study it out in [our] mind[s], then [we] must ask if it be right” (D&C 9:8). Once we have carefully considered the matter and come to a conclusion, we should ask our Father in Heaven to confirm our decision. “Revelation is an active, not a passive, process requiring a combination of spiritual sensitivity and intellectual exertion.”3 Bruce R. McConkie further states, “It is not, never has been, and never will be the design and purpose of the Lord—however much we seek him in prayer—to answer all our problems and concerns without struggle and effort on our part.” 4

At times, it seems difficult to separate our thoughts and feelings from the impressions and directions given to us by the Lord. Fortunately, we can learn much from the experience of Oliver Cowdery as he sought guidance from the Lord, who said, “Behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart…” (D&C 8:2). Robinson and Garrett give further illumination:
The Lord works with both systems—the mind—our intellect—and the heart, our feelings… Revelation is neither emotion devoid of sense nor intellect without feeling, but a combination of both faculties working together in harmony. Because the Holy Ghost is a revelator, his presence will enlighten the mind; no truly spiritual exercise can ever be “mindless.” The Holy Ghost, however, dwells not in our mind, but in our heart—we will feel his influence rather than deduce it. While the Holy Ghost speaks to our minds, he speaks from our hearts. 5
Personal Revelation does not come separately to the heart or mind but to both simultaneously. We receive intellectual enlightenment and guidance and feel a sense of peace. Again, we can learn from the words of the Lord to Oliver in Section 6, “Cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart…Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?” (D&C 6:22-23) Furthermore, “There is no surer testimony than that of the Spirit of God.” 6

Conversely, our prayers are not always answered by a confirmation. When discussing personal revelation, we often hear the term “stupor of thought.” But what does that mean? The Oxford American Dictionary defines a stupor as “a state of near-unconsciousness…” But a spiritual stupor is “a sense of anxiety and being uncomfortable, not being able to relax with the decision.”7 The Lord does not always give a negative answer by a stupor of thought.8 Sometimes we may not receive any answer immediately. We must cultivate patience and faith, as instructed by Elder Scott.
Have patience as you [perfect] your ability to be led by the Spirit…Sometimes the impressions are just general feelings. Sometimes the direction comes so clearly and so unmistakably that it can be written down…I bear solemn witness that as you pray with all the fervor of your soul with humility and gratitude, you can learn to be consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life…the Savior can guide you to resolve challenges of life and enjoy great peace and happiness. 9
When we feel like our prayers have gone unanswered, we must keep our faith strong and believe that the Lord will guide us. “Doubt not, Fear not” (D&C 6:36).

At times I have found myself on my knees begging for an answer that did not come. In those moments, it is easy to feel discouraged, alone, or even forsaken. But I know that even when the answers do not come in the way we expect or the way we would like, our Father in Heaven never forsakes us. “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.”10 Our Heavenly Father loves us. He wants us to find happiness. When we have made a decision and turn to Him in faith and humility, He will guide us as he guided the young prophet Joseph and the first leaders of the Church.

Works Cited
1- Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine & Covenants. 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000) 2: 245
2- C.S. Lewis. 2.
3-Steven C. Harper. Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company. 2008. 45.
4- Bruce R. McConkie. “Why the Lord Ordained Prayer,” Ensign January 1976. 7.
5- Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine & Covenants. 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000) 1: 62-63.
6- Hyrum M. Smith, The Doctrine and Covenants, Revised Edition. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1950). 37.
7- David Walch. “Joseph Smith Lecture” Devotional address at BYU-Hawaii. 21 March, 2002.
8- Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine & Covenants. 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000) 1: 67.
9- Richard G. Scott, “To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” Ensign November 2009. 9.
10- Deiter F. Uchtdorf, “The Love of God,” Ensign November 2009. 21-24.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Internet is Amusing

I have a new favorite tech trick - taking screen shots of the funny or wise things I find on the internet. Okay, so it's actually not that tricky... but I just figured out how to do it a few months ago, & I still think it's cool.

Anywho, for your viewing/procrastinating pleasure, here are some of the latest & greatest I have found. This is so ridiculously true. Watching a chick flick when you're lonely is like eating a chocolate kiss when you're starving - it makes you feel better for about 3.6 seconds, then you realize how much you're missing out on.
The above was on my facebook... I'm not really sure why I find this so amusing; perhaps it's the juxtaposition of an ad about black men & an ad about Michael Jackson. Yes, the juxtaposition.

I just like this rather a lot.People, unfortunately, do not usually take well to graphing.
I really do believe there are many girls out there who now believe that their problem isn't finding the right guy, but rather finding the right part-human mythological creature.

Oh, Dr. Seuss. He really did say so many wise things. Like "fish wish dish!" (Also - what was he a Doctor of?)
This cartoon is actually based on a true story- the story of the way Jess' alarm clock has behaved since daylight savings time. It's possessed.
Yes, Google, you are right, I'm pretty sure Edgar Allan Poe used "the color fred" as a metaphor all the time.

And last, but definitely not least:

If I have to look like this to qualify for a Pell Grant, you can keep your free money. woosh.

In case you can't see the expression/disturbingness of this guy's face, here's a close up. My appologies to your eyes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I will write a blog on the topic of choice of whoever becomes my next follower. I don't care if it's mashed potatoes or belly button lint.

I've been hovering at 24 for far too long.

& I want to exercise my random skillsssss.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Everybody gets distracted & lately I've needed a few things to keep my mind occupied. Here are some of my favorite anti-study/think things:

- So, I've been reading my blog from last November and it's been a good reminder of how much I have been blessed. I think I did some of my best writing then, probably because my focus wasn't just me. Also, *this* is just really amusing... at least, to me it is.

- The new John Mayer album, Battle Studies, is just amazing. Thank you, Mr. Mayer, for writing my what my soul is feeling. (You're currently listening to one of my favorite new tracks; there will be more as they become available.)

- We used this Dave Barry article as an example in my grammar class today. You might not want to read it with your mouth full, for various reasons.

- I adore Kazooisms - it makes me pray that I will have witty and amusing children so I can blog about their awesomeness.

And my fellow bloggers (see blog roll -> thataway) - many of us were actually together, in person, last night, and what did we end up talking about? Our blogs. And how they say a lot about our personalities. It's kinda shocking how transparent we all are when we just thought we were blogging...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just an Observation

For those of you out there who have started wearing tights or leggings instead of jeans, just in case you haven't noticed

It is winter. (See the snow on the mountains?)

You are in Utah. And...



I don't care if you have super toasty boots with those little fluff balls dangling off the sides. You cannot possibly be warm.

Please go home & try again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Courage to Let Go

If you've talked to me at all in the past few months, you probably already know that I'm taking Beginning Gymnastics here at BYU. Despite the bruises and my tragic inability to bend in half backwards, it's quite possibly my favorite class. I thought I'd learn how to do flips and handstands. But I've learned so much more than that.

I now have a lot of experience with falling. Falling hard. I've landed on my face, my back, my butt, my shins, my right shoulder, my pride, and, on rare occasion, my feet. But I've learned something very important - you can't go into something halfheartedly. If you try to do a vault "gently," you just end up skidding across the vault table on your stomach and planting your face in the mat. Trust me. I have done this. You have to gather your courage and go for it all the way. You run, you jump, you fly, and you stick the landing. (sometimes) If you fail abysmally, well, at least you know you gave it your all. And the bruises are impressive testimony to your epic nature.

Then there are bars.

In my class, we do this thing called a death drop, where you sit on the high bar with your body straight, then slowly lean backwards until you're almost upside down, then push off, flip through the air, and land in the foam pit below.

When you're sitting on that 1.5 inch bar in mid air with 10 feet of nothingness between you and the squishy safety of the blue foam pit, nothing feels right about letting go of the strong bar that your hands have been anchored to. You feel like if you just hang on a bit longer, postponing that moment when you drop, somehow it will make the fall shorter and the landing softer. But the longer you cling to the bar, the weaker you get. It only gets harder to lean back and start the rotation you need to be able to land on your feet. You know that if you balk and hang on too long after you've started to fall, you're likely to tweak a shoulder before your hands rip loose and you land on your face.

So you breathe in, find the courage to trust yourself, and lean back. Then, finally, you let go and feel the rush of air and the glory in the free fall.

slips, trips, grips, dips, flips...

There are so many things rushing through my head that I want to say, so many metaphors, so many memories. But I need something to fill up this blank box & the blank spot inside of me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Little Bit of Poetry

It is a lovely autumn day out there - if you haven't yet, go outside & breathe. You might even want to dance in the leaves a little bit. I would suggest it.

Beating myself up a bit in gymnastics class always puts me in a good mood; it's just ridiculously fun to use all your muscle to swing up to a high bar, swing through the air, let go, & land with a ridiculous flump in a pit of giant chunks of blue foam. They call this a death drop, but it's rather fun. I would suggest trying that as well.

All in all, this put me in the mood for poetry. (Don't question - it just does, okay?) First, a poem by my favorite - Mr. Billy Collins. & then a little ditty of my own from my freshman days here at BYU.

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Monday (even though today is Tuesday - I know this. It's just a title.)

Author's Note: Cerusa is a character from Greek drama. I was writing an essay about her & ran out of story so... like any good writer with a stagnant character, I killed her. I'm not really a morbid person

Today I am a ribbon,
Just floating on the breeze.
Not quite sure where I’m going,
but just doing what I please.

I write a silly sonnet,
wait for a boy to call.
Decide to kill Cerusa,
leave a message on a wall.

I try to make decisions,
give my life a place to go,
but today I am a ribbon,
softly drifting, falling slow.