The Planner Without a Plan

I’m a planner.  That is, I like to plan.  Whenever something is bothering me, or stressing me out, I like to plan it out.  For example, for the last five years of my college experience, I have–without fail–done an extensive budget forecast for the upcoming school year.  Of course, this is obviously a great asset to my finances, as it ensures I am using my money wisely.  But let’s be real here–the reason I’m doing an extensive budget is to ensure my brain that, no, despite what it might think, I will not be becoming a homeless hobo in the next six months.

As my last statement may attest to, laughing at my brain is one of my life hobbies.  I’ll admit, laughing at the silly worries my brain conjures up is one of the major ways I keep myself both sane and entertained at the same time.  But sometimes, laughing at the thoughts can become hard.  Worries about finances, unemployment, life plans, future motherhood are not quite as easy to laugh off.

Hence why I write today, at 2 AM in the morning.

Graduation is coming upon me.  And let me just say, senioritis is real.  With less than three weeks of school left, I have found that paying attention in lecture has become increasingly difficult.  I mean, the business classes I am currently taking are great and all, but my brain increasingly seems to ask, “Who cares?  You’re becoming a designer!  No need for all this stuff on business, it’s not like you’re hoping to start your own someday…oh, wait, you do…”

But lately, I have found my thoughts to be increasingly obsessed with the future: What will designer school be like?  Can we afford it?  Will I make it into the program?  How will I hold a job and do intense coursework at the same time?  *Gasp* What if I can’t find a job??  What if I don’t make it into the program???  And what about that baby thing?  All my other married friends are having one, why aren’t I?  How will I support my school going husband  financially with a job and have a baby all at the same time???

Needless to say, I’ve been a little stressed lately.  And it all ties back to being a planner.  With all the aforementioned questions, I don’t have the answer yet.  And, most likely, it’ll still be a little while longer before I do.  And, without answers, I can’t plan.  Without a plan, sane me turns into a stressed-out-can’t-sleep me.

Earlier today, though, I found some peace.  While saying my prayer over my food, I was reminded of the scripture in which Christ says, “Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).  And I was reminded that maybe, at this moment, it’s okay that I don’t have a plan, because God does.

Don’t get me wrong, having this revelation did not suddenly make all of my worries go away.  In truth, I honestly feel as if I’m at the edge of the darkness, anxiously awaiting for my impending graduation to push me into it.  But yet, I feel a bit of peace.  It’s hard in life to not know all the answers.  It makes us angry, upset, sorrowful, anxious, depressed, and a whole other host of emotions.  But the thing is, we aren’t waiting in the darkness alone.  We don’t have to face those feelings alone.  This is because there is One who knows exactly how we feel–our Savior, Jesus Christ.  And I know that, as we look to Him, even in the midst of turmoil, we can find peace.

To say I am anxious about my future is an understatement.  And I have a feeling that I am not the only one in the world who feels this way.

Honestly, though, it’s a bit of a blessing that I have so many opportunities in front of me to choose from.  I am very blessed to be in the situation I am.  Of course, having so many decisions certainly makes the current moment difficult, but I know that as I do my best to navigate the path in front of me, that there is One who, if I trust in Him, will help me find the way.

To close, I want to share the chorus of the song “I am a Child of God,” which states, “Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.  Teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday.”

The Truth About Being Single

There are rare times I feel truly inclined to share my thoughts, via blogging, on personal, hard to discuss topics.  Today, is one of those days.  As you may have guessed, my topic is singleness.

Awhile back ago, my frustration with dating (or lack thereof) came to a head.  I was often angry, full of self-doubts and long-ignored frustrations.  What was wrong with me?  I had often asked myself.  Why, when it seems that everyone else around me is happily dating, am I single?  Where is my prince charming?  Why, when I am trying so hard, do I always get a shrug and a “eh, I’m just not attracted to you.”

Needless to say, I was hurting pretty bad.  And that hurt turned to anger.  Towards God.  Towards my life.  Towards my weaknesses.  If I had to guess, I probably wasn’t the most fun person to be around either.

About two or three weeks into this intense feeling of anger and impatience, I ‘coincidentally’ (I would say it’s a miracle) ran into a good friend of mine in the library, who’d recently been engaged.  We got to talking and, somehow, I started pouring out my frustrations with life.  I was slightly surprised when she said, “I know how you feel.”  She then went on to explain how she had felt before she had met her fiancee.  Perhaps not so shockingly, it sounded like she had gone through what I was going through at that moment.

I couldn’t help but ask, “What did you do?”

Her answer was simple.  “I prayed, a lot.”  To have patience in the situation.  To have trust in God.  (I should note that, it wasn’t until after she had changed, through prayer, that she met her fiancee.  Doesn’t mean that will happen to everyone – for her, that was just the right timing).

That moment was pivotal for me.  An answer to an aching heart and an unknown prayer.  Walking away from that conversation, I doubt that my friend realized how big of an impact she had on my life.  But because of that conversation, I acted.  I decided to do something about the situation.  And that was to pray.

For patience.  With myself and with Him.

For the ability to trust in Him and in His timing.

To have peace, despite the turmoil I felt.

And, day after day, I began to change.

I can’t quite explain how.  Or when.  But I can say that the change was gradual.  The strength I was offered during that time immense.  I came to know that God loved me, despite my anger with Him.  He understood.  And He wanted to help and to heal.

Slowly, my anger faded and my hurts were healed.  I began to feel peace, with a new sense of trust in God and His timing.  I grew closer to Him.  Learning that, perhaps, in that moment, being single was the number one thing teaching me how to trust in God’s timing.

I won’t lie.  Even now, I occasionally struggle.  But now, instead of just feeling the hurt of singleness, I feel the overwhelming peace that God knows me.  That, as long as I am doing all I can to be a true disciple of Christ, I will meet my Prince Charming in the right time and in the right place.

Being single is not always easy – no matter what age.

And it will never be easy until the realization comes that God is needed in every aspect of our lives.  Especially in those aspects concerning dating and marriage.  Because we can’t see the future.

But God can.

I testify to you today that God and His son Jesus Christ live.  They love you.

For those of you struggling out there, keep your chin up.  God has great things in store for you.

Trust in Him.  And believe in good things to come.

The Human Inside

Counselors are great.  In fact, I would maybe even label them as the unsung heroes of today’s society.  Unsung because, well, no one wants to admit when they are seeing a counselor.  No one wants to admit that they are “broken.”  Or that they need help on the emotional side of life.

A while back ago, I started dealing with some heavy emotional stuff.  Well, more like the consequences of ignoring the heavy emotional stuff for so long.  I was dealing with extreme anxiety and mild depression.  I felt lost.  Alone.  With almost no hope that things were going to get better.

I was that way for a while.  With the help of my loving parents and God, I fought my way through each day.  Marking the good days on my calendar, to keep the hope alive.  I cried out in prayer at night, pleading with God to make my anxiety go away.  I received Priesthood blessings.  But, although God strengthened me, He knew better than I, that I would need this trial to help me resolve the things I had ignored for so long.

A little before January, I began to see a counselor.  Which helped, a little.  It was unfortunate because, the counseling system at the school is overloaded, consequently I would only get to see my counselor every two or three weeks.  So while it helped, it didn’t quite help enough.

A month went by.  In the midst of it, I had talked to my mother a lot, calling her in tears or in the midst of a heavy panic attack.  I almost went home from school.

Almost.

But my mother and father, and counselor, advised me to stay strong and to hang in there (which I am SO glad that I did.  Because now I am still able to go on my study abroad to Mexico).  My roommate was there for me as well (another unsung hero, by the way).  So I stayed.  I reached out to a few friends.  Joined a General Anxiety Group.  Kept seeing a counselor.  I even ended up telling my hall adviser, who made me aware of another counseling facility that would allow me to see a counselor every week.  She encouraged me to look into it.  So I did.  I ended up making an over-the-phone intake appointment and waited.  Finally, after almost four months of struggle (December-March), I began to meet weekly with a counselor.

It was hard.

Really, really hard.  But worth it.  Very much worth it.

I won’t disclose what we discussed.  (I’m an open person – but not THAT open.)  But needless to say, I cried a lot.  And talked a lot.  And listened a lot.

Time passed and it didn’t seem like things were getting better.  In fact, it felt like they were getting worse.  But I pushed onward.  Going to my counseling session even when I didn’t want to.  I even stopped taking a hormone pill, in the hopes that it would help (And, well, honestly, because God told me it would be a good idea to do so.  He was right, of course).

Finally the end of the semester came.  I came home to go through the Kansas City Temple  with my family.  In the which, I made sacred covenants with my loving Heavenly Father and received amazing blessings in return for those covenants.  (My burden was further lightened by those blessings.  And I can tell you right now, there was a noticeable difference in my life).

After a week home, I returned back to BYU.  And resumed counseling.

Six months later (December-June), after my initial start of counseling, I can tell you that I am feeling SO much better.  Not completely better.  But a lot better than I had been.  Instead of feeling anxious and sad all the time, I feel happy and only sad and anxious some of the time.

A lot of this change has to do with my relationship with God.  It has grown SO much over the past six months.  A lot of it has to do with not taking that darn hormone pill I had been on.  And a lot of it has to do with my counselor – bless the man.  Because he has changed my life.

It may be odd that I am sharing this with you, random reader, but I hope to make a point.  Or at least, make something that you can walk away with.

And that is this:  counselors are awesome.  Seeing one doesn’t make you broken, it makes you human.  Just as going to God for forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re broken.  It just means you’re human.

It is well worth your time, if you are struggling with anxiety or depression – or if you’re just tired of hurting inside – to see a counselor.  It won’t heal you overnight.  As you may have picked up, it has taken six long, hard months of fighting, praying, and changing.  For some it will take longer, for others shorter.  But it WILL help.  Especially as you allow Christ to heal and change you – heal you from the hurt, and change you in a way that allows you to move forward.

I can’t say enough thanks to my counselor.  Because he really has changed my life.  Session by session.  He’s helped me to learn that emotions are messengers – not evil things to ignore and squash under my foot.  He’s helped me to see that although being sad is not fun, it’s not bad.  And furthering myself from such emotions is what has caused some of my depression.

But mostly what I have learned – from both God and my counselor – is that I am a beloved daughter of God.  I have worth.  And I am someone worth knowing.

I can promise you that I still struggle.  I still have bad days.  Counseling doesn’t heal overnight.  But it heals and, more importantly, it teaches you better ways to view the world and your struggles.

If you’re struggling: Please, please, please take the time to take care of yourself.  You are worth it. You are loved.  Take the time to be well – emotionally and physically.  Counseling is hard.  But it is so very worth it.

And remember:  You are loved.  You are a fighter.  And you will succeed.

The Dance

As always, it was early in the morning when I had another one of my brilliant, but inspired, realizations. In this case, the realization came to me while in the midst of dancing at a Bachata Fest.  Which, I might add, was really, really fun.  Anyway, I was dancing to one of my favorite Bachata songs, when it suddenly hit me that life is like a dance.  My instant thought?  “That is so cliche.”  But the longer I have thought about it, the longer I’m convinced that a dance is a great metaphor for life.  Here’s why.

In a Latin dance, it is pretty typical to dance with more than one person.  Most of the time, the people you dance with are complete strangers.  And, as is the norm, you usually only dance with a person once.  But here’s the thing.  With each new person, you have to figure out the way they move, their steps, the way they lead, etc. And, for me, it usually takes most of a song (which, in Latin dancing, is typically a mash-up of three or four songs) to get those person’s steps down pat.  Sometimes, it would seem silly to say goodbye when I had just mastered the steps of my partner.  But that’s where courage comes in.  The courage to move on to something better.  Or, the courage to say goodbye.  To have faith that there will be another song, and another partner.

Now, let me be quick to say that a partner is not necessarily a person (i.e. a boyfriend/girlfriend).  A partner can be a job, a chapter in life, a school, etc.  It can be a representative of basically anything.

Moving on.  As the night progressed, there were moments where I would find myself sitting on the sidelines with my friends.  No partners were in site, though the room was full of people.  At moments like these, I would either feel slightly disappointed, tired, or pleased.  Such is life.  There are times when opportunities seems abudant, but, day after day (song after song), those opportunities fall through.  It becomes easy to be discouraged and disappointed.  Other times, sitting on the sidelines away from the action is a reprive.  A welcome moment.  A time to focus on reviving ourselves and to focus on the opportunities and people around us.  A time to plan our next steps, and to enjoy the people we are with and the moment we are in.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those moments alone could be enjoyed whether we chose to be alone or not?  Just a hint…they can.  In life, it is important to remember that the fate of our dance is not left to a DJ or to random happenstance.  No.  It is up to a loving God who knows us better than we know ourselves.  A God who knows when a break is needed – whether we think that break is needed or not.   A God who also knows the best time for the next partner to step in.  And which partner should always stay.

It is my testimony that God lives.  Though I do not always see the way, I know that if I put my trust in the Lord, that my steps will never be led astray.  As I learned this night, it truly is important to enjoy the moment of life we are in.  Whether it be a new dance, a new partner, or a break.  We are where we are for our growth and betterment, difficult though it may be.  I, myself, still have a lot to learn, and a lot of patience to build.  But I know that as I strive to do what is right, the Lord will never leave me hanging on the sidelines.  I know that we all have a purpose.  We all have a role to play.  And, with the Lord’s help, we will get there one small dance step at a time.

R. J. Carr

 

It’s All About… *Drum Roll Please*

The listening.

I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern developing in our society.  I’d like to call it the “I’m-listening-but-not-really-because-half-of-my-attention-is-on-my-device” syndrom.  To which most people, with said syndrom, will say with some invigoration, “I AM listening!”  To which my response is, “No, no your not….”

Here’s why:  Listening is more than being able to repeat back what you just heard.  Just like learning is more than passing a test.

Listening, as I have come to learn, involves a person’s full attention to the speaker.  Why?  Because when somebody is communicating with you, they are not just saying words.  They are also communicating with body language and expressions.  Which, of course, are missed when ou’re staring at your mobile device.  Thus, you’re really only getting half of that person’s message.

Not surprisingly, only recieving half of the message can lead to all sorts of problems. One of which is miscommunication.  Another of which is loneliness and isolation on the speaker’s part.

…after all, if you were speaking to someone about your heart’s deepest desires, wouldn’t their blunt half-attention to you sting a little bit?  It’s hard enough as it is to open up to a person.  And do you really want to put a possible friendship in jeopordy because of a silly game…?

But putting down your mobile device is only half the battle.  The other half is keeping quiet and actually listening — with empathy.  Whether the person is right or wrong  — or in other words, whether or not you agree with said person.

This can be hard.  Oft times you just want to solve the problem.  To fix the person.  But you just can’t.  You can’t.  And that’s okay.

Most times, a person doesn’t even want to be fixed.  They just want to be listened to.  Not corrected.  Not advised.  Just listened to.  No matter how well-meaning your advice is, it is best to keep it to yourself — or, to at least ask if they want your advice before opening your mouth.

Most, I believe, would, on occassion, love to speak and be heard.  No arguments.  No ‘here, this is how to fix it.’  Just…listening.  Empathic listening.

Whatever happened to the empathic “I’m sorry?”  I believe most of us are familiar with the one-uping people do.  The all-familiar, “Psh, what I’m going through is way harder,” has become way to common in our society.  I believe such an attitude comes from a lack of understanding that EVERYONE is going through hard things — things that are hard for them.  Quite a hard thing to understand, to be frank.  It’s not easy to overcome feelings of self-pity and self-centerdedness.  Never has been, and I don’t think it ever will be.

Well, these are my two sense.  To be left to the cyber world.  Un-argued.  Un-disturbed.  Just there.  Ready to be listened to.

 

 

The universal apology that should be said to…yourself

To the person that is me:

These last few months have been hard.  Heck, what isn’t hard though?  Life is hard.  But you can do hard things.  Right?

I know I’ve been harsh on  you.  Sometimes too harsh.  I let the words of others around me bring me down.  I saw the evil in this world and fed it to you.  Nothing physical.  But thoughts.  Thoughts that seem so innocent at first until they grow into a massive storm, a storm that left you battered and torn.  I was mean to you.  Using cruel words.  Calling you stupid, silly, ugly, and nieve.  I was frustratd with you.  Why couldn’t you just get with the picture?  That’s what I asked you.  And it was unfair.  I’m sorry.  Sorry in a way I have never been before.

I let the world tell me that what I was telling you was okay.  After all, to them,  you’re not pretty enough…so I started to believe it.  I started to believe that the goodness that is you was not good enough.  That you were not good enough.  I started to think that something was wrong with you.  That you have a problem.  That your weaknesses are the problem.  I started to believe that you could not do it.  That you would fail.  I left you alone in the dark.  And I’m sorry.

I’m here today to apologize.  To apologize for all the impatience.  The harsh words.  The putter-downers.  No one should be talked to that way, especially you.  And who is the world to judge anyway?  They don’t know you.  They don’t know you like I do, anyway.  They only see the part of you that I let them see.  It’s for the best.  Not because you’re bad, no.  But not everyone is privelaged to see all of you.  Just enough for them to know who you are, the good person you are, and that you are not perfect.  The rest, the rest is saved for those who love you the most.  So don’t fear, you are seen, but only by those who truly love you.

You’re beautiful, I just want to say.  You’re successes, your weaknesses, everything.  You have so much goodness in you.  So many beautiful desires, dreams, and goals.  You’re desire to see the good in the world is amazing.  And your looks?  They are pretty hot too.  As is your whit, your charm, your smile.  You are you.  And I’m grateful for you.  For the impact you have on others.  For the willingness you have to grow and learn from others and to serve them.  For the pure love you have for the God that created you.  You are His child.  Don’t ever let my negativity bring you down.

Stay strong.  Be confident.

I love you,

Me

 

 

 

The Strength to Endure (A Quote)

“Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. The poet expressed much the same thought in these words:

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.”

“I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee,” October 2013 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson