Bits of Truth

truth

We take breath at a time unlike any other in the history of humanity, when it is possible to collect wisdom from any time, place & people.  It’s incredible really, to consider the opportunity that we have to thoroughly understand so many things.  I think understanding comes when we unearth truth and then cultivate it in our lives.  The cultivating is the important part.  A true idea merely thought about or depicted can be powerful but the experience of a true principle in a life offers a unique, majestic and dynamic kind of beauty.  As we move through our days, our lives become a reflection of the truth that we’ve sought and the work that we’ve done to integrate and understand it. We understand truth by believing in its existence and learning to recognize it.  We integrate truth by making choices in alignment with the principles we believe to be true and then learning from those experiences.  Here’s to seeking truth and living it.

With love,

Lindsay

 

*image courtesy of motherteresa.org

Advertisements

The Becoming Years

Reflecting Pool

The other day I was having a conversation at the pool with a dear friend.  As a fellow traveler on this road of healing, she could relate to the place I find myself in with such gracious understanding that I reveled in the tidbits of divinity we were able to exchange.  Among them was the thought that I’m in my “becoming years.”  I’ve had many an active, doing year and I’ve hit a stretch of life, of unknown duration, where my task is to use discernment about the things I actually do and to instead utilize the opportunity I have to become.  The fullness and grandeur of this phase presents no fewer opportunities but the work, instead of being visible or concentrated on others, is an internal task.  As such, the measurement is solely my own, as is much of the effort and reward of this work.  It is my intent to take the experiences I am offered or that I seek out and incorporate them into my being in an effort to better understand life, creativity and the Creator.   These becoming years seem like a good place to breathe for a minute and reflect on that.

 

Image Courtesy of Veg Plotting

Compression & Release

Yogapose

I practice gentle Hatha yoga a few times a week.  Guided by a wise instructor, our class moves through various movements, intentionally holding them for fairly long stretches of time.  The length of time that we “compress” or hold a pose varies depending on how many yogis are familiar with the pose, what the weather is like-because outside conditions impact the body, or what goals the instructor has for the day’s practice.  It is SLOW yoga and we may spend most of our time stretching and preparing the body to settle into a more complex pose toward the end of class.  The emphasis is always on going at one’s own pace, listening to the body and practicing in a way that simultaneously extends the body and respects it’s current limits.  Often we work on breathing through the compression and then enjoying a deep exhale as we release a pose we’ve held.  Even during compression, the emphasis is on opening the body up, creating space and clearing tightness or toxins that have accumulated as a result of being a living being.  The release of a challenging stretch feels so good but you don’t get the release without the compression.  Once there is openness, the body is free to stretch a little further and move more deeply into the following pose which is rewarding in so many ways.

It reminds me a lot of life.

This I know. One year later.

Sunrise

A year ago I shared some thoughts with my local congregation and close friends and family after suffering the loss of a briefly held but long-cherished and promised pregnancy.  In my anguish and confusion, I testified of my faith in the love of God and of His patience with my growth and understanding.  In the throes of that grief, tinted with hope, we entered a year where our little family, my body and my spirit have been challenged in ways that have required more of us than I could’ve imagined.  Sustained by a beautiful tapestry of heavenly grace, personal strength and loving support, I can stand here today with a different kind of faith and knowing. There is something about being nearly undone that makes one realize where true sources of strength can be found.  I would like to testify of these true things.

I know that because I chose to follow the Savior in the pre-existence that He has blessed me with a body.  This body is mortal and is subject to all sorts of influences in mortality, some self-imposed and some beyond my control.  Cultivating attunement between my spirit and body has given me beautiful insight regarding my work on earth and the specific things I can learn and offer.  I know that Satan does not have a body and that many of the ways he tries to influence me have to do with the use and care of my body.  I believe if he can thwart, interrupt or distract me from my connection to my body or put my in a position of opposition to my body that He can disrupt a measure of my growth.  I know that whatever gifts I have been given or whatever talents I have cultivated can be used for good, unifying, growth-promoting things or for destructive purposes.  If Satan can offer the primary influence in my life, those gifts, talents and skills are put to use for his destructive and divisive purposes, whereas if I am constantly and humbly seeking to obediently follow the Savior, I am in a position to grow and my growth is multiplied exponentially, along with the peace that I have access to.  I can also serve as a resource to other souls who are seeking growth.

I know that the Savior Jesus Christ is the author of peace which passeth all understanding and that He offers us that peace in the very moments we sincerely chose to follow Him or at the very least hope to believe in Him regardless of where we have been in the moments before.  I know that through His atonement, the ashes that we either find ourselves in or create in our lives can be transformed into unimaginable strength and opportunities for growth. However, the ashes have to be recognized as such in order for the cleansing relief of the atonement to be truly felt.  I know that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price all have powerful and true insights regarding the atonement, the Savior and the ways to integrate those two things into our personal lives.  Through study of the scriptures and my efforts to see the hand of God here on earth, I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and each of you.  I know that there is incredible strength that can be derived from our collective faith and our unity.  Like one of my local leaders taught a few weeks ago, I know that the roots of our faith are intertwined and in the midst of fierce storms, the strength that we can draw from each other can literally be life-saving.  I reiterate that I know this.

I know that the strength, goodness and truth that I enjoy today in my life, my home, my chapel and our local temple was set in motion by a 14-year-old boy who was confused and wanted to communicate with Heaven.  I have been in the grove where he offered that first prayer, and I know that Joseph Smith was graced with a view of heaven, particularly of God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, that few people experience in this life.  I know that he received further revelation and that that revelation led to the re-establishment of a beautiful religion with Jesus Christ’s robust doctrine, merciful and insightful answers to mortality’s questions and a clear authority to teach from heaven.  I believe in the power and efficacy of that priesthood authority from Joseph Smith to our prophet Thomas S. Monson today.   I know that my local bishop is a man who receives revelation for our little group of believers here and I am profoundly grateful to be led by someone who seeks the guidance of the Spirit as much as he does.  I testify of the grace and mercy of a God who wants to continually reach out to His people to offer them glimpses of heaven in this life.  It is hard for me that these glimpses aren’t permanent but that they come and go and that there are times of wandering and confusion that naturally result from trying to access heaven from a fallen world but that doesn’t change the veracity of those true moments when we experience them.  These are things I know.  And while the path to this knowledge has been at times seemingly unbearable, I am so grateful for the knowing because that’s why I’m here.

Experiencing sadness is ok

This week I received a lot of kindness.  I often am the recipient of kindness but I was kind of surprised at the number of people who were “worried” about me.  Perhaps I’m still learning to be an emotive person who showcases more than joy so a blog about poignant sadness was a surprise.  Perhaps, like my sister Lisa often reminds me, a few of my dear connections were trying to offer empathy and it came across as sympathy.  Empathy is the realization that we can connect on feelings.  Sympathy only looks at the similarity in experience and often feels like pity.  So one could look at my life and sympathetically say “Wow, yes, I’ve never had infertility, a miscarriage, an autoimmune disorder, a puppy, and severe dietary restrictions all in the same year that sounds like a lot to handle, that must be really hard.”  Or you could say “Wow, I can relate to feeling really sad or very vulnerable, broken, worn out and or restricted, or completely overwhelmed.  Those are really difficult places to sit, I will sit there with you.”  The difference is subtle but the effect is inclusive.  With empathy, there is an air of non-judgment regarding the emotion and experience and the recognition that, at our core, we share so much humanity in our vulnerability.  With sympathy there is a line in the sand between your experience and mine that often looks like fear, as in ‘I really hope that never happens to me!’  I can relate, I’ve felt my share of fear about my life this year, for sure.  But please know that my ability to articulate what I’m feeling is a strength.  The words I use to define the experiences I’ve had help me to process them and by sharing the experience I am owning it in a way that simultaneously makes me vulnerable and empowers me.  I’ve been thinking a lot about being a muted, faded out version of myself or the real thing.   This blog, it’s gonna be the real thing and that’s going to involve emotion.  Hang on :).

Take care,

Lindsay

Parented by Heaven

Last week I watched the beautiful daughter of one of my dearest friends.  This sweet little thing has been a gift in my life in so many ways so our family was enthusiastic to welcome her into our fold for several days.  Throughout the week, I watched her closely for any signs of missing her parents, feeling distress at the separation or other indicators that she may be questioning her well-being.  But her darling smiles and happy play made it clear that she was comfortable in our home.  During one of our evening conversations, I expressed to my friend that her parenting must’ve instilled in her daughter a trust that she would be well-cared for, listened to and watched over because she expected as much from us and received it without batting an eye.  I found so much beauty in the work that had been done to assure this child that she was cherished and important because I recognize that represents a lot of intentional parenting.

Several days later I was relating this story to another friend as we watched this same babe jump with enthusiasm into our neighborhood pool.  She mentioned that it was an interesting observation to consider given the scriptural admonition to “become as a child.”   My usual interpretation of that scripture leaves me feeling a bit powerless and desperate to cultivate that kind of “submissive humility” that seems to be desired by the author.   As I looked at it with fresh eyes, though, I felt the beauty of that new meaning wash over me.  Perhaps that’s what divine parenting can look like, a simple trust and regard built over time with experiences and mutual exchanges, to the point that eventually the mortal child can rest assured that heaven hasn’t forgotten him/her, despite physical and sometimes spiritual distance.  Remembering that the Savior is the same yesterday, today and forever, and knowing Him to love me dearly and care for me exquisitely at times in my life, this interpretation didn’t seem so far off.

Faith and Freedom

The other day I found myself behind a car with a few different bumper stickers plastered to it’s backside.  One of them read ‘My FREEDOM is more important than your FAITH.’   I felt a visceral punch to my abdominal region as I processed this jarring statement (and we hit a few lights together so I had plenty of time to think it over).  I don’t know the driver of the car.  Based on his other bumper stickers, I have a few clues about him but other than that I’m left to speculate.  I think I might’ve liked to have had a conversation with him though, and this is what I would’ve asked:

1-Can there be any sort of real freedom without faith?  Where does a freedom governed only by human nature lead a society of people who have increasingly less value for themselves, let alone each other?

2-If you don’t use faith to appeal to your better and nobler self, what do you use?

3-I’ve been grappling with a sensitivity to humanity and her struggles and a respect for principles I hold dear and all this time I have worked to fight this mental battle on compassionate ground.   Are you willing to offer me the same space to be and do as I will according to my faith that I am trying to grant to you either with or without your own?

I wonder what he would’ve said.

Fixed Worth

I’d like to give a shout out to Brene Brown for her contributions to today’s thought.   Among many life-changing ideas, she writes about the difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt has the potential to be productive, it’s behavior-oriented and capable of inducing change.  Shame is debilitating, soul-crushing and ALWAYS destructive.  Guilt says I made a mistake and I can change.  Shame says I am a mistake and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Although we all pack around far more guilt than necessary, it is important to make sure that it’s guilt we’re carrying as opposed to shame.  This distinction is vital when it comes to matters of the soul.  The adversary relentlessly uses shame to make us doubt our worthiness to approach God, ask forgiveness, change, grow, serve Him and be loved by Him.  This argument, made even easier by our  mortal distance from our Father,  would have us believe that we are not worthy to approach or be seen as we are by God.  Satan works tirelessly to have us to believe this.  Do you?

Regarding Relationships

Our relationships, especially the ones that have the power to affect us at our very cores, can elevate us to beautiful views of love, loyalty, sincerity and compassion and also send us crashing into the depths of self-doubt, loneliness and despair; and sometimes we experience both within the same relationship over the course of a few minutes, hours or days.  Relationships are so fluid, multifaceted and unique which can leave us feeling content and/or conflicted.  Their quirky intricacies are known only to the individuals party to them so it’s nearly impossible to guess at the exact dynamics that play out in other relationships.   Oftentimes we keep details about our most treasured relationships pretty close to home.  And yet our daily interactions throw us headlong into many situations where relational satisfaction and discord are very deftly displayed.   I believe our goal is to learn to relate to each other with the same honesty, compassion and understanding that the Savior offers us.  And I believe that any precious time and effort we devote to enhancing our relationships is time well-spent.

The point of listening ears

In the late night hours during my year as a resident assistant, I would often find myself on the floor, or leaning against a wall, locked in a bedroom or curled up on a kitchen sofa, listening to my girls as they detailed their various struggles with homework, boys, roommates or family members.  In hindsight, many of the stories represent efforts at growing into adults, something we were all working on at the time (and something I am STILL working on).  At the time, I knew that my job was not to directly tell them what to do.  My job was to listen.  However, in my genuine desire for their well-being and in my exuberance to be be of some aid, I couldn’t help myself and I would ask questions intended to guide them to a certain conclusion.  Basically I was trying to get them to see their problems through my perspective because sometimes the solution seemed so clear from where I sat.   Over time, my listening eyes became trained enough that I could see where this approach led.   Given enough of these loaded questions, the speaker would begin to fidget, look around and seek an escape route.   The conversation would hastily come to a close and I would walk back to my room, heavy-hearted and shaking my head, completely confused at their inability to see the solution with the clarity I thought I’d offered.

It wasn’t until I had to explain my own therapy experiences to RJ that I was able to see how my understanding of listening had matured a bit.   Rather than doling out sage advice or guiding with pointed questions, more often than not, I realized that my job with those residents was to help them know themselves, not as I saw them but as they were.  Sometimes it’s almost impossible to see oneself clearly through a fog of trauma, conflict, or even just new ideas.  It can be hard to pinpoint agitation or discontent without a safe place to empty one’s thoughts and sift through them.  That is the job of a listener, to carefully receive the words of a speaker and then methodically sort through them in an effort to identify possible connections or make unbiased observations.   I am grateful for the patience of those 58 residents who trusted a bit of their growth to me and patiently taught me how to listen.