Stop Dragging Fred

There is a story about a man who returns home from a day of golfing. His wife asks how the day went and he responds that it went well, except that Fred passed out on the second hole. The man’s wife looked scared and asked “oh my goodness! Is Fred OK?”. “Yes he’s fine”, replied the husband, “but it was such a bother. Every hole it was hit the ball, drag Fred. Hit the ball, drag Fred”.

So often we are unwilling to let go of our expectations. We drag them around with us even though it makes the situation harder than it has to be. We have expectations for almost everything in our lives; how our jobs will be, how our holiday meals will turn out, how our date with the cute guy from math class will go, how our spring break vacation will go, and a million other things. Yet for me, I find myself creating expectations most often for my friends, and for how our friendships will be.

For a variety of reasons, I have a hard time letting relationships, especially friendships, go. I want to be a good friend, a great friend, and I want to be able to be that forever. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, but it’s definitely something that has come to my attention in recent years. The golden rule says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But I have a hard time drawing the line at where I continue to be a friend regardless of the other person’s willingness to also be a friend. A real friendship requires two people, but shouldn’t I still be kind and be good even if it isn’t reciprocated?

I’m most surely not the prime example of how to show love to others. My sarcastic nature can often come off to people as a bit mean if they don’t know me. But I do try to show love to those in my life through the ways I know how. I don’t always know what words to say to help someone through something, but I can always listen. I will drive however far away in order to be with someone when they need it. I will give up extra study time, or a soccer game, or anything of that nature, because a person to be loved is often more important than anything else I could be doing. As I began to try harder over the last couple of years to express my love for my friends in both word and deed, I often became frustrated when those same things weren’t reciprocated. My expectations of how they should act were based on what I was willing to do for them, and if they didn’t show love for me in the same ways, it was as if they didn’t show it at all.

One day I came across a quote that changed my perspective on this very topic that I was struggling with. The unknown author said “Just because somebody doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have”. Holy cow. How often was I limiting the love I could have been receiving simply because I was unwilling to accept the type of love they were trying to give me? When I returned to Utah for the months of August and September, I felt that I got the most out of the friendships that I had there. I saw different friends on a consistent basis, was being invited to attend more events, and I felt loved. Learning to let people love me however they choose to do so is hard, but dragging around my expectations of how they should love me is even harder. Maybe our bestfriends are only our bestfriends for a time, and maybe that hilarious guy from my intramurals team won’t want to be my friend, and maybe I will lose other friends. But maybe that’s OK.

It is important to be brave, to be kind, and to love. But it is also important to stop dragging Fred. He can show up in our lives in many different ways. As we let go, our arms will be rested, our eyes will be opened, and the beauty of what life really is will be so exhilarating. My favorite poet, Tyler Knott Gregson wrote:

We are half people and we will stay half people until we stop wishing for wishes that have already been granted.

And I would add, perhaps we will stay half people until we learn to live our lives for what they truly are.

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Re: What is Your Prison?

One of my friends posted recently about the prisons that we are all stuck in, and the fact that many of us may share the same cells. If you want to hear her own words, click here. Basically, her church group is studying the letters of Paul, that he wrote while he was in prison. While trying to find some correlation between Paul and herself, she found that she has her own metaphorical prisons that she is stuck in. She challenged us to think about the prisons in our own lives, and then to write about it. So even though it’s a little late, here I go.

There are many challenges in my life that come from my own doing. Some of these are little fences that I can hop over and move on from, but some are metal bars that hold me in. And just like a repeat offender, I end up behind those same metal bars time after time, despite my desire to move forward and leave prison behind. In the New Testament, a young man asks Christ what he must do to inherit eternal life. Christ tells the man that he must keep the commandments to which the man responds that he has kept the commandments since he was young. Christ then tells him to sell all that he has, give to the poor, and then he will inherit eternal life. Unfortunately, the man “was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:22). One thing. The young man was asked to do one more thing in order to inherit eternal life, the greatest blessing of all. Yet that one thing was something he wasn’t willing, at least at that time, to do. Perhaps I am in the same prison as this young man. No, I don’t have great possessions, but I do have things in my life that I am not always willing to give up, even if it means I will gain something greater in return. I want people to think highly of me, to think I’m funny, and that I’m athletic, that I’m smart, and that I can handle anything that comes at me without getting angry or shedding a tear. But is this really who I am? Are these ideals helping me to become who I actually want to be? At first glance, they don’t look so bad. But when I make a joke that puts someone down in an effort to get laughs out of people,or when I continue to study or to workout instead of heeding a prompting I have to help someone, I actually drive myself further away from where I want to be and I find myself once again behind prison walls. Not only do both of these situations cause others to be hurt, but I delay my own progression as well. I can still be funny, smart, athletic, and strong without being mean and without letting myself me imprisoned. It all comes down to what I am willing to give up in order to follow Christ. In Christ there is freedom, there is grace, and there is mercy, none of which can be found in a prison cell. “For with God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). May we all have the strength to let go of those things holding us back with the knowledge that God will replace them with things much greater.

What’s a Life Plan?

Leaving my hometown of Gardnerville, NV and heading somewhere totally different and making a new life for myself was what I had always dreamed of. But when the tuition was too expensive and the money didn’t come through, my plans had to change. This was,unknowingly, the first of many changes in my plans that would take place over the next three years. I ended up going to Utah State University Eastern, a little shootoff of Utah State University, located in Price, UT. I met good people, and I enjoyed the first semester, but I didn’t feel like it was right for me. When spring semester came around, I had moved to Salt Lake City and was attending LDS Business College. The second change. This semester was really good and really hard all at the same time. I met friends that still remain some of my closest friends today, I had a really good job as a nanny, my brother and sister-in-law lived 15 minutes from me, and I did very well in school. Yet despite these truths, I felt alone. And little did I know, that feeling of loneliness would linger for the next few years. The next semester I began attending the University of Utah, still in Salt Lake City. This was my plan all along once I decided to move to Salt Lake so we won’t count this as a change. This school was good to me. I found the major I was interested in, found good people, and I learned a lot. Yet outside of school, I still felt lost. Fast forward to the end of 2014 and I am applying to transfer to a different school in Utah, but I end up staying at the U because things weren’t working out with the transfer. Go six more months down the road and I decide to live at home for the summer, the first time I’ve been at home for more than a week in three years. 3 more months go by, I’m living back in Utah and I decide Im going on a mission. Change number 3. One month later, I decide I’m not going on a mission, I’m transferring to Brigham Young University-Idaho. Change number 4. I move home again, find out I am accepted to BYUI, accept the offer, and here we are today. January 2013 through October 2015 have been the hardest years of my life. The constant longing for change and for the feeling that I belonged and that I was wanted resulted in moving houses 5 times, attending 3 different schools, meeting a ton of different people, and spending many nights crying out to God to help me feel OK. I’ve never been one to show any emotion. My roommate actually sometimes reminded me that I needed to learn how to show emotion and share my feelings (I’m still trying to figure that out). But when the weight of everything feels too heavy to carry any longer, I couldn’t help but let the tears fall onto my pillow as I begged for these trials to be removed from my life. For my entire life I’ve been taught that there’s a God in Heaven who hears my prayers, who loves me, and who will answer me when I pray. But why was I continuing to feel this way? Why did all the plans I made for my life, even though they were good things, never seem to workout? Why did I fight so hard to make lasting friendships when they slipped away so easily? Why did I work and try to save money, but my bank account was dwindling anyways? Why was I not being blessed with opportunities to date and find “the one” like so many other people were, and like I’ve been taught that I should? So many questions filled my mind and sorrowed my soul for so long. Yet in these moments, and throughout these years, my questions were being answered, my plans were being bettered, and my heart was being strengthened. I would never wish to once again feel that pain for such an extended time, but I will forever thank my Heavenly Father for placing his hand in my life. From these three years I can pinpoint exact times where I learned the lessons that I need for the rest of my life.

January 2013: I learned that my Savior, Jesus Christ, is my friend. He stayed with me when I had no one else, and he stayed with me when I was surrounded by people.

August 2014: I learned that the atonement of Jesus Christ is real. Making mistakes is an inevitable part of our mortal existence, but being forgiven for those mistakes is possible. I fought long and hard to learn this lesson, and I continue to see the grace of God work in my life as I strive to become better.

June 2015: God knows what we need more than we know what we need. Coming home was exactly what I needed, and I was able to return to Utah with a new attitude and outlook.

November 2015: There is a plan for my life, and it is perfect.

I think oftentimes our minds are blocked by our own pride. We believe we know all things, and we don’t need the help of anyone else, much less from God. Yet in those moments of frustration and sadness and loneliness it is to God that we cry out for. We so badly want Him to help us in our low moments, but forget Him in our good times. I’m grateful that He is an unchanging God. That despite my imperfections and my struggles, He loves me. That even if I run away from Him and distance myself from His spirit, He continues to place his hand in my life and lead me back to where I need to be. The grace of God and of His son, Jesus Christ is the power through which I continue to be OK. I’m trying to be good, but I strive to be better, so that the power of Christ can work more fully through me and I can help others find that same power in their own lives. I don’t know what change is going to occur next, but I know I can trust God to lead me. I know He loves me. I know that He will never leave me. Maybe my plans never workout, but maybe that’s the best thing to ever happen to me.