Things aren’t always as they seem.

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Have you ever looked at someone that you admire and thought, geez, I wish I could be more like her/him.  They have it all, a great job, great family, great spouse,  their kids are perfect, they always seem happy.  And look at that home…. it’s ALWAYS clean.  And so and so on.

You think to yourself, I can’t even keep the laundry folded (or maybe even washed) and dinner on the table. Wait, I can’t even fix dinner because I haven’t had any time to go the store in the last couple of weeks.  And pretty soon you’ve talked yourself into such a personal pity party that you’re fighting with your imperfect kids.  And you’re short with your husband and friends.  You may be fuming about work projects or situations where you just felt that things were dumped on you, or just not fair.

Does any of that sound familiar to you?  Me too!  We’re so good at finding all of our flaws and imperfections and comparing them to the strengths of others whom you admire.  But the truth is, things aren’t always as they seem!  In fact rarely are they as they look on the outside.  EVERYBODY (at least in my past 51 years of experience) is going through something hard.  And to a certain degree, we all try to put on the face that nothing is wrong everything is just rosy!  It’s time for us to get real, and quit the fake.  That is quite the buzz word at the moment isn’t it?  Just quit the fake, right? But it’s not really that easy to do.

Let me ask you a couple of questions that I really want you to ponder.  Really ponder.

1.What is it about my life that is sooo horrible that I can’t help but look at others and want what they have?  And

2. What good is there in my life right now that others might see as optimal (the blessings you have in your life)?

Sometimes we are so focused on what we don’t have that we forget to be grateful and celebrate the things that we do have!

I personally think that is why it is so important to keep some sort of daily gratitude journal!  It reminds you to be aware and mindful of all the little things that are good in your life.  It helps you to focus on the positives.

One of the the things in my own life that I could really make into a horrible thing, I can make it a negative or a positive, is the fact that I have Bipolar disorder.  It would be very easy for me to look at all the negative that comes along with this diagnosis.  And it does get the best of me at times.  But one of the ways that I try to make it into a positive is to try and help others who may be struggling with similar issues.  I am always amazed that just by sharing what I go through, it always touches someone in some way.  Sometimes it is in a big way and other times it is as small as them recognizing that they are not alone.  They don’t always reach out and let me know, but when they do, it always makes me feel like what I am struggling with is a blessing that I can use to help others in their own lives.

And lastly, looking at and focusing on the good in your life is a practice that is so easy to pick up and really doesn’t take much.  Try recording just 3 things daily that are good in your life that day, that moment.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  Sometimes for me it is just the fact that I am here on this Earth living another day!

So with that said, go out and look for the good today!  Remember that things aren’t always as they seem when viewing what others are putting out there.  And know that you are never alone!  I see you!

 

Look for the light!

Sometimes, in this ever darkening world it gets harder and harder to find the light.  Who am I?  Where am I going?  What is my mission?  Do I even have a mission? Do I matter?  What is my purpose in this life?  These are  questions that we ask ourselves in times of darkness.  Or when we are really struggling to find the light.  The light of Christ.  The light within ourselves.  The light of others.  So how do we answer the tough questions?  How do we find the light?

I would like to say there is an easy answer! And here is exactly where you go to find it!  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) we have to do the work to find the answers to those questions.  And it’s HARD work!  Many of us may not be willing to put in that kind of work to find the answers to these, and many other questions that plague us.  Many more will find the easy way out by placing the responsibility on others to change or conform to what their belief is.  I guess some could argue that that is what I am doing.   But what I am doing, is trying to get you to look at your life and what questions you have and then do the HARD work to find the answers to those questions.  Find out for yourself!

When I wrote What Being Away from the Church Taught Me, I was in the mind frame that if there was someone else going through what I went through and they could be helped by it, then it was worth sharing.  I still feel that way and I have had many experiences that have led me to believe that we all have something to share that will help each other on this path in life.  The struggle is real, and its HARD!  But we don’t have to do this life alone.  In fact we are not meant to.  Although there are some things that we do have to do alone, like finding the answers to the questions that we struggle with.  What I am asking you to do is: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5

Sometimes, when we do this, we are directed into the path of others that can help us find those answers.  In fact, many times people will be placed in our path to help us open doors and find new and better ways of looking at our questions.  A new perspective can open our minds and fill us with knowledge that we hadn’t previously considered.   We will find that there are new ways of finding the answers to those questions.  We are never completely alone in our quest!

I hear and read all the time that my church is full of judgement, and self righteous people that don’t understand that what they are saying or the way that they treat people is keeping them from coming back to church or joining the church to begin with.  Believe me when I say that there was a time when I felt that way myself.  I remember at one point (maybe on several occasions) saying “Shouldn’t the people be a reflection of the Church?  And if that is what the Church is then I don’t want to be a part of it.”,  But you know what that was?  It was an excuse.  It was an excuse for me to take the easy road.  Why?  Because the other road is much HARDER!  It takes effort and grit to really ask the tough questions and then find a way to get answers.

I’m not saying that there is not judgement in the church, there is plenty of it… way too much, in my opinion.  I have often said, I believe that will be the first question we get asked when we face Christ, “Did you love others, as I have loved you?”  For this is the second great commandment:

 “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matt. 22:39; see also Gal. 5:14).

BUT….. That does not mean that we can let the judgement of others keep us from finding the light. Or, keep us from doing the work to find the answers for ourselves to the questions that we have.   We have to dig deep!  We have to take responsibility for our own life.  It’s the only way to truly find peace and happiness on this Earth.

In the Bible,  James 1:5-6 It reads:  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

So there is our answer!  That is how we can find the answers to the seemingly impossible questions.  God will not let us down!  But we need to do the work!  Praying once may not do it.  Praying for an answer a 100 times may not do it.   But if you continue to pray, study, ponder, search, it will happen!  I can promise you this because it’s happened to me. And many people that I know and love.

Certainly, God is not just going to pour down answers upon your head of everything you’ve ever questioned.  You have to do the HARD work!  But with each question, that you use this above process to find answers with, I promise you, it will work!

The other part that often gets overlooked is that we have to have intent to do something with the answer that we’ve been given.  We have to have “faith unwavering”! Knowledge always comes with responsibility.  We have to acknowledge that when we find the answer, we will do something with it.  Faith precedes action! We can’t just sit back, tap our heads, and say hmmm.  Sometimes it requires a major lifestyle change.  Or an extreme reversal in thought process. So the HARD work comes in again here!

It is not easy!  I’ll say that a hundred times because it’s true, it’s not easy!  Especially when sometimes it feels as though we are just trying to keep our heads above the water to keep from drowning in all the information that is thrown at us from every angle.  But if we are diligent in working towards finding the answers, doors will be opened, hearts will be changed and miracles can happen in our lives!

The Savior teaches that He is the light that “enlighteneth your eyes,” “quickeneth your understandings,” and “giveth life to all things.” The Light of Christ will help us see ourselves and others through the Savior’s eyes.

President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, said “… the spirit that dwells within each of us can be enriched with enthusiasm and enlightened by the Almighty. The process of spiritual growth is revealed in the scriptures: “Intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; … [and] light cleaveth unto light. ”  That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 ,also Doctrine and Covenants 88:40)

I can’t imagine what truths await us if we put in the HARD work to find our answers.  And I hope that with those answers comes a greater determination to move forward, onward and upward.  We owe it to ourselves to take action!  He loves us and wants us to succeed!  Of that I am confident!