Elysha's World

Elysha's World

Monday, June 20, 2016

Alone in the Universe

This past week has been one of those weeks where the universe comes together and corners you from every side to make sure that you get the message that it’s trying to tell you. I’m still trying to make sense of everything, but I have come to one conclusion. God is really good at putting all of the puzzle pieces together. 

I’ve had a lot of questions for my life the last few years. They call these the “decision making years.” Mostly it’s been “When?” “What?” and “Why?” I’ve been grateful this week that I’ve kept a meticulous journal since I was about 9, because I learn an incredible amount of information from my younger self. It’s amazing what even my 2 years ago self was like. I like to think I’ve softened a little bit, become more trusting, and daring all at the same time. 

I ran an errand earlier and I was going to come back home and go inside, but it was too beautiful outside to do that. So instead I left my purchases in my car and went for a walk. I had to go buy Aloe Vera because I got a pretty bad sunburn this weekend. I thought about how sometimes we feel like we get burned by something that is supposed to help us. The sun gives us light and heat. It helps grow food for us, and melts the snow. Yet sometimes it hurts us. We have to peel away the burnt skin for new growth to come up underneath. 
I’m old enough to know that if I stay out in the hot sun, I will get burned. Usually that’s not the case though. Usually I’m not in the sun long enough for that to happen, or I’m only in the sun enough to get a tan, but not to burn. I’m old enough to know that. I made a mistake. My one maybe two hours in the sun, turned into 4 hours of laughter, exercise, and enjoying time with some amazing friends. I had a nagging thought in the back of my head to get out of the sun, or put on some sunscreen, but I was too caught up in the afternoon. As my friend Taylor Swift would say, “I should have said no. I should have gone home. Should have thought twice…” 

People make mistakes. I made a mistake like the song above said. But we’re not alone in making these mistakes. I think for most of my life I’ve judged the people around me for making mistakes. I lived my life so carefully that I wouldn’t make any. My friends would stay out too late, I wouldn’t. My friends made some immoral choices, I didn’t. I would judge from the inside looking out, instead of outside looking in. I saw what happened when people made mistakes. It was painful. I didn’t want my actions to hurt anyone else including myself. 

Before I left to go on my walk I hesitated. I didn’t want to go by myself. Then I told myself that the sun was still up, I live in a safe neighborhood, and everything would be fine. I communed with God as I enjoyed the fading sunlight. I tried to make sense of the direction my life was taking and thought about a talk that I read yesterday that was given by Sheri Dew at BYU-I. Here is a portion of it. 

“[…] questions, especially the tough ones, propel us to engage in a spiritual wrestle so that the Lord can lead us along. Without plain old spiritual work, even God can't make us grow-or at least, He won't.[xxiv]           

My life has been filled with spiritual wrestling-not because of any great valor on my part but because I have yearned to understand why certain things were happening to me, and why others were not. For decades I have fasted, prayed and pleaded for a husband. I've asked who he is, where he is, and when he's coming. As of today, I still don't know the answer to any of those questions. But the wrestle has blessed me with the knowledge that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that His gospel is filled with power, and that God will talk to and direct me.    

Growing spiritually and receiving answers to our questions depends  upon our ability to feel, hear, and understand the whisperings of the Spirit. It is worth engaging in a spiritual wrestle to learn to receive personal revelation, because we can only know what is true when the Spirit bears witness to our hearts and minds as only the Holy Ghost can.[xxv] Revelation must include both, because intellect alone cannot produce a testimony. You cannot think your way to conversion, because you cannot convince your mind of something your heart does not feel.[xxvi]

I thought back to 2011. I gave a Relief Society lesson during family day; I don’t even remember what we were talking about, maybe over coming trials in our lives, or something like that. We talked about experiences and a lot of us were emotional. At the very end I felt like I should tell the room what my greatest fear was. So I told them that my greatest fear was being alone. 

Saying it out loud was almost a freeing experience. As I continued pondering I thought about how ironic that was because in the past 5 years I’ve had my fair share of personal quiet time. I thought about how my mom has been single now for at least 14 years and she’s an amazing woman. I don’t know how she did it. I don’t know how we all got thorough it, but we survived. There are worse things than being alone.  I thought of all the amazing women I’ve had in my life that reach the age of 30 and they are still single, my friends that are widows, or those that are in a marriage or relationship and still feel isolated. Everyone feels it at one point or another. No one is immune. 

Then I realized that this fear that used to consume and restrict me wasn’t there anymore. I think it went away over time. I actually started laughing because the one thing I used to never want is the one thing that I surprisingly enjoy now. It reminded me of the stand-up comedian Brian Regan. Here is the clip. Start at 2:54 to 3:27. The rest of it is highly entertaining, but he hits the nail right on the head.  

I tried to think of what my new greatest fear is, but surprisingly couldn’t come up with anything.

Mostly, I just wanted to say how great God really is. Elder Bednar in a recent devotional talked about how God places people and situations in our lives. He said, “There is no such thing as a coincidence when you are on the Lord’s errand. He makes these intersections happen.” I truly believe that. I believe in change. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. I believe that God directs our lives, and though we may feel alone, we’re not. He’s brought too many people into my life to make me believe anything different. 

Here’s one last video. It’s one of my favorite songs from Seussical the Musical. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

If We're Honest

I love the song I posted above. I think it’s because it’s so honest. (no pun intended.) Lately I’ve been talking to my friends about being honest; About not waiting to say the things you’ve always wanted to say, because you are afraid of how the other person will react. If what you are trying to do and say to someone is said out of love, then there is no shame in that.

 I was looking into some quotes on Friday and there were two that I really liked. In this first one the speaker is talking about a company changing and what had to be said to some employees. They were afraid of changing and learning new things and this is a sample of what kind of conversation needed to happen. 

“If you are willing to learn, we will use every resource available to help you keep up. We will help you get whatever is required now for you to teach or to continue to perform in whatever area as long as you understand you cannot do it the way you have always done. If you insist on doing things the way you have always done, you have no guarantee. You probably will not make it here; but that is your choice, not ours.

I think that example applies to us here. If there is fear, counsel with someone. A person who is in a position of authority can invite a person to express what is making him or her fearful. That process is the only way to discover what skills you do not have for where you need to be. Leaders can help you with that. But if you refuse to upgrade your skills, and if you insist on just doing what you have always done, then we cannot help you. In essence, you will make the choice to leave. I think it is essential to be that candid in conversation. I am not suggesting this is easy, but we have to talk authentically about what the need is so it can be addressed.”

I work in HR and it’s all about having crucial conversations. Sometimes sugar coating things doesn’t help anyone. The hard part is that we’re all humans, we all have emotions, and we can’t determine how someone will react to what we’re going to say. This is where free agency comes in. 

We had a training a few weeks ago about having candid conversations with people in our lives. If we go to someone and say what we need to say by getting rid of our emotions and expressing ourselves, if they choose not to change, then we can move on and know we’ve done all we can do. 

Here is another quote that I read and really liked. It’s similar to the one above and pertains to a business setting.

“A principle that is hard to hear but resonates as true: when we fail to give needed correction or counsel, it’s because we’re thinking of ourselves. We normally think, “Well, you know, I don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings.” No, that’s really not true; you just want to be liked. And the reason I’m not going to tell you what really needs to be said is because I don’t want to be viewed negatively or fall into disfavor. 

It is far more loving to appropriately provide correction and counsel than it is to duck the issue… Nobody cares about getting credit; nobody cares about being right and getting credit for being right. People just care about getting it right the way the Lord wants it. And therefore, you can really say what needs to be said, and you don’t always do it in the best way or the smoothest way, but nobody’s looking for reasons to be offended or to take umbrage. You’re just, OK, fine, let’s get to this.” 

When I was at a training a few weeks ago, I thought about a friend that I met about 8 years ago. We were best friends for about a year and then something came between us. People were upset and felt like they had to choose sides. I remember what some of the fight was about, but what mattered back then, doesn’t even make a difference now. We got in a huge fight and didn’t talk to each other for about a year. If we did speak, we’d just end up fighting. 

About a year later after several promptings I looked her up on Facebook. I sent her a private message. I just started writing and said the feelings of my heart. It wasn’t glamorous but I honestly missed her as a friend and told her that and a lot more. I was kind of terrified that she wouldn’t write back or that she would and not reciprocate. I didn’t have her phone number any more, but I knew that if something bad happened in my life that I wanted her there. So I swallowed my pride and told her I was sorry.

She did write back and we had to rebuild our friendship from the ground up. It was hard and scary. It wasn’t the same as it was before, but I guess maybe in some ways it was better. She’s the only person I’ve had that experience with, but because of us both reaching out we ended up writing each other on our missions, going to each others family events, and are still friends 8 years later. 

We all need color in our lives, but sometimes it’s best to take off all the false pretenses and be black and white. 

Be Brave! 

There is one last video I want to share on here. It's possibly my favorite song from the musical "The Last Five Years." The song is called "If I Didn't Believe In You."  The husband and wife are having an argument and the wife, Cathy, just locked her self in the bathroom.  He starts talking to her through the door, and it's a very candid song. Every version is a little different, but I liked the feeling in this video. It's the closest to the original version.  I really enjoy the entire show.  There is a line toward the end that is said wrong. The lyrics are "I will not fail so you can be comfortable Cathy, I will not lose because you can't win." It makes more sense if you've seen the entire show, but I felt it also applied to this post. Enjoy!