Elysha's World

Elysha's World

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Forgiveness is a Choice

In the last few weeks I’ve been really trying to better myself. I’ve been trying to be more positive and see the sunny side of life. I’ve been pondering the best ways to change, and while there have been little victories; I haven’t noticed much of a difference. I’ve been focusing on one big challenge that feels like it will ever go away. While I was going to bed last night I told the Lord of my frustrations and didn’t feel any peace or answer to my questions. I decided to leave it alone and go to bed. 

I slept in this morning and had a very restful night’s sleep. I had some very vivid dreams, the kind that stay with you even after you’ve woken up. As I was lying in bed thinking things over, I thought of one person in particular that was in one of my dreams. The last few years we’ve grown apart and life hasn’t been for us the way it was before. I started to think of all the things that this person had done for me and all of the memories we had together. It was at that moment that I realized what I was feeling. I felt nothing, which was really weird. I thought of the person again. I felt nothing and then I felt love. All of the hard thoughts and feelings that I had built up towards this particular person over the years had over the course of the night melted away. 

I’d never had this kind of experience before. I didn’t even know that was possible. Instead of answering the direct question in front of me, the Lord helped me in a completely different aspect of my life that I wasn’t expecting. I think it’s His way of chipping away at the bigger problem I’ve been single handedly trying to dig into. It’s amazing that in one night all of those feelings of hurt and resentment could totally disappear and I’m the one who is benefiting from it. 

I had a similar experience to this a few months ago. There was a woman I knew who I worked closely with and we did not see eye to eye on anything. I felt like nothing I did was good enough to please her. If I tried to help, she would tell me how I did it wrong in front of everyone, and then redo it herself most of the time. I was frustrated.

I was invited to a party by our mutual friend. I was worried she might be there, but I wanted to support my friend. I showed up and she wasn’t there. I had a great time and met a lot of really cool new people. We all got into a really deep discussion and I was really enjoying myself. Then this woman showed up. I didn’t want to sit by her so I moved down a few chairs so she would have to sit by someone else. The person I moved by also moved so that she could sit down in the circle and left the two chairs by me empty. Sure enough she came and sat right by me. 

I decided at this point that I’d had enough with this strained relationship. I wanted it to be over, I had to work with her, so I wanted to have my mind set changed so that we could work together. I silently prayed and pleaded with the Lord to soften my heart. I prayed for the Lord to let me know how I could change, so that I wouldn’t have these intense emotions whenever this woman walked into the room. I don’t remember what the topic had turned to, but someone was talking about how much we all loved the person who had thrown the party and everyone was getting a little emotional. Out of nowhere this woman placed her hand on my knee. 

I froze. What was she doing!?! In that moment all I could think about is how much I wanted her to be sitting far away from me, and I really didn’t want her touching me. What was she thinking? Then I realized that I had a decision to make. Wasn’t I just praying for a way to let my disdain go? She was a wonderful woman, a lot of people really looked up to her, but I couldn’t see eye to eye with her. We’d known each other for years, and while I respected her, we just never clicked. I’m sure it had been just a few moments, but it felt like a really long time. I had to decide to either continue to essentially hate her, or forgive her and myself, and try to move past this. 

I thought of a story I’d heard a few times. It was shared in General Conference in 2013 by Timothy J Dyches called “Wilt Thou BeMade Whole.” 

“Corrie ten Boom, a devout Dutch Christian woman, found such healing despite having been interned in concentration camps during World War II. She suffered greatly, but unlike her beloved sister Betsie, who perished in one of the camps, Corrie survived.

After the war she often spoke publicly of her experiences and of healing and forgiveness. On one occasion a former Nazi guard who had been part of Corrie’s own grievous confinement in Ravensbrück, Germany, approached her, rejoicing at her message of Christ’s forgiveness and love.
“‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’

“His hand was thrust out to shake mine,” Corrie recalled. “And I, who had preached so often … the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. … Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

“I tried to smile, [and] I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”1

So I sat there, frozen, thinking of this story, conflicted, wanting to forgive but unable to move. (I’m not trying to comparing her to a Nazi, obviously these are two different stories, but the principle is the same) I prayed for the strength to move my arm and as I did I was really nervous, but knew it was in my best interest. I placed my hand on top of hers and as soon as I did all of my anger and animosity felt like it melted down my body and through the floor boards. It was gone. 

I held her hand for a moment and then took my hand back and she took hers back. I think that maybe she was praying for the same thing. We didn’t talk about it, but I did give her a hug before she left.
I’ve seen her multiple times since then, and I always wait for the moment when I feel like I need to pull back and put my guard up. It hasn’t happened. All of those feelings are completely gone. It’s like I’m a completely different person.

I share these experiences only to testify that God is real. He is aware of your situations and He’s willing to help if you ask. I also share them because healing and forgiveness comes in many forms. I haven’t been able to have this experience with everyone I want to, but sometimes forgiveness comes from a distance because we can’t actually have conversations with the people we’d like to have conversations with. 

Happiness is a choice. Forgiveness is a choice. Make a choice. I know it might be hard, but with God all things are possible. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

They Say Love is Blind…So is Dating.

This Studio C video pretty much perfectly describes how a lot of my friends feel about being set up on blind dates. I’ve had a lot of requests to write another dating blog, so here is a little advice from a single person on how it feels to be set-up. 

I’ve been set up a few times on dates. I think the first time someone tried to set me up I’d just returned home from my mission a few months earlier. I sang in my ward choir for the Christmas program and after it was over a girl came up to me and my mom. She said that her husband’s brother had served in the same country as I did on his mission, and she thought that we would really “hit it off.”  I gave her my number and I waited for a phone call. It finally came about 3 months later. We eventually met up and hung out once or twice.

I grew up hearing people complain all the time about being set up on blind dates. I am a believer in set-ups and blind dates. I prefer them over online dating sites. I’ve been on some pretty fun blind dates. I’ve also been on a lot of really awkward ones, including one where we got into a fender bender in the first 5 minutes. Here are a few simple rules to remember before setting someone up:

1.      Make sure that both parties are single and are interested in being set-up.

2.      Sometimes double dates are a great way to introduce two people. This way they get to know each other, but if they are both not interested, they can lean on the person who set them up for things to talk about until they can get off the date. 

3.      Have the person that you give their phone number to call within a week, two tops, of when they get the other persons phone number. 

4.      Just because someone is single and female, that doesn’t mean that they are a perfect match for someone who is also single and male. 

5.      If you are given someone’s number, and they are told that you’ll get in touch with them, call them or text them.

6.      If someone is trying to set you up with someone, and you are really not interested in being set up, tell them, or tell the person once they call you.  

I have set quite a few people up on dates. I have even had one success story! Do you want to know what I told my friend before I set her up? “You have to meet this guy! He wears funny T-shirts and likes to use Twitter.” What can I say? Match made in heaven!  

Lately as I’ve started hanging out with a lot of my married friends, their favorite thing to do is stop the conversation and say, “Hey everyone, let’s talk about Elysha for a few minutes. She’s still single, and we need to find someone for her to date.” I appreciate the gesture, I really do, but the last time this happened another girl said, “Hey I know a guy! He’s tall, divorced, and a little weird.” 

 I had a friend try to set me up with someone she knew a few years ago. Here is part of our conversation.

That was in 2014. He did get in contact with me, but after I found out that she had never actually met him, I decided that I didn’t feel comfortable with that and we never went out. 

 A few months ago I decided to throw a Murder Mystery dinner party at my house. If you are interested in hosting one or don’t know what that is I have a blog about that you can read here. I wasn’t sure who to invite, so I decided to go through all of my old Facebook Messages and see if I could find someone new to invite. I came across a message from *Scott. Scott was the guy my friend had tried to set me up with. 

I didn’t know if he was still in town let alone single, but with some encouragement from friends I sent him a message. He was single and free that night and decided to come. That was scary and exciting all at the same time. He came to my house and wouldn’t look at me for about the first 20 minutes. I was sitting next to him, but he wouldn’t look at me. He’d talk to me while staring off into the distance, or talk to the other people in the room. I can’t blame him for that, it was probably a weird situation, but he was making it weirder. The night came to an end and everyone left. We didn’t go out again, but it was a pretty fun night. 

When I think of blind dates I think of a birthday party I went to when I was about 14. I went to a birthday party for a blind girl in my ward. As soon as you entered the house a blind fold was put on and the rest of the party was spent in the dark. I think her mom video taped it so we could watch the party after. We played party games, ate cake, and got to know each other all while blind folded. At the end of the party we all took the blind folds off. It was so weird. I realized that I was about 4 years older than most of the girls there, but because I was blindfolded in my mind I pictured everyone else as being much older. 

I also love this clip from the movie "When in Rome." It brings a whole new meaning to "blind date."

Sometimes it feels like being single is this disease that needs to be cured. Everyone acts like if you don’t get married before age 25 that there is absolutely no chance for you. I know people mean well, but they got to choose who they married, and we want that same chance. Everything works out in end. 

One of my best friends gave me this quote in my Valentine’s Day card a few years ago. I laughed incredibly hard, and now it just makes me smile every time I read it. 

“You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip.” –Jonathan Carroll

*All names have been changed.