Tuesday, February 28, 2017

That's What You Wanted

It's time for me to move on. I've know this for a while now. I need to progress past this place I've been in for too long. I'm talking about spiritual progression but I am also planning on physically moving from the state I've lived in for the past 20 years. My youngest is graduating from high school so I'll be finished with this chapter of my life. Consequently I'm finally facing some of the repairs I've put off for a while. I've also wanted to physically move for a long time. I've had to face these repairs because that's what I wanted

Listen: "What You Wanted" by OneRepublic

A few months ago I was blow drying my hair and the blow dryer blew a fuse. It sparked and stopped working all together. I tried to reset the GFCI outlet, which is the type of outlet with the 'reset' and 'test' buttons on it, but that wouldn't even reset. I discovered that two other outlets, another one in my bathroom and the one in the kids' bathroom, were now non-functional. I went around resetting the other GFCI outlets in the house as my first resolution process. If they were somehow connected to the one in my bathroom, then maybe the blow dryer had tripped them too. But it didn't fix the problem. I went down to the basement to check the breaker panel. No breakers had tripped. 

The next day I found that our garage door had stopped working! What the heck? Was this a coincidence? I didn't even tie the two events together at this point. I just opened and shut the garage door manually for the next few days. But that couldn't last so I finally investigated and found that the GFCI outlet in the garage was tripped. When I reset it the garage door worked again. It was then that I said, 'Wait a minute. This just might be connected to the blow dryer incident.'  I was hoping that resetting that outlet would fix the other but it didn't. So I didn't know what to do except call an electrician.

But I didn't want to call an electrician. The last time I did was so frustrating. I was charged seventy-five bucks for a five-minute visit on a fix I could have totally done myself. So no electrician...at least not until I had completely burned out (not literally hopefully) on trying to fix it myself.

I just left the broken outlet alone for a while. Meanwhile I plugged into another one. It was inconvenient but better than calling an electrician. I used this other outlet for a few months. But when I started to think about selling the house I knew I would have to fix that outlet. I had been thinking about it off and on throughout those months and came to an initial hypothesis that the GFCI outlet itself needed to be replaced. 

So I watched a number of YouTube videos that showed me how to replace it. I love YouTubers that share their skills and talents!!! Then I went to Home Depot and purchased a new one. I followed the instructions I had received and successfully replaced the outlet. But it still wouldn't work! I left it alone for another few days. I was really battling a sense of hopelessness. Of course I was praying about this like I do about everything. The Lord is usually right with me helping me know what to do. So between him and the YouTubers, I was well supervised. Usually I have a sixth sense, the Lord's sense, for how to solve these kinds of issues. But this time He wasn't telling me. It was so frustrating. 

I started thinking that the problem must be somewhere deep within the drywall and it would take a huge mess plus tons of electrician skills that I didn't have to repair it. But still I refused to call an electrician. I was going to fix this thing come hell or high water.

A few days later I had formed another hypothesis. I had watched more YouTube videos and had started taking careful notes about the laws of electricity and getting a better handle on the terminology.  GFCI = Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. Outlets = Terminals. Wires in = Line. Wires out = Load. Red Wire = neutral, positive. Black Wire = hot, negative.  Copper Wire = ground. I paid close attention to all the safety rules because I didn't want to die.

I called someone at Home Depot who knew about electrical malfunctions and troubleshooting. She was on the phone with me for an hour while I tested a bunch of things. She had me switch the wires on the GFCI outlet but nothing made any different. She told me to check outside for another breaker panel so I went out there. The box looked formidable. In so many ways it seemed to be saying: Access Denied. It looked like only an official electrician should or could open it. It had some sort of blue lock on the front that I couldn't get off. I didn't want to damage it. My Home Depot friend told me to leave it alone. So I did.

My next Conflict Resolution Process was to go to Home Depot and buy a multimeter, which is a device for testing electrical current. I had to find out if the outlet was even receiving any power. So I bought one, watched YouTube videos on how to use the darn thing, tested for power, and found the next clue to solving this mystery! No power was even getting to the GFCI outlet. The lights and fans still worked in the bathroom. It was just the outlets that didn't.

It was time to focus on the breaker panel in the basement. Even though a breaker was not tripped, maybe the one that powered the GFCI outlet in my bathroom was busted! I had got this idea from another YouTube video. So I used my multimeter to check the power on all of the breakers. It took me some time to figure out what was normal and what was abnormal in the panel because some wires didn't register any current at all and others did. So were the breakers all functional or not? I left this question simmering on the back burner for another day. Then I got the idea to manually check all the breakers. I remembered that the garage outlet had been tripped when the blow dryer blew so I figured that outlet was somehow connected to the other. But none of the breakers had 'garage' listed next to them. Had they been mislabeled? I determined that when I found the one that powered the outlet in the garage, it would be the same one that powered my bathroom outlet.

So I got up bright and early the next morning and flipped one breaker off at a time and assessed where the power was now out in the house at the same time as checking if it also turned off the power for the garage door. There are like 15 breakers so this was a lot of running up and down the stairs. It was a pretty good workout. But after doing that, I found that all the breakers were functional and none of them turned off the garage power! Now what? From whence was the garage outlet receiving power? Things were getting pretty exciting now!

But I'm pretty slow in putting two and two together sometimes. I didn't yet see the answer. All I knew was that I needed to know more about the wiring for my house. Where would additional breaker boxes be? My Home Depot friend had suggested I talk to the builders--Richmond--since they were still building in my neighborhood. My house is only 4 years old. I went across the street to the model homes. On my way I noticed a metal box on a house being built that was just like my outside electric box. Hmmm...but I remained on my course to ask Richmond about it. Gotta be sure about all of this. These electrical boxes are so formidable, you know! I asked the woman in the office if I could talk to an onsite electrician. I wasn't going to ask him (or her) to come over and fix my problem. I just had a specific Richmond house question. Denied. She suggested I call an electrician. Nope.

Next up: I went outside and took another long look at my electrical box. Hypothesis: there's another breaker panel in there! But how in the heck could I open it? I googled it. I found this blessed person's video (lol):


So that did it. I easily opened the formidable electrical box and within it lay ANOTHER BREAKER PANEL! Who knew that houses had two breaker panels? And lo and behold there was a breaker labeled 'Baths GFI' (GFCI is sometimes abbreviated) and it was in fact tripped. From there I just had to turn it off and on a few times while I made sure the wires were connected right on the GFCI outlet in the bathroom. Finally, I was able to reset the outlet. 

Then I plugged a lamp into it and it worked! So amazing. Seriously. One of the best mystery solving experiences I've ever had!

Lessons from Home Repairs
The reason I'm writing about this in this blog is that I learned some valuable lessons from this experience. After the conflict was resolved I looked back on the entire story. I saw how weak my faith was. I saw how I 'plugged in' somewhere else when the outlet malfunctioned for months before trying to fix it. But I also saw how I didn't give up once I was determined to fix it--once I had a reason that was powerful enough to motivate me to fix it. I noticed how I had to learn about the basics of electricity. I had created a document, labeled Electricity and took careful notes on the YouTube videos and other forum websites I had studied. I had to slow myself down, be patient, and learn some things so that I wouldn't think this was an impossible task. I had to form hypotheses. The Lord wasn't just going to tell me what I needed to do. He wanted me to go through this step by step troubleshooting process. He wanted me to use my noggin. I didn't think I had enough in my noggin to resolve the conflict. I thought I would need to have months of training before I could fix it. I thought that fixing the problem would be much more complicated than it actually was. I've always had a fear of electricity and have considered these kinds of repairs above my skill level. So instead of thinking the problem was common, at least to begin with, and using easy standard troubleshooting skills, I was envisioning a very complicated tasks that was way above me. Problems may indeed end up being complicated but the key is to start with more basic hypotheses to rule out those first. This is like taking care of the beam first before we go looking for those harder to see motes (Matthew 7:4). 

While it was difficult for me to see the Lord's guidance during the whole experience, I look back and see it clearly. He was the one instructing me to write down what I already knew, watch the YouTube videos looking for clues, form multiple hypotheses, and test them out. I also sensed that he did not want me to call an electrician. He wanted me to work with him to resolve it. This was one of his lessons for me and we would have fun resolving the conflict together. Resolving conflicts with those we love builds relationships. 

When I am trying to resolve spiritual problems my YouTube videos are replaced with the scriptures, conference talks, other good books, the past experiences of others that they share, and my own past experiences (like this one). The Lord expects me to write down what I already know about the answers I'm searching for and use my available resources. He wants me take notes to learn the basic laws and terminology, then form hypotheses and test them out.

“Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” ~Alma 32:26-27

I have spiritual conflicts in my life--metaphoric power outlets that have stopped functioning as well as they used to. I normally feel pretty confident in my strength to deal with these conflicts head-on. I usually don't try to procrastinate fixing them. I don't like to live in denial. This is because it has become a delight to work with the Lord to repent and make things right. And because I am so dependent upon him for my well-being, I can't handle it when breakers trip between us. My repeated choice to repent has built our relationship to what it is. Repentance is just like fixing things in the house that have stopped functioning right.

After this experience with the GFCI outlet, I realized that I had fallen into 'plugging in' to other outlets when my relationship with Him had stopped returning the level of power I desired. The power is never completely turned off but it tends to wax and wane in strength. When it wanes, I know it's time to learn more. But I've become lazy over the past few years and as a result I've been struggling with myself and these temptation to 'plug in' to other sources. 

I've known that I should not plug in to other outlets. That's just going to slow my overall progression down. But at the same time I need a certain level of 'power' and can't make that need go away. I've been trying to resolve this conflict by forcing myself to stop plugging into other sources. I use self-criticism. I shame myself for having the desire to receive more power. I should be grateful for what I'm already receiving! Then I just try to use shear will power to keep away from the things that tempt me. I try to say they're bad for me and I don't really want them anyway. Doesn't work. 

The things that tempt me are pretty wholesome. They are good things such as chocolate hazelnut cheesecake, Twilight on VidAngel, a Georgette Heyer novel, extremely attractive good men who I know would never be right for me and vice versa, a career path that deviates from the one the Lord wants me on, etc. Wholesome. Not terrible. But this is a good, better, and best issue, which makes them Conflicting Desires--opportunity costs to what I really want. So plugging into another power outlet in my room to blow dry my hair is not a huge opportunity cost. But when I plug in to these other temptations, they just prolong my Desire Obtainment Process. They slow it down or keep me running around in circles. And if I keep it up for too long I may end up never obtaining what I wanted.

So I have two conflicting processes that I engage in that throw me off course for what I wanted.  When I encounter tripped breakers that I don't know how to fix, I: 
1. go plug in somewhere else. 
2. try to stop myself from 'plugging in' all together by shear will power. 

I have encountered tripped breakers in my relationship with the Lord throughout my whole life. I work with Him to fix one, but as I progress on my journey up the mountain another higher level breaker trips. Never fails. I have to continually work with him to repair them so that the flow of power can increase to the level that satisfies me. I've loved this process but have also majorly struggled with it. Somewhere along the line I started thinking I was finished with all the tripped breakers. 'Kay, done now. I thought that they shouldn't trip anymore. But they do and they have.

Usually a tripped breaker means there's some habit in me that we need to work on breaking. And there's a better habit that we need to work on developing. And that takes time. I'm sick of time. I don't want it to take any more time! Time, Why You Punish Me? I ask the Lord why he can't just accept me for who I am. His answer is, 'Because that's what you wanted. It is you who is not accepting yourself for who you are. And it is you who will tell me when we have fixed enough of the tripped breakers between us. You will know when you are satisfied with the degree of power in our relationship. If you're not as satisfied as you used to be, it's time to come to me and figure out how to progress past this place.'

So he's right. And here's the issue about accepting myself for who I am. It's not about what I can receive. I'm not interested in just receiving peace and blessings, even from God. Some desires that are inherent to the human soul can't be given to us. And I'm seeing myself almost from a third-person perspective. I actually want to sacrifice more for Him. I need to. Accepting that is accepting who I am. My Savior gives me so much. I am so thankful for that but I will never be satisfied until I can meet his sacrifice with my own. I'm not saying I'll ever be able to sacrifice as much as Jesus Christ. I'm saying that I want to give my widow's mite. I can't hold anything back. I have to give him everything. It's crazy. It's insane! But that's what I wanted.

“I’ll put your poison in my veins
They say the best love is insane, yeah
I'll light your fire till my last day
I'll let your fields burn around me, around me”
~"What You Wanted" by OneRepublic

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” ~Mark 8:35

When breakers trip in my relationship with Christ its like something blew up in my face. I experience confusion or pain that I can't resolve so I block it out, ignore it, and go eat something. After physically repairing the GFCI outlet with him as well as other things around my house during the past month, I'm remembering the joy of repentance--the joy of Conflict Resolution--the joy of mystery solving. This has motivated me to be more aware of our spiritual tripped breakers. So instead of plugging in somewhere else, I'm facing each problem as it comes. I'm looking at him directly and confessing that I don't know how to resolve this one. I'm stuck. This hurts too much for me to work on by myself. I need help. 

For a long time I've been pleading with him to increase the pace in my progression. I can't stand slow downs. I need to move on! The tripped breakers are not what slow us down. It's my plugging in to other sources as a resolution process. Since I've been facing Him with each issue as it arises, I am now experiencing an exhilarating sense of increased progression. And that's what I wanted!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Wish They Had VidAngel When I Was a Teen

When I was younger and before I understood the consequences, I saw some bad movies. Dirty movies. When I got older and was married, some of the sexual scenes from these movies would randomly pop into my mind. I forced them out by ignoring them. The images were not tempting me to dwell on them. It was more that I didn’t want the dirt associated with that sacred part of me. It all made me sick. I regretted having made the choice to put those kinds of memories in my mind in the first place. It also made me angry. Angry at the producers and everyone who had been involved in making the movies (E.g. I absolutely HATE Tom Cruise).

“Know ye not, my son, that [sexual sins] are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” ~Alma 39:5

So 8 years ago, when I decided to face all this, I wondered if there was someway to empty the trash for good. Was there a way to purge these memories from my mind permanently so I wouldn’t have to keep dealing with them whenever they decided to emerge? Was there a way to undo what others had done to me before I was smart enough to establish boundaries against them?

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” ~Isaiah 1:18

I prayed about it. This was the answer:

Separate the dirt from what was clean, holy, pure, and of God. The reason these unclean memories stayed alive in my mind was that they were so interconnected with a pure God-given need for a relationship that can’t be eliminated. When I thought of good, appropriate sexual relations within marriage, these other tentacle-like parasitic images would be wrapped around them, stuck to them like bacterial slime. So the key was to separate this bacterial slime from the healthy good thoughts and memories. We can’t just purge an inherent God-given need. To attempt to do so is stupid and will end in the adoption of all kinds of vices and strange compensating behaviors that can never truly satisfy.

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” ~Genesis 1:4

Recognize Why These Movies Were Wrong
Selling Sex: Getting it Cheap
Understand that the selling that which is sacred, which belongs privately between a man and a woman in marriage, is what makes it wrong. Sexual relations were never meant to be purchased that freely. In order to rightfully obtain such a privilege it takes developing a trusting relationship with ONE other person of the opposite sex, voluntary sacrifice, and long-term commitments in marriage to both spouse and God. It’s that valuable. It’s that amazingly beautiful. It was never meant to be obtained cheaply. The most valuable gifts are those we sacrifice the most for. The very intensity, duration, and all-encompassing nature of our commitment is what enables us to feel how valuable this gift really is. If it is handed out via movies, websites, magazines, and by cheap people, it loses its value to us. We can’t FEEL its value anymore. Simple as that. And what do we become if we can no longer attain the glorious heights of this kind of relationship?

“For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” ~Isaiah 52:3

Public Showing & Sexual Bonding
If the images stimulated me, I was taking part in the sexual relationship to some degree with the actors, the directors, producers, anyone involved in making the movie, and anyone else who was watching it with me. This group obtainment of such a sacred privilege is obtaining it in a scattered deviant way. We are programming our sexual Effect Sensors to receive this privilege in this specific way. It can never sustainably satisfy yet we develop a long-term dependence upon receiving it like that. Forming sexual bonds is an inherent part of the make-up of every son and daughter of God. If we establish sexual bonds through some vicarious relationship with Hollywood and our fellow audience members, it is an opportunity cost to completely bonding with one person sacredly and privately. The only way to obtain a sustainable satisfying sexual relationship is to reserve oneself for one person only. That’s why when I saw these movies I experienced the warning feelings that made me feel very disgusting and slimy. The Holy Ghost was trying to tell me, “Don’t go there. It is addictive and has a bad Paradoxical Result.

“But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.” ~Ezekiel 16:15

Establishing sexual bonds with bad movies and the like and trying to establish an intimate relationship with one person is like saying you’re completely and utterly in love with one person, telling them that you are totally faithful to them, and having an affair with another on the side. Impossible. Contradiction. Evil. Conflicting. Even if this is done before marriage, meaning there isn’t anyone to cheat on (besides God), Bad Relationships are developing. And these are very very difficult to break up with owing to the powerful nature of this God-given need and privilege. It can exalt us if we obtain it in the right way or damn us if we don’t. 

“You must wait--you must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are at least legally and, for Latter-day Saint purposes, eternally pronounced as one. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember--"you are not your own") and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole heart and your whole life and your whole self is its own form of emotional Russian roulette. If you persist in sharing part without the whole, in pursuing satisfaction devoid of symbolism, in giving parts and pieces and inflamed fragments only, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your physical intimacy and your wholehearted devotion to a truer, later love. You may come to that moment of real love, of total union, only to discover to your horror that what you should have saved has been spent, and--mark my words--only God's grace can recover that piecemeal dissipation of your virtue.” ~Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

So bonding sexually with a group of strangers through the medium of television, magazines, or internet is one reason bad movies are bad. Sexual relations with our spouse motivate us to keep our commitments to one another. They motivates us to keep the relationship clean and holy. We can’t obtain this privilege from anyone else or anywhere else. If we have issues with one another, as always occurs in close relationships, we are motivated to do whatever it takes to resolve the conflicts in the Lord’s way. We’re motivated to drive out the natural man and become more like our Savior. In this way the good feelings and attraction in a marriage are preserved so that BOTH spouses actually depend upon, desire, and look forward to the intimate relationship. It’s not forced. It doesn’t feel like a chore. If we have an out—another place we can get it, even if it isn’t a pure source, that motivation to repent, apologize, and forgive wanes. Why should we go through that tough relationship stuff if we have so many cheap sources that don’t require anything of us but a few bucks? Bad feelings perpetuate in that kind of relationship. It’s very difficult to continue uniting so intimately with a person with whom we experience continuous conflict or perpetual numbness.

“Do this thing which I have commanded you, and you shall prosper. Be faithful, and yield to no temptation.” ~D&C 9:13

Condoning Immorality
Condoning sexual relationships between two people who aren’t married also makes bad movies bad. From what I have seen, the usual way movies present the most sacred act is between a man and a woman who are not married. Way cheap. (And even if they are married, they are still sharing this relationship with everybody on the movie set and in the theater.) 

So movies act as a brain-washing device. They show people cheating like this and then completely happy afterwards. They don’t give the real story. They don’t show what happens to two people when they enter into a sexual relationship without first making serious marriage commitments with each other and God. 

The Result is a personality disorder. Take the goodies without having to ever do the work. Get all the privileges without any of the risks. Start a relationship like that and see where it goes. What you will find is that kind of selfish attitude, that fear/refusal-to-commit yet-still-want-all-the-privileges attitude, is interwoven into the smaller relationship interactions. It will rear its ugly head in finances, chores, the kids, or any other part of life that requires sacrifice and commitment. Immorality means Survival of the Fittest. It means people are living for themselves, wherever they can get the advantage of another to meet their own needs without having to commit to so much. 

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” ~Luke 16:10

We do get something out of sexual relationships outside of marriage. Some people may even be satisfied with that. We just don’t get everything that God has in store for those that keep his commandments in regards to this relationship.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” ~1 Corinthians 2:9

Sexual Relations are of God
I think the number one thing that makes bad movies bad is that good girls and boys end up being repulsed and ashamed by ALL sexual relations. Those of us who are trying to live our life as the Savior would have us live it have a deep desire to do what is right. If we have seen movies that depict sexual relations and we have subsequently felt very bad about it, we most likely mistakenly associate the pure God-given gift of sexuality with this dirty feeling. We end up thinking sex is dirty in whatever relationship. So again, this was the critical part of cleansing myself of the memories of the bad movies without having to turn into the negative connotation of a Prude. I had to recognize that the sexual relationship itself is not the wrong, dirty, bad thing. The scriptures and prophets testify of the righteousness of such a relationship.

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” ~Genesis 2:24

“THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” 

“WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.”

“And [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” ~Matthew 19:4-6

I would say the number one strategic plan of the Behind the Scenes Author of ALL bad movies is to put asunder that which God hath joined together.

“…may I suggest that human intimacy, that sacred, physical union ordained of God for a married couple, deals with a symbol that demands special sanctity. Such an act of love between a man and a woman is--or certainly was ordained to be--a symbol of total union: union of their hearts, their hopes, their lives, their love, their family, their future, their everything. It is a symbol that we try to suggest in the temple with a word like seal. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said we perhaps ought to render such a sacred bond as "welding"--that those united in matrimony and eternal families are "welded" together, inseparable if you will, to withstand the temptations of the adversary and the afflictions of mortality.” ~Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

How to Erase The Memories Once and For All
So my instructions were that once I had differentiated a good healthy sexual relationship in marriage from the specific variables that polluted it, I needed to work on developing that kind of relationship with my spouse. Having a healthy sexual relationship with our spouse protects us from temptation. If we have it in the appropriate way, we won’t need it from any other source. 

If you are not married, the next thing to do is to go out and date. This is what I told my boys about dating: Don’t be a wimp! Yes, I understand that girls can be total jerks. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with them. 

It’s like some crazy head-hunting cannibalistic ritual, where you have to avoid being killed (arrows flying at your head right and left) by the very person you’re trying to capture. Hmmm…not unlike marriage sometimes when you think about it. But if you have developed a solid enough relationship with your Savior (total key), you will be able to withstand this onslaught. He gives you the armor and the weaponry. Dating is getting out there, hunting, dealing with the pain, participating in the real appropriate behaviors (the looks, hand-holding, “Does she like me?”, the first kiss, all that exciting stuff) that eventually will lead to your selection of a young woman whom you will some day marry. You don’t want to jump into all the heavy stuff anyway. There is so much fun in the preliminaries!

Getting the memories of bad movies out of my mind was all about separating the bad from the good—my real God-given needs and Desires from the inappropriate way to get them met. I had to get this all straightened out in my mind. After I went through this cleansing process the images stopped popping into my mind. They were forgotten. They no longer pollute this sacred relationship. So I was free (prison doors unlocked) to deepen that beautiful relationship with my spouse. I’m not saying this solves all marital sexual relationship issues. There are a few more things to consider to get that all nice and balanced out but we’ll save that discussion for another day…or another blog.

Even though VidAngel wasn't around when I was a kid, through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ the Savior helped me filter out all the dirt so I can just remember the beautiful story. We see how VidAngel is kind of like our Savior in that way. No wonder the bad guys are trying to eliminate them. Go VidAngel:  Please pray for them to win the lawsuit that is trying to force them to stop filtering the dirt out of movies for us! Also go to savefiltering.com and add your name to the petition. (Ignore the part about aunt Gretchen in the following video. That’s completely irrelevant! It shocks me every time I hear him saying my name. Wait…what?)

Also, FYI, VidAngel had to shut down their movie rentals until the lawsuit is settled. Total Bummer. I guess it's guilty until proven innocent in this case. : (

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Three Hour Tour

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...[The] passengers set sail that day, 
For a three hour tour, a THREE HOUR TOUR!"

This last August I went to our family reunion in Aptos, California. That’s a little town just below Santa Cruz and Capitola and north of Monterey where, back in the day, my grandparents bought a beach cabin. Being raised in San Jose, CA, my siblings and I grew up going to the beach cabin pretty frequently. This was our second official family reunion since we’ve all grown up and had families of our own.

This time we decided that one of the activities would be a whale watching boat ride in Monterey Bay. I can’t remember whose idea it was originally but I am responsible for organizing the whole thing. Guilty as charged. So when I talked to the skipper on the phone, she told me that people often get sea sick and so we may want to come prepared with the appropriate anti-seasickness meds. I informed everyone of this possibility and also purchased the meds myself (pharmacist recommended), which turned out to be plenty for everyone who wanted to take them.

When the day for the boat ride came, we all drove down to Monterey, parked, and walked along Fisherman's Wharf to get to the dock where all the boats were. Such a cool pier lined with restaurants that serve hot clam chowder and fresh baked bread as well as a bunch of other tourist shops. So far this was looking like a great idea!

We paid for our 3 hour tour and then boarded the boat. All of us taking the meds, took them then. After much instructions, which included how and where to throw up, we were off. The first 30 minutes were fine. We were all out on the deck looking at the seals on the rocks and the shoreline getting further and further away. I was on the front deck with a lot of others from our group. We started getting splashed a little too much when the wind picked up. The waves became more choppy, which caused the boat to rock and roll a little too intensely. Everyone standing in the bow of the boat was instructed to go inside the cabin to reduce this effect. So we did. But most of us weren’t sitting there for longer than 2 minutes before we couldn’t handle it anymore. Nausea hit. We all headed out to the back deck, holding on to whatever we could because the boat was still rocking so much.

I stayed on the back deck for the rest of the ride. About 50% of our group got sick. Matthew and Laura (my son and daughter) threw up over the side of the boat. Matthew repeatedly. Chris (my other son) was fine. I was sick but I didn’t throw up, probably because of the meds. I think the meds were actually making me feel worse. I was cold too. We had stopped by Walmart on our way to Monterey and bought a few heavy sweatshirts because they said it would get pretty cold out on the water. I was standing in one spot on the deck near the side of the boat in a hooded sweatshirt, with the hood up. I was shaking pretty bad and trying to deal with the constant upchucking feeling. There was nothing I could do to make this trial go away. A few others were suffering but I couldn’t help them anymore than they could help me. There were two more hours left on the boat. I had no one to blame. I’m the one who planned the whole thing. I was in fact responsible but the cause was inexperience. I didn’t know how bad it would be. I didn’t even know if any of us would get sick. I was fine on Lake Powell boats but apparently not fine on this boat.

What was going on on the inside.
I had no desire or inclination to blame it on anyone. Yet I couldn’t just exist in that terrible state without starting on some kind of conflict resolution process. My brother Will and all his kids were fine. He was walking all around the boat, changing places often. He suggested I try this as a resolution process. But moving just made it worse for me. So I just stood there shivering. But internally, spiritually I was actively reaching up to God in prayer. I told him I could do nothing to make my situation any better. I had two hours to endure and I was unable to do that on my own.  I asked him to help me. I just focused my mind on him and stayed with him. I could feel him with me, comforting me. Tears were streaming down my face, not because of the pain, but because it was so apparent I wasn’t bearing this burden alone. I didn’t want anyone else to feel sorry for me so I tried to keep my face relatively hidden. I knew that the only sympathy that would make any real difference for me would be the Lord’s. Chris came over and put his arms around me for a bit. That was soooo sweet of him. I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone is like this, but I needed my main line of support to come from inside me—from that place where I always feel the Lord’s presence. So even as my body was racked with so much turmoil, it was like I was somehow separated from it to a certain extent, standing outside of it, removed from it. Wave after wave of nausea was matched with wave after wave of this unbelievable love. A microcosm of peace and comfort in a macrocosm of stress and panic.

What was going on on the outside.
It makes me love my Savior incredibly intensely when he saves me like that. I don’t often get myself into situations where there is nothing I can do to save myself but pray and reach for His atoning sacrifice in faith. At least I don’t often look at my conflicts like that. It was pretty much all grace and very little works. I usually am more than willing to do whatever I can when there are conflicts to be resolved. Perhaps I’m even imbalanced to that side—trying to do too much, putting all my efforts into figuring out how to actually get off the boat and out of the tough situation when faith in Christ while I have to endure the situation for a time is the answer.

We did see whales and other sea creatures. They were neat-o. But feeling like I did, I really didn’t care about any neat-o things. “Oh another whale. Nice. Okay, how long do we have left?”  

When we finally got back to the dock, we all started feeling better immediately. We disembarked and headed for the car, but lo and behold, all the restaurants were giving taster cups of their clam chowder. So we bought a bread bowl of it and all my kids and I shared it as we explored the pier. Now that was neat-o! So warm after shivering for so long. We will never forget this adventure. I will never do it again.

So there are other conflicts that have arisen in my life that are similar to this. I find myself in situations over which I have no control. Maybe I’m the one who got myself into them in the first place. That’s usually the case. But most of the time I have had no idea it was going to turn into such a rocking and rolling upchucking experience. When I compare my experience on the 3 Hour Tour Whale Watching Boat Ride with these other experiences, I am able to more accurately identify how to resolve conflicts like these.

First, I need to identify the source of comfort that is most powerful to me. This should be someone I trust and with whom I have developed a very close relationship. This is a person who knows me well and loves me so that He’s able to evaluate when I am not myself during a conflict. He knows I’m not always in a bad mood. He knows I don’t always respond to situations like I’m responding to this one. This is the person I go to unload all of my personal struggles, irritations, frustrations, and feelings of insecurity. I don’t take this relationship for granted by just using it as a place to dump. It’s usually a relationship of love, appreciation, admiration, attraction, respect, and Joy. So when I go through times when I have to wrinkle my nose, complain, and express how upset I am, He is well aware that the trial I’m going through must be very intense.

Second, if I do talk to others about the problem, I need to keep the communication objective. I talk to them in order to objectively resolve the conflict. But unfortunately, I don’t always keep it objective. On the boat, I knew there was no one else to whom I could go “to hear my soul’s complaint.” That was very plain. But when I have other life-conflicts, sometimes I try unloading on other people. Because I need their objective help to resolve the conflict, they are usually eager to help me deal with all of the emotional baggage I’m carrying as well. But the issue is, it ends up feeling like I’m violating someone else’s privacy when I do that. Often times it’s not a rocking and rolling boat that is making me feel like I want to puke. It’s a rocking and rolling relationship with another person.

So in order for my objective helpers to comfort me, I have to basically describe the cause of my conflict to them, which is the other person’s behavior and how it’s making me feel, how it’s making me react when I don’t want to react that way. I end up feeling like I have to justify why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. It becomes a subjective analysis rather than an objective analysis. A blame game. A game of who is right and who is wrong. That just intensifies the conflict for me. I need someone who knows exactly what is going on behind the scenes because it is behind the scenes that I predominantly live. It is tempting to seek for comfort and support from others but just like on the boat, while I sincerely appreciate their support, it is never enough for me. I have to go to that one person I trust the most. He is the person I rely on above all others. Over an extended period of time I have developed a relationship with him that I have come to depend upon implicitly. I want to hear his opinions. I want his presence. I don’t want to do anything in my relationships with other people to make my relationship with Him rock and roll so that he would rather be anywhere else than with me. I don’t want him to be counting the minutes left before this whole Boat Ride Relationship with me will be over.

Oh, it’s so hard for me to give “just the facts!”

“O wretched [wo]man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.” ~2 Nephi 4:17-19

The cool thing about trials is if I can just shut up and take it, let others evaluate me in Pride and Envy despite my sincere intentions to do good to them without turning and reviling again in Pride and Envy, and go to my Savior alone for my comfort and support, I will be able to feel his love in that intense amazing way that I did on the boat.  And that love is more intense than what I experience when everything is hunky-dory.

"And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions; that ye do not revile against those who do cast you out because of your exceeding poverty [or because of your reaction to whatever weaknesses and sins which do so easily beset you], lest ye become sinners like unto them; But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions." ~Alma 34:40-41