Sunday, August 12

Not Cut Out For This

It's an interesting saying. I googled its etymology and it looks like people have been using this cloth / wood / tool analogy to refer to people since the 1600's. A tradesman cuts out a tool from metal or wood for a specific purpose, and that's what it is cut out for.

That said, I'm a staunch believer in the myth that anyone can do anything they put their mind to. Short people can be NBA stars, blind people can be Impressionist prodigies, and permanent exercise asthmatics can win Olympic distance events.

I'm living proof of that. I came to college as a white, male, gay, autistic, bipolar teen with no friends living in the western US... which put me squarely in the firing line for suicide. But while life/birth/circumstance may have pushed me to the edge of life and death, I fought against it. And survived.

Sometimes the myth that anyone can do anything isn't a myth at all. It gave me strength to survive when I felt like life was impossible. Strength to be devoutly Mormon in an increasingly loud pro-gay world. And in both cases, the effort changed something inside me for the better.

But sometimes that myth is still just a myth.

Maybe.

No... in writing this I'm realizing that my own emotions are definitely clouding my usual optimism. And just because *I'm* having a tough day/week/life at the current moment doesn't mean anything about the accuracies a generalized cultural idiom.

Well, that sorta ruined the whole post.

Honestly I'm just really sad right now. Or emotionally distant. Maybe dejected? Maybe it's a result of suddenly losing a close family member. Maybe it's from the constant emotional grind of attempting to develop friendships, only for interest to suddenly disappear. Maybe it's because I took a few weeks off from acrobatics. Or because I'm at a crossroads professionally. Or from being in such close proximity to so many people for reunions and parties and homecomings and holidays and funerals and birthdays and everything else.

But that means I probably shouldn't make any major life decisions right now... even though they feel like all of them need to be made. 😅

When I started writing this, I was on the road to shifting some massive priorities. I felt like I wasn't cut out for developing close friendships. Instead of trying to develop close friendships, I wanted to try to serve others. I started an application to join the Peace Corps someplace where I'd be expected to be a stranger instead of wanting to feel like I belong.

Maybe the Peace Corps is still a good idea. 

I still don't feel like I'm cut out to be a good friend... or, perhaps more fitting for my own reality, to deserve friendship at all. That's probably my main issue here. Either way, I feel I work better as a short-term acquaintance, or someone to rely on in a crisis, than a friend for sunny summer days. I forget that people exist. Things a few days back feel like they happened a month ago. I care too much about little things, and struggle to care about important ones. I either obsess or completely lose interest.

I'm not sure what the solution that my mind is reaching for will be.

I guess I'll keep looking. Study the scriptures, eat healthily, exercise daily, sleep well, pray... and eventually I'll find something, right?

Oh. And I finally started my instagram account. @gaymormonguy
Not sure what that is going to look like since I've spent forever blogging without pictures since having to do both stresses me out. 

I think I'll just post pictures without words.

Sunday, July 29

Memory

I've realized over the past few months that my memory doesn't work like what seems like the vast majority in the world. Moments for me are intense and powerful... but they fade within seconds or hours. At the end of a day I sometimes can't remember what happened that morning, and when I wake up in the morning, the day before feels like it was weeks or even months past.

And when I can remember moments, they are often stripped of their emotions. Walking through my memories is like walking through a wax museum or someone else's scrapbook. I see myself sitting at a table, having a conversation, but it doesn't arouse any feelings inside. Reliving moments of abuse is just as emotionless as shared memories with people I love.

Life has taught me that most people, when they experience something powerful, naturally hold on to that experience and it colors their lives for days or weeks or years after it happens. You experience something incredibly good, or incredibly bad, and it stays with you. It's the source of lasting love and infatuation and bliss on the one side, family feuds and grudges and PTSD on the other. Life each morning, for many people, is built on the memories of each day in the past.

I, on the other hand, wake up and have an almost clean slate each morning. If I fell in love yesterday, I might not remember today. If I was in a car crash that destroyed my car, I'll likely spend an hour looking for my keys. If I stayed up late into the night pouring out my soul to someone, I probably won't remember anything that was said the next morning... on either side. I might not remember the person I spoke to at all.

Once I was on campus at BYU and someone came up to me, excited to see me. "David!!! It's so good to see you!" Ummmmm... I don't recognize you... "Good to see you too!" We spoke for a few minutes. "Sorry, but I don't remember your name." "It's Jordan." We speak for another few minutes. "Sorry Jordan... but I don't remember how I know you." "We were roommates at Brownstone." "...I don't remember anything about you... what do you do? What are you studying?" "I play trombone." "I remember once meeting someone who played trombone. That must have been you."

Shock.

After he rode away I realized the extent of the issue. We were Facebook friends, but it felt like I was reading through someone else's messages instead of my own. I had lived at Brownstone only a few months prior, and he told me that we had spoken many times and had deep conversations about life. But when I walked through my memories of my apartment, there was no one else there. No one to talk to, no memories of people...

Nothing at all except furniture. Outside on the steps was sitting someone else whose name I can't remember, but my apartment had no one. And to this day I remember nothing about Jordan other than the fact we conversed on campus and I didn't know him at all.

That's a common thing in my life.

Ginkgo, ketosis, and a dozen other dietary interventions haven't really changed that reality. I'm not sure if it's a byproduct of autism (which at its core is a difference in information processing and storage), or something else entirely... but it's part of me.

It means that I'll never be able to hold a grudge. Or become jaded. It means that it only takes some time for me to heal from any emotional wound, and I'm almost impervious to scars.

On the other hand, it means that I forget about the people that are important to me. I forget my family and friends. I forget the experiences I want to hold on to. I forget love and joy and peace within a day or two.

I tried to keep notes on people and experiences. To write them down. Even (G)MG was a way for me to try to keep things present in my mind. I'd put off allowing myself to feel until I had written about it... but then I'd forget what I had even written within hours of pushing publish. The note files with people's favorite colors and foods and interests and passions go forgotten on my phone until I find them someday and wonder who wrote them.

A few months ago, or sometime in the past, this realization broke me down. I wondered if I would ever be able to hold on to real relationships in the long run. Forgetting almost everything about someone is... unforgivable to most people. Forgetting the powerful memories, the experiences, the emotions... relationships are built on foundations of shared experiences. Who would be willing to build up from nothing almost every single day?

It made me want to not develop relationships with people, because I knew that I would likely forget them and then disappear from their lives without even realizing it. Which is one of the the worst things you can do to someone, right?

As I was talking with God one day, I saw at least some meaning in this circumstance for me. It's made me a better person, and I wake up almost every day believing the world is an incredible place. I try to stay optimistic. I try to be present with people when I'm in the moment. And I can absorb a whole lot of garbage / venting / anger / emotion from other people without it dragging me down.

I don't know if I'll be able to fix it. Looking back, I think it's something that has always been a part of my life, and it's possible that it'll be part of my mortality. But I'm going to focus on what I can do, and take full advantage of the pros. Make memories and have positive experiences every single day. Use up the emotional energy I get each morning to make the world a better place. Forget quickly about the pain that life brings. Focus on God and remembering Him. And do what I can for the people I do remember.

To anyone reading this... I'm sorry for forgetting you. If I could, I would remember everything about you, and it would color our every experience. But even if I don't remember your name, your face, or anything you've ever said... I hope you can still find a way to believe me when I say I care.

Sunday, June 17

Father's Day

My little brother turned 13 yesterday and entered the world of being a teenager. Stereotypical teenagers seem rebellious, strong-willed, and unwilling to think about the future. The reality is that teenage years are filled with tumultuous moments of pain, isolation, grief, frustration, and joy along the path of finding self. Yes, many teenagers rebel. Many burn themselves on the stove they know will burn them... and others leave their hands in place, hoping that somehow by so doing the pain will go away.

It seems the world today is full of moral teenagers. Moral teenagers who rebel against the love of a Father who can see the end from the beginning... and run down pathways far from those He shares. Gay Mormons who have spent their lives following the rules and decide not to. Men and women who forget the childlike innocence they once had, believe they know better, and walk away.

I'm not immune. I've walked more than my fair share of darkened paths, and have had plenty of times that I showed by my actions a distrust of God and His Plan for me.

But today, in a world that affirms self above all else, where millions of moral teenagers rebel against a Heavenly Father when He asks them to put Him before everything from physical to emotional to mental health... today I want to affirm that Father and celebrate everything He has done for me.

He's perfect. He's always there. He loves me more than I could ever imagine, even so much that He puts me through sometimes abject misery with the hope that I can someday become the man He sees in me.

I don't completely understand God's Plan for me. I don't know how I fit in as a gay Mormon, or even sometimes what He wants me to do. But I know that He loves me.

And that's enough.

The reality of that was cemented to me at Church today. Today I sat with a brother in my ward whose life is massively different from mine. He can't open a piece of candy by himself, pick up a piece of bread by himself, cross his legs, walk down the hall or even speak. Sitting next to him put my difficulties - a handful of burns, numbness in my hands from learning aerial gymnastics, and being gay - into stark contrast. He's a smart guy. He wrote a powerful talk months ago that someone else read. He understands everything. He has the same emotional and physical "needs" I do. And he struggles with picking up a Sacrament cup.

When life is easy, it's easy to feel entitled. "God would never ask me to sacrifice..." right? Wrong. God sends His children into imperfect situations, fully aware that some of those situations will be excruciating - ripping apart the outer shell of the natural man to expose the inner self He sees within.

I'm grateful for a Father who loves me enough to allow me to live. To experience. To smile. To cry. To feel. To want. To have enormous angst that rips me apart and makes me want to curl up into a ball or cry or just sometimes disappear. For a Father who walks with me on the difficult path back home, because He loves me and can see the end from the beginning.

I'm nowhere near perfect... but today I affirm my commitment to honoring my Heavenly Father. To trusting Him and always putting Him first, no matter what the physical, emotional, mental, or social consequences may be.

Sunday, January 7

Testimony

Today was Fast Sunday - the first of a new year.

The urge came to get up, and the urge came to stay seated. Every month I've shared my testimony. Every month for as long as I can remember. I need the blessings. I need the support of my ward.

But so do others.

I almost got up, and then I saw people making their way to the front. There is never silence here - far too many people attend my ward for that to happen. And for each minute I spend speaking, another minute they can't.

So today was the first in as long as I can remember where I didn't stand.

So I'll share it here.

I know that God lives... and that I have second chances. And third chances, and fourth and seventieth chances. No matter what I've done, no matter how far I've fallen, no matter how worthless and broken I may seem, God will give me another chance. He will lift me up, change my heart and soul, and make me into the man He sees in me.

This last month I've realized how imperfect I really am. How little I really understand, and how poorly I live the things I know. As I turn to God, I know that He will help me to move forward... and I hope that I have the courage and faith to just keep moving towards Him.

Sunday, December 17

Days 11-17: #LightTheWorld

Day 11: "I was a stranger, and ye took me in" - Matthew 25:35

I spend most of my time with strangers. For most of my life an incredible feeling of loneliness (in part from being autistic) has been a part of my life. It's the most painful thing I could ever imagine... and I can't handle the thought of someone else feeling the same way. So I give my time, my talents, my happiness, and pretty much everything in my life to strangers in hopes that they will come close to God and never feel alone.

Day 12: "Blessed are they that mourn" - Matthew 5:4

This day I was an emotional mess. Fitting turnabout, perhaps, because most of my time I try to think of myself as a solid, stable, stoic guy. And then I felt more alone on Dec 11 & 12 than I had in years. The pain was so bad that I wanted to die. And then I burst into tears because I'm a good Mormon boy, and killing myself isn't an option.

Yeah. I was in a *really* bad state. I don't know if any of my friends had ever seen me like that... but at least they were able to help me feel like they cared.

Day 13: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” - Matthew 7:12

The thing I want most in life is candor in my relationships. Nothing else gives me more stress, or more meaning, than my relationships in life. So I gave the gift of candor, and shared my open and honest feelings with the people closest to me. It took a while, and some of it was exceptionally hard to communicate... but it was good.

Day 14: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” - Matthew 6:21

Another twist of irony. On this day, rather than spend my time with family, or friends, or even strangers - the treasures I would say I value most - I spent it alone. Part of me felt guilty for being so alone... the other part was still recovering from the emotional ordeal of the days before, and preparing for the stress that was still on the way.

Day 15: "Blessed are the merciful” - Matthew 5:7

When I first started my first business, all I did was give stuff away. Good business sense? Awful business sense? Either way, turning a profit was rough. When I started my second business, I made the decision to never give discounts, to anyone, because I knew that I'd give them to everyone.

On Day 15 I gave a discount. It was to a couple who had come in for their anniversary. They made gifts for their 7 kids, and were incredibly happy. I don't know if that counts as merciful, but that was the best I had available.

Day 16: "naked, and ye clothed me” - Matthew 25:36

I get almost all my clothing from DI, and usually wear my clothes until I can no longer mend the holes. But I have a couple shirts that aren't a color I wear often, and a pair of sweat pants that was always too big and I can't wear anymore. So on this day, I started going through my closet to give those shirts, and sweatpants, another life with someone else.

Day 17: "Ye shall meet together oft.” - 3 Nephi 18:22

Church with my family in their ward - my little brother spoke. Church with my family in my own ward - I sang. Family dinner. Dinner with a handful of neighbors.

Being around people is often exhausting for me... so I think that's more than enough.

This week is my birthday, and the last week of #LightTheWorld. I hope it goes well.

Sunday, December 10

Days 3-10: #LightTheWorld

Writing a blog post about what I did to #LightTheWorld each day felt... self-aggrandizing. It was like tooting my own horn, writing about the good things that I did and sharing it with the world.

That's why I haven't written about it here. The experiences have been amazing, but I didn't want to come off the wrong way... which means that I've got bigger problems. Haha. If I can't be myself and share my life honestly on (G)MG, where can I share it? But I guess that's a question for another day.

Day 3: Honor the Sabbath - I went to Church for about 8 hours, and also gave nutritional and supplement advice to someone who asked me a handful of questions - the kind of question I'd usually field at work, so using professional skills to help others on my day off.

Day 4: Love your neighbor - I went home teaching to a guy who lives close by. Got to know him. Shared my testimony. Even though I'm no longer assigned to be his home teacher (since assignments just got changed), hopefully I can help him figure out his life.

Day 5: Honor Thy Parents - I had a short conversation with my dad, and did some service for my parents. My parents moved into the house I was living in a little over a year ago, and in the time since I've had mixed feelings about living with family again. For now, I'm doing what I can to help my family, and I'm here... though sometimes it's more than I can handle.

Day 6: Judge not - This one is hard to write. When bad decisions that my dad made caught up to him earlier this year, I felt like everyone in my mom's family abandoned her. My dad was gone, my siblings were in total shock. She was so alone, so isolated, and had to run a family and a business and work to repair the enormous damage that had happened. I never accused my family, since we were all going through the same pain... and maybe they just didn't know what to do... and maybe some of them did reach out but not in ways I could see. Either way, in my heart I judged some of them for not being there for us when we needed them so badly. So I forgave them.

Day 7: Care for Children - I spent the evening with my youngest siblings. We made veggie spring rolls, which turned out way too crunchy... then played games together.

Day 8: Love your Enemies - I don't have enemies, but I do have a family member that tends to always be involved in every argument that happens in my home. So I'm starting a week of being kind, not with the hope that it will fix the problem, but the hope that I can better communicate my own love.

Day 9: Visit the sick - I have multiple people in my life who are going through rough times in their lives. I reached out to a couple of them... and did what I could to lift their spirits.

Day 10: Study the Scriptures - I made the commitment to arrive to every scheduled meeting, event, hangout, etc on my calendar 5 minutes early... and to use the extra time when I arrive to study the scriptures. I find that studying them throughout the day in short bursts is more effective at keeping them in mind than just once a day. And if my once-daily session gets bumped, having lots of little moments will make it easier to still make it happen.

It's been a good experience so far. Tiring, and sometimes stretching. But I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to #LightTheWorld this December.

Saturday, December 2

Day 2: "Living Water"

Today I felt out of sorts with the suggestion to serve. The prompt is of living water - both physical (giving gifts of clean water) and spiritual (testimony). I hate bottled water, because of the impact it has on the  environment... so I didn't want to give bottled water to the Food Bank. I gave a monetary donation yesterday, so today I wanted to do something different.

The opportunity came when I was talking with a friend, and I was able to share my testimony of the gospel. At the end of the day, water is important... but those who drink living water - the word of Christ - will never thirst. I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God. That He lived and died and lives again. And that be following His guidance, I will find the greatest possible happiness and peace in this life and the world to come.

Friday, December 1

Day 1: "Freely Give"

I realized as I read the suggestions for today that I struggle to know who needs help, and how to help them. My first thought was, "give a fast offering - that goes to the people around you who need it, according to their needs." So I did. But even that sometimes feels impersonal. I have a personal mantra when it comes to giving... one that I don't know if I've ever shared before in public: give enough that it hurts. Not enough that it would make me go broke... but I don't need a nice car, a new house, or fancy clothes.

I do have stuff that other people might appreciate - though it would likely be more my knowledge than anything else.

That's what I can do. I could offer to volunteer. I know that BYU has a center that mentors entrepreneurs. I'll make that phone call. As long as I have the guts to do it. Thanks, #LightTheWorld, for giving me an excuse.

(This post is part of the #LightTheWorld series - find more info at https://www.mormon.org/christmas/25-ways-25-days)

#LightTheWorld In 25 Ways Over 25 Days

I'm doing the #LightTheWorld challenge this year. Every day of December, I'll go to https://www.mormon.org/christmas/25-ways-25-days and grab a motivational video, bible verse, and suggestions of how to make the world a better place. I did a little last year, but this year I'm going to do every day.

I had the thought to invite someone to do it with me - that way I can share my experiences.

And then I had the thought that maybe I could write about them too. It's been too long since I wrote frequently. Get ready for a 25-day-long deluge.

Sunday, October 29

Stuck?

I was crazy sick for weeks, and in the time since I've felt... like my life is sort of stuck in the doldrums. I enjoy my ward, but I find that I feel disconnected (likely because I need to make a bigger effort on my own part). I enjoy my work at Soap Factory, but I don't really have any long-term, or even short-term goals professionally. My friendships are stable. My family is following a sort-of-vegan diet. My health is good.

So which way do I go from here?

I guess that depends on where I want to get.

Ultimately, I want to get to Heaven. And I want to take as many people with me as I can.

There's an infinite number of ways to make that happen. But what is something *I* can do? Something I can enjoy? Something where I can actually feel like I am making a difference? 

Enter the issue that likely I am facing, and that I feel like I've been facing for months now: I look at people with new jobs, people who leave on missions, people who go to school and begin new careers - people who all seem to have at least some direction in their lives - while I feel I lack that same direction in my own.

In my own defense, I feel like I've tried to find my own direction.

Or at least thought about it.

I've thought about getting a PhD or finding another Masters program. Moving someplace far away that would force me into something new. Going to a different ward. Finding a random 9-5 job. Finding, doing something, anything to pull me from the rut that feels my current existence.

But I can't transfer my records to a different ward because the moment I actually begin to make the choice, God tells me He wants me here. He wants me to make a difference in my ward, now. So maybe I'll just attend another ward in the morning.

I can't move far away because there are people in my life who need me here. I'm not sure that God would even let me move a couple miles.

There is one idea that is compelling to me...

One that is both scary and compelling.

I'm pretty sure I've written about it before. I love to design new ideas, new processes, new things. Finding a place, or creating a place, where I can design and create would be a dream come true. That's the compelling part.

The scary part? All of those ideas, in order to actually be worth anything more than a conversation, will require skill sets far beyond my own personal ability. And while working with an awesome team is a dream come true, putting a team together sounds only a little less painful than a literal trip to the infernal depths.

...

Perhaps *that* is why I feel so deeply discontent with the status quo, and why I also feel that God has been far too quiet in the matter. Because He has already given me a direction. One that I want to go, but one that distresses and scares me.

Well...

That does answer the question I came to this post with. It gives me direction anew, even if it seems honestly overwhelming.

Sometimes I dislike when blog posts go around in different directions than I expect them to. This post, for example, started with a decent feel to it, but the end feels far too... boring.

But does that mean it's less meaningful? Maybe. But I know there are plenty of times I've wished that Mormon had included more about the perfect society after the coming of Christ, rather than simply telling us that hundreds of years passed without controversy. Maybe, in the same way, the points of life that seem less meaningful and even boring to me, might be meaningful to someone else.

Sunday, October 22

I Would Be My Brother's Keeper

Tl;dr: My dad had a heart attack and my family is supporting him in his new diet. Each of us can support the people around us in the good they do.

I'm not really all that good of a guy. Sometimes I have aspirations of awesomeness, but most of the time I have literally no idea what I want to do, or even what I'm going to do tomorrow.

That said, I still have aspirations.

I still want to make a difference in the world.

I still want to do the right thing.

I still want to be a good guy.

Even in the moments where life seems overwhelming, I still want to be a good guy.

I don't know. I wanted to write a blog post today about learning to serve people - hence the brother's keeper title - and how identifying the skills and talents I have enables me to be a better servant. But suddenly I don't even know what I want to write about. I can't even keep a goal while writing a blog post. Ugh.

My dad was hospitalized for heart attack 10 days ago. He had experienced over a dozen mini heart attacks over the weeks prior, but since each time they went away (and since we in my family think we are superhuman/immortal), he hadn't gone to get anything checked. My younger sister is doing her clinical rotations in a cardiac ICU right now; she made an appointment for him and gave him the ultimatum that she would take him to the ER unless he went to see his doctor.

The doctor sent him to the ER. The ER sent him to ICU. When the cardiologist on call arrived, he went immediately in for surgery. In an angiogram, a catheter is threaded into an artery in the wrist, then slowly winds its way up to the heart. Dye is injected, which allows the surgeon to see blockages in arteries. There was enough plaque in his right arm/shoulder that the angiogram catheter had to be redone through his left wrist.

The surgeon found a 98% blockage in the main artery supplying blood to the heart, along with 3 other spots nearby along the same artery with 60-70% blocks. He placed two overlapping stents, which addressed the acute issue of a potential fatal heart attack.

But placing stents in a blocked heart is like putting bandaids on bleeding cancer. Yes. It fixes a problem. But it does nothing to address the real problem. The presence of what the surgeon called a "surprising" amount of plaque throughout his arteries was sign of massive progression of the whole-body illness that has affected almost all of my forebears. Heart problems - from low blood pressure to high blood pressure, from high cholesterol to arrhythmia to heart attack to stroke - have hit every side of my family.

I asked my dad last Sunday what his plans were. Diet? Nutrition? Health? He mentioned that the hospital was holding a course on post-heart-attack nutrition a few days later and he was planning to attend.

I scoffed. I honestly doubted a sponsored hospital lecture, at least one in Orem, would have the teeth to make a dent in heart disease.

So I grabbed three books from my personal library - three books I picked up a year ago when my younger brother had chest pain of his own - and handed them to my dad. And within an hour he had found a direction he felt passionate about following.

So my dad has changed his lifestyle: he is now vegan, and eats a no added sugar, no added oil, no nuts, low salt diet.

Intense.

In a whirlwind of love and support, my family held a family council last Sunday, and each family member committed to doing their part to supporting dad in his new life. We'd fill the fridge and pantry with safe food (and keep anything else in a separate fridge), and every night one of us would make food that matched the diet.

It's been a week now, and our fridge and pantry are full of uber-healthy food. Pasta is still a simple family favorite, my little sister has decided that rice & beans will be her go-to for the near future, and morning oatmeal has become a regular thing.

My dad could probably find the willpower to do his diet alone. He wants to be alive. He wants to see his grandchildren and be a part of our lives, and he knows that choosing a healthy lifestyle will make a huge impact on his future. But having the support of his family will make all the difference in the world. All of us benefit from support and love from the people around us, and it makes me want to find ways to support the people I love in the good they do. 

This post is all over the place.

Sunday, October 15

Warriors of Light

The night is far spent
The day is at hand
The darkness is spreading throughout every land
But a voice in the stillness still calls me to fight
To throw off the darkness and put on the armor of light

We are warriors
We're an army
And we stand for truth and right
And we know what it is we're fighting for
We will not fall
We will not fail
With God on our side we will always prevail
We will follow Him and make our armor bright
We are warriors of light

When I'm surrounded by friends
Who pull me astray
Or I falter and loosen my hold on the rod
I can look in the mirror
And see a light shining
Deep within, there's a fire
For I am a child of God

We are warriors
We're an army
And we stand for truth and right
And we know what it is we're fighting for
We will not fall
We will not fail
With God on our side we will always prevail
We will follow Him and make our armor bright
We are warriors of light

The darkness is raging
But that's no surprise
We'll banish the night
With the light in our eyes

We are warriors
We're an army
And we stand for truth and right
And we know what it is we're fighting for
We will not fall
We will not fail
With God on our side we will always prevail
We will follow Him and make our armor bright
We are warriors of light

Though darkness is raging
We'll stand and we'll fight
For we are
Warriors of light

<<<<<<<<<<<<

I wrote that song years ago. It came to my mind today, as I looked at my life. Some days I wish life could be simpler. Easier. Perhaps something like the lives I see in people who don't have all the problems I do.

But then I come back to reality. My reality is a mess. Yes, I had a beautiful, almost idyllic childhood. It prepared me with a vision of God and helped me connect with Him. But every moment since has been on the battlefield - a battlefield for my own soul and the souls of everyone around me.

And even though I often wish I had been called to serve somewhere else, the warrior heart within me is who I am. I'm a missionary. And I *always* will be.

What it means is that my life will likely always swirl with clouds and darkness. The water will always be deep. And, at least for this life, God will likely be my only lasting source of peace, hope, and simplicity in life. Yes, I'll find moments of peace and happiness... but I'm on a battlefield. Let's be real here. I'm fighting for souls, and that means warring with devils, demons, and the natural man. Life is going to be rough.

But that's ok, right?

Ok because one person is worth it. My own soul is worth it. And even if my soul doesn't make it, lifting someone else is still worth it too.

There are people who work as forest and fire rangers in places hundreds of miles from civilization. They work to protect the safety of wildlife and surrounding communities... and give up contact with the world around them.

In the world before this, perhaps I signed up to be a ranger for souls. Maybe that's why God has left me single for so long... or why He has been so deeply involved in my life. Why He puts people in my path. Why I constantly run into walls and learn to be humble.

God has a work for everyone who comes to this world. A calling and a purpose and a meaning and a place in the Plan of Happiness.

May I continue to seek and find meaning, purpose, happiness, and peace in mine.

Sunday, October 8

He Will Hear Me

Last night I found myself emotionally exhausted. The source isn't important. Whether from the stress of figuring out life/work/relationships or a mind still recovering from being sick, I felt awful. Anxious. Tired. Lonely.

So much so that I couldn't bring myself to do anything that would usually calm, or at least numb, my soul. Music sounded hollow. Video games blasé. Books an endless series of words without getting to meaning.

And then, in a clear tone that cut through the mud of my mind, came a thought:

"You could read the scriptures."

My room was still just as silent. My world hadn't changed from one moment to the next. My feelings were tumultuous as ever. But as I pulled up Alma 55, turned on the recording, and laid there listening to words written thousands of years ago, everything else disappeared.

And life was ok.

The war chapters moved on, and the angst inside me slowly subsided.

God is there. He is real. And while life is hard, complicated, and messy, following Him will always be worth it. He never forgets me, even if I am slow to remember Him.

And as added proof, as I finished writing the last paragraph, a knock echoes on my front door. It was a couple leaders from my Elder's Quorum... just stopping by because they felt like they should. My ward has enormous boundaries, with hundreds of people. God works through people, as well calming my soul. And I'm grateful for both.

Again, God is there. He's real. He will always remember me. He hears my prayers even when I don't speak them aloud. He cares about me and is always there to listen and guide my path.

And following Him will always be worth it.

Sunday, July 9

A Place to Belong

I had a heartbreaking professional realization. I'm not sure where I belong.

When I was younger I dreamed of having a 9-5 where I loved my work and could come home and rave about the things I did. A supervisor I loved working for, a business that made the world a better place, coworkers who doubled as friends.

I tried out my dream jobs. And they were everything I had dreamed. I did consulting in far-flung places and boardrooms and was a film actor. I performed as a singer downtown and wrote for a game design company. I published books and recorded music and started my own businesses. Everywhere I went, there was something important to be done, and as I worked on each project I honestly believed I would stay there forever.

And then time passed, and the crazy projects that had lit a fire within me shifted from creation to implementation. Sometimes there was another project that could hold me there. And maybe even another. But inevitably they ran out, and deep inside me I found my heart turning somewhere else. Wanting. Needing. Craving change and a dynamic that none of my dream jobs could consistently provide.

And it's still happening.

I remember believing that I'd work at Soap Factory until I died. And yet, only a few years into building a business from scratch, I found myself pulling away. My fully stocked experimental workshop ran out of recipes. The constantly shifting process finally settled down. And while I still worked there many days each week and loved the time I did, my heart turned elsewhere.

And then last night people came to Epiphany. While I was designing Epiphany I felt that I could make it last for life. It could be my mark on the world and how I'd spend the rest of my time.

The people who came had a blast. 

I did too. 

And yet...

Even while it was happening I found myself thinking that I should hire someone to run the event so I could yet again move on.

I likely will.

And *that* is somewhat depressing. With Soap Factory I had two years after we opened before my heart began to stray. Two weeks really doesn't feel fair.

If I don't feel like I'm supposed to stay with the businesses I built myself, where do I belong? What am I supposed to be doing?