Friday, July 25, 2014

Overcoming Barriers, Hindrances, and Other Difficulties. First . . .



You know – Sometimes we must “break” a little so we can get a look inside ourselves to see what AMAZING POWERHOUSES WE WERE  MEANT TO BE!  Sometimes mistakes must be made so that wisdom can be gained!  Sometimes our background/history leaves us feeling fragile or weak and (for our greatest happiness) we must tackle those difficulties because we were created with mighty powers of renewal (see previous blog post, “Overcoming Barriers, Hindrances, and Other Difficulties…).   We – each of us -  were provided with the ultimate healing and renewing power of our Savior’s atoning sacrifice. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in a recent General Conference address:

In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng

I’ll share thoughts a little later in this post on the trials we face that are not of our own making.  But first I would like to write a little about weaknesses and imperfections – and I’d like to say that, more and more, we are hearing the concept of imperfection being referred to as “incompleteness” (perfection = complete; e.g., see https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/wanted-hands-and-hearts-to-hasten-the-work?lang=eng).

Weakness

We are all very likely painfully aware of our weaknesses and imperfections.  And according to Kari Archibald, professor of Recreation Management at BYU-Idaho, this is actually the first step in spiritual renewal!  She said,  “A resilient person recognizes [her/his] weakness.”  And she expanded along these lines by saying that we will make progress if we have “humility and awareness of aspects of our lives that need some work.”  Heavenly Father strengthens us through this awareness of our weaknesses:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  (Ether 12:27)

So . . . . Stretch this thought a little further and recognize that our aim is to VIEW  OBSTACLES  AS  OPPORTUNITIES  FOR  GROWTH.

The trials of this life will ultimately lead to renewal, to greater resilience, to a closer relationship with our Savior, and indeed to joy if we patiently trust in God’s plan and discover how to use weaknesses and adversity to grow stronger. 

As we grow, let’s you and I keep these things in mind:
*Celebrate your efforts! 
*Yes, weaknesses can be painful to acknowledge and to work through,   but the alternative option is to stay in our comfort zone – and while a comfort zone is a beautiful place, nothing ever grows there!
*Love yourself now, even in your incomplete state.  Believe in yourself and who you have been empowered to become.  Heavenly Father does.

Become as a Little Child

In an excellent article entitled “Raising Resilient Children,” https://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/03/raising-resilient-children?lang=eng, Lyle J Burrup noted:  “As children become resilient, they understand and accept these two facts. They see life as challenging and ever changing, but they believe they can cope with those challenges and changes. They view mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn, and they accept that losing may precede winning.

Further he stated, “As children develop resilience, they believe they can influence and even control outcomes in their lives through effort, imagination, knowledge, and skill. With this attitude, they focus on what they can do rather than on what is outside their control.”

Difficulties Not of Our Making
Which brings us to another point:  What about those who have been dealt very difficult lives?   Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency addressed this in a General Conference talk as he said,   “…our lives may seem to be touched by, or even wrapped in, darkness. Sometimes the night that surrounds us will appear oppressive, disheartening, and frightening.
"My heart grieves for the many sorrows some of you face, for the painful loneliness and wearisome fears you may be experiencing.

"Nevertheless, I bear witness that our living hope is in Christ Jesus! He is the true, pure, and powerful entrance to divine enlightenment.

"I testify that with Christ, darkness cannot succeed. Darkness will not gain victory over the light of Christ.
"I invite each of you to open your heart to Him. Seek Him through study and prayer.
"As you walk toward the hope of God’s light, you will discover the compassion, love, and goodness of a loving Heavenly Father, “in [whom there] is no darkness at all.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/the-hope-of-gods-light?lang=eng)

Coming up – ideas for next steps in spiritual renewal . . .  




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Barriers, Hindrances and other Difficulties in Life -



Ever heard about the research study done on a bunch of young goldfish? They were raised in a fabulously long aquarium, BUT...
....there was a glass wall stuck right down the middle of it.  Every time these little goldfish tried to swim the length of the aquarium—clunk—they'd knock their little noses right into the glass wall.  Over time, they became resigned to their limits and made a life of swimming in just that half of the aquarium.  The researchers let a few months pass then removed the glass wall barrier.  Now the goldfish had full liberty to swim the whole length, BUT...
....the goldfish didn’t try.  They were no longer stopped by a glass wall.....they were stopped by their limiting beliefs!!!  
How are we humans doing in this regard?  When we experience obstacles and setbacks, do we pile up -even sometimes heap up- limiting beliefs about ourselves?  Observation tells me that we can tend to get bogged down; we can tend to consciously or subconsciously set up glass walls in our lives, limiting our happiness and our view about how life supposedly is or how we think it’s supposed to be.   Perhaps a set-back in love may be discouraging some of us, or the loss of a loved one.  Or perhaps we are in the grips of a downfall or weakness.  Or maybe we grew up amid dysfunction.  Please know – this is not to diminish the obstacles and pains we each uniquely face . . . yet, gradually we may allow these limiting beliefs and feelings to stop us from living our fullest, happiest lives. 



Notice how typically we view weddings and birthdays and promotions at work as some of the best times to celebrate.  But you know, there are many cultures around the world that believe with loss, death, difficulties, or destruction comes new life. For example, I have noticed in, frankly, every LDS funeral I have attended that the gathering becomes a rather uplifting, encouraging and reuniting event, even in a couple instances where the deceased person’s life was fraught with obstacles.  Similarly, in Judaism, shiva is the ceremony after the funeral where family and friends gather to share happy memories of the deceased – almost an opportunity to remind the living to recognize the abundance in this world and live well this day while you can.   As Edith Wharton once said, ““Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.”

Now take a look at this handful of examples from nature responding to seeming setbacks and destruction.  Kari Archibald, professor of Recreation Management at BYU- Idaho once shared,
             “Despite winter snows and sub-zero temperatures, a small delicate flower 
             called a spring beauty pushes up from the recently melted snow bank and      
             blossoms in the Teton Mountains. In the middle of an Arizona drought, 
             tough lizards of the Sonoran desert find water and food and carry 
             on. After a wildfire burns a mature forest to blackened stumps, small
             herbaceous plants emerge from the blackened forest floor after the fire.  That
             same God who created these beautiful environments and the species that 
             inhabit them also created us. He endowed us with the same abilities of 
             physical renewal.“  (italics added)


He endowed us with the same abilities of physical renewal!!!

She then went on to discuss the spiritual side of renewal, asking:  How do we become spiritually renewed? What do we need to rebound from spiritual challenges? What keeps us from being resilient in the face of spiritual setbacks? 

Sometimes it's the imperfections in this life (like the glass wall) that keep us from experiencing renewal.  We expect life to happen just as we have pictured it to happen.

In the next blog on this theme, I’ll share some ideas I've collected on answers to these questions.  Until then, remember these words the Lord shared with Moses concerning our abilities for renewal:  “For this is my work and my glory” (this is the greatest hope and reason for the whole Plan of Salvation), “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”  ~ Moses 1:39


 What glass barriers???

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Is Loving Yourself Trendy?

Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty
                 It was ten years ago that Dove launched its campaign for real beauty.  In the movements that have followed since, Dove has worked hard to present themselves as the company that encourages every woman to feel beautiful regardless of shape or size.  While I think the message is an important one I get frustrated that the "Loving Yourself" movement has just become a trendy marketing strategy.  For example, Dove's parent company Unilever, also owns Axe, a soap company for men.  Their ads are blatantly sexual and in my opinion, degrading.  If the powers that be really wanted to promote self love and acceptance, they would.  Unilaterally.  Instead it feels a lot like they want to sell a product.


Axe latest line of ads.  This *really* looks like an ad for shower gel to me. 
                 Special K cereal has a line of commercials that talk about how worth isn't the number on the scale and how we need to fight "fat talk".  Well, that's great but they also tell you that if you replace 2 meals a day with their cereal you too can lose weight!  I'm pretty sure replacing 2 meals with about 150 calorie substitutes most people would lose weight, but no - buy their cereal and you will not care about the number on the scale either.  

                     I get tired of companies capitalizing on women's insecurities.  Almost always when I see ads about loving yourself and acceptance I think about who is making money in this.  Colbie Caillat just released a new video about not trying so hard.  I know you've seen it.  Our office posted it last week and it showed up on my Facebook about a million times this weekend.  In fact, since it's release last week it has 9 million views.  It's a really beautiful message about being okay with you... but I think: Is this a popularity stunt?  Nine million in 5 days is well, a lot of people listening to you sing.  This woman doesn't work out of the kindness of her heart.  She is in a money making business.  I would take off my makeup for that too.  

                   Don't get me wrong, talking about loving yourself is better than the trash that is in that Axe ad up above.  Perhaps I'm just a cynic at heart, but I wonder if it is our buying in to a 'love yourself' trend that is actually making a mockery out of serious things. What do you think?  Are you also fed-up with companies cashing in on our insecurities?? 


  

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Society of Possible Gods and Goddesses . . .

This statistic hits a sensitive spot: The National Science Foundation has found that females make up only 18 percent of all college engineering majors, and yet 66 percent of 4th grade girls express that they like math and science. While there are many possible explanations for this disparity , this ad focuses on the importance of recognizing the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues that may drive girls away from math and science as they grow.

As you will see in the video, a girl is portrayed in her development from toddler to teenager, as she is confronted with subtle statements that may, in the end, push her from the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, math) in school. What if STEM subjects are her specialty and her joy? I can’t help but think what an enriching mother and competent professional one would become, if given the chance to explore it all with passion and curiosity. And I gratifyingly testify that motherhood is a rigorous profession! Let me also say that I ‘m not just referring to what a person does with his or her field of study—it seems rather concerning to consciously or subconsciously push people away from their gifts and purposes, which gifts and purposes can be used for the eternities.

Unfortunately, those are not the only subtle, discouraging messages young girls are hearing these days. There’s quite a barrage of media messages that tell them that a girl is better off holding a tube of lipstick than a test tube. I’m not against lipstick—I wear it. But I yearn to have society and myself never make the mistake of valuing a girl for unimportant reasons.
While for some the prevailing thought in society is of how pretty a girl is, the video ends with the thought-provoking question: “Isn't it time we told her she's pretty brilliant, too?”
 
Yes.
Empowering.
As author C. S. Lewis said, "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses…”

We have eons of learning to accomplish and endless fields of study to explore to begin to harness such a thought! Let it begin NOW!




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