Sunday, May 25, 2014

The other end of the forgiving stick

Remember the last post i did about the danger of pornography and how to overcome it? Well, as I was writing it, I had a thought come to my head, "I should write about how to forgive yourself. That one's pretty hard to do sometimes. Sometimes harder than getting forgiveness," but, school got busy and that idea disappeared from my mind pretty quickly. Oddly enough, the next paper we had to write for my Doctrine and Covenants class, one of the prompts happened to be, If you truly repent and have been forgiven by Heavenly Father, how can you learn to forgive yourself?" Well, if that's not inspired, I don't know what is. So I wrote the paper, turned it in, and here's an expanded version for all of you. Enjoy!

                  We’ve all disobeyed God’s commandments in one way or another and we have to repent because of that. God is more than willing to forgive us. Since he is our loving Heavenly Father, He’s the last person who wants to hold a grudge against us for our mistakes. The hard part about forgiveness is, sometimes, forgiving ourselves. We may beat ourselves up about some poor choice we made weeks, months, or even years ago. We may think we’re “broken” and irreparable because of having looked at pornography, disobeyed our parents, or not doing something we should have to help someone. So how do we do it? How do we make ourselves realize that we’re not even guilty of our past mistakes and that there’s more than that mistake that we made?
                  First of all, let’s get some perspective here. God freely forgives us. He doesn’t taunt us saying, “I’ll think about forgiving you. You just have to…” No. If we really repent, He’ll say, “Your sins are forgiven you.” In the short space of 5 sections of Doctrine and Covenants, God tells people that their sins are forgiven 4 separate times (D&C 60:7, 61:2, 62:3, 64:3).
                  So, we know that God wants to forgive us, big whoop. We’re trying to forgive ourselves, not God. Well ok then, let’s look at what God expects us to do to not be guilty in His eyes anymore. D&C 64:7 tells us to confess our sins and ask forgiveness. Let’s tie that to D&C 58:42-43 where we’re told to confess our sins and then forsake them. Most sins we can confess to God and then move on. Even when we need to talk to a priesthood leader about something we’ve done, their purpose there isn’t to condemn us, it’s to help us. The idea of confessing is that we can get the guilt we feel inside of ourselves off our chest so to speak. We can cast our guilt on Christ and leave it at that.
                  The Lord told us in D&C 64:9-10 that He’ll forgive whoever he wants to. That’s his privilege. But our Job is to forgive everybody. I’d say that everybody includes ourselves. If we can’t leave what we’ve done behind thereby forgiving, I’d almost argue we haven’t fully repented. We can’t let it torture us.
                  In the Book of Mormon, there’s the story of a young man named Alma. He had committed some pretty serous sins in his youth, but repented as was forgiven on his sins. Now, the part I’m talking about (Alma chapter 36) is about 25 years after Alma changed his ways. I have no doubt in my mind that he remembered the things that he had done when he was trying to destroy God’s church. It’s hard to forget our mistakes. BUT, in verse 19, Alma says, “And now, behold, when I thought this [that his sins were forgiven], I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.” When he repented, he still remembered his sins, but the memory of that didn’t fill him with the inexpressible horror and torment that he had felt before (Alma 36:12-14, 17). When we really forsake a sin, we still remember it. We’ll probably remember serious sins forever, in fact, Alma 11:43 tells us that at the final judgment before God we’ll have “a bright recollection of all our guilt.” But the pain that we feel from them can be taken away by the Atonement. We can take those feelings and make them our conviction to never commit that sin again.
                  Another problem comes along in the form of perfectionism. Christ himself told his disciples, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:48). Well, if we all sin, it’s impossible to even get near that point right? In October 2010, Jorge F Zaballos said in General Conference, Even when, from a purely human perspective, perfection can appear an impossible challenge to achieve, I testify that our Father and our Savior have made known to us that it is possible to achieve the impossible. Yes, it is possible to achieve eternal life. Yes, it is possible to be happy now and forever.” (“Attempting the Impossible” October 2010) That’s why it says in Alma 7:13 ,”…the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance.” What seems impossible is completely possible, thanks to Christ’s atonement, forgiveness is practically guaranteed as long as we do our part by trying to keep the commandments and try to be better every day.

                  Joseph Smith said, “A man is his own tormenter and his own condemner.” We’re the only ones that prevent ourselves from being forgiven for our sins. God is more than willing to forgive us if we’ll put ourselves on the path to forgiveness and learn from our mistakes. So what’s holding us back? He’s waiting to help.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Shielding ourselves from one of the most deadly of diseases

This is a paper that I wrote in my Doctrine & Covenants class here at BYU (plus a little more that I've added over the last few days. It's about pornography, a rather heavy subject that not many people really like to talk about, but for some reason I felt like talking about it. Here's what the prompt was: What can I do now to build (then maintain) a wall that will help me resist pornography LATER in life? My paper went a bit beyond the scale of that prompt, but here it is. Hopefully, there's somebody out there who needs this.

            Pornography is becoming more and more prevalent, and more and more easily found. In fact, according to the all-knowing fountain of knowledge that is Google, nearly 70% of men 18-34 years old regularly look at pornography. Anyone who has ever encountered it knows the drawing temptation that comes from it. In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive.” In order to keep away from this serious, destructive disease, we have to shield ourselves from its attacks that can come out of nowhere and hit us hard. To do that we have to know what we’re up against, what will build us up instead of tear us down, and the rewards we receive from having a shield against pornography now and in the future.
            First of all, what’s at stake with this whole pornography thing? It can’t be that dangerous, right? In D&C 42:23 it says that if a man looks on a woman to lust after her (that is, entertain sexual urges toward a woman), he “ shall deny the faith,” “not have the Spirit,” and if he doesn’t repent, “shall be cast out.” Being “cast out” (presumably from the church, but it could also be God’s presence) seems like a pretty big deal to me, and one that I’d like to avoid. D&C 50 says that the Spirit of God edifies us as we learn or see things. In verse 23, it says that whatever doesn’t edify isn’t from the Spirit and is “darkness.” I assure you, that pornography does not edify. It doesn’t lift. It doesn’t fill you with light. It leaves you a feeling no better than you had before, if not worse. You don’t want it. Period. Just trust me on this one.
            But, enough doom and gloom! How are we going to hold up against that temptation? Fighting the temptation of pornography isn’t a passive battle. It’s an active one. So the first step comes to us. In D&C 43:9-11 the Lord tells us to learn His laws and sanctify ourselves, and when we do that we will be given glory. That’s where our shield begins. We learn what we’re supposed to do and as we do, that glory we receive starts to build around us. Back in D&C 50:24-25, it says that what is from God brings light into our lives. And light chases out darkness. Remember the darkness of the last paragraph? Imagine replacing that doom and gloom with happiness and peace. That’s how it works. Robert D Hales said, “light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time,” (April 2002 General Conference). When you put things that add light like scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, and pretty much anything else constructive, the temptation and darkness of wanting to look at pornography leaves. And your shield will grow into an armor that can protect from any attack that might come at you. The world opens up to you and nothing can hold you back from feeling God’s love for you.
            If you are experiencing problems with pornography, start fixing them NOW. There is no time to waste. Get help from somebody. A parent, a spouse, a friend, your bishop (probably a really idea for this one); somebody who care about you and will keep caring about you no matter what you’ve done. Like a destructive and deadly disease, pornography will leave scars on you spiritually. You're going to remember what you did and saw for a LONG time. On that note, here’s another quote for you: “Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means that you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” If you’ve overcome pornography, yes, you did something stupid, but you have experienced what few others do, and you can use that to help others. Never be ashamed of having seen pornography during the “Law of Chastity Sunday” lesson in your priesthood quorum. Know that you have kicked a legitimate addiction. Congrats to you. God doesn’t love you any less for having seen what you did. Move onward. In D&C 58:42-43 Christ says, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins- behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” Stop it. Talk to a priesthood leader about it. And leave it behind. God doesn’t even remember that it happened.
            One more quote from Jeffery R Holland to send you off, “Whoever you are and whatever you have done, you can be forgiven. Every one of you young men can leave behind any transgression with which you may struggle. It is the miracle of forgiveness; it is the miracle of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ,” (October 2011 General Conference).  That’s coming form an apostle. Build yourself a shield against pornography. One so thick, that it can’t ever penetrate or break through. If your shield wasn’t quite up to the attack, start building again. It’s never too late. You're never too far gone. You can come back. I promise. I know.

Friday, March 28, 2014

We meet again Mr. Bond...

Hey folks. It's been a while. I'm going to revive this. Just so you know. Get ready for awesome!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Poem

Nothing to do with the main blog. I just thought I'd throw it in here. This is a sonnet I did for AP Lit.

Near the end of the Book of Mormon a prophet named Mormon sees the destruction of his people. They've almost been completely wiped off the face of the land (in fact, in the end, his son is the last of the people). When he sees what has happened, he gives this beautiful lament of how all his people are dead, and how nothing can bring them back. If you want to see the whole thing go look at Mormon 6:17-22 in the Book of Mormon.

I did my own version, it's a lot more hopeful sounding than the version in the Book of Mormon, but I still like it. I didn't even plan to post this on Easter, it just happened that way. Cool. The iambic pentameter is messed up, and it's kind of rough, but here it is:

O Ye Fair Ones

O ye fair ones, why went you from the Lord?
You know the truth and you have felt His love
Yet here you stand and now see your reward
Lonely and dead to Him who is above

O ye fair ones, did you ne’er hear His words?
Nay, and now ye are all fallen and gone
and your bodies are left, food for the birds
and perhaps His promise is now withdrawn

O ye fair ones your redemption will come
In His good time will He have you come in
and say, “You see now what you have become,
but I will forgive you of all your sin”

O ye fair ones, we need not fear His will
O ye fair ones, the Lord loveth us still!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Confessions of a Senioritis Sufferer

One of the most known parts of being a high school senior is an infamous disease called, Senioritis. The disease usually presents symptoms in mid-winter or early-spring among high school seniors (duh); however it can begin to manifest much earlier than that. Symptoms include: extreme sleepiness, lethargy, forgetfulness, loss of inhibition, (possibly) angst; and in the late stages of the disease: extreme "antsyness", complete loss of interest in most aspects of life, and sometimes sleeplessness due to studying for final exams. There is only way to cure the disease, graduate from high school.

I must admit, I was hit by the early symptoms of senioritis around Christmas break when I realized, "Holy cow, I'm a semester away from graduating from high school." The only symptoms I was showing was a little bit of disregard for school, but everything was OK. But I think senioritis is starting to turn into a systemic disease for me. I'm forgetting things like nothing else, if you could see how lethargic I am in some classes I'm sure you'd agree that senioritis is attacking like crazy. But the big thing I've been saying is, "I don't care about school anymore, I just want to go to college."

It's interesting to me that I was so excited at the prospect of senior year. The top of the food chain, the pick of classes, the best year ever... yeah... not so much, but that's another blog from way back. If you want to see all that "disillusioned senior" stuff go look at my previous entry, "The Confessions of High School Senior-dom".

Senioritis has to be the strangest thing I've ever felt. I've never really been antsy about anything. Sure, when I buy a new airsoft gun I'm excited and a little bit impatient to get it, but it's nothing like what I'm experiencing right now. It's this weird feeling where... I don't really care about anything at school. I mean, I'm still trying in my classes and everything, but I don't care about high school anymore. The only thing that matters is getting done, getting a job, then going to BYU in the fall.

I'll admit, I'm going to miss Loveland High. but BYU is going to be so much better. I seriously cannot wait to get there and start. 9 weeks 'til I'm cured. So, like I've been saying for the last few weeks, I don't care about school anymore, I just want to go to college.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Confessions of an Amateur Stage Actor

"So, what'd it get ya?"
"Meh, another' three months"

If you have no idea where that's from, don't be surprised. most people wouldn't.

It's lines from two characters in the Disney movie "Newsies". When the main character, Jack Kelly, is in jail one of his friends, Crutchy, who's in jail with him, steals some food from the warden and he knows he's going to get extra time in jail for it. So what does this have to do with being an amateur actor? Good question. Let's dive into the twisted area that is my mind, shall we?

This is a long story so skip to the moral of the story part (or whatever you want to call it) so see the "confessions part.

Last school year, I went to go see Loveland High School's annual musical play. It was called "Urinetown". It was a hilarious show, and at the end of the show my friend, Caleb, and I looked over at each other and said, "That's going to be us next year, ok?"

So this year rolled around and come September I look on the school's theater wall and said that they were having auditions for the musical. Weird thing is that the school doesn't normally do the musical until March or something like that, but whatever. The show was to be "Moby Dick! The Musical!"

So Caleb and I set about memorizing a song and a monologue for auditions. The day of auditions came and Caleb and I made callbacks, then we managed to make it through callbacks and got parts. Caleb was a fire-and-brimstone pastor and a whaler, and I ended up being a crazy one-armed prophet for the first act and a whaler for the second act of the show. Woo hoo!

For three months straight I'd stay after school and learn vocals and blocking for Moby Dick. Along the way I got to know people in the cast. The show had a cast of only 16 people, and, and as you can guess, we got pretty close. We did great every night even if we had some hiccups along the way. but it was one of the most fun things I've ever done.

While Moby Dick was going on another show was doing auditions. It was the LHS student directed show. This year it was going to be a stage adaptation of, "NEWSIES!" SO Moby Dick finished and suddenly all the endorphins from the shows we did and just the fun that our cast had together were gone. It was a sad week. Luckily, Newsies was starting just that next week. Ironically enough, I'd gotten the role of Crutchy.

I'd just gotten myself "another three months". We started rehearsing every day. We did blocking, we learned a lot of dances for songs and did vocals. The whole time we worked on the play we were told we would have the school's auditorium to perform and put our set on. However, two weeks before our play was to be performed we were basically shoved out by another play which was to perform a week after ours who's set was set up before we could even get to the stage and couldn't be moved. So it was do or die time for Newsies.

But we weren't going to just take what the gave us. We started looking for another venue for our show and luckily LHS's excellent drama teacher, "Coach" Caikowski (I think I just butchered that name) managed to get us the stage of one of the local middle schools. So a week before our show we built our entire set and got it on the stage. We ran all the way through the show twice, and then we did a revue at our director's church for free publicity. Our first show was Friday the 22nd of January. And it went as well as any opening night can. That night we had a cast party at a restaurant that one of our cast member's family owns and we had a blast there until 0'dark-thirty. The next day we had a 2pm matinee that was "meh", and then our last show at 7pm that night.

For the last show, we let out all the stops and had plain old fun. It was by far out best performance and we just came together as a cast that night. We had something to prove and a story to tell. We gave everything we had to tell the story of the struggles of the newsboys in 1899, and our own cast. The young newsies in 1899 had the last of the money basically pulled out of their pockets. We'd never been able to practice at the school and at almost the last minute we'd had the stage pulled out from under our feet. Neither of us just sat and too what we were given though. The newsies could have just bought a few less papes and tried to scrape by. We could have just said "screw it, we don't have a stage, we can't do the show" and let all of our work come to nothing. But we didn't. Both of our stories turned into a "fight 'till damn doomsday" to get what we deserved.

Wow. What an experience it was. This year's little intro into acting has taught me a lot. So here's that "moral of the story" part of the blog I was talking about.

1. "There's no people, like show people". I always had the kids that did theater tagged as the crazy people who sat around and wrote plays in their spare time... or something like that. Little did I know, that theater people come from everywhere. While, yes, a lot of the people had been in shows before I got into them, a lot of people (especially in Moby Dick) just came out of the woodwork. Me and Caleb being the least of them. We all became "show people". It was so much fun having all these inside jokes and starting to know all the secrets of the theater (if there are such things, I dunno).

2. You become friends with everybody after spending 2 hours every day with them for 3 months. Seriously, when you spend that much time with somebody, the idea of social class (as in the high school social system) goes away, age goes away, intelligence level goes away. When you have a good cast it turns into more than just a cast, it becomes a family (albeit an extremely dysfunctional one from time to time). The directors quickly turn into parents and it usually ends up with everybody else being a bunch of brothers and sisters. The seniors start to be the older brothers and sisters and just take the younger kids (mainly the freshmen) and watch out for them, but it's fun to see everybody turn into a huge family and have fun doing what they love.

3. I do plays for the same reason I do airsoft. Adrenaline. The lights go down for the show to start and you instantly have this chill run down your spine that just tells you, "LET'S ROLL!" I told my dad that during tech week I live for that hour and a half of sheer terror and fun. When you play airsoft you wait for the "GO" call and your veins (wait, shouldn't it be arteries? Or maybe neuromuscular junctions? Whatever...) flood with adrenaline and the only thing you can think of is playing the game. It's the same way with a show. You're terrified of screwing up your lines or a dance or a song or whatever, but you just start going and sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. But it's just so much fun to feel that feeling like "Holy crap! What's next? What in the world is going on around me?!?!" Oh, I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it.

4. Prayer works. Every night before a show we all would come together as a cast and do vocal warm-ups, do a game to get our energy up, and pray. We'd gather around in a circle and just pray to our heavenly father that everything would go alright and that we wouldn't have any injuries or anything that that we'd be able to give a show that would make our audience happy. And every night, nobody got hurt, I felt like we were able to make people happy, and we didn't have too many things go awry on us. Just another little thing to show us that He's watching out for us.

5. Closing night is always the best. For both Moby Dick and Newsies, our last night was amazing! My guess is that the cast realizes that this is the last chance to ever perform the show and we want to go out with a bang. Every closing night we let loose everything we have left. I guess that's all on that.

6. Real men wear suspenders. Nuff said.

7. Everything's funny at 2:30 in the morning. Cast parties are crazy.

I wonder if I'll ever "get another 3 months"? Who knows?

Until next time folks, Crutchy out

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Confessions of High School Senior-dom

I've heard a lot of people say that being a high school senior is amazing and fun and a blast the whole time. I've decided that those people were full of crap. Simply put, senior year is nowhere near it's cracked up to be, and here's why...

1. College... stuff: Let's face it, planning your future isn't fun. I guess I was told this, but not in all that great of detail. I hate in when the counseling department comes into your class and says, "If you don't turn in your applications by Halloween you won't get into the school you want to," or at least that's how it came off to me. So for those of us lazy people, we're still working on them. That brings me to my next thing, essays for applications. Seriously colleges, I need more than 200 or 300 words to express my thoughts.
(Heck, up to "thoughts" was 150 words and I'm just getting warmed up). And come up with some original prompts, seriously, I can only write on "How I would contribute to the school because it's a diverse place" so many times before I want to go run naked in the snow (that's an example of going crazy for you people who are sitting there thinking "EWW").

2. "Lasts": It's your last year of high school, HUZZAH! And yet then there's all those other "lasts". The last year you'll probably see a lot of the friends you made in high school. The last time you get to do high school extra-curriculars. I got to do Moby Dick the Musical and I'm doing Newsies for plays as a high schooler, but unfortunately, my first times are going to be my last. I know that colleges have play and stuff too, but those are definately filled with theater majors who are all pima-dona about their theater "my way or the highway" actors. Pass on that one. The last year you get to have some of the coolest teachers ever. I'm going to miss Felton and Linville and a few other teachers who I've gotten to know over the years, and that makes me sad. I'm sure I'll like my professors a lot in college (and beyond), but I don't think I'll be able to get to the personal level I've gotten with some of my high school teachers.

3. Tying up everything: This isn't a problem yet, but it will be in August/September. Unless I go to CU I'll have to hand over the Molon Labe airsoft team over to another guy, that's twice in less than a year that the team will have been turned over, I don't want to do that. Odds are we're going to start planning a big OP, but if I have to leave before that gets done, well shoot, I'd hate to leave before A) I can play in it, and/or B) before it can even get done with planning. I guess that's really the only "tying up loose ends thing" but I'm sure more will pop up sooner or later.

4. Singles wards: Yeah... 'nuff said. Graduating means going to the singles ward... that's a frightening enough thought right there.

5. Money: So you're supposed to be saving money for college and stuff during your senior year right? Well it's kind of hard to get a job when you have play practice every night until 5:30, homework, church activities, college app's that need doing and things in a social life. Look's like I might be using the Marty Jasken approach for eating next year, rice and bread.

6. Girls: So... I don't know what to really say here (although I'm about to go off in a stream of consciousness rant). You've made friends all through high school, for me several of them were girls. I'd like to think that I've gotten to be good friends with some of them. And yet, I don't know if they think of me as a friend or the weird kid that they know who has a bunch of guns in his closet. Then, you want to get close to somebody, but they never really let you. So if I'm supposed to meet a girl, do I do a hard and fast "HEY! You wanna go out? I know a great place..." or do I do the chivalry thing where you're actually polite to the girl and treat her like you should? I don't know. I guess I'll leave it there, I could do more, but it would make even less sense than what I just put down up there.

7. Leaving "home": I've lived in Loveland, CO for 18 years. I've never lived anywhere else. It is HOME. The thought of leaving the place that's had my heart and mind for 18 years when I graduate is a sad and almost frightening thought. I've made so many friends here that the thought of having to make new friends somewhere else is equally as frightening for a socially awkward person like me. then again, if I did in in 10 days at NSLC, can't I do in 9 months at college? I guess that one's just been nullified. Shucks

8. Not knowing: The world's a big place. Not knowing what the future holds scares the living crud out of me and annoys the same stuff out of me. I'm usually a very logical person. I like to know what's coming. And the fact that I don't get to even have the slightest idea of what's around the next bend... GAH! It's just one of those things, you know? But I suppose that's how it's supposed to be. I'll let my Heavenly Father steer me where he wants me to go.

9. Still having to take classes: The biggest thing I heard from people is that senior year is fun because you don't have to take that many classes. I'd like to call "bull" on that statement. Colleges want you to keep working yourself to prove that you won't slack off and be useless to them. So here I am taking 3 college level classes and the second highest level German class in school and trying to squish everything else in there. Thanks colleges, but I already learned my lesson about work ethic last school year (4 AP classes, German 3, and an accelerated physics course).

Kara, you're lucky you were a pseudo-senior

I think that's all. Good work, you just got through a really rambly post full of me venting. But hey, it's in the blog description, what were you expecting?