Life Lessons, Spiritual

Integrity

I was flipping through my Personal Progress book on Sunday, and a particular “experience” (Integrity #3) really stuck out to me. I don’t know why, exactly. Usually, I think, “yeah, that one should be easy enough right now.” or “um, I should probably work on that one.” or something to that effect. But they don’t usually hit a chord. This one did. So I’ve been working on it this morning. Instead of writing it down in my journal, the thought came to me that I should put it on the blog. It says share your experience, so I guess this is a good way to share it.

The funny thing is, when the instructions said to think about a time that I showed integrity and it was not easy or popular, a story instantly came to mind. An incident that was close to 20 years ago. I don’t know what recalled that particular instant, but it hasn’t left me since.

I was in 8th grade. We had this really boring text book in my Leadership class. The whole class hated it. One day, the teacher stepped out of the room, probably to go make copies or something. The entire class hid their textbooks. The teacher was pretty flabbergasted when she came back in. I don’t know what made her do it, but she looked right at me and said, “Keira, where are the books.” Althought I didn’t stand up and tell the kids no (they were reaaaallllly boring books), I couldn’t tell a  bold-face lie. So I caved and told her where they were. I thought for sure, the whole class would be mad at me, but actually no one was. Maybe because they knew I couldn’t like. I don’t know. But we didn’t have to use those books again. And the class didn’t really care. I don’t know why it’s so ingrained into my memory, but it is. I don’t remember a single other thing from that class, but I remember the time I didn’t lie.

Integrity Scrabble Brick

It’s no surprise that the first example the Young Women Personal Progress book gives is that of the Savior. Even when He realized exactly how hard it was to comply with the atonement, He did it. He suffered for our sins. If He hadn’t had integrity, there would be no plan.

Joseph showed integrity with Potiphar’s wife. To me, that’s not just showing integrity in the obvious way. Not committing adultery is a definite  commandment. But honoring the wishes of an employer and getting out of a potentially bad situation (as well as making a bad situation good without complaint) are also ways to show integrity.

Esther is one of my favorite examples of integrity. I don’t know if I’d have the courage to put my life on the line to stand up for others. I mean, I guess you’d just have to do it. I like that she fasts and prays before she does what she does. In this kind of situation, putting God at the central part of the plan, remembering that all things are possible through him, is the real example of integrity in Esther’s story.

Job never denied the Lord, when times got hard. I think that everyone has those moments when they wonder, with everything going on in their lives, if God loves them, if He really exists, and if He can help. But at the end of it, if you’ve kept the faith, kept believing, then you can show integrity, too. Just like Job.

Daniel didn’t stop praying. God’s commandments are greater than man’s.

Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were willing to die for their faith, but to me the true sign of integrity is something I heard in a conference talk once. I’ve never been able to find it since. In the talk the speaker said once that Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were great examples of the “But If Not” principle. Not only do they stand up for their beliefs, knowing that Christ CAN save them, they know that doesn’t mean Christ WILL save them. The true act of faith, and integrity, is remembering that God’s ways are better than our own plans. They know that they can be saved, but if they are not saved, they know that they will be with their Savior. “But if Not.” Integrity is trusting God. Submitting to His will.

Hyrum showed integrity for delighting in truth and finding what is right.

Paul showed integrity for changing his ways when he knew better. For adimitting he was wrong. That’s a big one!

Joseph Smith showed integrity by never denying what he had seen. “I knew it and I knew that God knew it.” How easy it would have been for him to just give into the world, “yeah, guys, you caught me.” But just because something is easy with Man doesn’t mean its easy with God. Giving into what the world wanted him to do would have eternal repercussions. It would NOT have been worth it. Easy and worth it are definitely not the same thing.

Life Lessons

Grandma’s hands

These are my grandmother’s hands. I’d like to tell you about them.

Untitled

This summer, I have taken the drive to visit my grandparents during frequent intervals in order to help them out and give my grandma a haircut. I’m not very good at it, but she can’t tell me that anymore, so I do it anyway. It helps out Grandpa, and the nurse that comes in to help them always raves about how great the new haircut is, so that’s good enough. Even though I am nervous every time. Hair grows back, right?

But let me tell you about my grandmother’s hands. These hands picked and shelled peas and snapped beans to fill jars destined for the canner. These hands served lunch to hundreds of school kids (the rolls were amazing!). These hands made one heck of a “squamwich,” taught me how to embroider (while never giving up on me), and thumped my head with a thimble when I got too rambunctious under her quilt.  These hands were never still! When she was sick, or resting, they’d tie knots in all of the quilt strings. When she was listening to conference or the radio, these hands would knit bandages for foreign aide. When she was talking on the phone, these hands did crossword puzzles and doodled on any paper available. Especially little swirly flowers. Those were her favorite. Even eating dinner, grandma would run her hands over the tablecloth texture or across her buttons under the table. If there was absolutely nothing else for her hands to do, grandma would resort to twiddling her thumbs.

Grandma’s hands cut out cute sayings and glued them to magnets for her magnet board. They bought magnets from all the places Grandma visited. These hands gave hugs that always made you feel loved and wanted. These hands sent secret messages when no one was looking. If she caught you at something, she’d rub one pointer finger down the pointer and index from the other hand. It was grandma’s way of saying “shame shame” when she didn’t want the grownups to hear she’d caught us. She’d also rub her thumb across the pads of her first two fingers to show  mock sympathy (“this is the world’s smallest violin”) Grandma’s hands would even laugh when she laughed, resting across her tummy and jiggling when her grandkids would so something funny and clever. Her hands were connected to relief society arms, which always made her embarrassed, but gave much better hugs.

One time, these hands threw a fork at me in a restaurant! We were teasing my grandpa about fliping food in a restaurant, and grandma’s hands slipped! That fork ended up right in my chin.

Oh, and these hands threw away all the skip cards in every new deck of phase 10 cards Grandpa would buy! She hated the skips. She said they weren’t good for anyone! The person playing them had to get rid of a card, the person being skipped didn’t get a turn, and the person at the other end of the skip couldn’t pick up a card to keep playing.

Now these hands have a lot less to do. Grandma doesn’t say much anymore. Grandma doesn’t do too much, either. Unless reading the same Friend magazine or watching the same rotation of pictures in hr digital picture frame count. Grandma’s hands can barely feed herself breakfast. But They’re still Grandma’s… They still twiddle or feel the texture of the tablecloth. They still jiggle when you make her laugh. Some things don’t change with age.

 

see her hand feeling the tablecloth?

 

Grandpa gets pretty tired lately. It’s hard to make up the difference of all that those hands used to  do. I am so glad I get to go “help out,” because it lets me reminisce in what life was like with this bubbly old lady, her jolly husband, and her hands.

I love you Grandma.

Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

That Time I was Mad at God

This post is for my friend. It’s taken some time to write because I needed time to think about it and then forgot to come back and write it. I never forgot about her question, just never at a place to sit down and share my thoughts.

There once was a time that I was so mad at God at how my life was turning out. I felt so guilty for being mad at Him, so I’d berate myself constantly. God doesn’t do anything wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done everything I needed to with the resources he gave me. I’d attended all my meetings, I’d fulfilled my callings, I’d kept his commandments. And still things weren’t going my way; instead they were getting much much worse. Almost daily. Family relations were tight. Finances were tight. I kept getting sick.  Nothing seemed to be going right. And I was exhausted.Finally, one day I just gave up. I went for a run to clear my head and the whole time I mentally screamed at God. Full on chewed him out. Told him repeatedly it wasn’t fair and how dare He and that he must not love me at all. Seriously. Stuff we’d be furious our kids said to us. But that’s how I felt. I then sobbingly told him everything I felt was unfair (the perks to running in a small  town: no one sees you bawling in the middle of your run). Just let it all out. And let the shame of my anger go with it. It seemed so shameful to chew out Deity. I wasn’t allowed to chew out my parents, and this was GOD! Totally inappropriate, right?

redrun

Actually, I don’t think it was. Here’s why.

When I had finally calmed down and just bawled while I ran and got it all out, I had a perfect thought pop into my head.

“I am so glad you finally got that all out. Now we can talk.”

bluerun

God doesn’t need shame. Me chewing him out doesn’t make Him less of a deity. In fact, I felt such peace and serenity after getting it all out, like I could finally accept Him as deity. It felt like God was saying “I’m so  glad you finally decided to come to me so we can talk about this! I’ve been waiting. I know you’ve been feeling like life isn’t fair. I’m so sorry you’re hurting so badly. But I can’t help you until you’re ready. I’m so glad you’re finally ready to be with me again. I miss you when you distance yourself.” God loves me so much, he just needed me to come to him with how I really felt. But I was so embarrassed that I was mad at God that I distanced myself from Him. Not openly, but emotionally. Shame kept me from coming to God with my frustrations.

What an amazing parent! To rejoice in my anger because it could bring me back to Him. I learned a lot about shame that day. And parenting. And love. And God. He and I still have some trust issues to work out, I’m not denying that. But He’s waiting for me. When I’m ready, we’ll be there together.

So to discuss gratitude: Sometimes we’re not grateful for things. And that’s totally okay. I don’t think we should fake gratitude. It’s like hiding in shame. Instead, find that one good silver thread. Be grateful for that. That’s all you have to be grateful for. Otherwise, let yourself be angry! You don’t have to be grateful for anything you’re not feeling. As long as you do feel it. And if you can’t find a silver thread, that’s okay, too. Just be honest with yourself and with God. Some day, that gratitude will come. It doesn’t have to be today. Just let it teach you.

 

Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

Day 26: Problem Solving

**Sorry this took so long. I got distracted with my map…**

dareIn my family of origin, I was the problem solver. When philosophers discuss how our strengths are also our biggest weaknesses, their discussion holds true in this personal strength. I was so good at problem solving I solved problems that weren’t mine. In recent  years, within my search for “seven,” I’ve learned to let that go; but  I still have to walk a fine line in problem solving. Sometimes I forget that I’ve still got to solve my problems myself instead of expecting them to be solved for me. I also forget that some problems aren’t mine. Interestingly enough, we just had this discussion with our daughter yesterday. We talked about how sometimes God has an answer that he wants you to find and that we need to come to him for help and guidance, because he can see more than we can. Sometimes, however, like with Mohonri Moriancumer (The Brother of Jared), Heavenly Father wants us to come to him with a solution. Today is devoted to recognizing the difference between our problems and someone else’s. It is also devoted to coming up with our own solutions.

First of all, we must weed out the problems that aren’t ours. While I was processing this concept, it got so complicated in my head, I drew a “map.” Then I showed it to my friend and she was so distracted by the boxes and the arrows, that for her I made it more complicated. Sorry if you fall into the latter category. If you do, create a nice  boring outline and work with that. ;c)

How you solve the problem depends on what the problem was. If there was one cut and dry solution to every problem, it’d sure make life easier, but since we’re here to gain experience, I can be grateful that there isn’t. Let me know how it goes. 🙂