Friday, May 31, 2013

I am a Human Doormat and You Can Too!!!

You know....it's funny how easy it is to look around and see the madness and dysfunction in the people around us, but often almost impossible to see it in ourselves....even when someone points it out to us.

Sometimes we are in such deep denial that even being caught "in the act" as it were, is still not enough to make us face the reality about ourselves. But then that moment arrives...you know...that moment when the horrifying and indisputable reality up and slaps you in the face and you have to really look at yourself and go.....

Oh dear. 

This can be a defining moment in anyone's life. It is at moments like these that we can either justify our behavior and continue on, or, we can say enough is enough, this ends NOW.

I will now give you a personal example that unfortunately, I'm afraid many of you will relate to.

Hi, My name is Brittney, and I am....

   http://www.disciplemakingpodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/doormat.jpg

A Human Doormat.

Ok...so even though I can joke about this....I am actually quite embarrassed and not all together pleased to have to admit this about myself. Here is where the problem started I think..

I, like many many most people, have this weird desire to be liked, loved, needed, wanted, and accepted by other people. This need increases when it comes to people that I happen to like, love, want, need, and accept. I don't think I am strange or unique in this way, I believe as humans we all have this need built into us. If we didn't then we would all be self-sustaining mountain dwellers....and also....our population would have probably died off centuries ago. So there you have it, we ALL need one another to what ever degree. 

My "issue" is not that I need people, my issue is the way in which I go about the needing process, and the treatment I have been willing to put up with in order to try and accomplish my goal. 

I am a People Pleaser to the nth degree. I am the one who never wants to disappoint anyone and wants to crawl under a rock and die when I realize I have hurt someone. I have this blessing/curse that gives me the ability to put myself in other peoples shoes and as such, it limits my desire to cause them any kind of hurt. Mind you, I'm not saying I'm a saint over here. Partly, I believe that this does come from a more altruistic place of human empathy, but it also has everything to do with my own wanting to be treated well.

In essence...Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done Unto You sort of thing. I recognize that I am a flawed human being and my deepest wish is that people would extend me the benefit of the doubt when I screw up; and because this is the kind of treatment I would ask and hope from others, then it makes sense to me that this is also the way I should try and treat others in return. Simple right? Logical yes?

Let me tell you why this attitude has actually backfired in an EPIC way.

I'm not sure if you do this...but I usually tend to believe that people are generally good and well-intentioned creatures. I believe that they would never do anything to hurt me, use me, abuse me, or cause me pain on purpose. I believe all of these things because these are also all of the same things that I believe myself to be.

See what I did there?

I made the fatal mistake of assuming that other people were just like me....how narcissistic right? *a-wink*  

Need an illustration?

Let's pretend you are a cute fluffy bunny....

http://www.mrwallpaper.com/Fluffy-White-Bunny-wallpaper/

Ermahgerd.......eets sur flurfeeeeee.....

Look at that face, that is the face that says trust me, and you would trust him, and rightfully so, because this little guy is as harmless as he appears. 

So now let's say, that this bunny (you, or I) labor under the delusion that every other forest creature we come across is ALSO a harmless ball of love fluff.....see the problem here....?....

 Some people are not fluffy bunnies...SOME people are half-crazed poodles high on crack cocaine and with little or no regard for you, your feelings, or your fluffy white tail.

Simply put.....Not everyone can be trusted, and not everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Time for shiz to get real.

I use to watch programs about women who were "trapped" in physically abusive relationships....and by watch what I mean is that I would sit upon my throne of self-righteousness bathing in a pool of my own sense of superiority, and all the while screaming at the TV.... 

"Come on lady!!! WTF?? The guy is beating you to within an INCH of your life and you stay with him because he always apologizes???? Not only that, but then you go the extra mile and take some if not ALL of the blame for his abuse by stating that YOU shouldn't have done X,Y, or Z to upset him and Make him treat you that way."

From my lofty throne it is all so simple, and oh so clear. This is not HER fault, she has just become an expert at justifying FOR him and on his behalf......but worse, and so much more tragic, somewhere inside of her she has to believe that she isn't worth being treated any better. I heard it said once that we will only allow others to abuse us to the extent that we abuse ourselves....which makes what I am about to say next all the more difficult for me.

While I have never allowed a man or any person for that matter to physically beat me, I can not say in good conscious that I am any different from the woman who is.  

In my attempt to get love or validation, or acceptance.......Particularly from men.....and more Particularly  from men I wanted.....I have allowed myself to be treated in ways that I would NEVER treat another human being, let alone someone I claimed to care about to any extent. Not much unlike the example of the woman above, I have also become an expert in justifying the poor treatment I received, and yes, even shouldered some if not most of the responsibility. 

"Oh you just don't understand....he is really busy and he has a lot on his plate and THAT's why he is totally neglecting me."

"No, he isn't a bad guy, he just has an unusually active sex drive and even though I'm not comfortable with what he wants to do, I just realize that men are men, and that they have needs and that as a good woman, I need to sacrifice my needs for his....because that is what you do when you love someone right? You forget about your own needs, wishes, desires, and you instead focus solely on what they want?"

"Yeah...it's true I told him that it was really really important to me that he make it to my family event....but he has had a really stressful week and so he really needs to stay at home and play video games instead."

"True, I told him where I draw my moral line in the sand when it comes to intimacy, but we just have different ideas of what is OK and what is not OK when it comes to that sort of thing, and so why should he default to my line? I mean, aren't relationships about compromise?"

"OK....so yeah he only calls late at night.....every so often....and never wants to take me on an actual date, or get to know me.....but he is just getting out of something and he got burned really bad so I just need to be there whenever he calls so that he will see how interested I am, and what a loving devoted partner I would be."

"Fine, yes, if you want to get technical about it, he broke up with me 4 years ago, but I'm SURE he is still thinking about me and wishing that he could just call me, but he is probably scared that I am mad at him for breaking up with me, so if I just stick around and show up in his life every so often and SHOW him that I am not mad, and make myself available to him...THEN oh yes THEN he will realize how much he actually loves me and will want to have me back for keeps!"

Ladies and gentlemen ......

   http://www.chrisrue.com/funcave/graphics/community.jpg



Why Do We Do This To Ourselves???

Why do we put up with poor treatment from the people who should be treating us with the most care? I'm not talking about the ignorant things we all do from time to time, to which when we become aware of them we promptly ask for forgiveness and here is the kicker...NEVER DO IT AGAIN. I am talking about patterns here...I am talking about trends. I'm not talking about, Oops he forgot to call you ONCE, or Gee, she totally spaced that ONE date night.....I'm talking about the general overall theme of the way a person treats you. Whether it be in a friendship, work associate, or romantic relationship, WHY DO WE ALLOW PEOPLE TO TREAT US POORLY???

Best I can figure it is a combination of the things I have talked about. First, as good people, we assume others are good and that if someone did something not good then it was probably not on purpose and we should probably make up an excuse for them and then promptly bend over so as to give them a better angle by which to steel-toe-boot kick us right up the rear. Second, and more tragic, we allow it because either consciously or subconsciously we have to believe that we aren't worth better. And lastly,  in our attempts to be good people who are forgiving and tolerant and trusting, we are willing to give people who don't deserve a gnats fart worth of consideration, a seemingly never ending supply of second chances and benefits of the doubt in order to prove to us that they are not the epic jerks that they are CLEARLY trying to show us that they are.

Look folks, people are what they are. Can they change? Certainly. But IF and ONLY WHEN that day arrives, It becomes OUR responsibility to take them for who they are Right Now. Not who you want them to beNot who you hope they could be, Not who you know they could be if only you stick around long enough to heal them with the power of your love, and CERTAINLY NOT the person you thought they were when they were trying to impress and/or win you over in the beginning. 

Soooooooo hard. Sooooooo easy to justify, to excuse, to give just one more chance.....one more chance....

Well I for one am done. 

I may not be the catch of the century, but for the first time in my life I can honestly say that I believe that I am worth at LEAST the quality and consideration that I offer to others. Novel concept right? It feels really empowering, I kinda like it. Knowing I can have what I want, knowing that I don't have to settle or put up with half-hearted love pursuits. Knowing that I don't have to wait for someone to treat me like garbage in order to say...."Sorry, I am just not getting what I need. No hard feelings. Happy hunting to you." 

The best part is, all that love and compassion and empathy I have for others doesn't have to go away. I can still be warm, open, and loving, but now I understand that being warm, open, and loving doesn't require I tattoo Thank You Sir May I Have Another  on my forehead. 

I am a DOORMAT NO MORE 
  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Is Beauty like Art or the NBA??

I would like to begin this post by posing the question:

Is Beauty more like Art or The NBA?

In honor of the today's  topic, I have decided to write in a more 'beautiful" font than I normally use.

Today during church the teacher shared with the class the story of Johnny Lingo  . For those who are unfamiliar with this popular Mormon tale/video/movie, it is the story of small island community where it is the tradition of the village for the prospective husbands to give the woman of their desire's father a certain amount of cows in exchange for his daughters hand in marriage....in essence a dowry of cows, or if you will, a "cowry" ...not to be confused with what I burn off during extreme yoga.

In this village, the more cows a man paid for you, the more desirable a woman you are perceived to be. In fact, it becomes either a badge of honer or of shame that a woman wears around for the rest of her life, in short, it assigns a certain value to her that is easily measured by the rest of the community.

So there is this guy named Johnny Lingo and he is like, the shiz when it comes to desirable bachelors. Johnny could have any woman he wants, and he has the cows to back it up. Much to the shock and horror of the community however, Johnny picks the most homely, backwards, reclusive, emo girl in the village. Not only does he pick this girl, but he also pays her father 8 Cows for her (an unheard amount of cowage for any women period), and certainly not a fitting price for this woman. But Johnny know what he wants, and so he pays her father, marries her, and then takes her away to another island. 

The story ends with someone from the village paying a visit to Johnny and his new bride some months later whereupon he discovers that this girl is in reality one of the most beautiful women in the world, but she and everyone simply never saw it...but Johnny saw it, and because Johnny saw her untapped beauty, it didn't matter to him that everyone else thought that he was insane for picking her. And once she realized her own worth, or saw herself through his eyes, that beauty that had always been inside her came out for all the world to see. 

Awwww.....how sweet. I really like this story, and I really hate this story.

After the teacher got done telling it the following scenario popped into my mind: Say that that most handsome and desirable man in the whole world somehow stumbled upon me and declared that I was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen and therefore we must be wed immediately (and cows were no object). Every girls dream right? So then why was it that the only thing I could think of was this statement...

"I don't believe you."

Ruh-roh Shaggy.

So here we have the man of my dreams telling me that I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and my response would be, "I don't believe you." I might even go so far as to say, "You are wrong"; and then if he were to ask me how I came to this conclusion I would point out examples of dozens if not hundreds of other women who were more beautiful than I. Because you see in my reality, there must exist a standard of universal or eternal ideals of beauty that some women come much closer to than I. So when a guy says that I am the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, to me, that is like saying that I am the tallest person he has ever seen, and clearly the NBA totally blows this statement out of the water. I might give him the benefit of the doubt for being a sweet delusional fool, but he would still be wrong.

However, being cognoscente of the fact that I am not always (if rarely ever) right about such matters I began to ponder upon the question I posed above, which hopefully in context makes a little more sense now......Is Beauty more like Art or NBA players?

When it comes to art, it is all in the eye of the beholder. If some guy told me that Starry Starry Night......

  ....was the most "perfect" or "beautiful" piece of art ever created, then I would probably accept that this was a matter of  opinion, rather than a statement of fact, even if he presented it as such. In my mind, there exist no universal standard or measuring stick upon which one constitutes what is "good" or "better" or "best" pieces of art. Art is opinion, art is interpretation, art is not a science, and art can't really be critiqued outside of whether or not it personally pleases you. 

Exhibit A:

 To some parent somewhere....This IS Art. It may not be hanging in the Louvre any time soon, but that is only because what the Louvre considers worthy or beautiful art and what this child's parent considers worthy and beautiful art, differ significantly give the context. So the Mona Lisa will go to the Lourve and this adorable labor of love will go to the fridge door. Neither party is right or wrong in this matter, one hasn't come closer to "the truth" about good art, if you will, they simply have a difference of opinion.

Now, while it is true that people can, and do, make the same argument about human beauty, the unfortunate reality is that I see so much evidence out there that leads me to believe that they might be wrong.

But then I realize that on this particular matter, I do not wish to be "right" anymore.

Think about it; how does it benefit you, or I, or any of us to labor under the belief that there is a universal law or standard of beauty, for which none of us had any say in, and to which we all seem to fall however short of, also due to genetic factors that are largely out of our control? Sure we could get plastic surgery, or hit the gym like a tornado and get down to a size whatever (which many people are attempting to do as I speak), sure we could do those things, but ultimately, we can really only ever reach a certain level of "perfection" (if that is what you want to call it) before genetics and science and modern technology will fail us and we will probably still find ourselves so close and yet so far away from that ever elusive bar.

Understand, I am just as superficial as the next person, I get that a healthy fit body is going to be more appealing (in general)  than an out of shape unhealthy one. But here is the thing.....I personally have known "fat" people who were further from what I imagine our society would consider the "ideal standard of beauty" that were healthier than I am, and I have known skinnier people who come much closer to this same ideal that were much more unhealthy than myself. So why then, if I can see this, do I still proceed to at times labor under the belief that beauty is more like an NBA basketball player, and either you measure up or you don't, than it is like Art, which is a matter of opinion with no measuring stick to be had? One sad conclusion I have drawn at times is that health and beauty have nothing to do with one another, so far as we associate a certain kind of look with a certain level of health.

Confession time.

Let me tell you why I want so desperately to believe that beauty is more about opinion rather than fact.

When I was a senior in high school, I got kinda chubby. It is the biggest I have ever been in my life and I have never been near that big since. I looked around me and saw the world through the NBA perspective. I saw that the world seemed to be holding up a certain standard of beauty (Let's just say it is 6' 11'' for the sake of the analogy). When I compared my squatty 5' 7'' stature to this ideal measurement, it became crystal clear to me that I simply didn't measure up. What followed this realization is nothing short of 10 years of the most intense self-loathing, self-depricating, and self-abusive behavior I have ever suffered. Someday I might chose to share more about this journey, but for the time being let me just say that I am grateful to still be here writing this post, and as much as it sickens to have to admit it, in some way, I have to acknowledge the fact that there was...and maybe still is, a part of me that believed that measuring up to this standard of beauty was the most important thing in the world, even when if it meant sacrificing my own health....and yes...even if it meant potentially risking my own life. 

I was one of the lucky ones...We have lost many soldiers to this war. 

When I think about all of the intelligent, driven, sweet, loving women (and men) who have literally given their lives in pursuit of this ridiculous standard of beauty...of "perfection", it makes me physically ill. To know that I was a part of that, makes me more ashamed than I know how to adequately express. Not only was it a show of ultimate ingratitude for the body that I have been entrusted by God to love, nourish, and protect......worse....so much worse....I now realize that I was feeding this lie by perpetuating that this imagined standard was not only possible, but that it was something to be sought after at all costs.

Whenever I walked into a room, my frail emaciated body sent a clear signal to other women that they weren't measuring up, and that I was closer to the standard than they were. How sad....how ignorant I was, because of course at the time, I had no idea that this was exactly what I was doing. It breaks my heart to know how I could have betrayed my sisters like that.

Of course, if anyone asked how I did it, I either let them assume that I just had "one of those genetically gifted bodies", or I told them that I just ate right and exercised in moderation. 

Bullshit....utter and complete bullshit. 

I was probably at the time subsisting off of less than 1'000 calories a day on top of over exercising. True, I might have eaten a cookie or 2 in order to keep the illusion alive, but they never saw what sort of penance I would have to make for that indulgence when nobody was around. 

But you want to know what the worst part about all of this was? It Worked. Well......kind of....I guess it depends on your definition of the word.

In the sense that I got a ton of attention, a ton of compliments, a ton of guys wanting to ask me out, and no shortage of all around male and female accolades...then yes, it worked like a dream. But if we are talking about my sense of self-worth, love, respect, health, mental stability, emotional well-being, and overall sense of peace and satisfaction with this life, it Failed Me On An EPIC Scale. I bought into the NBA mentality and it nearly cost me everything....Now can you see why I no longer wish to labor under this paradigm?

So now here I sit, further perhaps from the standard, but healthier than I have been in a very long time. My body has evened out at a weight that is comfortable and natural for my specific coding, and I just feel better. However, much like a recovering alcoholic, even though I might not drink anymore, that doesn't mean that all the logic and reasons that I used to justify why I was drinking have just gone away......and why?

Because I look around me and I am still bombarded with images like this...


http://www.talkingwithtami.com/victorias-secret-presents-perfect-body-luminous-lotion

Check out the citation...see the irony? This photo is for their "perfect body" luminous lotion. Basically what this, and a seemingly never ending stream of media is telling me is that THIS is the NBA equivalent of the ideal height, the perfect player. Well....now here is the problem with this..

Genetically speaking, I am never going to look like THAT naturally (And I would argue that maybe 3% of the entire population could claim to the contrary). Now, if I were to get on some extreme regiment, hire a personal chef, and devote 90% of my day to making my body over to fit this standard, then I suppose one would be right if they want to make the argument that it is totally possible for me or anybody for that matter to do so, if only they made the choice and had the discipline to do it . But here is my question....Just because something is POSSIBLE does it therefor follow that we OUGHT to do it? And if you say, "Yes, yes we absolutely OUGHT to", then my next question would be why?? Why ought we?? And then if you came back and said that "It is because this is the ideal and we should all be striving for the ideal", then I would have to assume that you believe that beauty is more like the NBA and less like Art, to which I would add that I don't think I want to play with you anymore and that I am taking my ball and my crayons and I'm going home.

If the ideal of beauty is the one we are being force fed by the media, and sadly, then being perpetuated by each-other, then I must respectfully bow out of the race. 

This is not to say that I am going to let myself go and sit around eating nothing but Ben & Jerrys all day long...but you know what...so what if I did? It wouldn't change one iota of my inherent self value or worth to this world. It might make it really hard to practice my tantric yoga in preparation for the ever pending wedding night, but this is exactly why I choose the kind of lifestyle that provides me with the things I really want, namely a healthy body, and a peaceful mind. I can't love myself while I am busy hating my body....it is very hard to nurture myself when I am whipping myself from behind. Right or wrong, I choose a different path now. It might mean that I get less dates, less acting roles, and less accolades, but at this point in my life....I simply do not have the energy or the desire to try and be anything other than what and who I am, cellulite and all. 

Let me say this though before I go...First, on behalf of women everywhere I would like to personally apologize for my unknowing aide to the enemies team. My actions came from a place of ignorance and fear, and never because I wished for even a moment to hurt any of you, or worse...make you think that what I was was something to strive for.  

Second, I would like to offer one of the most heart felt and sincere request I have ever offered before in such a public forum. Even though I want the same kind of self-love for all you men out there, I hope you will permit me to speak specifically to the ladies at this time...

My beautiful sisters. We have come to a place in society where there are those around us who would have you believe that your worth can be measured by the ratio between your waist and your bust, the size of your pants, or the amount of cellulite on your thighs. With all of the love that I am able to send through this computer I want and need you to know that this is a lie.  

While it may be true that society has created a standard it does not therefore follow that you should feel any need to believe them or follow them down that path.

To those of you who are at this moment hurting your body and wounding your hearts so that you can measure up I would plead with you to put down the ball, walk off the court, and begin the process of truly and unconditionally loving yourself. If you cannot do it for yourself....if you do not believe that you are worth saving....then I would tell you that until you can believe the opposite, that you are indeed of great worth and more than worth it, I would ask you to do it for the little sister, or niece, or daughter, or friend who you are unknowingly hurting by perpetuating the lie that this unrealistic standard is something that she too can and ought to be striving for. 

If we can't do this for ourselves, can we please do this for the girl beside us? Can we as women collectively stand up and say No More as we have on many other occasion. The power is in our hands, we are Not and I repeat NOT powerless in this endeavor.  If every woman refused to adhere to this exaggerated ideal then society would have no other choice than to follow suit. We CAN begin to make a change, we CAN hope and work towards a more healthy world in which beauty can be just like that childs drawing I showed you earlier, beautiful for it's own sake, and not because it happens to "measure up". 

I know you want to feel loved and accepted, and I know that you believe out of fear that this is the only and best way of accomplishing that goal, but again, I would propose to you that to be love for who you truly are, imperfections, celluilte and all, is a million times more fulfilling and nourishing than the kind of love and acceptance you get by squeezing, bending, starving, torturing, depriving and mutilating the already perfect body that your Father in Heaven has placed in your care. He is counting on you, your sisters are counting on you, we believe in you, you are loved, and you are perfect just they way you are.

With all the love in my heart,

Your sister in arms
--AWV--

Thank you for allowing me to write this post. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. It is one small step for me to getting to that place where when the man of my dreams comes by offering my father 10 cows for the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, I will be able to look him in the eyes and say...."Where have you been hiding all of my life? And....Thank you."


One last thing. If ANY part of this post resonated with you, then I would humbly plea that you share it with the women in your life that you love, and the men as well. We all have a part to play, please help me to do mine.
  

 http://rosiemolinary.com/2012/10/16/rooted-in-self-compassion/

Friday, May 24, 2013

Justify How You Will



Over the course of my life, I have had many different ideas of God. And more specifically, I have had many differing views about His expectations for me personally and the world in general. I believe that God is a God of order and that if He says that He wants something done a certain way, that there is probably a good reason for it, whether or not I personally agree or even recognize those reasons.

So when it comes to keeping the commandments laid out by the Church to which I belong, I have always just assumed that these were Gods wishes. In my mind, if the church said it, then it was because God said it first and who was I to question the wisdom of God. It never occurred to me that what the church said was right might be coming from the church (namely the men in charge) and not from God. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe (at least we claim to believe) in a living prophet on the earth who is the mouth piece for God. So then if a prophet stands up and says, "No sex before marriage", I always kinda figured it was tantamount to God standing up and saying, "No sex before marriage." When it came to things like Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco and the like (which members of the church are instructed not to partake of), I never really felt like I needed any kind of divine mandate explaining to me why these were bad ideas and therefore things to be avoided. Because it made sense to me logically, I never felt tempted to even experiment with any of those things.

That is something I believe people outside of my faith or paradigm have a hard time understanding.  They think that I must be constantly having to suppress and repress this driving urge to want to drink, or smoke some weed, of even get a large iced coffee from Star Bucks. This is simply not the case. When something makes sense to us logically then often times it eliminates our desire for those same things. For me, asking if I would like to drop some acid would be like asking me if I wanted to get hit upside the head with an aluminum bat...


You know...like that.


*The part of this picture that I find the most morbidly appealing is the expression on the seals face. You can almost hear the DAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! or stifled "GUH".....Just a thought*

Where was I? I got distracted by clubbing baby seals...Let's see....Clubbing baby seals...Clubbing...Clubs...Dance clubs...Drinking...Alcohol...AH YES!!

So even though it is true that that church has said No-No when it comes to these things, there are also plenty more practical reasons why I don't feel an urge to do them. In this way, I do not feel like I am suppressing or repressing anything. I want those things about as much as that baby seal wants what he has got coming.

Now, suppose the church came out tomorrow and said that it was no longer OK to eat sugar, and let's say that they made it clear that this wasn't just a helpful suggestion, but rather a mandate that anyone who wished to be a part of the church would need to abide by, much like the drugs, alcohol and so forth are now. I can honestly say that while I would try to adhere to this counsel, I would probably be all sorts of struggling with it. It's not that I believe sugar to be oh-so healthy and therefore the church oh-so off base; I fully concede that sugar is a poison and the root cause of many of the things that ill us in our society. One might even make the argument that sugar has done more damage than Tea, Coffee, Weed, or Wine ever have, and I personally think that they would have plenty of solid evidence to back up their argument. The problem here, as I see it anyway,  is where people get caught up on the specifics and tend to lose sight of the purpose behind them.

A lot of people within the LDS church struggle with what we affectionately refer to as The Word Of Wisdom....it even sounds impressive and smart....I mean..come on...it has the word wisdom right in the title. There have been many arguments over the years (amongst the saints) as to whether The Word of Wisdom is actual mandate sent forth by God and one He wishes all of His people to obey, or whether it is less of a "rule" per say and more of a guideline really....you know...like the pirate code. Battles have been fought, Wars have raged...there have been casualties, but there have also been small Victories    

As I have cut my dating path through Mormon culture, I have come to find that even within the LDS church members, (which theoretically all adhere to the same doctrine) that there is a remarkable amount of distention, contention, and varying of opinion when it comes to what is to be considered Gods Law Unwavering which requires strict obedience, and what is to be taken as something more like well-intentioned advice that you are free to follow or not follow without fear of any sort of divine recourse. I've met Mormons who feel fine about drinking a glass of wine from time to time, and Mormons who won't even eat coffee flavored candy.

The same murky waters come into play when we get into the world of sex and sexual intimacy. I have dated LDS guys who believe that as long as it wasn't actual intercourse, then it was all fair game, and I have known guys who wouldn't even kiss me passionately because they didn't feel that it was appropriate to become sexually aroused with someone who wasn't your wife. What I always found more interesting than their choices were their justifications for their choices. We all justify the whys behind the things we do...it's normal. However, just because you justify something doesn't make it right. I hate to use this example, but it is the only one that comes to mind.....I'm sure Hitler justified everything he did to the Jews, he had to of. He then was able to justify it enough that he convinced a lot of other people to get on board. Lest you think me lopsided, here are a couple more examples of justifications that at the time, A LOT of people got behind.

1. Witch Trials
2. Slaughter of the Native American People
3. Black Slavery

To name just a few.

My point here is not to place the ability to justify genocide in the same arena as the ability to justify a Mountain Dew, or a Cigarette, or Oral Sex, I recognize that these two are worlds apart. My point is to illustrate this idea of Justification and how we use it to do what we ACTUALLY WANT to do. In short..

Justification follows true desire.

Now this would be all well and good if we weren't concerned with right or wrong, or good, better, and best. And it is particularly difficult when it comes to the matter of which I have been discussing.  I have found over the years that it is no good trying to explain to another person that their justifications are wrong, misled, or off-base.  Sure it would be easy enough for me to point out to the obese Mormon house wife with type-two diabetes that she really hasn't got room to judge the Mormon who happens to enjoy a glass of whine every so often, but otherwise lives a clean and healthy lifestyle that she might be missing the point a little when it comes to the concept of moderation in ALL things, and what I truly believe matter most.....but I kinda doubt she would go for it.       

It all comes down to this idea of Letter of the Law Vs. Spirit of the Law and what I have discovered is that where people fall looks more like a conga line than it does a fence dividing two pastures. Here is where I believe that I fall on the issue.

I don't think that any of the things I have mentioned in this post (outside of the obvious) are inherently evil or inherently wrong, or bad. Jesus drank wine, though I do love when Mormons try to make the argument that wine back then wasn't like wine today. This might be true, but it was still totally possible to get totally wasted off of the wine from the time of Jesus.

(I hear that is part of what made Sodom and Gomorrah such a happening place)

So if Jesus drank wine, then I'm going to assume that alcohol in and of itself, be it biblical or Blue Ribbon posses no inherent evil properties. I believe the same holds true for sex and sexual intimacy. Sex good, sexually intimacy good, but are there scenarios where these things can be used for harm? Absolutely, and I don't feel like I need to point out examples. But see therein lies the problem right? Cuz there is a big ol' wide world of possibilities that fall between Sex "as God intended it" and acts of sexual depravity...and HERE is where each must drawn their own line based off of the information and evidence provided to them.

If a person does not believe in God, or a moral law, then this person, I suppose, must proceed according to the dictate of their own conscious. If a person believes in God but also believes that God doesn't much care what we do as long as we treat others with love and respect, then this person must build their choices from that foundation. They may indulge in whatever they want to the extent that they believe that it doesn't harm anyone else. There is more I would like to say about that particular attitude regarding possible naivete' on their part...but I will leave it alone for the time being. So now if you are the kind of person who not only believes in God, but then also believes that He does has a specific way He wishes us to behave, then it becomes your job to try and find out what that standard of behavior actually is. Some find this through organized religion and some go inside of themselves to find the God voice within. In the LDS church, we raise our hands multiple times a year and sustain a prophet who we believe has the authority to speak for God and thereby deliver His will to His people.

The trouble comes when people get into arguments about when a prophet is speaking as a man, or rather, as himself and his own personal opinions, and when he is speaking for God. The trouble increase when the rules which we are being asked to follow came from a place of what some might consider "outdated dogma", and flawed paradigms of the times in which they were written. I'll admit that this has been hard for me as well.

Some of the things that I have heard come out of the mouth of past prophets and current church authorities can at times seem like they are coming from the mouth of a bias and ignorant old man who is still stuck in the prejudices of his own time. But where other people might get pissed off about this, and many have even left the church over it, and to be honest, where I myself questioned my faith in the whole thing, I have since come to a different and what I consider to be a more balanced approach.

I no longer believe the men who sit in positions of authority in my church to infallible... this includes, but is not limited to prophets. While I fully believe that the mantle of a prophet entitles him to an extra measure of insight, inspiration, and even communication with God, I do not believe that this means that he is exempt from making statements or even giving guidance that might have nothing to do with God's will and everything to do with his own beliefs on the matter. The hope is that this man has the humility to differentiate between the two and not speak in a way that leads people to believe that his will is being passed off as HIS will. When I take this approach, when I look at these men as what they are...Men...imperfect and flawed albeit well-intentioned and anointed by God, then it gives me the ability to look at a lot of what many of the members of the church would rather sweep under the rug when it comes to our history...for example....

1. Polygamy
2. Blacks and the priesthood
3. Gay Marriage/Rights

.....and see it for what it might be. I use to think that it meant the church wasn't true, because how could God allow His prophet and His church to do such things. But now I concede that while there maybe be reasons behind all of these things that are indeed God's will but we are just not able to see the wisdom of them yet, it might also be possible that these events happened when well intentioned men who were just as much products of their own societies as we are of ours made choices and interpretations and then justifications THE WAY WE ALL DO in their attempt to interpret God's will for His children. Were they always right? I don't know. My place is not to condemn them for their mistakes, if in fact they made these choices from their own will and not the will of God. I forgive these men their imperfections, and I do not envy them their positions. Heaven forbid I was ever called into such a position, I don't think I would want that kind of responsibility where absolutely everything I said or did was placed under a high powered microscope. I'm fairly confident that I wouldn't be able to write this blog anymore.

As for the rest of us.

Wherever you fall on the conga line of justification, I would say maybe this one thing.....Be Careful...Do as you will...justify as you will...and we ALL will...but be careful. Sometimes we can get so good at justifying that we can justify ourselves right off the path. We must allow everyone their own path, but we needn't feel obligated to follow them down it. Each man and woman must decide where they stand, but more importantly You Must Know WHY You Are Standing There.  If you don't then you run the risk of being being blown off of your own path every time the wind of societal opinion changes. And to that I would add (with the always present acknowledgement of my own imperfections) be very very careful that you do not confuse and then allow your own will, preferences, or popular opinion, to parade itself under the banner of prudent judgement and sound justification.  

You may not agree with the doctrine, you may think that it is out-of-date, out-of-touch, or even out-of-their right-minds in suggesting we adhere to it, but this is where faith and earnest introspection and dedicated research come into play. I realize that there may be a million very logical and rational reason (and the evidence to back it up) when it comes to justifying certain behaviors. And believe me, I am in NO position to say where God falls on any of these matters. What I think matters more is not what we do per say, but why we do it, and again, to what extent we feel we need to justify those actions.  Your relationship with God is personal and nobody has the right to tell you how God views you or your actions, but this doesn't therefore mean that your actions do not matter to God just so long as your intentions are good, for as we have now discussed ad nauseum, justification lies within a person, and as long as it lies within a fallible person, then it too is subject to fallibility. 

I no longer believe that God demands or even expects perfection, I now believe that what might matter more, is having children who love and trust Him enough to want what He wants. It might take you years and tears and stumbling and mistakes to finally get to that point, but as long as that is the path you truly want and are earnestly attempting to walk, then I really truly believe that He is willing to give you the time you need, and then the ability to love and support the crap out of you through the entire process.

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wars and Rumors of War

I am a self-admitted bleeding heart. I was the kid in the corner pleading with Mommy and Daddy to stop fighting, and now I am the adult who stands in the masses and asks "Can't we all just get along?" I believe in non-violent resistance and that words should be used over physical force whenever possible. I also tend to stay out of political debates. Partly because I am not as well-read as others in the matter, but also because I have found that my opinion tends to piss people off quite a bit. That being said, I do feel as though I would like to say a few things that involve a great deal of political buzz. These are all hot-button issues and as such, I will attempt to the best of my ability, to treat them in a such a way that my readers don't feel a need to lash back.

Like I have said many times before...I am only a simple girl from Utah. I would like to think that while I am simple though, I am not ignorant; there is a difference. I may not be as learned as some, but I am observant enough to see a train when it is barreling down the tracks at me...and you.

For those unfamiliar with The Book of Mormon  I will tell you that it is a book absolutely riddled with "wars and rumors of war." There are also plenty of "secret combinations"    (No...not like your locker combination), and these jerks called the Gadianton Robbers (who you can think of as a loose version of today's organized crime families) who generally went around making peoples lives miserable.

I find it funny that people always seem to talk about the "old days" and "our ancient ancestors" as though they were so much more peaceful and enlightened than our modern blood-thirsty-war-loving population. Now, I'm not historian....but from what I can gather from these things called "Books"....I believe that this whole concept of evil men getting into power and then going batcrap crazy, resulting in thousands if not millions of lives lost...is not an entirely new thing. The death count might have been lower, but only because technology only allowed them to kill so many within any given day or lifetime.

So Hooray for us! We have developed weapons that could obliterate the entire planet if someone had the inclination to do so......

WATCH THIS 

Well done human race *slow clap* well done.

Let us not kid ourselves into thinking that our century is any more "fallen" or "depraved" than our oh-so-enlightened ancestors. If Napoleon or Genghis Khan, or any of the first Kings of England had had access to a nuke...we might none of us be here reading this witty post. Or maybe we would be here...with three heads...reading this witty blog post.

My point is, there have ALWAYS been D-Bags who get drunk on power and decide that they are going to take over the world, or burn it to the ground trying. There is evil in this world, and as long as evil is an option, I am going to say that it is pretty safe to assume that a percentage of the population will choose it. They may and probably do feel totally justified in their actions, but it is fairly simple to spot evil when it reaches the magnitude of which I am talking about.

Here's the rub.

I think that for the most part (I hope, I hope, I hope) the average human being can spot the difference between an evil and a righteous or just cause. If someone is beating an old woman to death, it would be to just to step in. If a man doesn't want to share his Twix with you, then you beating his face in is less just. We can argue semantics about what constitutes just and unjust, but I don't have then energy and I am hoping that you are all intelligent enough individuals to get the point.

This all brings us back to the Book of Mormon and to our current day. In the Book of Mormon there is a specific story where God essentially commands the people of a certain city (which is about to be attacked by an army of blood thirsty savages) to bury their weapons, lay down, and allow the wave of heathens to slaughter them like sheep. This is not a new concept...I have often heard people talk about Christ in the sense that if he had wanted to, he could have saved himself from his ultimate fate, but he didn't. He didn't because he knew that what would come of his death would do more good for the world than that which would come of him showing his great power in the form of saving himself.  Being a Pacifist (of sorts), I always liked to point out these examples to those who liked to claim that "Sometimes War is the ONLY answer". I still don't know if I believe that entirely. But here is what I have come to realize....

Like I said before, there are bad people in this world who cannot be reasoned with. Some of these bad people have found their way into positions of power. Our country is not exempt, and if you think we are...if you believe that our government is being led by God into countries where we have no business being in under the guise of "spreading freedom", I would ask with all the love in my heart that you at least consider the possibility that this is not always the case.

Let me be clear. I support our troops. I support the men and women who have vowed to give everything they have, including their very lives in support of our homes and our freedom. I do not buy for one moment and I am deeply offended when people talk about our armed forces like they are some pack of blood thirsty baby killers who get off on being international bullies. As with every bunch of fruit, there are bound to be a few rotten pieces, but as a whole, I believe that these men and women chose this life because they believed in the cause of freedom. Whether or not you agree with the war is your own business. I have done enough research on the matter to severally question whether we should be in some of the places we still are, though I concede that on this specific matter, there may be more variables than some might believe and therefor we ought to tread carefully in our approach on resolution.

I have a dear friend who just started his first tour over in Afghanistan. He is a good man, and he has chosen to give a year and probably more of his life to serve his fellow soldiers and make sure more of them make it home safely. A few years ago I might not have been able to understand why he or anyone else would chose to do this, but now I do. They are doing it for the man beside them. These soldiers didn't send themselves over there, our government did, and our tax dollars are funding it. So for all of those who like to sit back and tear down our soldiers and criticize our government and rail about how we shouldn't be over there, I would humbly suggest to you that you are going about it the wrong way.

I don't know when this happened, but we seem to have forgotten who is suppose to be running this show. This is OUR country and if we don't like the way it is being managed then we damn well ought to be doing something about it, and complaining to everyone who will listen does not count, spitting on our soldiers and calling them baby-killers doesn't count, and I can't believe I would have to say this, but telling the grieving families of those who have lost a dear loved one who died in the service of their country that their selfless soldier is, "going straight to hell because God does not approve of this war"  Doesn't Count.   It makes you the worst kind of bully. It turns you into exactly what you claim be to fighting against. You don't fight hate with hate, you fight it with positive action.

If you believe the system is broken...and it very well might be, then it is up to you, and I, and everyone else who agrees to stand up and do something about it. If you can see the train barreling down the track at us, then it is time to switch the lines together. We put these men in power, we elect them, and I will tell you one thing, I am sick and tired of this attitude of "choosing between the lesser of the evils". Are you kidding me? How about choosing what we really want instead? There are good people out there who believe in the ideas upon which this country was founded...THESE are the people we need in power. It may take a long time, but sitting around marveling at the distance won't the race run.

There are things in this life worth dying for. Truth is one of them, freedom is another, but Money, Greed, Power, and Politics do NOT make the list. It is my fervent prayer that we can have the wisdom to see and recognize the difference, and the courage to stand up and say something and make a difference when we spot something evil attempting to parade itself under the guise of something just. But let us do it in the right way. Not with hatred, not with fear, not with anger, but with an unrelenting gentleness and positive action that refuses to be silenced.

And as for the Book of Mormon people....

 21 Now when the people saw that they were coming against them they went out to meet them, and aprostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword.

 22 And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a athousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God.

 23 Now when the Lamanites saw that their brethren would not flee from the sword, neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but that they would lie down and aperish, and bpraised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword—

 24 Now when the Lamanites saw this they did aforbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had bswollen in them for those of their brethren who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done.

 25 And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them.

 26 And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were asaved.

 27 And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many aways to the salvation of his people.

War is not always the answer, but please do not be confused as to why I decided to add this example. What I am NOT saying is that we ought to just hand over our weapons, roll over, and allow evil to destroy everything good in this world. There is real evil in this world, and sometimes as much as it is hard to accept, it can't be reasoned or negotiated with, or appealed to. There are evil men out there that have no desire to find common ground or mutual understanding. Like it was wisely put once, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." These men must be stopped. Heaven forbid this evil ever makes it way to our shores in force, but if that day ever arrives we must be ready. And THIS is why I chose to add this story, to illustrate my point that only God and God alone has the authority, the power, and the right to ask us to lay down our weapons.  If that day ever arrives, then we must have the courage to do as God has commanded...BUT UNTIL THAT DAY COMES....No government, No politician, No institution has the right to take away our arms, and we the people must never allow them to do so.


May God Bless our weary Troops. God Bless our struggling Nation. God Bless our fractured World........

And may we Be the change the change we wish to see. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Best Dating Excuses Ever: Stop me if you've heard this one

Over the years I have run up against (And Given) many different and creative excuses for my poor behavior in my dating interactions. I have consulted with friends and family both married and single and asked them to give me their favorite or most often heard excuses. Just for fun-zies let's explore some of the top excuses yes? And maybe we can even cut through some of the bull behind them. In no particular order:

1.  "You deserve someone way better than me."

Ok, Ok....I have to admit, I have used this one before, and honestly, at the time I meant it...well kind of.  There have been times that I have said to a man, "You deserve someone better than me", but I what I really meant was "Oh please for the love of grapefruit validate me!!! Tell me that you love me!!! Tell me that you think that I do deserve you." However, this is not normally how this excuse is used.

Normally when people say this line they are just trying to make you feel better about yourself...as they rip your heart out and show it to you before you die. But aside from being insanely pandering, this excuse is just ridiculous. Here is why (among many other reasons).

Everyone wants to feel like they married up. Some people spend their whole lives trying to date someone "outside of their league". So when someone says that you deserve better than them, they are essentially placing you outside of their league...which we have just determined is what everyone is pretty much striving for. Now, if they were to say, "I deserve someone way better than you", then I would accept their rejection and thank them for their brutal honesty and their ignorant opinion.

Side note: This is not an Excuse per say, but it is one of my BIGGEST break-up pet-peeves  EVER. I totally get what they guy is attempting to do when he says the following, but it makes me so mad that I just wanna go all Hulk on him...Can you guess what I'm talking about?

"Gee, You are just such an Amazing girl. Whoever gets you is going to be the luckiest guy in the world."

Anger...rising....urge to kill...increasing....Probability of rant....Immanent!!!

What the FLUFF dude??? What the freaking fetcha-ting FLUFF???

It is at this moment that I wish I was British so I could turn to him and say....."Do not presume to condescend me Sir...Your trite and pandering words are of no value here. Good day to you sir. I said GOOD DAY!!"

I don't care if you legitimately mean it....DON'T SAY IT.

2. "Life is just so Crazy right now."

Bull. Bull Bull Bull Bull Bull.

I have never met a single individual who has ever been SO busy or had SO much going on their life that they weren't able to make the time to pursue someone they had Legitimate interest in. I may not be popular for saying this, you might disagree, but the whole "I'm just super busy" line is in my opinion, complete and total Horse Spit.

I dated a guy once who's job was mining gold OFF OF THE OCEAN FLOOR.    I met him 2 weeks before he left to Alaska for the next 5 months. We never even got to go on a physical date before he left. But he was apparently so smitten by our brief ten minute encounter that he made it a point to remain in consistent contact with me from the time he left to the time he came back. This included the time when he borrowed a friends phone so that he could call me to let me know that he has lost his own phone while 4-wheeling in the Alaskan Wilderness. And yet....I have had guys with perfectly functional phones and fully functional Facebooks and fully functional cars tell me that they were legitimately too busy to contact me.

Bull.

Too Busy simply means Too busy for YOU.

We all have busy lives, I get it. We all have a million and one people, obligations, dramas, deadlines, and stuff constantly vying for our attention. Because of this reality, we have all created our own personal Hierarchy of Priorities as it were. This is where you rank your priorities from most important to "I could really care less". For me, the person in my life who I have become romantically involved with, sits at the top of my priority hierarchy (within healthy reason). Whereas making sure I remember the garbage mans birthday would fall somewhere near the bottom. This is not to say that I hate the garbage man (or garbage lady), or that I don't appreciate what they do; it simply means that I only have so many hours in the day and so much energy I can devote to the people in my world. I have never NOT made a guy I was legitimately interested in a High Priority in my life...He knew it, and my actions confirmed it.

So again, even though I know I am going to get people who argue with me on this one, I am just going to go ahead and say that if someone tells you that they are legitimately into you, but then also tells you that they are Too Busy to give your relationship the priority that could be expected by most rational people...There is something afoot. AND!!! if on the off chance that they just so happen to be one of those people who thinks it is normal or acceptable to operate on a constant level of half-assed...I would suggest you decide whether that is a level you are comfortable with and then proceed with caution.    
  
3. "I just got out of something and I'm I'm just not ready to jump back into something just yet."
Beware the word "Just"...it is a softening agent...it is a stall....it is intended to create an illusion of a future that more than likely doesn't exist

As many of my readers know, my 3 year relationship ended back in January. To me, even 5 months later  (after 3 years) could easily be considered  "Just". Now granted, for the first couple of weeks after it ended I was pretty much a wreck. I could barely get myself to school everyday much less devote any energy to finding a guy. I pretty much had given up in spectacular fashion, but I still took the time to try and retain my civility and a certain amount of grooming so as not to offend the masses.  And wouldn't cha know it?....Less than 3 months later along comes a cute guy who happens to have been crushing on me all semester and has finally decided the time has come to ask me out. At first, I was hesitant. I wasn't sure if I was ready to start dating again, to open my heart to someone again, to go down that road again, but I said yes anyway. Turns out, I actually ended up liking this guy quite a bit, and quite quickly as well. Here is the thing about broken-hearts and getting over someone....there are no hard set rules, and more often than not, the heart once broken is healed by the appearance of a new love. Ebb and flow....circle of life...blah blah blah.

Everyone mourns in their own way and on their own time. NORMALLY the people who legitimately aren't ready to date DON'T. These people are either A. Not asking people out ..or B. Not excepting dates. C. Accomplishing both of these tasks by sitting in their dark room watching every season of Toddlers in Tiaras on Netflix (Stop judging me) while they gently weep into their huge pilla'. 

For everyone else, it might be true that they are still reeling from a relationship gone awry...but they are merely waiting for someone to come along and make them forget about old what's-their-face. So if someone asks you out, takes you on several dates, and THEN tells you that it's just because they just got out of something that they are unwilling to move forward with you....Feel free to point out to them that this makes just about as much sense as saying you are hungry, eating food, eating food again and again, and then claiming that you had the flu 3 months ago and you are just not sure if you are really ready to start eating again.

New found love heals old wounds and we WANT to be healed. We are just picky about Who we want to heal it. If someone uses this line on you...chances are you are not the one they want to do the healing this time.


Well that was fun yes? Maybe we will do a couple more next time? Good day to you then. I said GOOD DAY!!