June 19, 2012

Meaning of (My) Life

This post is a little personal. But whatevs.

I've been thinking and reading and praying and fasting and pondering a lot lately about life and about MY life, specifically. (I feel like in my 20's, I do this at least every other week. Does anyone else feel the same way??)

I guess I've come to a couple of conclusions. (I'm writing them down, because I'll probably be analyzing the same things in three days, and I'll need a written reminder.)

A- I need to stop comparing myself to other people. Sometimes, it's hard not to, but comparing myself to others does me no good, it doesn't inspire feelings of love and charity, and it doesn't get me any closer to my goals or dreams. My dad always taught me that comparing myself to others is pointless, because there'll always be someone better and someone worse than me, so in the end, it just doesn't matter.

B- I need to express more gratitude to God. I have so many blessings in my life, but sometimes, I get hung up on the things I don't have. I'd say that most of the things I want are righteous desires (like... the desire to get married and have a family), but again, it does me no good to mourn not having them. Rather, I need to remember how blessed I am to have the opportunity to be in grad school, to be able to provide for myself, to have so many doors open to me, to have good friends and family who love me, and to have the gospel in my life. I mention the gospel specifically, because at times like these, I feel grateful to know how I can receive divine guidance and personal revelation.

C- I need to have more faith. Before I left Utah, my baby brother gave me a blessing (CRAZY, right?? Blessings from my baby brother!!??!), wherein I was told that I need to have more faith. And you know what? It's true. From past experience, I know that when I include God in my life decisions, they always turn out better than if I had made them alone. From past experience, I know that God's plan for my life is often different than my ideal plan for my life, but it is always infinitely better. From past experience, I also know that if I ask (in prayer), I shall receive (answers from God). Why would things be any different now? Answer: they're not. In this instance, having faith means I trust God with my life and I accept His advice and timeline for my life, rather than my own. Consider my faith activated.

D- I need to use my time better, and I need to be OK with what I can accomplish in the time I DO have. The Lord wants us to always be "anxiously engaged in a good cause." I know many people who are. They bake for charity and take casseroles to the sick, they make quilts for orphans and save whales and trees. And they get graduate degrees, keep clean homes, play instruments beautifully, run marathons, raise 17 children, lead the PTA, and serve faithfully in their church callings. I admire them, and I want to be like them, but I often wonder how they manage to do so much! I've always struggled with time management (Ask my poor parents... Insert sad face.), and I think I always will. I want everything to be perfect, and sometimes I stress so much about how I'm going to get things done, that I don't get them done (or if I do, it's barely in the nick of time.) I was once blessed with a "satisfaction with my life's work," and it was a sign to me that God knows me better than I know myself. I need to cut out distractions when I can, focus on accomplishing one thing at a time (multi-tasking isn't working for me lately, so I need to try something else for now), working my butt off 'til it's done, and being happy with my results (knowing that I've done my very, very best).

I hate to revert to a mission story (at the fear of being like "Uncle Rico" (see the video from 0:46-1:08), but my mission really was a time (at least for me) of great personal and spiritual growth. And with my baby brother leaving on his mission in just a few weeks (!!), I've been thinking a lot about my mission and what it meant to me. My last transfer in the mission (a period of six weeks) was a time when I was fully living this use-time-wisely-and-be-satisfied-with-what-I-accomplish philosophy. I worked harder that transfer than I ever had before. I woke up extra early to study (much to the dismay of my companion), I read scriptures at all my spare moments, I made my companion literally RUN with me from door to door, I took as many VC tours as possible (Is it sad to admit that I got pleasure out of the fact that I was usually one of the top tour-takers in our Visitors' Center?), called as many phone referrals as possible, made sure the new phone/software system was properly implemented for the sister who'd take over the phones after me, etc. I worked like crazy, but on P-Days, I also played like crazy. I dragged my poor companion on so many P-Day outings when the poor thing probably just wanted to relax at home, but whatever. I was carpe-ing the diem, and I'm really glad I did. A the beginning of my mission, I made "No Regrets" the theme for my mission, and now, I'm officially reinstating it as the theme for my LIFE.

I guess I've just found that the periods of my life when I've been better at using my time wisely, I'm happier, healthier, more well-rested, better able to handle life's challenges, and ready to serve at a moment's notice. I recently had an experience where an opportunity to give service presented itself, but because I'd procrastinated my schoolwork, I wasn't able to help. It was a terrible feeling, and I don't want to ever be in that situation again. I want to be on top of my life and always be anxiously engaged in good causes!

E- I need to be a better planner. I'm an excellent planner -- for parties, events, gatherings, etc. You want an outing planned? Call me! For my life? Not so much. I need to be as strategic with my life as I am with other things. By that I mean, setting a goal, and then working backwards to break down the steps I need to take to accomplish said goal. Example- I decided I wanted to be better at baking. Which meant I needed to practice baking. I started out small and practiced one recipe over and over. When I felt I had that recipe down all right, I practiced another. Today, there are two things I can bake confidently: 1- chocolate-chip cookies, and 2- cinnamon rolls. I want to master bread next, and then... cheesecake! I'm not a master baker yet, but I'm on my way! :) Now I just need to do that with my career/spiritual/personal/educational goals, and I'm golden. Heh...

F- If something is important to me, I need to make time for it in my life. Serving in the temple is the perfect example of this. I LOVE serving in the temple. This calling has been such a blessing to my life! I theoretically shouldn't have time for it between work and school, but I honestly can't imagine not serving, so I make time to do it. I need to do that with other great things. Like... Family History, practicing the violin, reading for pleasure, being outdoors, cooking, calling my family, learning to sew/quilt, etc. and tackling the other things on my bucket list! The motto here is Just Do It. If I don't Just Do It, I probably Won't Do It. Does that make any sense? So, I'mma just do it.

I have to go to class now, but I feel good about my musings and epiphanies this afternoon. Thank you all for "listening." :)

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