Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Do I Do This?

Why do I do this? Why do I do what I do? Why do I go to church? Why do I do my home teaching? Why do I pay my tithing? Why do I keep the Law of Chastity?

This semester I am blessed to be in a families in world religions class. This week we had a guest speaker talked about Protestantism. Now I listen to a lot of Christian radio (kLOVE is always preset on my car radio) but something he said really struck me.

I knew from growing up around evangelicals that most Christian religions outside Mormonism and Catholicism don't prioritize baptism or works. In fact I was used to hearing those black baptist stereotypes from mission stories praising God because they were saved. I've definitely been one to get lost in the faith vs. works argument and being a perfectionist a lot of that argument was between me and myself in my head.

Thankfully I'm not much of a perfectionist anymore (though I still have my moments). However, as the guest speaker was talking I had a lot of perfectionist friends in mind as he talked about grace. He presented the faith and works scenario in a way that I'd never thought of before. He pointed out that Catholicism (and I'd add many people in Mormonism) view grave and works like this: Faith + good works = salvation. I liked his take on it though: Faith = salvation + good works. He even referenced King Benjamin's people as evidence of this  (having grown up with an LDS best friend and now living in Utah he knows a bit about Mormonism).

I talked to him after the lecture and I have to agree! Why am I doing what I'm doing? Am I doing it to be saved? If so, why? The Savior has already paid the price for my sins and the scriptures say that it's through His merits that I'm saved. What do any of these "good works" matter?

They matter because I love God. How would my life be different if the reason I kept the commandments and did everything I'm "supposed to do" was because I love God?

A year ago I was in a bad place spiritually. I was wrapped up in a thick blanket of insecurity and addiction. Want to know what pulled me out? It was because I finally let God in. I stopped trying to do it and I let Him take control.

Back to the guest speaker, what's my motivation? We talk in the church about "enduring to the end". The guest speaker noted the miserable connotation surrounding that. How many times have I heard members of the church upset because they feel they HAVE to live the gospel or they HAVE to go to church. The people I know who live like this... Miserable.

How would my life be different if I wanted to do all these things? If I want to go to the temple, it's a joy, not a chore. If I want to live the commandments (because I love God enough to trust in His methods), I will find joy in my life, instead of feeling restricted or oppressed.

Living the gospel will never be a chore again if I can keep the love of God in focus. I know why I do what I do. I don't HAVE to keep the commandments, I GET to live the way my Heavenly Father knows will bring me happiness.

Monday, July 13, 2015

To My Friends Who Cannot Take the Sacrament

At times as I pass the sacrament, I notice that some individuals opt not to partake. I remember as a youth with a pornography addiction that I was scared of someone seeing that I wouldn't take the sacrament. What would they think? Surely they'd judge me, right? Certainly word could get around the whole ward that I was a horrid sinner who had gotten himself in deep enough in sin that he wasn't to take the sacrament. These thoughts did not come from God. They came from the adversary, trying to persuade me to continue in self-hate, which only drove me further into addiction.

I've learned a lot about the sacrament (and particularly not partaking of it) since high school when my addiction has flared up anew. If I do not take the sacrament because of a relapse, it's not because the Lord wants me to feel worthless. It's because He loves me and wants me to be free of condemnation.

Where I am now, understanding the sacrament as I now understand it, I know that this "restriction" from taking the sacrament is a step of the repentance process. It's an expression of His love for you as His child.

To my friends who are unable to partake of the sacrament: God loves you. You matter to Him. If I see you unable to partake of the sacrament, my first instinct is to pray for you. You are worthy of God's love and I pray that you are able to feel that and that you are soon able to partake of the sacrament again. Keep coming to church! Don't give up! My friend, I love you. If you feel discouraged, remember that you have at least one friend praying for you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Here Am I

For those who haven't heard, my plans to be an EFY counselor this summer didn't work out. For the sake of this post, what you need to know is that they wanted to change my assignment away from being a counselor and I felt it a better use of my summer to pursue employment elsewhere if I wasn't going to be a counselor.

For those who know me, you'll understand that this was heart breaking for me. I went to EFY four times and it was the highlight of my year each time. I've wanted to be a counselor since I was a participant. However, in the short time since I got the "bad" news, I have learned an important lesson about surrendering my will to the Lord.

I suppose there is some irony in the fact that this is happening to me this year. The theme for EFY this year is "Here Am I", focusing on a scripture from the story of Samuel in the Old Testament making himself available to God, in whatever way God needed him.

In the 12-step program of the church (and other similar groups), the third step is "Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ." When I first started learning about the 12 steps, my mind only applied this to addictive behaviors. However, it applies to more than that. It applies to relationships, schooling, employment and more.

In reference to what happened with EFY, I won't lie, it's been a challenge I surrender that to God. Just like with my mission, I wanted to serve God and His children. So why are things not working out? I'm sure I still have some grieving of this change to come, but I have felt the Lord reassure me that I will be where He needs me. Just as the EFY theme for this year states, "here am I" for God to use as He needs.

This blog is titled "For a Wise Purpose" for a reason. When I was first waiting for my mission call, over five years ago, I wasn't sure I would be able to serve a mission at all. That's when I came across Words of Mormon 1:7 for the first time I can recollect. I don't pretend to know why God does what He does. Maybe there's something I'm supposed to learn at my job this summer that I wouldn't have learned at EFY? Maybe EFY would have been too physically and emotionally tiring for me? Maybe my future wife is in my ward this summer, but she won't be in the fall? I don't know. All I know is that He loves me, He loves you, and He doesn't do anything without our greater good in mind.

Already I can see Him blessing me and putting the pieces together. Within 24 after getting the news from EFY, I had a room secured in the house I'll be living in this fall and I found out that I could have a job interview within a week after I return from Spain. I'm not looking for proof of Him, but to me this is His way of reminding me that He's there. The snow globe gets shaken up and then the snow looks as equally beautiful as before.

It is my testimony that He watches over us. He blesses us. He loves us. He wants us to be happy. That is our purpose for being here on earth (2 Nephi 2:25) and if we allow Him to, He can help us be happier than we ever thought possible.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Letters from Spain (3)

Well, the day is almost here. I fly home on Wednesday from Spain. I'm sure I'll miss this beautiful country, but I'm happy to be going home and to start the next adventure in my life. I didn't get what I wanted out of my study abroad, but I have a feeling I got what my Heavenly Father wanted me to get out of it. That seems to be a theme in my life. The last two months have stretched me in ways that I didn't expect. I have definitely been taught a great deal about trusting in the Lord above trusting in men. Social anxiety, homesickness, language barriers, and insane employment surprises (I'll write more about that situation and what I've learned later).

From this place of introspection and reflection, I want to share my testimony as I get ready to leave Spain. I know that God lives. I know He cares for me. I know He hears my prayers. I know that He can provide miracles when I have faith, though they're rarely the miracle I expect. At least three times during my study abroad I've received comfort as a result of prayer from unexpected sources.

I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ exists to cleanse me of my sins. In addition, He is there to comfort me when no mortal person can. He is my Older Brother and I have felt His tender embrace when I've needed it most. He is here to bless me and support me when I cannot take another step.

Whoever you are reading this, thank you for being part of my life. You are a gift from God to me, whether we're close friends or we don't know each other.

I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

La Plaza de España en Sevilla

Cartas de España (3)

Pues, el día casi llega. El miércoles, me voy de España. Estoy seguro que extrañaré ese país bonito, pero estoy feliz que iré a casa y que empezaré la próxima aventura en mi vida. No conseguí lo que esperaba de mi estudio en España., pero me siento que conseguí lo que mi Padre Celestial quisiera. Me parece que eso sea un tema en mi vida. Estos dos meses, he crecido en vías que no esperaba. He aprendido mucho de confiar en Dios antes de los hombres. Ansiedad social, extrañando para hogar, el lenguaje, y sorpresas locas de trabajo (voy a escribir luego más de esta situación y lo que he aprendido).

De este lugar de introspección y recolección, quiero compartir mi testimonio mientras preparándome para salir de España. Yo sé que Dios vive. Yo sé que me cuida. Yo sé que escucha mis oraciones. Yo sé que puede darme milagros cuando tenga fe, sin embargo raramente son los milagros que espero. Por lo menos, tres veces durante mi tiempo en España, he recibido apoyo por orar de personas no esperadas.

Yo sé que la expiación de Jesucristo existe para limpiarme de mis pecados. Más, Él está allá para darme paz cuando no persona mortal pueda. Es mi Hermano Mayor y he sentido Sus brazos cariñosos cuando los he necesitado lo más. Está aquí para bendecirme y apoyarme cuando yo no pueda caminar más.

No importa quién eres tú, gracias por ser parte de mi vida. Eres una bendición de Dios, si somos amigos o si no nos conocemos.

Yo testifico de estas cosas en el nombre de Jesucristo. Amén.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Letters from Spain (2)

It's been a few weeks since I posted my last blog post. In these weeks, we've gone to a few different places. Burgos, El Escorial, and little towns and monasteries along the way. We've also gone to the Madrid Temple and I've gone to Madrid a few times outside of this. We visited museums, cathedrals, and more. I like the architecture. Just a few days ago, we climbed a tower in Santo Domingo de la Calzada? and another in Burgos. The country here is beautiful and from the tower in Santo Domingo de la Calzada I could see much of the green countryside.

I liked going to the temple in Madrid. I helped with baptisms, which I always enjoy. I hope to go to the temple in Madrid again before leaving Spain for Utah. It seems strange that in a few weeks I'll be returning to the United States. We only have two more trips left. This experience has been a blessing for me. I wanted to come to Spain so that I could improve my Spanish. I think this has happened, at least a little bit. However, other things have happened as well, which I believe will be more important in my life than my Spanish.

Because I've been far away from friends and from family, I've had to trust more in God. There's an eight hour time difference between me and my closest friends. As a result, they're not usually awake until it's about two o'clock here at the earliest. And at the time that they're getting ready to leave work, I'm getting ready for bed. Because of this, if I need support or help, I have to ask God for it. I've seen miracles when I've needed them. My testimony has grown here in Spain.

It's not what I thought would happen. But, like Mormon said, God has "a wise purpose" (Words of Mormon 1:7) for me and for all of his children. He has a wise purpose for you. I know it.

For now, that's all. Until next time. 

Cartas de España (2)

Hace pocas semanas que puse mi post último en mi blog. En esas semanas, hemos ido a algunos lugares. Burgos, El Escorial, y pueblitos y monasterios en camino. También hemos ido al templo en Madrid y he ido a Madrid pocos veces afuera de esto. Visitamos museos, catedrales, y más. Me gusta la arquitectura. Hace pocos días subimos a una torre en Santo Domingo de la Calzada y un otro en Burgos. El campo aquí es muy bonito y desde la torre en Santo Domingo de la Calzada, podía ver mucho del campo verde.

Me gustaba ir al templo de Madrid. Ayudé con bautismos, que siempre me gusta. Espero ir al templo otra vez antes de regresar de España a Utah. Me parece extraño que en pocas semanas vamos a regresar a los Estados Unidos. Solo tenemos dos viajes más. Esa experiencia ha sido una bendición para mí. Quería venir a España para que pudiera mejorar mi español. Creo que eso ha pasado, por lo menos un poco. Aunque también otras cosas han pasado, que creo que será más importante en mi vida que mi español.

Porque he estado muy lejos de mis amigos y de mi familia, he tenido que confiar más en Dios. Hay ocho horas entre yo y mis amigos mejores. Pues, ellos no están despiertos hasta que sean las dos aquí, por lo más temprano. Y a la hora que ellos se están preparando para salir de trabajo, yo me estoy preparando para dormirme. Por eso, durante el día, si necesito ayuda o apoyo, tengo que pedirlo a Dios. He visto milagros cuando los necesitaba. Mi testimonio ha crecido aquí en España.

No es lo que pensaba que pasara. Pero, como dijo Mormón, Dios tiene "un sabio propósito" (Palabras de Mormón 1:7) para mí y para todos sus hijos. Tiene un sabio propósito para ti. Yo lo sé.

Por ahora, es todo. Hasta luego.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Letters from Spain (1)

We've been in Spain for a few weeks. Another month and I'll be back in Utah. Crazy! We've gone to several places. Segovia, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Ávila, Salamanca, León, and a few other towns along the way.

I enjoy going to the cathedrals. Each time I go to a cathedral I'm impressed by the faith that the disciples of Christ have in other churches. We went to the Sagrada Familia and WOW! I loved the symbolism there. Our guide explained a lot of it.  For example, each tower represents a different person (the apostles, Mary the mother of Jesus, and more).

I also like going to the castles.  I feel like a prince there. Yesterday en the Castle of Coca, I was thinking about how God is the King of the Earth. And because He is my Father, I am a prince. I'm not just a man or an animal. I'm a divine person with eternal potential.

Walking through the churches, I feel a lot of respect for those of other religions. I've listened to Christian music for years and I like it a lot. It makes me think of what President Hinckley said. More or less he said that all people have the light of Christ. They all have at least some truth. I feel the Spirit strongly as I listen to Christian music and while I walk through those churches I learn a little bit at a time what God wants to tell me.

Until next time. 

By the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Cartas de España (1)

Hace casi tres semanas que estamos en España. Un mes más y habré regresado a Utah. ¡Que loco! Hemos ido a algunos lugares. Segovia, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Ávila, Salamanca, León, y pueblos pequeños en camino.

Me gusta ir a las catedrales. Cada vez que voy a una catedral me impresa la fe que tienen los discípulos de Jesús en las otras iglesias. Fuimos a La Sagrada Familia y ¡WOW! Me gustó el simbolismo allá. Nuestra guía nos explicó mucho de esto. Por ejemplo, cada torre representa  a una persona diferente (los apóstolos, María la madre de Jesús, y más).

 También me gusta ir a los castillos. Me siento como un príncipe allá. Ayer en El Castillo de Coca, pensaba en que Dios es el Rey del mundo. Y porque es mi Padre, soy un príncipe. No soy solo un hombre o un animal. Soy una persona divina con un potencial eterno.

Caminando por las iglesias, me siento mucho respeto para las personas de otras religiones. Hace años que escucho la música cristiana y me gusta mucho. Me hace pensar en lo que dijo Presidente Hinckley. Más o menos, dijo que todos tiene la luz de Cristo. Todas religiones tienen por lo menos un poco de la verdad. Me siento el espíritu fuertemente al escuchar la música cristiana y mientras camino por las iglesias aprendo poco a poco las cosas que Dios quiere decirme.

¡Hasta luego! 

Cerca el acueducto en Segovia

Saturday, February 21, 2015

2014: Year in Review

I’m a bit behind, but it’s time to do the 2014 year in review. I’ve done it on my blog for the past two years. Before that it was a family tradition to keep record of the highlights of the year.

Neatest Place You were in 2014
My favorite place that I was this past year was the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Pageant was an amazing spiritual experience and I made some amazing friends. Being back where I first felt like I found myself in 2009 helped strengthen my testimony. I made amazing friends who I still love to keep in touch with. Since getting home they have been some of my greatest supports in my trying times.

Mom and Dad came to see Pageant a couple of the nights

Biggest Surprise of the Year
My biggest surprise of the year (or at least one of them) was probably while I was at Disneyland. I’ve always loved the character Dug from Up. I was at Disneyland with David and as we were walking through California Adventure we found out there was an opportunity for a meet and greet with Dug. I had heard about that happening at Disney World, but I didn’t know he was in California Adventure as well. So I was able to give that big fluffy loving puppy a big hug! SQUIRREL!

"I have just met you and I love you."

Best TV Show/Movie You Watched
The best movie I watched this year was The Lego Movie. Super fun and it spoke to my inner child. Not only that but every time I watch it I get such a self-esteem boost! I am important because I am me and I can change the world just by doing that. Most simply put, I am the special! One of my favorite exchanges in the movie is between Emmett and Vitruvius when Emmett finds out that he is not really the Special but it’s up to him to become the hero anyway. He says to ghost Vitruvius, “how could I just decide to believe that I'm special when I'm not?” Vitruvius replies, “Because the world depends on it.” My world depends on me choosing to believe I’m special and that decision can change the world.

Garrett and Sara dressed as Emmett and Wildstyle for Halloween

Saddest Day/Time in 2014
I went through a bit of a hard time during the end of the year. School is tiring and life is stressful, self-esteem can be hard to maintain. Basically it’s life. I am grateful for the Lord and His grace to help me get to where I am now and that I don’t always have to feel like that. Particularly November was hard. I won’t go into personal details, but I went through some stuff trying to figure out who I am. Though it was a dark and gloomy place, I am grateful that the Lord was able to teach me and that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I don’t have to stay there forever.

Happiest Day/Time in 2014
With such great adventures this year it’s hard to pick one happiest time. One of my happiest moments was being in the Sacred Grove again while I was in Pageant. I got the opportunity to walk through the grove, praying, reading, and recording my thoughts. I wrote my testimony while I was there and I am grateful for the Spirit I was able to feel while I was there in the sacred, hallowed wood.

(Thank you Emily for taking this picture)

Best Book/Magazine You’ve Read
I’m not sure if I read any new books this year. However, I did re-read “The Brothers” by Christ Stewart this summer and then I listened to it again while I was on my trip to California with David. This book has helped me feel of my Savior’s love. I’m not saying the book is doctrine, but some of the parts of the book involving Jehovah or the Father talking to the children have been amazing in helping me feel of their love and support for me in my journey. One of my favorite parts is near the end of the book; The Father tells His children that though they will be leaving for Earth soon and they will forget their lives with Him, He will send them reminders of His love: a mother’s kiss, a father’s blessing, words of the prophets, etc. I am grateful to have these things in my life to remind me of how much my Father loves me.

I love forward to this hug

Things You Will Remember From the News
The biggest thing I remember from the news this year is the death of Robin Williams. I grew up watching Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire and I remember watching Dead Poet Society in high school. Hearing that he had committed suicide was a surprise to me. It was a reminder to me that depression doesn’t discriminate. In addition, I find it amazing and admirable that though he was hurting on the inside, he still made it his purpose in life to help others laugh. That being said, I’d like to state the fact that suicide is preventable. I went to a suicide prevention training this fall for my internship and that’s one thing I came away from it with: Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. If you are struggling with depression and/or suicide ideation, please get help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for help at any time if you’re struggling: 1 (800) 273-8255. Please don’t give up.

RIP Robin Williams

Favorite Talk in Church/Conference
I don’t know if it was my favorite, but he is definitely my favorite speaker. This past April, Elder Holland talked about standing up for our faith. It may not be popular (it rarely is) and it may not be easy (I’d say it never is), but because we are followers of Jesus Christ, it’s something we must do. Though others may tear the church down, we have to stand strong in our standards and fight against the adversary. We need to love our brothers and sisters, despite persecution we may receive. We are the people of Christ and we need to show it.

What Would You Like to Do In 2015?
2015 has the making of a crazy adventure for me. I’ve been accepted to a study abroad in Spain this spring term (May and June) and then I’m hoping to be an EFY counselor for the rest of the summer. In addition to all of that, this fall I start my final year of my undergraduate degree. Also, if all goes well with my seminary teacher training class this semester, I’ll be teaching seminary this fall. The only thing for sure is that I will be going to Spain. Everything else I’d love to do, that’s in the Lord’s hands and as I surrender my will to Him, I know He can make more out of my life than I ever could.

¡Estoy animado para ir a ese templo en Madrid!

Alright, that’s my year in review for 2014. Hopefully yours was good too. I’m looking forward to another great year of testimony building, growth, and adventures. It may not be easy, but I think it can always be miraculous if we let it (remind me of that the next time I start stressing).