Sunday, July 12, 2015

If I Honor Your Love, Will You Choose to Honor Mine?

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” -Viktor Frankl

That's the way God created us.

Today after sacrament meeting, my Bishop read a response from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints over the pulpit. The letter was in response to the recent Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage. This was actually the second time I have heard it, as it was read in the same manner last week in my parents' ward where we were visiting. Both times our three oldest children were sitting with us. Both times I felt deeply about what was being read.

This life offers so many challenges, hating each other does not need to be one of them. The letter was so full of love, compassion, invitations to love each other better while protecting religious freedom and well articulated boundaries for houses of worship. I know many have heard hate, bigotry and judgement. That is not what I heard. My heart was so full of love for my Brothers and Sisters on all sides of this "issue" as the letter was read. So many hateful names, labels and words are flying around on all sides. It was a relief to sit with my children and husband while my deepest beliefs about the value of every soul and the appropriateness of even those with deep religious convictions having needs and boundaries, were re-affirmed in such a manner. Many of my dearest friends and family fall somewhere on what is now being referred to as the gender and sexuality spectrums. I love them all. And I do not think their rights mean I can't have my own feelings and joy around my heterosexual marriage.  Or that I can't teach my children of the satisfaction achievable as husband, wife and offspring.

In our family we talk about everything at the dinner table. We've covered pornography addiction, drug use, dating, consent, human trafficking, masturbation, college applications, grades, homosexuality, the differences between inter-sexed, trans-sexual and transvestism. We've talked about Kaitlyn Jenner and what her family is going through. And we've taught God's pattern of family, procreation and the raising of children. I have friends who consider themselves gay, lesbian and transgendered. I grew up in Las Vegas and now have classmates who were one gender in High School, but will be another at our reunion. And I care for all of them.

What concerns me is that heterosexuality seems to be being turned into the life of bigots, non-Christians and haters. That is just not true across the board any more than it is true that all Hispanics are illegal or all women with short hair are lesbians.

My son is in school with a trans-gendered youth. "Mom, he's being treated really bad at school. What should I say so he knows I am still his friend and that I'm here if he wants to talk?" My response? "Son, you need to find out first if "he" wants to be called "he." After that, tell him what you just told me, and know it will cause trouble for you. Hang in there. In this family, we love people like the Savior does. We don't have to understand and we don't have to agree. Love them. For now, that's all I know to tell you. You have to find your own way in this. Just know I expect you to stand up for others and NEVER be the one cutting them down for any reason. Just pray for your friend to have the strength to keep moving forward, these youth are at higher risk of suicide than any other. And thank you for caring about others when it may not be popular." I don't hate anyone, nor will we put up with that from our children.

Some of the recent actions of government concern me that soon I will not be able to worship, or even teach my children if it means not embracing same-sex marriage as the same as my heterosexual marriage. They are not the same thing any more than a man having one wife is the same as a man having 4 wives. And every person must decide for themselves. I only pray I will get to keep deciding for myself how I teach values to my children. And as always, compassion is at the top of that list.

Hate and anger are addictive. Name calling and finger pointing, as well as blame and persecution are also easy to get hooked into and swept away by. Love, however, must be fought for to be maintained. Of course I want to believe others will agree with me and think I do things right (and have faith in my motives). They won't. Too many opinions and beliefs counter what I hold dear. I just hope this debate doesn't swing the other way and make traditional family the enemy while persecuting and hating those who believe in and live it.

Every one of us matters, and so do our beliefs. Please pray with me that there will not be a pendulum swing eradicating the 1st amendment and our rights to worship according to our own conscience. Just because I believe in traditional marriage and family above all else, just because I believe having children should be about the children, doesn't mean I think everyone else is going to Hell. It means I have seen a great deal of the world and the suffering it has to offer, and chosen the safest, most healthy, most appropriate model *I* believe in and trust. Only time will tell what these decisions will mean for all our children and grandchildren. The Savior gave His life for what he believed in, so I suppose that means I can have the courage to lose friends and freedom in order to live the life that I believe in. I'd rather my friends love me still as I will love them, but some may not be able to hold my deepest convictions about faith, family and marriage. And I will be OK either way. It will not define how I treat others, for I get to choose that no matter what the law says. I choose Love.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Affirmations


                I am a Daughter of God and have been saved by the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. I have weaknesses, imperfections and shortcomings. Every day I do the best I can and strive to do better than yesterday. I have survived abuse and torment many do not believe even exist. I was physically abandoned by my father at 4 years old, and emotionally abandoned by my mother and father long before that. Because of this I have learned to overcome a reactive attachment disorder, post-traumatic stress and severe attachment and disassociate struggles. I stopped breathing and turned blue after an especially violent act of abuse at the age of 4. I am lucky to be alive today, and very possibly suffer learning disabilities from the lack of oxygen, malnutrition and unnatural levels of childhood stress. But I am alive and grateful.
I’m crazy smart and love being called a nerd. My kids are some of the greatest people I know. I have seen angels and talked with them. I walk with God daily, and sometimes I miss him so much I can hardly breathe. I was not protected as a child, now I know how to protect myself and will never be a victim again. Few people really know me because I am so guarded. I want to change that. I love with depth and loyalty that can only come from knowing loss and abandonment. Sometimes I forget my own worth and let others walk on me. Then I shake it off and get back to loving myself and those around me enough to take a stand against being treated poorly. Now and then I forget I am no better or worse than anyone else, and I do something that hurts another person. As soon as it feels safe and I am humble enough, I seek to make amends. Some people don’t want honesty and amends or true connection in a relationship, so I learn to accept that, even when it hurts. Some people refuse to treat me with respect, compassion or to let go of past offences. I am sad about that, but honor their decision. I’ve been there and have to remind myself to let go sometimes too. I’ve been very hurtful to a few people and have to live with the consequences. I pray they will be able to forgive someday. I have withheld, needed, given and asked forgiveness more times than I can count. I know what it feels like to be attracted to a woman and it changed me in beautiful, profound ways forever. I learned to temper those feelings and consider her among my dearest, most precious friends.
I am not a perfect mother, and in the early years I was downright horrible some days. Now I am a good mother and forgive myself and my children for being human. I have not fully forgiven myself for some of my parenting mistakes, but want to. I understand women and sexual addiction because I have lived it. Five years ago I started a journey to learn to protect my heart and marriage that has been the most difficult and most beautiful gift God has given me, for in it he taught me to love him above all else. I do love him fiercely, and know he hears my prayers. I killed my unborn daughter and nearly killed myself during my worst fight with anorexia ever. After 14 years starving myself trying to get the demons out, I found recovery and health. One of the hardest things I ever did was get off the floor and eat half a peanut butter sandwich the day after I lost her. Her name is Hannah JoAnna Joice. I will hold her in my arms one day, and can hardly wait to teach her to braid her hair and twirl in pretty dresses. For now I send messages through prayer, and sometimes I still cry. She would have been 14 in February.
I call my best friend’s parents “Mom” and “Dad” because I love them and need parents. Someday I hope to be sealed to them and know what it is to belong to an eternal family. It feels good to finally feel like I am loved, wanted and belong to a family of generations. And it is amazing. Because I know where I fit, it has relaxed my parenting and connections to others in ways I never thought I would be capable of. I like it when my mom tells me she loves me and feels honored to be my mother. Now and then I wish I had just been born to her.
I love many people who are gay. I don’t understand why parents throw away their children for not being who parents want them to be, or for choosing their own path. I would rather my son be alive and gay than kill himself because I couldn't change him or make him who I think he should be. I believe in God, believe in right and wrong, and believe in good and evil. Gay is not evil, it is different. I know gay men and women who call it a gift, a curse, a blessing, a choice, a nightmare, and who believe they were “just born with it.” It’s not my place to argue, decide or define. These are my brothers and sisters and I love them. Their struggles touch my heart deeply and always have.
I’m not OK with children being abused. I also do not agree with blanket statements about killing all the pedophiles and rapists. I believe every soul has value, every man and woman who is willing can be recovered, and I believe we would be ill if we knew the stories of horror these “animals” lived through before they hurt anyone else. I am grateful I don’t have to judge or decide, and will always protect my children. That doesn't mean I have to hate. I believe the atonement of Jesus Christ is his to apply and withhold, so I don’t play God in my beliefs. I can’t save anyone and stopped trying to a long time ago. Life is meant to be lived, and sometimes it sucks big time. I believe it will always get better if we can just hold on. That has not always been the case, and I have been suicidal with detailed plans more than I care to admit. Then I decided not even I have the right to take my children’s mother from them, so I called a friend.
My testimony sent my baby brother to prison for child sexual abuse. He was my first best friend and I love him deeply. He needs to be in prison right now, and I pray he will find Christ and make amends. He is a kidney transplant patient, and will probably die in prison. That breaks my heart because I miss eating IHOP breakfast skillets with him, and may never get the chance again. He believes, as do I, that God gave him a kidney so he could make amends as much as possible in this life, to ease his suffering in the next. I pray for his victims and sometimes want to hurt him myself for the suffering he caused. Then I surrender it to God and remember how I used to tie his shoes and how we both learned how horrible this world could be together. I just got out with less scars. No, I got out with different scars, so became the protector, not the perpetrator.
My birth parents have become so aggressive and violent in my recent adult years, I have carried a gun and slept with it chambered by my bed-just in case. I do not miss them, but do forgive them for being unable to love me. I am grateful for my adopted family and the love they have always held for me. It is a blessing to belong, and I am not alone. Some days I do need to be on my own and take care of hard things with only God by my side. It’s not personal. I love flowers and now have my first real flower garden. I call it my “Mother’s Garden” because it was a birthday gift from my new mom and my mother in law. I will place something in it to remind me of the woman who gave me life, because she matters and I want to honor her. She will never understand the pain her words and actions caused, but I forgive her anyway. That does not mean she will ever be allowed to hurt me again.
My life has taught me so much, and there is not one thing I would give up. If given the opportunity to change it, I would pass. Because of the life I have lived, the joys, the sorrows, the depths of Hell and heights of Heaven I have seen, I am who I am today. If giving up the pain means giving up the people and the lessons, the price is too high, I will keep the pain. My little sister is my hero and the absolute coolest gift my birth mother gave me. She is the first diamond in my life, and so much more than a sister to me. We are soul mates, and through her I learned to love. No, there is nothing I would give up. Perhaps I would protect my brother and sister more, but I did all I could. And who am I to assume I know more than God? He did not spare us, just as he does not spare millions of others. Because I have suffered, Christ has suffered. He broke these chains long before I even held them. Only now, because I have walked this mile, I understand the Love he has for us so much better. I understand how he could love a sinner, a drunk, an abuser, a victim, a lesbian, a criminal, an adulterer, and even a normal, everyday sinner like me. He can heal all wounds, he can break all chains. I love him, trust him and need him every hour of every day. “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.” That’s Truth right there, pure and simple. I’ve seen it, walked it, held it, and been saved by it. God lives, and so can I!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Walk with Nephi

     I took a walk with Nephi last night as he wandered the quiet streets of Jerusalem. He stopped for a moment in front of the home he grew up in and recently left. It was dark and calm inside, and almost seemed to hold its breath-as if waiting for the family to return. Nephi stood at the door, one arm outstretched, bracing himself against it, head bowed, lips barely moving as he said good bye for what he knew would be the last time. For a moment he rested his head on the cool, solid wood and just breathed it in, calmed for the journey ahead by its familiar smell. Then as suddenly as he stopped, he moved on, towards the house of Laban.
     His steps were not as quick as usual, and we walked in silence. We were aware of each other, but lost in our own thoughts. Such similar paths we follow, and yet so different. He and I are one tonight, not sure of what lies ahead.  A deep pensive sigh breaks the silence and I strain to see his face in the faint moon light. “I only know two things,” he confides. “I cannot leave Jerusalem tonight until I have those plates in my hands, and I cannot stop moving forward. The rest is darkness.” He pauses, deep in thought, searching for what is next. Later he will reflect on God’s wisdom in guiding him this way, not knowing what was to come. “I may not have been able to  walk to fulfil God’s commandment had I known what was ahead. It would have been too heavy a burden to carry. As it was I could hardly lift that sword. Only the power of God could have moved me to act in such a way. It just didn’t make sense until I was in front of Laban. Now I see. I still have questions, but I can also see.” 
     He turns and heads down a wide alley, so I follow. A cat howls somewhere in the distance. Back in thought and still with determined steps, we walk in silence again. Off to the right we are startled by the snoring and movement of a drunken man, passed out. His last drink has spilled onto the thirsty ground at his side. Nephi picks up the goblet, a beautiful silver piece embellished with sapphire and emeralds. “You just couldn’t wait to drown yourself in my father’s wealth, could you Laban?” Nephi tosses the goblet back to the unconscious man and falls to his knees. I kneel as well and we pray, one in heart and mind. 
     His gives voice to our unified pain and questions. The words resonate as if I am uttering them myself. Tears roll easily for us both. “Father, I know not what to do. Here before me is the only thing keeping me from obedience to your command. I want to obey. Please God, show me how I can do what you ask, for I cannot see clearly what my path should be. Whatever you command, that will I do, but I must have your words. Show me, that I may act.” Silence and the warmth of the Spirit wash over us with the rushing of a wind. I brush the hair from my face as Nephi takes the hilt of Laban’s sword, and suddenly we are one. Standing, holding this amazing work of art, I raise it to inspect the fine metal, playing with the balance. Perfection. How I have dreamed of a weapon such as this. I roll it, gently striking through the air. It is intuitive, light, almost intelligent. Never before have I held something that felt more natural.
     A new warmth flows through me and the sword hums in my hand. God speaks through the vibration: “Slay him.” In terror, I drop the sword and stumble backwards. The voice comes again, “Slay him, it is the only way.” I fall to my knees, “Father, no. I cannot. I only need the plates. Laban does not have to die, does he? Please don’t ask me to kill another. I can’t do it.” Is this a trick? Has Satan learned to mimic the very voice of God? Staring at my hands, dusty and calloused, air comes in shallow, ragged breaths. This is not what it is supposed to look like. How can I kill an unarmed man in cold blood? Nothing makes sense as my head swirls and I reach out to my God again, only one word escapes my constricting throat, “Father?”
     “You must obey, Nephi. Generations yet unborn, millions of souls, will perish if you do not obtain what I sent you for. Do not be afraid, my child. I am here, and you must take this life to save your own and your children’s. Pick up the sword. I will give you the strength to stand but cannot hold the sword for you. This is your path. This is what you were always meant to do. Pick up the sword. Let it guide you. It knows what I want, it was created for this moment in time and many more yet to come. So were you. Slay him.”
     I slowly reach with Nephi’s hand, shaking, and grasp the strong hilt, feeling the metal warm with my touch. It lights with an eternal fire and I am filled with confidence, hope and the power of God. Breathing comes deep and without effort, everything is clear. Lehi and Sariah’s images stand on either side of me. A protective light surrounds us as I lift the head of this man who would kill me in an instant just for sport. He moans and drops his head. Grabbing him by the hair, exposing his neck, I raise my arm. I feel my Heavenly Father tighten my grip on the sword with his mighty hand and he firmly directs me again. “Strike!”
     It is done. Time is of the essence, I must get back to my family. Quickly I wipe the sword on my pants, strip Laban of his heavy, rich robes and replace my own clothing. I am not afraid. My next step is clear. Kicking my father’s goblet towards Laban’s prostrate body, I sheath the sword and quickly walk towards his house. I will find Zoram there. He has the keys and can easily give me what I need. I only pray he cannot see my face, trusting the rest to God.
     Within minutes I am walking with Zoram from the vault, heavy plates wrapped and cradled in his arms. He is comfortable and friendly. I’ve always liked him, and for a moment I become concerned. I do not want to take another life tonight. Almost as quickly as the thought came, it is replaced with another. No, God has a plan for Zoram. A righteous and generous man, he will make a wonderful addition to our band of outcasts. I see that one day he, with all those who love God, will be my Brother. His path is to follow my father, a man Zoram deeply admires. For now though, I must be Laban. I must follow, one step at a time, to my destiny.
     Not knowing what is next has become a way of life for me, and God has proven he will always show me what I need. He gives every good gift to those that love him and we need not fear. The sword at my side is alive with intelligence, I will wield it often in the defense of God, family and faith. This is my calling. This is what we were made for, and I cannot fear. This sword and I are soul mates, created, tried and tested in the furnace of affliction. We are one with God and are ready to do the work we have been given.
     A rooster crows the coming dawn and I cannot help but smile to myself. A new day begins with God at the helm. All is as it should be.

1 Nephi 4

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I'm Back!

I've missed blogging! :)

It's been a very eventful while. I've jumped in with both feet pursuing my degree in Behavioral Science and Psychology. It is a blast! Family is amazing, recovery is still a process, but one I would not give up for the world. I'm living braver and more in the moment than ever before and it is divine.

The break was necessary. My focus had turned to how many blog hits I got in a day and from which countries. These hits were my new hit. Not cool! So I regrouped, got real, and am back for what I think are the right reasons: to share my hope and recovery, to uplift and connect, to be honest about who I am and where I have been.

And of course I never stopped writing! In fact, I've been very busy. So for you, my friends in recovery, the people who lift me with your hope and recovery, I want to share one of my favorite moments from the past 4 months.

Thank you for being you!

My Sermon, My Life, My Choice
On immortality, holiness, consecration, dedication and sacrifice; living the higher laws God's way by my own choice.

Nov 11, 2014
“…Somewhere between desire and consecration [we come] to know the Lord.” –Emily Freeman, 182

“When I think about the temple, every stone in it is a sermon to me. It tells of suffering, it tells of sacrifice…every rock in it preaches a discourse.” –J Golden Kimball. 

How can I become like the temple, every particle a discourse to my God?

Coming to truly know the Lord takes suffering and sacrifice. So I must ask myself: “What is my sermon? What is my sacrifice? What is my suffering?” It is small next to His, and it is all I have to give. It is a fasting and a prayer. It is being willing to give to God that which I most desire, that which I feel I cannot live without, and trusting that if He keeps it I will have it when I wake Resurrection morning, and when it is given back it will be sanctified and pure, molded for my good and my exaltation-if it is to be mine. It is living a life of health and wellness, body, mind and soul. It is giving up the world and its deceptive and confusing description of comfort. My sermon is learning to let the Lord be my guide and my stay, squaring my shoulders to better hold the yoke. It is learning to let the mantel and armor settle, because every life in this age is a calling. Mine is no different. I signed up for this and have rededicated time and time again. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Will I give all? “If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy.” (D&C 124:44). He will make my alter holy. “The most important part of my journey happens in the moments of sacrifice along the way when the name of the Lord is carefully chiseled into my heart. My life is a journey that begins with desire and, through consecration, ends with holiness.” (Freeman, p 181)

Bible Dictionary: Holiness. Consecration. Law of the Gospel. Gospel of Peace.
It is in the full armoring, in the shoding of my feet in His peace, love and understanding that I stand upright, walking boldly and leaving flames of awareness, truth and intelligence in my wake. This is His power, this is His glory. It is not for me, though in losing what I fear I need most, I find I have it all the more, and not surprisingly nothing is lost while all is gained.

It was upon an alter, built by a grieving father, to offer what he loved most in this world to the God he loved most in Eternity, that Abraham’s Soul was made worthy of so much more than was ever possible in that one child alone. He was willing, broken hearted and contrite, to give all he had, not knowing beforehand how the promises he was given could ever be thus realized. Following the instruction often looks like losing what I want when I look only with my mortal understanding. But everything is Eternal. There is no such thing as loss, with the exception of those who willingly give up their chance to ever see their God again. True loss must be chosen, it cannot just happen. And some things must be given up, surrendered, sacrificed. That is not loss, it is salvation.

 “…For straight is the gate and narrow is the way…and few there be that find it.” (3 Nephi 27:33) I am being shown my gate; the one out of my physical and emotional bondage. Hannah gave up Samuel. In doing so, he became so much more than he could have, even in her tender care. And so did she. Ruth did not have to give up Naomi, but she did have to put God (Boaz) first in order to achieve her full potential. Sariah gave her home, her land, her comfort, her security. It was very hard on her. Yet I believe she packed up her tents, cleaned and locked up her beloved dwelling. Every dish was in place as she walked away, grieving, perhaps anxious, and faithful. Emma lost 4 of her 5 children in just as many years. How could she go on? Yet she did.

Lives have literally been given to save mine. Nothing was asked in return. I give it to my Savior for safe keeping until I can understand fully. I was kept form danger and harm, even inflicted by me, and the ultimate sacrifice was made by the Lord, by my sweet Hannah, and by one whose name I may not learn in this life. Will I give my life for another? Is that not what I have already pledged?

Consecration: Dedicated; hallowed; purified; sanctified
Holiness: set apart for a sacred purpose; uncommon; standing in a special relationship with Jehovah; in reference to the divine character of Jehovah that sets Him apart from the other gods, namely Lucifer; character expected from the Lord’s anointed, achieved only through consecration and true conversion. (think of Cain’s sacrifice vs. Abel’s, spirit of the law, not just observance); not ceremonial, but contrite and dedicatorial. A change of heart worthy of becoming a dwelling place for the Love of the Lord and able to properly hold and recognize it; unprofaned, clean, undefiled, unadultered, sacrificial, reverential, edifying and pure. Awareness of the golden thread and seeds of eternity and able to honor and use them responsibly. I am standing on holy ground when I seek consecration, sanctification and anointing. Holiness is like Zion. It is a place, a direction and a state of heart and mind. It is spiritual, emotional, physical, temporal, eternal and social, sexual and financial.

Further study:
“Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence” Jorg Klebingat, October 2014
“Yes, Lord, I Will Follow Thee” Eduardo Gavarret, October 2014
“Becoming His” by Emily Freeman, Desert Book



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Comparison is Lust

This concept has been mulling around in my head for about 5 years. It started right about the time I started a major "counselor crush" that ended up being one of the hardest things I've dealt with. By far the hardest I've ever put myself through.

I started to spend more and more time reflecting on the "perfect" therapist who understood me, validated me, saw me, heard me, and my poor real life husband didn't stand a chance. Hubby snores when he has a cold. He gets grumpy and short tempered. He has bad days. 

Here's the insanity: there wasn't even a romantic infatuation for the first few months. I was just really busy reminding myself how perfect Exhibit B was and ruminating over every flaw husband has. There is a name for that, it is called comparison. Comparison doesn't help. It is based on wanting what isn't mine. What I can't have. What I do not have. And that allure is lust. Destructive, captivating, distorted and addictive lust. Even without romantic or sexual attraction, lust is very real and just as destructive as any sexual or lust addiction. It is acid to a marriage.

I’m learning to apply this to every area of life. “She that looketh upon (a neighbors furniture, her own reflection, the neighbor, the neighbors spouse, sister-in-laws new house, even a dessert she knows will make her sick,) to lust after it shall deny the faith and shall not have the Spirit.” Ouch. No more lemon bars as they make me violently ill. Forget that they have been my favorite desert for as long as I remember. Salivating over something that I KNOW will harm me is destructive. I know being jealous of the neighbor's new car is disconnecting and will cause a wedge. It is the same thing. I want something that 1) is not good for me 2) could (will) harm me 3) isn't meant for me and 4) Is. Not. Mine.

I looked up "lust" in my scriptures and contemporary definitions. The definition I got made me sick. Aside from what I already knew lust to mean (carnal minded, sexual desire, covetousness, immorality, adultery, fornication). There was more there in black and white, and my entire being caught fire: "a strong desire or drive: unbridled attraction or desire." Well, crap. There goes whatever shred of distortion I had left. Attraction doesn't have to mean sexual, so that explains my Pepsi habit too. So I looked up "unbridled," hoping for a little anesthesia. Bad idea. "Not controlled or restrained; openly expressed." Any desire, emotion, attraction or drive that I am not responsibly managing is lust. Any loss of manageability or agency on my part is an unbridling. And I already know there is always a moment of choice, so that wasn't going to save me. I had given up my agency along the way. Agency must be surrendered. My "desire" for that safety and comfort to be mine, to own it, to possess "it" was my lust. The big problem here? "It" was a human being, and in my distortion he became a drug to "make" me feel better. It didn't take much, just remembering a laugh we shared, a smile, him touching my shoulder as I walked out of the office. The fact that his favorite chore was hand moping the floor. Because I had tainted it in my mind, because I had literally used him so I could feel better, the relationship was no longer one of two people connecting. It was about my next hit. I had to see him. I absolutely had to. My brain had convinced me I was going to suffer and die if I didn't. Functioning at all became very difficult.

So how did I get there?

Lust, coveting, jealousy, comparison, whatever I call it, all of it is driven by the same thing: discontent and distortion. I felt entitled to what I thought I deserved: a husband who mops floors when I ask him to; non sexual romance; not having to ask someone to do the dishes when I have the flu. Many of the things I felt I deserved everyone does, in fact, want in their own lives. I should be treated with respect, love, honor, compassion and empathy. And no one is perfect. That is such a tall order, I've yet to meet a person capable all the time of all of that. But I have met people who come pretty darn close. The reflection in the mirror? Getting there with a long way to go.

Decision time. This therapist was actually the one who taught me what "decision" means. It is a type of dissection. "If thine right arm offend thee..." And it seriously felt like cutting off my right arm. A decision is making a choice in such a way as to cut off other options. Sure, there is often the ability to change my mind, but for the most part, that's it. At that point in time, a dissection was critical because I could not function without it. This limb was going to kill me if I kept trying to fix it my way. I did not want to die. I let him go.

Recovery is hard. Having to be recovered because I got myself so enmeshed and messed up was harder. There was no way I was getting out by myself. It took a great deal of spiritual support and heart breaking introspection. The hardest part has been learning to trust myself with my own heart again. Learning to live life content and connected to what is instead of fantasizing takes a lot of practice. No more "what if's" or "if only's." That's a hard place to be after a literal lifetime of that kind of distraction.

Facing my lust, my comparison, my emotional indiscretion, was a painful reminder of a traumatic childhood just as much as it was a call to truly experience the Atonement of the Lord. Both have richly blessed me and together created the person I am today. I am strong, compassionate, empathic, kind, honest, flawed, learning, and blessed. Sometimes I’m selfish, often I am ornery. And I am enough.

If I had it to do over again, there is not much I would change. I'd try to have more compassion for everyone involved and do less projecting. Back then I didn't know what that meant though. But the rest of it? I'm working on cleaning that up, so I can't say I'd change any of it. I think there is still more to learn. Perhaps the greatest lessons of this experience are before me, like diamonds waiting to be claimed when I am ready to own them.

And my heart and mind are healing, slowly but surely. I have a wonderful marriage to a good man who loves me and we are learning together. It’s not perfect, which is often because of my drama and antics, not his.

For years I have been trying to put into words what this has felt like, how disorienting and discouraging. It is a cultural obsession to fantasize and pretend. We get so wrapped up we can’t tell which end is up. It feels normal to joke about “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob.” Everyone has a movie star they fantasize about. No harm, right? Wrong. Fantasy is distortion, even without sexual undertones. It is not OK. It distracted me from my real life. It took me from my children and prevented me from having a real relationship with my very real husband. all because I wouldn’t let go of the comparison and longing for what was not mine. All I wanted was someone to do a load of laundry or clean the bathroom. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem was I dwelt on what I did not have so long I almost lost what I did have. My husband was always the one who got up with the babies in the night. He’d bring them to me then take them back to their crib. He changed diapers like a rock star, makes a mean steak and brings me breakfast in bed for every birthday, every anniversary and every mother’s day. Sometimes he did it just because he got up early and felt like it. I have been truly blessed. In my ingratitude I nearly lost that.

So many women out there are living in a quiet box of desperation and don’t even know what it is keeping them there.  It is not necessary. With truth, honesty, accountability, humility and obedience, we can be plucked from the ashes and renewed. It takes a lot of hard work and insane amounts of faith. And there are no words for how worth it repentance and freedom are. And desire, even non sexual or non romantic, for a man who is not my husband is a sin. True and Christ-like connection is never longing or lustful. It is not covetous or jealous, it is charitable, responsible and joyful. Any "crush" on a movie star that involves any fantasy, and distortion, and untruth is lust. The Lord was very serious when He said we are not even to think about it. Now it comes in as "what a great daddy he seems to be." and goes out as "Those kids are so blessed. I'm happy for them. And I am so thankful my own husband who _______." It doesn't matter what positive attribute I fill in, as long as I am grateful my heart resets and stays true to my covenants. What other women's husbands do or don't do is none of my business. My eyes stay in my own yard, and 6 years later it is still a regular exercise.

This issue is much bigger than it is given credit for. It is not "normal" to want to replace my husband. It is comparison, distortion, and a lie. Now I know and now I can do something better.

Comparison is lust. So is coveting, jealousy and wanting more than I have. I'm working really hard to sort through the emotions and implications of this revelation. Lust is insidious and very well hidden in our society. Don't let it keep cankering the most important relationships in your life. Those include, but are not limited to relationships with self, higher power, spouse, and children who are counting on you to do the right thing.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Define: "Play"

Recently I've felt a little off. It feels like I'm letting myself down and constantly being reprimanded. Never mind the fact that no one has actually reprimanded or even corrected me, I have still felt like I'm in trouble somehow. This morning in my dailies and scripture study I had an amazing breakthrough though and my heart is so very happy. The Lord reached through the clouds and told me how much he loves me, my playful heart, and my love for words and people. He also told me I'm on the brink of an awesome personal breakthrough that will change how I see myself forever, so just hang in there and trust Him. Then I spent 40 minutes with my scriptures, journal, favorite pens and the spirit. Oh, and my phone because it so perfectly obeys when I say "define." Not at all like the rest of my life.

I looked up a lot of words today: play, dramatic, manipulate, play again, and finally melodramatic. Something very cool came out of this little adventure and I fell in love with words all over again.

"Hi, I'm addicted to words. They fill me."

And I don't regret it in the least.

Words are how I play, they always have been. I wrote my first full fledged "book" when I was 6. It was a continuation of Gulliver's travels in Lilliput. That story has captivated my imagination my entire life and resonated in places few stories ever have. Only Jonathan Swift can reach me like Nathaniel Hawthorne does. They play like I do. And yeah, I have a child named Jonathan and one named Nathaneal. Not so much after my soul mate writers, but there is something to be said for that nevertheless. :)

Did you know Nephite disciples sentenced to death by wild animals actually took what was meant to destroy them, tempered and then played with them? They did. Check out 3 Nephi 22:23. Daniel did the same thing in the lion's den. King Saul in the Old Testament had issues with depression and was plagued by "evil spirits" often. So what did he do? He sent for Jesse's son David, a masterful and skilled harpist (who could also be positively described as a dramatic musical manipulator- a little word play I learned today). He wanted David to calm his soul by playing on his harp. That harp was with David the rest of his life. He never stopped playing it. For me, written words are harps, individual letters the notes that, when combined well, teach, uplift, inspire and heal me. I really love words. They can be deadly, but when manipulated (i.e. skillfully crafted) properly by truth and light, they can become salvation.

There are people in my life who don't play like I do. They don't need words like air, or to play with. They seem to only use them to get the job done. It's not bad, it's just hard for me. I need playful banter with words to connect in relationships. I need the thrill of hearing a dear friend spin them into a rainbow or swing set or well secured roller coaster. I want to hear them and read them while they swirl around my head in fireworks and plays of light and color. Not everyone needs that. Actually, it seems some people don't even like or understand that. Words fill my soul with energy and sing me to sleep. For some people they are tools and nothing more. Kind of like gardening only vegetables because daffodils and columbine won't fill a stomach. I need daffodils and columbine too though. Sure, I also need food (which feels like a burden when I'd rather be playing with my words), but even food can be fun to play with, just ask my table full of boys. Everybody has pretended to chop down the broccoli tree and shouted "TIIIIMBEEEER!!" at least once. See, words+food=play time! Did anyone else notice the raw cauliflower trees bounced better than cooked or either type of broccoli when you fell them?

It's OK that not everyone will play back in ways that resonate with me. I can learn to connect in ways that they can feel. It doesn't have to be my way all the time. True, I do need people who can play with me and share my love for words and playful banter, mulling over application and split or whole definitions. I also need people who can help me learn to be serious with the words and responsible with them. Sometimes I'll wish certain people understood my game and would come play it with me because I really want to share it with them. If they don't understand though, or just can't get into the game, we'll just need to decide if we want to keep playing together badly enough to find other common ground in the sand box. It won't always look how I want it to, but that's OK.

I am a daughter of God living in a fallen world doing the best I know how. Everyday I learn a little more and my best gets just a little better. I love flowers, ribbons, hiking, camping, studying painting my nails and playing. I love words, they heal me. I love my Heavenly Father who gave me words and my love for them. I am grateful for repentance and second chances as well as laughter and giggles. Nothing touches me like someone I love smiling that soul deep smile. Well, except when they share it with my soul.

This world is amazing. There is so much color and life everywhere. I am so very grateful for the eyes to see it all. It is amazing to be finding me after all these years and to realize how valuable and worthy I always was. Most of all I am thankful for playtime and sandboxes and the people who love me enough to learn to play together in ways that work for us both.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Air

I hear you when my feet strike the path and in the rhythm of my breath as I run
I feel you in the sprinkler mist and the pounding of my tender heart
I smell you in the summer campfire and springtime blossoms
I breathe you in when it rains and through my tears
You run with me and speak to my heart
When I am out here I know where you are and who I am
I have wings
I am life
I am whole

In the beating of my shoes on the ground, my heart in my chest and the blood in my ears
I find myself
And I find you
Every word I create was first created by you
Every strength I pull was first found in you
And I am OK

The trees sing your praises in ways I cannot, for I was not given to sing
The mountains stand as a testament to what I am seeking to become
And the columbine whisper your mysteries when I surrender my fear
Loss is not Eternal and suffering is a choice I can make
Hope springs from autumn leaves and faith falls in snowflakes all around
I remember
It is enough
I am yours
Always and forever
My Father and my Light
And it heals me