Monday, August 26, 2013

Musings on...

My friends and I are in a book club and we just finished reading this book. My family has a book club, and we read this one earlier in the year as well. Yes, probably a very simple book, but I really enjoyed it. In the back of the book, it gave a quiz that helped you figure out which "faction" (one of 5 groups divided up by desired personality traits) you belonged to. The factions are Abnegation, who desire to think of others and not themselves; Amity, who desire peace with others above all else; Erudite, who desire wisdom and value logic; Candor, who seek for happiness and friendliness; and Dauntless, who value courage and bravery over the other traits. We discussed which ones were most important and what we thought of each one, as portrayed in the book.

Lately I have tried to better at observing people, trying to find out what makes them do what they do, to understand what triggers their behavior. What's been a little interesting to me, is to see how behaviors change over the years. As people get older and have experiences, their reactions to people and things change. Our tastes, and even what we look for in a friend or companion, changes. And yet, what do you do with those relationships that have been in over time, that may have evolved to something different than what it had started out to be? Those relationships are still important and require even more work to stay with and see why you're in them.

It's hard to always be focused on others and their feelings and wishes, when over time, the natural man tends to direct us towards only what makes "me" happy. It can become harder and harder to think about others when you start developing the attitude that "I will do whatever I want and what makes me happy". And I'm going to throw it out there, it's hard to always think of others when you've been single. Being single is not necessarily the best place to develop selfless traits. It can be done and should be attmpted, but it's hard. It feels like, when you make decisions, they only affect yourself, but really, they don't. Married or Single, what we choose to do, affects many others and when we see ourselves in a small bubble, alone where only my will matters, we move onto a slippery slope. It causes us to take for granted the relationships we have, to treat others like their "smaller" or "less important" than they really are. Our struggle to see things from someone else's point of view keeps us grounded on who is important in life.

It's hard to do everything we feel we SHOULD be doing when life is so busy, usually with kids, work, callings, needs of others, that all we really want is to take time for ourselves. And that is okay to do. We all need some time to step out of everyone else's light and replenish our own. But, I am a firm believer that it will never be a detriment to us, to be kind, thoughtful, warm, forgiving or interested in others. Those actions take work. Relationships with others take work, no matter if those are friend relationships or spouses. Sometimes, it seems the relationships that take more effort are the ones where we actually know the person really well.

Every person is different. The quiz from the back of the book showed that me and all my friends are different, we focus on different things. We look at others differently, therefore treating them differently. Yet, moving past that, to strengthen individual relationships is key. If you want to keep a relationship, you have to work (meaning consider, forgive and being kind when it may be hard to be kind) at those. Each one of the traits from the book had to work together and when they didn't, when they looked to "faction before blood" they forgot how much more there was outside of the bubble they had created.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rough Stone Rolling...

In a week, I will be embarking on a LDS Church History tour. I am super excited to see many places where early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were taught the gospel and joined the church, to then move to gather with the Saints in various places throughout the early part of the 1830s. Our tour starts in Niagara Falls, which has nothing to do with the history of the church, but sounds like a good enough place to start right? Then we move through Mendon NY, where the Young and Kimball families lived before joining the church; Palmyra NY Joseph Smith and his family lived; down to Susquehanna PA where Joseph and Emma lived for a time with her family; then onto Ohio and the towns of Kirtland, Fairport Harbor and Hiram, where the early Saints started to gather. I have always loved reading about the early Saints of our church, their desires to gain testimonies of this new religion, their struggles with their neighbors and their seeking out a place to worship. I am a beneficiary of their sacrifices and hard work. I am grateful for my ancestors who participated in these historic moments and am so glad to I get to go see their hard work in moving westward across the country and their building of temples and other cities that helped expand their religion, as well as America.

As part of our tour, we are asked to memorize vignettes of early church members. I am to memorize a synopsis of Louisa Young, a sister of Brigham Young. His entire family, he and his 9 siblings, all joined the church, and never left it. Pretty stalwart. There's something about walking where they walked, immersing yourself into their lives, trying to see the world from their point of view, to see if you could do the same. Would I have been strong enough to uproot my life, to struggle for years as the church tried to find a foothold somewhere and to eventually leave all of it behind either to death or by crossing the plains to a desolate valley. I'd like to think I would, but who knows. My friends and I who are going have been reading the book "Rough Stone Rolling," a biography of sorts of Joseph Smith. We have just finished reading the sections that take us to Kirtland and the development of Joseph's leadership styles and abilities. How rough he was to start, trying to learn the way God spoke to him and how, as unlearned in the ways of the world that he was, to move people, to turn them towards God. I'm excited to see where his mission took him.