Thursday, March 24, 2011

Could It Be? (Stella)

Whenever I experience a break-up I go through the normal stages of grief which inevitably have me turning to the scriptures and prayer for comfort and solace. I'm ashamed to admit that my most notable times of gospel feasting are almost always on the heels of having my heart broken.

In true Stella fashion I have been delving into the scriptures, our Prophets words, and any other gospel resource I can get my hands on as I struggle to find the answers to my why, why, whys? I should add that my feasting is usually accompanied by a lot of foot stomping, wailing and gnashing of angry teeth...which of course makes divine revelation a little difficult to come by. This time however - I must have matured since my last soiree.

I came across something today while reading in Alma that made me wonder - could being a single member of the LDS church at this time, during these last days be a calling? Is it possible that some of us experience singleness because we were asked to experience it during our mortal journey? That just like some are foreordained to be Prophets or pioneers are some of us called to be single for a period of time?

I'm not talking about 20 something singleness - I'm talking about being single WAY past the LDS norm of 20...or whatever it is these days. I'm talking about singleness that has you laying on your bathroom floor, sobbing into a pile of kleenex doubting every decision you've ever made and semi-convincing yourself that somehow you've brought this great scourge on your head through a Sodom and Gomorrah level atrocity.

I took this thought a bit further and realized the STRENGTH that it takes to be an active, faithful, single member of the church. I've heard it said that 50% of singles become inactive when they leave their YSA wards, and I recently heard at a stake meeting that my stake alone has over 3,000 mid-singles in it (men more then double the women. My jaw is still on the floor.)

So between the 50% and the 3000 in my little corner of the world how many of our brothers and sisters does this add up to? Even one is too many - but I think my point is easily proven by how many times we're admired by others. For example how many times has someone said something like..."I admire you so much," "You are so strong", or my personal favorite - "I don't know how you do it, I know I never could."

As I've let this idea roll around in my mind today I realize how much my ward blesses my life and how much they love and support me BUT I also realize how I may have a very special, singular influence that may make some of my sisters more grateful for their husbands and children, may inspire some to magnify their particular life calling, and may even be an example to the youth of staying faithful when you don't feel you fit in. Yes - being a single member of the LDS faith where we celebrate and promote families and eternal marriages in every breath is well.. NO PLACE FOR SISSIES!

That said - does it make you feel a little special, a little strong, a little chosen and set apart to be single? For so many of us who have not chosen to be single, who would marry tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself - I have to wonder if we would walk a little taller and hurt a little less if we looked at this life 'predicament' (regardless of how we got here) as a calling?

If we stopped to think of the faith, strength, and ENDURANCE that we go through our life with. How we continue to move forward without the help of a companion, striving to be faithful despite heartache that sometimes feels like it will end us? That this season of life (and I pray it ends tomorrow for all of us who desire righteous companions to create forever families with) is our calling because we are strong, faithful, and the ones the Lord knew He could count on to keep going. He knows what we can carry and He knows what we can't. I just have to wonder...

Could it be?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just not feeling it....(Marnie)

As old beau told me - while he was breaking up with me - "I'm just not feeling it." Not the smoothest comment he ever said, but for some reason I use that phrase all the time because it seems to apply to so many things. For me right now, "it" encompasses a lot of things. But the "it" I want to talk about about is not "feeling" God's love for me.

I've been a member of the LDS Church all my life. That comes with some awesome things and also some stumbling blocks. For some reason, because my life has been so centered around knowing there is a God and he has a plan for me - its not only a comfort but a reality. And it's all I've ever known. And the atonement has always been there for me. I've used it and not used it throughout my life but I've always known it was there. Just for me. And to tell you the truth there are times in my life where I've completely taken it for granted. I've even sometimes thought I deserved it instead of it being a precious gift from my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. What a horrible thing to realize! I've been like a self-righteous, spoiled princess. And I'm quite ashamed of it.

Luckily, I've realized my error and have been working on my attitude and gratitude.

I was going through a tough spell near the end of last year. I wasn't feeling well with a not-very-serious-but-still-annoying health concern. Nothing like that to remind you are so very mortal! But when you don't feel good and things aren't going your way, it's hard to not become miserable and that's what I had become. MISERABLE. One day I realized there was something really missing - I didn't feel God's love for me anymore. I felt lots of trials and annoyances and frustrations and lack of answered prayers but no love. I even felt picked on.

It made me upset and worried. How can I NOT feel it? Did he stop loving me? Of course he didn't! And after some real thought and prayer, I realized I wasn't letting myself feel it. Who wants to when they are miserable and they think the whole world is out to get them??

So, I did the "Sunday School answer" and started to pray for gratitude (yeah, I know I've done it in the past, but I'm a slow learner!!). I was especially inspired to find some love and happiness in my life because this last Christmas was going to be harder than normal. The very few nephews I have weren't going to be around like they have been for the last 10 Christmases. When you are single with no children you live through your nieces and nephews. I decided I didn't need a miserable Christmas too - my life was plenty! So I prayed hard to feel gratitude for my life. With that I also started to list those things that came to my mind that I was grateful for. It took some work but with the pondering and the praying I realized some amazing things I have taken for granted:

1. My parents are both still alive. That is not a common thing nowadays. I've had at least 5 friends/acquaintances lose a parent last year. One friend is even an orphan now. She's single and 39 AND an orphan. That just sucks.

2. I have a job that lets me go home for Christmas with my family. With the economy today, I should be just grateful I have a job!

3. I have a FANTASTIC family. They aren't perfect but they are pretty close in a lot of ways. And I LOVE to be with them! Not a lot of people can say that either!

4. I have what I need: I have a home, car, good job, necessities of life with lots of extras that I often forget they are extra and I'm really blessed to have them.

There are a TON of people that don't have all of that right now. How lucky am I? And why am I complaining??

Now I know not everyone has the things - and I'm honestly not trying to rub it in. But I'm positive that if we examine our lives closely, we can see how we are extra blessed we are and how God has given us many amazing things.

Once I realized how much I did have, I suddenly felt important, special, and cared for by my Heavenly Father. And I hadn't felt that way in a long time. I had only focused on what I didn't have - which by some standards is a lot. Unfortunately, it kept me from being happy. It's a constant struggle in life to appreciate the "now" - especially when you have high hopes for the future and everyone else seems to be getting it with as little effort as possible.

I wish I could say that the feeling just kept going on and on after Christmas but it didn't. The end of January came and I was down in the dumps again with a new year already here and an old year still leaving a really bad taste in my mouth. I can't believe how easy it was to fall into that same trap. I'm sure the cold and snow didn't help me either...

So I had to try again. It's worked but a little differently. I didn't have a Christmas to look forward too. I just had "work" and "life" going on. So I had to dig deeper. it's taken a lot of self-control and discipline to just suck it up and be happy but it worked - even if things STILL aren't going the way I'd like it to...

I've realized I'd rather have a life I didn't really plan for (or in some ways even want) and feel my Savior's love for me than to have everything I want and not feel it at all. And it's helped me see life doesn't have to be miserable. I can't tell you how good that feels!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Returning to Report

Hi all - It's Stella again and I've come back to TalkingWalls to report on a great adventure. Last time I wrote I talked about a new man in my life and what an amazing experience it had been thus far. Well my amazing experience came to a close a few weeks ago and as I re-embraced my single life I realized all that I had learned and thought I would share.

First, let me just say that this was by far the very best dating experience I have ever had. This man treated me with kindness and respect, supported me in my life, and helped to undo a lot of hurt I've experienced over the years. So what happened right? It came time to make a decision friends. It came time to move forward (i.e. marriage) or let one another go. He did not feel this but I did. In fact, for weeks the nagging feeling that I had to re-visit the marriage talk would not leave me. We had discussed marriage many times over the last 6 months but having different views on the subject, different views on intimacy, different views on commitment we had never come to a consensus.

In the end our different faiths and beliefs about life came into serious play here. Not necessarily issues of doctrine but issues when you have one person who strives to live by the guidance of the Spirit and one person who doesn't know what that means. No matter which faith or church you belong to that's a tough pairing to make compatible.

I have to say that I do not regret one single second I spent with him. I learned so much and though my suffering was deep and intense that first week after the big "split" my healing and increased testimony is far and away worth the pain. I think I've finally found that place friends - that place of acceptance where you truly trust the Lord to bring you a desired blessing in His time.

It's as if this trial was (is) a large lake and I had to swim across it. Throughout my swim, dark unseen forces, creatures, currents threw me around and tried to drag me under. Moments of light and safety were far and few between and just when I'm about to give up, let go and sink to the murky depths of the darkness an oasis appeared before me. I was able to stay here, safe and protected until my eyes were cleared and the shore became visible. I'm not so bold as to state with all confidence that I'm not going to have a bad attitude now and then, or become angry about this life predicament. I am still me after all, and singleness quite frankly - ticks me off. I hate it. I never wanted this. I never (knowingly) signed up for this (the veil being drawn of course to my pre-existence decisions.) I love being in a loving relationship where I can devote myself and my efforts to someone else. I am the best version of myself when I am in love and feel loved in return and this I can say - I am one incredibly loyal girl. I will stay by your side until you figure out whatever you need to figure out as long as you keep trying. I'm glad to know that about myself.

So would I date outside the church again? I'm truly not sure but I don't think so. Facing a future with a man who did not share my faith, and I came to learn did not share my devotion to Heavenly Father and our Savior is not something I want to trifle with. I know there are many, many wonderful saints around the world who are not LDS and many who put us to shame in their devotion and efforts to be Christlike. Those are the ones I would count myself lucky to have in my life because not only would they recognize the truth when they heard it but they will support me always in growing my own faith and testimony.

And that brothers and sisters is what it's all about.