Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Turning 34

An impacting  thought I read recently is this: 

"Reasonable people can and do differ."
And it's true. We can have different beliefs, different ideals, and different lifestyles based on those beliefs and ideals, and still be reasonable people.... You can be passionate without being self-righteous, and you can be live up to your own standards while maintaining an attitude of love and humility. 
This is what I was thinking this week as I was reflecting on all the beautiful and  diverse friendships I have in my life. I truly expect my friends to respect my spiritual/religious beliefs just as much as I respect there's. I try to live daily by this, my favorite quote by Christina Baldwin: 
"To work in the world lovingly means that we are defining what we will be for, rather than reacting to what we are against." 
It is a beautiful quote, one that reminds me to keep being who I am, and to keep standing for what I believe in, despite what anyone else says around me. 

My husband took this photo of me standing in front of the Kona LDS Temple last month. 
Going to the temple each month is something I look forward to. It brings peace and clarity into my life, and a greater sense of who I am and my relationship with God. It is a place of love and serenity and deeply meaningful ceremonies. 
I didn't always used to feel this way. 
My testimony of the temple and it's sacredness has developed and changed  over the years, and matured with age, just as I have. My understanding of what it is and how it blesses my life has been something I have worked for, as I've opened my heart to God, and allowed Him to teach me what I need to know.

I was thinking how this is true for so many things in my life; how I didn't understand something very clearly, yet now it has become so obvious to me. I suppose that's how we learn and grow, isn't it.  I don't understand everything in my religion, but I understand that God gives us the understanding we need, when we need it.  Just as I didn't know everything about giving birth and having babies, but slowly over time my eyes have opened up. Now I have a greater understanding of what it means to push a baby into this world and become a mother, and like my religion, my heart is permanently attached to it all.

Because I love lists, and because I am 34 today, I made one regarding the things I have learned since I've become an adult Mormon. (Last year's Turning 33 list was things I learned about my adult self) My religion is very important to me, and very much part of who I am as a person. Here's a few things that are clearer to me now:

1. This isn't the same church I attended when I was a kid. Although my parents took us to church on Sundays , I really can't compare my two experiences. As a child/teenager, I didn't learn what it meant to truly devote yourself to beliefs and to truly commit to practice living righteous principles. I knew there was goodness to the morals and values my church taught, but I never understood what it meant to devote oneself to God; to devote oneself to the teachings and principles taught in the scriptures, and through the prophets. As an adult, I feel more committed, confident, and dedicated to God, rather than to a church. Attending church on Sunday is more to me than driving to the church and walking in-it's a commitment I've made to God to walk a certain path in life.

2. My church is not a social function. I don't attend church to show up at extra-activities or chit chat in the hallways. I attend church to renew my promises with God through taking the weekly sacrament, to serve my fellow members, and to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am always grateful for the love and support I receive in my life from my fellow ward, but it's not the sole purpose.

3. Being Mormon doesn't mean living by rules and restrictions. Everything we do is a choice in life, and we are free to make those choices. The health laws and the commandments were created to protect us and bless us, not hold us back.  I am personally grateful for the health laws and commandments in my life- they have protected me and given me good health, happiness and freedom. 
- It seems funny to me that Mormon critics would view keeping the commandments as extreme. In my experience things like "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery" make pretty good common sense. I personally don't think God wants me to pick and choose what commandments are most important to me, as he has asked us to keep all of them. 

4. My church is full of normal people who make lots of mistakes. When I was younger I used to look up to everyone, as though they were perfect and probably better than me; like there was some sort of pecking order that I would fall into someday. So not true. We are all just people living our lives--trying to serve God and our fellow man, constantly  stumbling and falling and getting back up again.  Through Jesus Christ we can repent for the wrong things we've done and wipe our slates clean again. The power of the atonement is real. The relief I've felt in my life through being able to repent from past mistakes is amazing.

 5. I love everyone, no matter what. Having certain beliefs different than others doesn't mean I harbor hatred or resentment towards others who differ from me. Jesus Christ teaches us to love everyone, to treat everyone with compassion, dignity, and respect. Oftentimes people confuse strong beliefs with prejudice and bigotry.   I love everyone...no matter what, (although I'm not always as kind as I'd like to be, but I'm learning). I believe It's an important principle to live by, especially if you want friends....

Well, that's it for now.  I am grateful for getting older, because it often means understanding things better than before!  For me it means growing into the person I'm meant to be. 
I am grateful for all the wonderful and diverse people I have in my life, who uplift and inspire me to be a better person
Can't wait to turn 40!

Bonus picture of the little cuties that I luv.

1 comment:

Da Denninghoff's said...

Oh Sally, I wish I lived down the street from you. You are such a beautiful person and I appreciate your realness and love towards the Lord and all his children.