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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bogged Down vs. Getting Going

Hello, all!

I thought I might write about a funk I've been in as of late. These past couple weeks, I've started to notice how frustrated I'll get when I'm not living up to the potential I know I should be. I've written countless posts about changing habits, so this should come as no shock to you that I'm again struggling with finding motivation to keep improving. The problem I'm encountering, however, is that right now, it is so easy to see the extremely large gap between who I am and who I should be. I could make a long list of all the things I'm not doing well (like these blog posts, for example). And I have made these lists, mentally, day after day. I realize that I'm not as kind or charitable as I should be. Not as diligent as I could be. Not as near to my Savior and appreciative of His love as I would be if I kept Him closer to my heart and thoughts.

But this does me no good. And I've realized again and again that God does not motivate us by telling us all the things we aren't doing. Rather, He highlights the good things we are doing and then tells us, "Look at the person you're becoming. Don't give up!" It's difficult, though, to remember that when I've created my own pavilion of discouragement and downtroddenness.

So I'd like to pose a question to those who read my humble posts from time to time:

How do you balance your standing with God? How do you keep from being overwhelmed while still improving yourself?

I'm trying to focus on one thing at a time. I've been trying to be more thoughtful in my scripture study. But then I realize I've been jealous or selfish or frustrated with the people I love and I realize that I'm not particularly good at applying the scriptures I study. And so then I work on being charitable, but that's a never-ending quest I'll always feel like I'm failing. Which then drives me to focus my interactions and work hard on my talents and how I can build up God's Kingdom, but then I may get caught up in my work and stop being so diligent in my scripture study. And the process starts all over again. Do you see how easy it is for Satan to discourage us when we're trying to be perfect all at once?

I guess I need help to quit focusing on the bad things. To stop finding all the reasons that something is not right. But then, I don't want to stop progressing. Perhaps it is a matter of taking one's temperature too much. If I keep analyzing how well I'm doing, I'll probably get discouraged. Right?

At any rate, this post is not one where I've had an epiphany or that I'm trying to share some insight I've learned. Rather, I'd love your thoughts and answers to my cycling problem. I know that God loves me, nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. So hopefully, I can figure out just a little better how God communicates with us and then develop our relationship from there.

8 comments:

Doug Funny said...

If I may be so bold as to make this suggestion- far too many people, particularly in the church, try to perfect themselves without Christ. Christ does not say "be perfect, and then we'll see if I help you". He invites us as we are and then HE DOES THE WORK. One of my favorite sermons on this topic is CS Lewis' parable of the house in Mere Christianity where we invite Christ in to remodel. Christ does not make the difference; He makes US different. That's the real reward and reason for cultivating a spiritual atmosphere, because the Holy Ghost comes into our lives and makes us a fit habitation. It is absolutely irrational to think that something fallen can make itself better. Entropy always increases unless energy is added from a higher power.

May I suggest that you watch Elder Busche's excerpt from his BYU Devotional "Unleashing the Dormant Spirit". Here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=snAjZ8mfoYw&feature=share&list=PL72506643EB14324D
It gives me hope and creates an environment where the Spirit can give you the answers God would like you to have.

Also, hang in there. When you have trouble believing in Him, maybe it will help to know that He believes in you.

Mike said...

As a person currently struggling with the same problem (just much further back on that road to perfection) you're doing the right thing. Focus on one thing at a time. But as your focusing on those things, ask God for His peace and comfort so you can know you're doing what He desires. I can almost guarantee you are, but His assurance is worth a lot more than mine.

Anonymous said...

God doesn't care about your standing with him. In the end, I believe he won't look at where you are, but what direction you are going. As long you are progressing, you don't need to worry about how much or how fast. Just as long as you keep pushing forward.

Jessie Louthan said...

This past year was unspent being unemployed. Instead of focusing on the negatives of this, I took the abundance of time that was afforded to me to make new contacts, learn more, and get more things done. If you focus on the most important things and complete them, then you can move on to the next thing to finish. Before you know it, you're way ahead!

Stay strong. :-)

Jordan Bobo said...

Whitney, you are a beautiful person and I think you're great. I'm personally struggling with a very similar problem, and have been for a while, so maybe I know how you feel a little bit. It helps me to remember that God will always love you and have a higher opinion of you than you could ever have of yourself. Sometimes, improvement simply means to keep going when you're feeling stagnant; if you're not falling backwards, you're still moving forwards!

I dunno, that's just my two cents. :)

Lobbie said...

Two books I highly recommend:
http://www.amazon.com/Peacegiver-Christ-Offers-Hearts-Homes/dp/1590382234
and
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/573715.He_Did_Deliver_Me_From_Bondage

The first changed my perspective of the atonement in a radical way. I was listening to the CD of it in my car and literally stopped in my tracks (the car) when it explained the analogy of Abigail's interactions with David being a type for the atonement and how we not only interact with God but with one another. It has been a gateway for understanding just how true King Benjamin's scripture is of being in the service of your fellow men being in the service of your God. We are all eternally connected to Christ and our interactions with one another affect Him and His atonement can affect those interactions as well. And there were so many other amazing insights but that one was world-changing.

The second is based of of the 12-step program used for addiction recovery by AA but used alongside the Book of Mormon. I think EVERYONE should read this whether they have an addiction or not. It's all about relying too much on the "arm of flesh" for ANYTHING. That problem becomes especially prominent with addicts who realize they literally cannot with their own strength be whole. The author also talks about how living the best life possible will also lead us to the same conclusion it sounds like you are coming to. We can't do it on our own no matter how much we retract and retry. All of our efforts are simply to help us understand how much we need grace. The prophet needs the atonement the same amount as a hooker...because you can't measure infinite need. Our service then become an act of love as opposed to "earning" anything and allows us to feel what is already abundantly there. It's also really humbling because we have to let go of our own selfish notions that we can do this on our own. We have to give God both our wonderful efforts AND the parts of us that terrify us. At least that's my reading of Omni 1:26 and the repeated request to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He wants all of us-good and bad. I am often guilty of trying to fix the bad on my own because it's embarrassing to bring it to the Lord. For me it's an act of trust that God won't run away or shame me. It's the essence of total trust and vulnerability. It's also really empowering when you have moments of realizing that you are always enough as your are. OK, baby gettin' fussy and I think poopy, so I'll leave my ranting for now :)

The last thing I will say though is that if I'm in a rut emotionally/spiritually that's not related to chemical depression (yay for mortality!), turning my thoughts to others in a very real way often connects me to my Father. There is no better way to see God than to serve His children. ESPECIALLY those who are in mourning and need to be comforted, and those who exist on the fringes of society and feel outcast. If you pray to help those people, oh wow will God lead you to them because they're probably praying to be found in one way or another.

Anonymous said...


Neal A. Maxwell, "Patience" (http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=621):

There is also a dimension of patience which links it to a special reverence for life. Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance. Put another way, too much anxious opening of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising. So it is with us. If we are always selfishly taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we will not be.

When we are impatient, we are neither reverential nor reflective because we are too self-centered. Whereas faith and patience are companions, so are selfishness and impatience. It is so easy to be confrontive without being informative; so easy to be indignant without being intelligent; so easy to be impulsive without being insightful. It is so easy to command others when we are not in control of ourselves.

(I.e. - put down the yardstick, just keep doing the best you can, and don't compare your ability to experience life with anyone else or your own timeline).

Noah said...

Richard and Linda Eyres wrote a book many years ago called "Teaching Your Children Values." They suggest a 12 month program where the family focuses on a different value every month. This is brought up in family council meetings, FHE's, and generally encouraged and discussed for the whole month. At the end of the year, the cycle starts over and the same 12 values are repeated each month.

Maybe try something like that, where you focus on just one value for a whole month. Should be enough time to establish new (or reinforce old) habits before the next value/month comes along. This also should help from having too many things to try to change at once.

Another thing to look out for is one's collection of "personal barnacles" - those seemingly small and inconsequencial bad habits or foibles. Over a 6 month period, enough barnacles can form to cause a ship to use 40-50% more fuel to maintain cruising speed. Maybe it's time to take a look at the hull and scrape a few off...