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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Charity Project: Suffereth Long

Hello all!

Here we are in the second week of my Charity Project. Last week, I made the goal to work on not being easily provoked. Let me share my progress with you!

The first few days of the week, I felt like I was doing pretty well. I had this project on my mind quite a bit and made sure to be slow to anger if anything didn't go exactly how I wanted it. If someone said something that offended me, I shrugged it off and thought loving thoughts. I prayed for patience, and kept going. Then, Thursday happened, and everything got shot to hell. I mean this in the sense that I'm sure I let hell overcome me, because I was not at my best, or even at my mediocre. I was definitely at a low.

Blame it on the birth control. Blame it on the fact that Stephen was the first to be grumpy (and how could I just sit back and suffer it?). Blame it on my selfishness and high expectations. Whatever the reason, I did not react well. I did not become a creator of my circumstance. I was a creature. A monstrous creature who consumed all happiness in sight.

You see, as Thursday started, I recognized that Stephen was feeling a lack of confidence in himself. This happens to all of us in creative and non-creative professions alike, but in those professions that capitalize on our personalities, it is easy to feel completely awful when we sense we're not performing well. Just recently, I had had similar feelings of despair, and Stephen was very sympathetic to my needs. When the tables were turned, however, I was not sympathetic. Instead, I was impatient. Generally, when someone comes to me with a problem, I like to solve it. I forget, though, that this can come across as calloused when someone simply needs understanding. I guess, I'm more like a man in that sense because I can never sit and listen to Stephen, I have to give him my solutions. At any rate, this made Stephen feel worse, which brought out a defensive side to me that lasted throughout the evening. It got to a point where I had to go for a run and listen to talks because I knew I was being rash and "easily provoked." I finally came back and apologized to Stephen and then we went to bed.

Was I through, though? Oh no! The next day, after a writers' meeting where I'd presented a sketch I was excited about that was sort of shot down, I came home irritated and hurt. I had to get over it quickly, though, because Stephen had made plans for us to go to a party--which I was already dragging my feet to go to, but I'd made up my mind to suck it up and go. However, at the party, I kept getting more and more angry as frustrations were building up. I didn't want to be there. I was in the process of transferring all the data in my old phone to a new one and it was causing me issues (1st world problems, eh?). I felt like a poor, awful writer. And, to cap it off, there were Studio C fans who were so sweet and nice and I felt "burdened" by the need to act cheerful back. What awful black hole had I thrown myself into that I was being annoyed by sweet and nice things?!

When preparing for this post, I came across the scripture “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19), and I actually laughed because I was so not doing that. Yes, suffice it to say, I did not succeed last week. So--my post for this week is sort of a cheat post. A way to continue working on last week's virtue under a new name: charity suffereth long. There are a few of these cheat virtues that I'll probably need to use when needing a second try at a virtue I've failed--beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things--these may be used as second chance posts in the future.

This whole charity project of mine is shaping up to be pretty hard. I think that's because I'm engaging in the battle with my "natural man." A fellow blogger wrote an excellent post on charity and our battle to obtain it. In the post, he said--
Virtue is expensive, and takes an eternity to truly master with frequent ups and downs in our pursuit.  The spirit, or "pattern", that we leave this life in will be the same pattern that we take into the eternities.  Are we willing to fight tooth-and-nail, day after day, putting aside our distracting obsessions and go against the internal sheer forces from the very vessels we occupy to fight to set a pattern of seeking for something that we won't be able to master while we're alive, but can perfect if we persist through the eternities under a Heavenly Father's tutelage? We can choose to not choose and let our default behavior take over, (it is an option...), and whatever we decide we will receive the eternal reward that we will be most comfortable with.
So if I want what is "greatest of all" (Moroni 7:46), I'm going to have to work hardest of all and persist longest of all. It is the greatest battle I will wage. Recalling what President Hinckley's father said again, “When a man makes war on his own weaknesses he engages in the holiest war that mortals ever wage” (Bryant S. Hinckley). This means we're going to have to put in some effort.

How can we keep it up? How can we spend eternity in this battle against our natural man? How can we suffer long in charity? Well, first, I think we can't do it without the Lord. We must know Him well enough to strive to be like him. As Ezra Taft Benson said, “Let your minds be filled with the goal of being like the Lord, and you will crowd out depressing thoughts as you anxiously seek to know him and do his will.” Our thoughts can be lifted up if we lift our thoughts to Christ.

I want to stress what President Benson described as anxiously seeking to know our Savior. This anxiousness is another way to describe what is our desires. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (Mosiah 3:19). How can we be enticed by the Holy Spirit in order to be more submissive, meek, humble, and patient? We must educate our desires. If we can educate our desires in the right way, we will become “what we want to become and what our Father in Heaven would want us to become,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen. “It begins by careful contemplation of who we are and what we want in life.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks elaborates on desires, saying, “In order to have righteous desires, we have to control our thoughts and achieve appropriate feelings. My widowed mother understood that principle. 'Pray about your feelings,' she used to say. She taught her three children that we should pray to have the right kind of feelings about our experiences—positive or negative—and about the people we knew. If our feelings were right, we would be more likely to take righteous actions and to act for the right reasons.”

Thus, praying simply for righteous desires can lead us to desire the best things and that can dictate our actions and lead us to be more charitable. Make sense? We can pray just to want to be like Christ. And that can help us to actually have those desires. And, if those desires are strong enough, we can let our minds be filled with goals to be like Him. Those goals, when passionately sought after, can become a reality. And prayer can keep that cycle going!

I believe that in refining these traits of charity and then suffering to follow them through any circumstance, we must also have a lot of patience. Patience with others when we are stressed. Patience with ourselves when we fail. Patience with God for not simply giving us these traits, but rather, making us work for them. Elder Robert C. Oaks, of the Seventy, gave a talk on patience in terms of acquiring Godly traits. He also gave some steps to help us obtain this quality:
Since impatience is so natural, how do we develop the divine virtue of patience? How do we move our behavior from that of the natural man to that of our patient, perfect example, Jesus Christ?
First, we must understand that to do so is necessary, if we desire to fully enjoy the blessings of the restored gospel. Such an understanding might motivate us to:
1. Read each of the scriptures in the Topical Guide listed under the topic “patience” and then ponder Christ’s patient examples.
2. Evaluate ourselves to determine where we stand on the patience continuum. How much more patience do we need to become more Christlike? This self-assessment is difficult. We might ask our spouse or another family member to help us.
3. Become sensitive to the examples of patience and of impatience that occur around us every day. We should strive to emulate those individuals we consider to be patient.
4. Recommit each day to become more patient, and be certain to keep our selected family member involved in our patience project.
This sounds like a great deal of work, but to achieve any worthwhile goal requires hard work. And overcoming the natural man and working to become more Christlike in our patience is a most appropriate objective. I pray that we will pursue this path with diligence and dedication.
Still, when we are in the heated moment where we're being tested by our circumstances, all this business of being patient and submissive smacks of being weak, especially when we feel we're in the right. I know that while I was on my run, blowing off steam, I thought to myself, “I'm right in this situation. Why should I apologize?” Sister Elaine Jack, the General Relief Society President from 1990-1997, gave a wonderful talk titled, “Charity: How We Treat Each Other.” She describes the process of being long-suffering, saying--
Have you ever wondered what “charity suffereth long” means? It doesn’t mean that charity is a painful process. It is saying that charity is patient. It doesn’t give up on others. Suffer means to wait patiently, to tolerate, to hold out, to allow. I do not equate “long-suffering” or “patient” charity with submissiveness to others or lack of energy. Quite the opposite—charity is energetically persistent in reaching its goals. It is submissive only to the Spirit of the Lord... This is the suffering that works understanding. It reminds us that others have been patient with us, that the process of individual growth means we take turns suffering long and being suffered for (Elaine Jack).
In those moments where we may think, “Who is right?” we should instead adopt the spirit of charity and enthusiastically fight for what is right! We should instead ask, “What would Christ do?” And that is not a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite, actually. It is a sign of immense will power and strength to set aside our pride and continue to love.

Since we are aiming for a long-term change here in our hearts, I'm looking for as many step-by-step outlines we can follow to obtain charity, and then keep it up and suffer long. Elaine Jack provides an outline here:

To develop this ability of truly helping others takes practice and the desire to learn. Fortunately, the Lord has taught us ways we can develop the attributes of charity. Let me share several of them with you.
Personal prayer: ... One of the greatest blessings that has come into my life is this opportunity to pray for so many others. 
Scripture study: One of the best parts of scripture study for me is that various passages increase in personal meaning as I have new experiences. I hope sharing the scriptures and your testimony with others is an important part of your life. If you haven’t added the scriptural dimension to your friendships yet, try it, you’ll like it.
These words of Nephi are significant to me:
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. [2 Nephi 25:26]
My friends, as part of your daily comings and goings, I pray that you will feel it in your heart to echo Nephi—to talk of, rejoice in, and preach of Christ. Nothing can teach you charity faster.
Freely give. [Christ] taught, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). The Lord wants us to do what we can—and do it lovingly.
Well, this post is becoming far too long to be practical. We all have lives, right? So I'll end with something Elaine Jack said at the close of her talk that was a soothing balm to my weakened feelings of self-worth:
Another charitable habit: Lighten up and chill out. Take a healthy helping of enjoyment and laughter from the smorgasbord of life’s experiences. And give some to your neighbors and friends. While we don’t choose all that lands on our plates, we may choose some of the trimmings. Laughter is a condiment that makes just about anything go down better. And the ability to enjoy life with all its frustrations and diversity is like a good sorbet—it freshens the palate. Good humor refreshes me as nothing else can. Sharing a good laugh with someone is often an act of charity (Elaine Jack).
Boy, is that welcome advice. I may have started this post in the wrong attitude. Sure, I messed up, but--keeping this charity project in mind--I still went out in search of inspiration in the height of my anger. That's progress, right? God doesn't want us to beat ourselves up every time we stumble. That is not how He motivates us. That's how Satan discourages us. Instead, God shows us who we can become. He highlights our strengths and shows us how to bridge our weaknesses to our strengths so that we may become even stronger than we already are. Ether 12:27 states: And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Whoo! Pep talk right there! I definitely can see some weaknesses of mine, but I am in the process of making them strengths! I just need to seek after the Holy Spirit--to educate my desires and be enticed by it--I need to be patient, stay close to the Lord, and lighten up! And if I keep my relationship strong with Him, He will show me not only how to have charity, but how to keep it.

Hopefully I'll do better next week in terms of being less easily provoked. But I know this is a process. It will take time. Luckily, when we undertake hard things in the name of the Lord, we receive immeasurable help. For me, one of those helps is Stephen. He is so patient with me, and loves me even when I have days like the ones I mentioned. He is a living testimony that charity is possible. Or at least, having persistence in the stretching journey of obtaining it is possible. Another help is the scriptures and words of our leaders. Prayer, fasting, and temple attendance all provide immense help. And finally, we have a Savior who loves us so much that He suffered unspeakable pain and sorrow in order to give us individualized help to become like Him. If we access His help through the Atonement, we will be amazed at who we can become, and how long we can keep it up.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Charity Project: Not Easily Provoked

Well, here is the first post of my Charity Project. I thought hard about what I should focus on for the coming week. At first, I considered writing about envy because of some lessons I felt I needed to learn at work. However, in the last few days, I've had the strong impression to write about being quick to react and take offense. In conjunction with our list in Moroni 7:45, I decided to study, and then live, the principle of being not easily provoked.

This week was a busy one for me. Our show had its first filming on Friday, and thus required a rigorous rehearsal schedule from us. Meanwhile, we still have a few empty spots to fill with sketches, so we're having to write in the middle of all these rehearsals as well. After a 12-hour dress rehearsal on Thursday, and an 11-hour rehearsal and then filming on Friday, we finally had a Saturday to ourselves. The day, however, turned out not to be to ourselves at all. Stephen and I attended a funeral of a very dear friend and on our way through the line to the viewing, encountered an excited teenager who screamed (in the church) "It's Stephen and Whitney from Studio C!" That about set the tone for the whole funeral. That evening, after being at home for ten minutes, we went to a birthday party, and from the birthday party, we went to see Stephen's brother and sister in-law before they flew home. Stephen is much better about these kinds of busy days than I am. From the start of that morning, I was flustered and tired and all I wanted to do was take a nap and not talk to people I didn't know (as I tend to be more of an introvert that way). By that night, I was exhausted for the third day in a row and a little frustrated that Stephen had made certain plans throughout the day without telling me that just extended my exhaustion. Didn't he know how tired I was? Shouldn't he be concerned about my discomfort? Of course, the day went exactly as it should have--we paid our respects to a friend who had passed away, we got to spend time with family, and we celebrated a birthday with friends--but for some reason, I was just a little Grumplestiltskin (which I imagine to look somewhat like this):
After a little while of tossing and turning in my bed that night, I was fed up with my behavior. Why was I so negatively affected by circumstances I couldn't control? Why did I have to get bitter and upset about things that were essentially good? Why did I have to take it out on Stephen for being more willing than me to be a good sport? After all, he had had the same schedule as me the past few days, but I didn't hear him complain.

I've noticed this tendency to become easily frustrated in other circumstances, too. I can become insecure when I feel like Stephen hasn't paid enough attention to me (let's blame that silly habit on birth control). I can become defensive when someone has something negative to say about my sketches. I can even get mad at the wind while walking home if it's continually blowing my hair in the wrong direction. Why is it so easy to let little things get the better of us?

To point us in another direction, there are also times when I feel very deservedly offended. There are times when Stephen makes a joke without thinking that hurts my feelings, or when someone in the writers' room is unintentionally harsher on my sketches than other people's writing, or when an overzealous teenager doesn't think to respect our friend we've come to say goodbye to when he screams out our names. These are probably the situations I should be focusing on, but, unfortunately, they don't happen as often. I think, for the most part, it is my mindset that is off-course rather than others' actions. As a Visiting Teaching message from the July 1988 Ensign states, “Most of us feel frustrated or impatient at times. But when we express those feelings by becoming angry with someone, we offend the Spirit and invite bitterness into our hearts. As we strive to come unto Christ and to perfect ourselves, we should ask ourselves not 'What is fair?' but, humbly, 'What would Jesus have me do?'”

This question quickly shifts my feelings of hurt to feelings of humility. Regardless of whether or not we are right (which, generally, I am not) that is not the point. The point is to cultivate the spirit of Christ wherever we are. This is how we love. This is how we grow and progress.

REASONS FOR BEING EASILY PROVOKED

I think the main reason we are so easily offended or angered or annoyed by things outside of our control is just plain selfishness. We can be so preoccupied with our own needs/wants that we do not make room for others. We possess a myopic view of our circumstances and cannot see the big picture, which always requires us to look outside ourselves. We are not flexible enough to be instrumental to God in building up our brothers and sisters. Instead, we are self-consumed and quick to victimize ourselves and villainize those around us. As Neal A. Maxwell said in his talk, "Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conquerer" “The selfish individual has a passion for the vertical pronoun I. Significantly, the vertical pronoun I has no knees to bend, while the first letter in the pronoun we does... Selfishness, in its preoccupation with self, withholds from others deserved, needed praise, causing a deprivation instead of giving a commendation.”

EFFECTS OF BEING EASILY PROVOKED

By the end of that long day, my frustration didn't make me feel good, even if at the time I felt like it was deserved. Deep down, I knew that nothing deserves a reaction that is un-Christlike. Being easily offended or provoked to anger never leaves you feeling good. Indignation, rarely leaves us feeling triumphant (unless we're someone like Noah or the apostle Stephen and are on an errand from God (: ). Maxwell puts it well when he says-- "Such is the scope of putting off the burdensome natural man who is naturally selfish. (See Mosiah 3:19.) So much of our fatigue, brothers and sisters, in fact, comes from carrying that needless load. This heaviness of the natural man prevents us from doing our Christian calisthenics; so we end up too swollen with selfishness to pass through the narrow needle’s eye" (Neal A. Maxwell). You know what he's talking about, right? The heaviness associated with alienating yourself through selfishness?

He goes on to describe the process: “Each spasm of selfishness narrows the universe that much more by shutting down our awareness of others and by making us more and more alone. Sensations are then desperately sought precisely in order to verify that one really exists. A variation occurs when one is full of self-pity over affectional deprivation. He ends up in transgression” (Maxwell). Who wants that? Every time we choose to be angry or irritated, we are shutting ourselves off from an entire universe that is beautiful and bright and glorious!

Besides leaving us feeling burdened and tired and just plain gross, being easily provoked gets in the way of our developing of Christ-like characteristics. Maxwell continues that that mindset “stubbornly blocks the way for developing all of the divine qualities: love, mercy, patience, long-suffering, kindness, graciousness, goodness, and gentleness. Any tender sprouts from these virtues are sheared off by sharp selfishness… Thus, in all its various expressions, selfishness is really self-destruction in slow motion! ( Neal A. Maxwell). 

HOW TO FIX IT

- BITE YOUR TONGUE

This is a seemingly obvious one, but it's imperative to becoming more Christ-like. Until we can be like God and think no evil thoughts ever at any second of forever, we need to control how we communicate with others. I promise you, 80% of the time when you feel the need to address someone who offended you, you really don't. Your pride may tell you that telling someone off is an important part of the process to fix the problem, but your pride is simply looking for justification to rear its ugly head. If you need to speak to someone, "[speak] the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15).

Maxwell offers some advice on this subject, saying, “Whereas the natural man vents his anger, the men and women of Christ are ‘not easily provoked.’ (1 Cor. 13:5)… The meek men and women of Christ are quick to praise, but are also able to restrain themselves. They understand that on occasion the biting of the tongue can be as important as the gift of tongues.”

This may seem difficult, but something I always need to remind myself when faced with difficult expectations is that "The Lord did not send [us] here to fail" (Gordon B. Hinckley). And because we are meant to succeed, we need to use that motivation to help us rise above our circumstances. David A. Bednar comments on this ability to succeed in terms of agency:
In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation. (David A. Bednar)
Elray L. Christiansen also said, “Why is it inexcusable to explode with anger and become vindictive? Simply because the power has been given us to control and to overcome such tendencies” (Elray L. Christiansen). Woof! That puts you in your place, eh? The Lord has given us agency. He has given us the Holy Ghost and families and friends and prophets and mentors. He has given us resources that allow us to become better than we are. Thus, we have no excuse for acting less than we are.

Elder Gordon T. Watts offers a few other remedies to being easily provoked. These will probably be my go-to list to consult whenever I feel irritation creeping up my chest, threatening to take control of the heart that should be used to love and uplift rather than to sulk and tear down.

- HUMOR


“Anger can be kindled when one unkind remark is followed by a retaliatory response from another. If you find yourself in a tense situation, even if it appears a negative response is warranted, the use of humor where appropriate will often endear you to others” (Gordon T. Watts).

- INSPIRATION THROUGH PRAYER

“Prayer is a powerful weapon through which anger and contention can be “done away.” Blessed are those who, when stirred to anger, engage in silent prayer, thus making themselves more receptive to the guidance of the Spirit.”

- FOLLOW THE SAVIOR'S EXAMPLE

“We learn from the Savior that in our quest to be slow to anger, there are times when we must ‘hold our peace.’ We must be forgiving of others and harbor no malice or desire for revenge. And we must seek to love others unselfishly as the Lord loves us.”

“Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace (see Isa. 9:6), and his message is a message of peace to the individual and to the world. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan of life that will restore peace to the world, remove inner tensions and troubles, and bring happiness to the human soul. It is the greatest philosophy of life ever given to man” (Franklin D. Richards).


Take Home Message

Brothers and sisters, I know that this life can be frustrating. Whether it be because of our expectations of ourselves not being met or the expectations of others. When interacting with those around us, it is important to remember what Neal A. Maxwell said in his talk, "Meek and Lowly":
When people "leave their nets straightway" (see Matthew 4:20 and Mark 1:18), they come as they are—though in the initial process of changing, their luggage reflects their past. Hence, discipleship is a developmental journey that requires shared patience, understanding, and meekness on the part of all who join the caravan. Together we are disengaging from one world and preparing ourselves for another and far better world.
I truly believe that this life is a state of learning. I am so often surprised at the distance I've still left to travel. I can get easily irritated with others, and then become easily irritated with myself. But I know that with a prayer in our hearts and a constant consciousness of Christ's example, we can slowly develop a patience for those who offend us, a love for those who hurt us, and when we're just being stupid brats, we can develop a hope for ourselves that God believes in our potential, and that is reason enough to never stop trying.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Charity: Practicing What We Preach

I've been contemplating what I should write about this last week, and nothing had really stood out to me. However, today I've realized that every day these last couple weeks, the theme of charity has pricked my conscious in some way or another. I've noticed how quick Stephen was to babysit his nephews when his sister in-law was in town, or how happy he was to drop me off and pick me up from an 8AM appointment for eyelash extensions in Pleasant Grove (ah, the obligations of a comedian (: ), or how willing and eager he is to help others in the ward (his ward calling is the co-chair of the service committee, and I think they picked the right man for the job). I've also noticed how quick Stephen is to love me, both in word and deed, regardless of how crabby I might be. I've brought this up to him, and he hasn't even realized it's a "thing" he does, he just does it. I wish I could have that natural disposition regarding gospel action and not just gospel study. It's a lot easier for me to read talks about charity and to write in this blog, but then to live it, that's a different matter for me. I'm afraid this is one trait I'll have to learn the hard way, so I thought I'd share my learnings with you.
Slowly over the course of this week, I've been praying more and more for charitable characteristics. Today, I prayed for motivation to obtain those characteristics, and--what would you know?--the Lord answered it! I've been reading several talks that have lit this fire, the first being Marlin K. Jensen's talk, "Loving with the Spirit and with the Understanding." The second is J. Richard Clarke's "Choice--The Crucible of Character." This last talk had a quote in it that shook me up, which I will share here:

There is in our society a subtle and pernicious philosophy that leaves a wake of distress and makes a mockery of the divine gift of agency. I believe it to be satanic in origin and the enemy of righteousness. It can be expressed in four simple words: “I can’t help myself.” Dr. William Lee Wilbanks, professor of criminal justice at Florida International University, refers to this philosophy as: the new obscenity”—obscene, he says, “because it is offensive to the core concept of humanity . . . [denying] the very quality that makes us human and not simply animals.”

This idea took hold of me. I am not a creature of circumstance, but a creator. Then, in Relief Society today, we talked even more about charity. My section of seats was asked to analyze the much quoted scripture Moroni 7:45
And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
The first thing that hit me was that this is a long list! And it's mostly full of traits that I rarely have a mastery over. But then someone else brought up that we are so blessed to have such a broad trait broken up into a list.
  • Suffereth long
  • Kind
  • Envieth not
  • Not puffed up
  • Seeketh not her own
  • Not easily provoked
  • Thinketh no evil
  • Rejoiceth not in iniquity but in truth
  • Beareth all things
  • Believeth all things
  • Hopeth all things
  • Endureth all things
After looking at all of these traits, I realized the concept of charity is much easier to accomplish when broken up into smaller goals. So I'm going to try to work on one of these traits each week and then write about it. Anyone who wants to follow along can do so.

Now, obviously, this trait is framed with the requirements long-suffering and endurance because it does not come naturally to us, but it is the most important trait to obtain. It will build our character into one more like Christ's. As J. Richard Clarke said, “Character is the power to act upon principle—the discipline to follow through with resolutions long after the spirit in which they were made has passed. As another writer states: 'In the crisis of temptation, in the battle of life, when struggle comes from within or without, it is our strength, heroism, virtue and constancy—our character—which defends and secures our happiness and honor.'” Charity is something we must work at, everyday, and "with all the energy of heart."

So next week, I'll post which trait I'm going to start on, write my research about it, and then the week after that, I'll write my results, and the trait I'm working on for the next week, and so on. Got it?

A bit of a hub post for the next couple weeks, but I'm excited. And I'm excited to be excited about something so intimidating. (: