Monthly Archives: July 2014

Lie #12: I Can Do it Myself

When children are very young we begin to teach them about empowerment and independence. In fact it’s part of their natures to want to be independent of parents and others and become their own person. At certain ages they begin to want to dress themselves and make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s an adult’s job to encourage self-reliance and help children to learn to depend on themselves for what they need so that they can become healthy and active contributors to society. What we should not neglect to teach them, however, is that sometimes we need help.

When I was younger, Simon and Garfunkel had a popular song called “I am a Rock.” The lyrics were:

I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

I found this song very disturbing, probably because it represented my feelings about life at the time. That’s really sad, I know. It’s taken me a long time to realize and to be open to the fact that I am not an island. I am a rock (that’s the meaning of my name), but I am not an island. I need other people. But mostly I need God.

One of my favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon is in Alma 26 verse 12: “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things…” Sometimes I think we want so badly to be independent, for whatever reason, that we forget that at times we may need some help. Maybe we’ve been hurt or betrayed. Maybe we feel like we can’t trust other people because they have let us down before. Here’s what I learned: what I believe will come to pass. If I expect to be betrayed, to be let down, to be hurt, I will be. If I expect to be led to the right sources for the help that I need, that will happen too. If I am brave enough to open myself up to that help, it will be given to me. The scriptures repeat a phrase over and over: “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you.” Learning how to do this was my own personal lesson.

I like to accomplish things on my own. I like the satisfaction of being able to say, “I did it!” Don’t we all? But I have learned to be very careful about believing the lie that “I can do it myself.” I can’t. Even when I feel like I have accomplished something very big and very grand, I can still stop and thank those who have helped—those who supported or prayed for me, those who offered assistance or stopped to listen when I needed to talk, even those who stood in the background applauding my efforts. But most importantly, I find that I need to thank my Savior for his enabling power, for he helps me every day—and not just when I do something wrong. “Individual willpower, personal determination and motivation, effective planning and goal setting are necessary but ultimately insufficient for us to triumphantly complete this mortal journey. Truly, we must come to rely upon ‘the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah’ (2 Nephi 2:8). (David Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality”)  The Bible Dictionary also says this: “It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”

I applaud self-reliance. I cheer for independence. I think it’s important to trust in yourself and do as much as you can do on your own. But in the end, when I have achieved all that I want to achieve in this life and I am ready to graduate to the next one, I cannot even imagine taking all of the credit for what I have been able to do. I will only be where I am through the grace of the Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks for reading, and for allowing me to help you in some small way through what I have learned.

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Lie #11: Love will save the ones you love

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the power of love. No doubt it has great power. It can change lives and heal people. We all know a story or two about how love made a difference. People write songs and stories and make movies about how wonderful it is. I am not discounting those—I believe love is an incredibly powerful force. But I’ve learned a thing or two about love along my journey. The lie I wish to address in this post is that love will ultimately save those you care about. It won’t. It might make a difference, but it won’t save them. Here’s why:

First, part of really loving someone is to allow them to make their own choices. We can love as much as we are able, but we still must allow people to choose their own way, and if the way they choose happens to be different than what we want for them or what we know to be right, we still have to allow them to choose. Believing that our love will cause them to change and to make better choices is hopeful, but not completely true. There are many instances of this in recorded history. The scriptures hint at the first father-son relationship that went awry. God himself had a son named Lucifer, mentioned in the scriptures as a “son of the morning.”

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-15)

The LDS Doctrine and Covenants gives us some additional insight:

“And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, and was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning!” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:25-27)

Heavenly Father lost a son—many sons and daughters, in fact. But he allowed Lucifer to make the choice to rebel and to take with him all that wished to follow. I have no doubt he was loved—by his father, by his brother Jesus Christ (see Jess L. Christensen, “How can Jesus and Lucifer be spirit brothers when their characters and purposes are so utterly opposed?“) and by us, his brothers and sisters. Many believed in his plan, and did not gain an opportunity to come to earth. Others of us may have listened and wanted to believe, until we understood that it was his will to destroy the agency of man, which we knew was not right. It was probably frightening and difficult to oppose him, but oppose him we did (see Revelation 12:7-9). We won our ability to choose and we came to earth. But I have no doubt that losing a son and a brother was painful for us. We loved him, and yet it didn’t change him.

Adam and Eve, our first parents, lost a son too (see Genesis 4). Isaac and Rebecca lost a son (see Genesis 25). The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi and his wife Sariah lost two (see 1 Nephi). Many of us know wayward sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We love them, and sometimes our love helps them make better choices. But sometimes it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hope. The scriptures also tell of stories where the faith of a parent helped a wayward child (see Mosiah 27). We should never lose hope.

The second reason I believe that love will ultimately save those you care about is a lie is because no amount of outside validation will help someone understand how to truly love himself. Until you learn to truly love and accept yourself, no one else will ever be able to convince you that you are worthy of love. One writer said it this way: “We cannot see the beauty in others when we are rejecting ourselves. When we allow others to define our worth, then of course we take it personally when someone rejects us—because we have already rejected ourselves. We then become reactive to others’ unloving behavior, trying to control them or avoid our own pain by getting angry, blaming, complying, resisting or withdrawing. Of course, none of this is loving, but we cannot be loving when we are judging and rejecting ourselves rather than loving and valuing ourselves.” (Margaret Paul, PhD, “Are You Strong Enough to Love?“) One of my favorite authors Louise Hay said this, “I have found that there is only one thing that heals every problem, and that is: to love yourself. When people start to love themselves more each day, it’s amazing how their lives get better. They feel better. They get the jobs they want. They have the money they need. Their relationships either improve, or the negative ones dissolve and new ones begin. Loving yourself is a wonderful adventure; it’s like learning to fly. Imagine if we all had the power to fly at will? How exciting it would be! Let’s begin to love ourselves now.” (12 Ways You Can Love Yourself Now)

My message of truth today is that love can achieve great things. Forgiveness can achieve great things. Don’t ever stop loving, forgiving or hoping. The God you believe in loves you unconditionally. Jesus Christ loves you unconditionally and that will never change. But loving yourself is the key. Love may not ultimately save the ones you love, but it will save you.

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Lie #10: Boys Don’t Cry

One limiting stereotype in our society today is that it’s somehow weak or feminine for a man to cry. When does a boy learn that it’s not all right to show emotion? Somewhere between preschool and the football field, boys get the message that crying or showing sadness makes them less masculine and vulnerable to ridicule. Somewhere along the way they shut off their feelings. (Except anger—it seems to be socially acceptable for a man to be angry.) But most of us understand the truth: suppressing emotion is unhealthy. It’s healthy to cry. It can even be very healing to cry and let things out.

I’m not just talking about boys, though. That’s just the obvious stereotype in our culture that I wanted to expose. Some of us girls learn early to suppress negative emotion too, and we pay for it later. There are plenty of statistics to prove what I’m saying, and I’m sure people are very interested, but I also think a lot of us are in denial about how damaging it really is. Scientists have even given it a name: alexithymia. Finnish investigators report in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics that people with an inability to express emotions, also known as alexithymia, have much higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in their bodies. Inflammation is implicated in diseases as diverse as heart disease, arthritis, asthma, dementia, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and cancer to name but a few. So in short, suppressing emotions can make you sick.

I was one of those girls who told myself it wasn’t okay to cry. I grew up in an environment where I didn’t feel safe expressing my true emotions, so I hid them away. I told myself I wasn’t built that way. I told myself the lie that I didn’t have to deal with it and it would just go away. It didn’t. In my twenties I was already suffering from depression and underactive thyroid. There are many ways to deal with these issues, and for a while medication helped me. I was using antidepressants and thyroid meds, but I continued to gain weight and I continued to feel depressed, anxious and unhappy. It wasn’t until I started reading books and started feeling the desire to do something different that things began to change for me. First I read Karol Truman’s Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. I discovered Carol Tuttle’s energy profiling system and I began to see myself differently. For those who know anything about Tuttle’s energy “types,” I mistakenly typed myself as a four. After all, I had lived as a type four all of my life. “Keeping things structured and staying on track is the primary motive for a Type 4 woman. Creating quality and precision is a priority in how you approach life. The movement of Type 4 Energy is the most rigid of all the Types.” (from It’s Just My Nature! A Guide To Knowing and Living Your True Nature) I was quiet, introverted, deeply reflective, and saw myself as authoritative, critical and serious—all qualities of a type four. But when I really began healing, when I let go of the medications and the protective walls I had built up all around myself, I began to understand that I was really a type two. A type two interacts with the world on an emotional level. I had never reacted to the world and to the people around me on an emotional level. I had stayed far away from attempting it. But when I finally began to allow myself to heal, all of those repressed emotions came up. I cried and cried and cried. I’m still crying. I still find myself crying about things that seem silly. But you know what? I give myself permission to cry. I tell myself it’s okay now. I figure if I feel like crying, something must need to come out, and I invite that. My sister says I’m still making up for all those years I wouldn’t allow myself to cry. And now that I allow myself to feel, to express, to cry, the depression is gone, my thyroid is working without any need of medication, and I feel at peace.

This isn’t just about being a certain energy type. That’s just my story. I think it’s important to expose the lies that men don’t cry, that women are naturally more emotional, that expressing emotion is embarrassing and makes you vulnerable and weak. We all feel emotion—men and women alike. We all need to express it, feel it, validate ourselves and support each other.

One of my favorite things about being a part of LDS culture is watching grown men stand up in church meetings and express emotion—sadness, joy, remorse or an overwhelming feeling from the Spirit of God. Whatever it might be, they feel safe expressing it, sometimes in front of hundreds of people. I wish they could understand how endearing and attractive it makes them. They might feel better about giving themselves permission in the future, and teaching their sons that it’s healthy and right and perfectly acceptable.

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Lie #9: Labels

I have always been opposed to self-limiting labels. Maybe because I accepted them for myself and then found out later that I didn’t have to. I’m talking about words like diabetic, addicted, allergic, gluten or lactose intolerant, accident-prone, stupid, disadvantaged, and even gay or lesbian. You may feel like you have symptoms of some disease or affliction that has a name, so you choose to accept that label, but in doing so you severely limit your options and your ability to heal. Your words are very powerful, and your body listens to you. You are whatever you think and feel you are. Accepting a label is accepting limits. You may have done something stupid, but that doesn’t make you stupid.

You may have been born into situations where these words hold some power. Maybe diabetes runs in your family, so you’re diabetic. Maybe your family has never had money, so you’re stuck in a disadvantaged situation and feel like you can’t move beyond it. Maybe you experienced some abuse as a child, so you’re justified in taking on a label that supports that fact that abuse occurred. I’ll say them again: you are not stuck, and you are in charge. There is a way to move beyond what you don’t think you can move beyond. There are plenty of stories about people who have done this—a boy born into an impoverished family who becomes wealthy and powerful, people who have managed and healed their bodies from various diseases and illness, and those who have overcome tendencies they believed were inborn. “…there are those who may outwardly appear impoverished, without talent, and doomed to mediocrity. A classic label appeared beneath a picture of the boy Abraham Lincoln as he stood in front of his humble birthplace—a simple log cabin. The words read: ‘Ill-housed, ill-clothed, ill-fed.’ Unanticipated, unspoken, and unprinted was the real label of the boy: ‘Destined for immortal glory.’” (Thomas Monson, “Labels”) So we know it’s possible. Why is it not possible for you?

I believe it’s all about vision and belief. If you want something to be different, believe that it can be and visualize it the way you want it. You may not see immediate change, but you won’t feel stuck anymore. As one blogger suggests, “Create your own labels. The labels you place on yourself matter, so choose them wisely. Make sure you embrace labels that help you become the most awesome version of yourself.” (Nia Shanks, “Stop Labeling Yourself by Their Standards”) Holding onto labels offers no hope for change. Another blogger said this: “Negative self-labels offer us excuses not to change behaviors and traits. We act in harmony with our label. If we believe we are ‘no good’, we might be more tempted to not change our behavior.” (Steve Mensing, “Self-Acceptance”)

I’ve accepted lots of labels for myself. We all have. There was one in particular that I wondered if I could shake, but I did it. I hesitate telling this story because many of you don’t know this about me, but I think it’s important to tell to help people understand it can be done. It wasn’t easy and it has been an ongoing aspect of my healing process, but I feel like I won. I feel like I conquered. Maybe this blog is the best way to share this story.

I experienced some sexual abuse as a child. I wasn’t aware of it; I had blocked the traumatic memories. They were still there, of course, playing limiting and false beliefs in my subconscious mind and dictating a lot of my behavior. Some of that behavior was that I didn’t feel comfortable and safe around men, I didn’t like to be touched, and I had difficulty expressing emotion. I also was raised by a mother who had difficulty nurturing and comforting me because she couldn’t nurture or comfort herself, so I was always seeking mother-figures in my life, hoping to get those needs met through another person. These two childhood situations were a perfect formula for a label: lesbian. I needed a nurturing female in my life and I didn’t like men, so the world said: I must be gay! I tried to embrace this label for a while, but my religious beliefs were not in harmony with it. I was conflicted for many years, living on the fence, unable to live fully on either side because both sides said I was wrong. If I lived as a good Christian, what about my unresolved feelings and unmet needs? If I lived as a lesbian, what about the truth that I knew in my heart: that God didn’t make me this way, that he wanted me to follow his plan, “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” I wanted to follow that plan, but there was a lot in the way. I even tried to live both lives by creating a false persona, but that created even more problems about my true identity. Once I began the journey of healing, I made the choice to throw away some labels: abused, broken, unmet needs, victim, controlled, and finally, homosexual. I chose some new labels that would help me to change: empowered, whole, in control, heterosexual, and free. And after some rigorous Christ-centered energy work in which a lot of generational and personal negative patterns have been cleared, allowing into my life the love and acceptance I was lacking before, I am free. And I choose to be different than I was. I choose to be the real me.

I’m still not married to a man, but that’s my goal, and more importantly, it’s the desire of my heart. There may still be some things to work through in order to reach it, but I feel confident that anything is possible. Even issues as difficult and stunting as these seemed to be for me. I am whatever I think and feel I am. I am a child of God.

Please carefully consider the labels you accept for yourself. If there’s one or more that you have accepted and attached to yourself and you don’t like it, you can change it. There is a way out. You are a child of God. You are of infinite worth. You are more magnificent than you know.

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