Saturday, August 1, 2015

Can a Marriage Last Forever?

Today was a long day, but a good one. Today, my brother got married. Now, I don't know a whole lot about traditional wedding ceremonies apart from what I've seen on TV and in movies, and this was the first LDS wedding I remember going to, so I'm not truly familiar with either kind of ceremony, but I know them both well enough to recognize a few major differences, including the use of the phrase "for time and all eternity" instead of "as long as you both shall live" or "until death do you part."

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, marriages are meant to last forever. Not just for the rest of our lives. Not just for a couple of decades, if we stay in love that long. Forever. Cynically, I wonder how many relationships could actually last that long. When people spend to much time together, they tend to get on each other's nerves. In a relationship between any two people, no matter how perfect those people may seem, they are each bound to find things about each other that annoy them.

Granted, it takes a lot more than annoyance to cause a relationship to break up, but if those minor grievances aren't dealt with, they can become major problems. Given an eternity to discover and endure each of a person's faults, I almost wonder how any relationship could survive that long.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent pet peeves from driving you and your partner apart. Most importantly, you have to communicate. If something about your spouse bothers you, you have to let them know. It's possible that they don't even know they're doing it. Also, you have to be willing to change your habits and to be patient with your partner as they try to change theirs. For a relationship to survive one lifetime, let alone an eternity, both partners have to be trying to make it work.

Theoretically, if two people love each other enough to talk honestly with each other and to each make changes in their lives to make their spouse happy, I imagine that it is possible for a marriage to last forever. The trick is that both partners have to be willing to work to overcome bad habits and to exercise patience and tolerance, which (thankfully) many true Christians already do. Actually, the more I think about it, the more possible it looks. It won't be easy. The best things in life are rarely easy. But it's doable. And if two people love each other enough to be patient with their spouse's faults and try to overcome their own, I truly think they could have a happy marriage that lasts forever.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Changes, Unity, and Love

I'm not sure how much I want this blog to be like a regular blog, with updates on how my life is going and stuff like that. Usually, I try to find something spiritual to blog about, but nothing's coming to my mind. I haven't been having many blogworthy experiences lately, mostly because there's been so much other stuff going on around here.

We've been moving all the rooms around, my sister has moved in, and my brother is getting married. Big changes. Certainly, these changes are bigger for my brother and sister than they are for me, but the changes in their lives are also changes in our lives, partly because we live together (now, anyway), and partly because we're family.

Recently, I wrote about how our family works well together. That efficiency exists partly because we're so connected. We have a great deal of love for each other, and that love encourages a sense of unity. I'm sure that most families are unified like that, which may be partly why families even exist.

God intends for us to love and care about each other. In families, we learn how to do that. I know that my brother is happy, and I'm glad about that. I hope my sister is happy staying here. I hope that we can all be happy with our decisions and circumstances and the changes that come into our lives - and that doesn't just go for members of my family. It goes for all of you.

A person doesn't need to be a family member for a change in their life to affect you, and they don't need to be a family member for you to care about them. Families teach us how to love and care, but they're not the only ones we should love and care about. (Then again, we're all related, if you trace the genealogy back far enough, so I guess family members really are the only people we're supposed to care about, as long as we're including extended family.) God intends for us all to love and care about each others, and though our love should extend far beyond our immediate relatives, families are a great place to start.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Keep Trying

This "early to bed" thing doesn't seem to be working too well, but I'll keep trying. That's what it takes sometimes. When you fall short of a goal, sometimes the best thing you can do is to simply keep trying. No one ever became perfect overnight. Some habits take time to develop (or kick). If you're not where you want to be right now, keep trying to be. Sure, you might need to try a new strategy or reevaluate the goal altogether, but often that's not really necessary. Usually, all you really need to do is to keep trying.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Many Hands and Light Hearts

Over the last several days, and the last few days especially, my family and I have been making some major changes around the house. We've cleaned out the room that used to be called the office, putting the office stuff into the family room, we've cleared out my brothers' and my room, moving our stuff into what used to be the office, and we've cleaned out my mom's room, putting her stuff into the room that used to belong to my brothers and me. Through it all, there has been lots of cleaning, sorting, and organizing. We've filled both the garbage bin and the recycling bin, and we have piles of stuff to donate to Deseret Industries. We've taken beds apart and put them back together more times than I can count. We've all gotten dusty, sweaty, and worn out. It hasn't all gone as well as we'd hoped, but still we've managed to stay positive, mostly because we've been working together as a family.

We're all familiar with the phrase, many hands make light work. This is because when more people work on a project, there's more muscle and manpower going into getting it done. Also, it allows for strong people and smart people to work together, using their individual talents in complementary ways.

But Team Robarts is more than a well-oiled machine of strong, wise, strategic, and diligent people. We're also a family. We love and support each other. We lift each other's spirits with good humor and occasionally music. When we work together, the work is easier, not just because we make a good team, but because we also make a good family.

I suppose that's just another way of saying that we use our talents to work together. Some of of make plans, some of us do the heavy lifting, and some of us use our good attitudes to keep the team working well together. But I think that good attitudes are a trait that's often overlooked when evaluating the capability of a team, and I think that's unfair, and not just because it's a trait my team has in spades. I think it's smart to make sure each team has at least one member that can keep morale high. Even a team of highly capable people can perform poorly if they grind each other's gears. Many hands may still come up empty. Many hands and light hearts make work move smoothly.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Early to Bed...

There's one piece of advice that, while generally accepted as good advice, is also broadly detested and seldom followed. This article talks about it in detail, lists specific blessings for following, and gives scriptural examples of those who have. According to popular verse, the advice is "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

I must admit that I don't follow this advice often. I am frequently guilty of staying up too late, and as a result, I tend not to be very well rested when I wake up in the morning. Thankfully, I'm blogging now, so I won't have to stay up late blogging. I'm also planning on shutting the computer down when it's time for family prayer this evening and not turning it back on afterward, so I won't have the internet to distract me. Plus, my family and I have been doing a lot of work today, so we should be good and tired when it's time to go to bed.

I'm going to try to follow this time-tested and prophetically-endorsed advice this coming week. Hopefully, it'll help me improve my ability to receive inspiration, and thus help me gain more blogworthy insights so I can blog about them rather than reblogging ideas posted online by others. I know it's not guaranteed too greatly improve my blog posts, especially not quickly, but according to various prophets and apostles, it'll probably improve my life.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Inspire Your Angels

Yesterday, in Gospel Essentials class, our instructor, Moroni, shared the first verse of a primary song with the class.
Dare to do right! Dare to be true!
You have a work that no other can do;
Do it so bravely, so kindly, so well,
Angels will hasten the story to tell.
It's hard to think of angels or anyone wanting to share my story, but I sometimes forget how many angels there are. Those who are angels now include every human being who has ever lived and has died and everyone who hasn't been born yet, including almost all of my ancestors and all of my descendants. By my estimate, there's got to be at least one angel out there that's interested in me as a human being and who wants to learn my story. And if my story is good enough, that angel may want to share my story with his or her friends.

One thing we need to remember is that angels are always watching over us, cheering us on and keeping an honest record of all our actions. To avoid embarrassment (ours and theirs), we should be careful not to do things we'd be ashamed if others knew about. Instead, we should try to do good, and to "do it so bravely, so kindly, so well, Angels will hasten the story to tell."

Our angels will tell our stories. I believe they have to - they have to give their reports. So let's try not to make that an unpleasant experience, for them or us. Let's use our lives to write stories worth telling. Our stories can be encouraging, impressive, and inspiring, even to the angels. Since we know they're watching us anyway, let's try to remember that, and make the stories of our lives good enough to be worth sharing.

Pioneers - Struggles and Strength

Today, I went Home Teaching, and in reading the First Presidency message, I found a quote that I'd been looking for:
We sometimes look back on what the pioneers endured and with relief say, “Thank goodness I didn’t live in that time.” But I wonder if those courageous pioneers, had they been able to see us today, might not have voiced the same concern.
I noticed that President Uchtdorf didn't say that the pioneers would have felt the same way about our trials as we feel about theirs; he just wonders if they might have. But still, I wondered why they might have, until I looked more closely at another part of his article:
In our time—when so much of what we desire is so easily within our reach—it is tempting to turn aside or give up whenever the road ahead seems a little bumpy or the slope tends to rise steeply before us. . . .
The pioneers learned that doing hard things deepened and strengthened body, mind, and spirit; magnified their understanding of their divine nature; and heightened their compassion for others. This habit firmed their souls and became a blessing to them long after their trek across the plains and mountains had ended.
By facing the hardships that many of us (thankfully) never have to face, the pioneers drew closer to the Lord and gained the strength they needed to overcome their challenges. If they were to look at our lives of relative ease after gaining the wisdom they could only have gained on the trail, they might have wondered how we could possibly gain the same strength they did without also facing such intense trials. Exercise works by pushing a person to their limits. If our experiences aren't pushing us to the limits of our strength, they won't have the capacity to make us stronger.

So, perhaps it isn't just a different kind of trials the pioneers might have been concerned about  facing, but a lack of trials altogether. Perhaps they might have been worried that if their lives were as easy as ours, they wouldn't have gained the strength that they eventually came to rely on. The pioneers became as strong as they were by facing terrible trials. Without facing such trials, we might easily remain weak.

But we don't have to. Even though we aren't forced to fight for our survival or freedom of religion (yet), we should still stand up to defend them, and defending the merits of our beliefs and practices will probably enough of a challenge to give us an opportunity to grow from it. Our circumstances aren't forcing us to climb mountains, but the mountains are still they, and we know that we really ought to climb them and plant our banners on them. If we do, we may be able to develop the same kind of courage the pioneers had gained.

We have it relatively easy, compared to the pioneers. In fact, we have it so easy that we aren't regularly forced to develop moral courage and strength, like the pioneers were. But we still have opportunities to exercise moral strength and courage, and as we do so, we can gain more courage and strength. We can become as strong as the pioneers were. We just have to go a little bit out of our way to do it.