Monday, August 3, 2015

Right vs Easy

I've been meaning to blog about this since I saw it on Facebook a couple of days ago, and now's as good a time as any.

I don't know if this quote is verbatim (I've seen another version of this quote that was slightly different), but it's close enough to get the point across.

Doing what's right isn't always easy. In fact, it seldom is. It was President Henry B. Eyring that said "If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill." I believe that God doesn't make life too easy for us because He wants us to grow. Facing and overcoming challenges gives us a kind of strength that taking the easy path could never provide. Unfortunately, since choosing the right is so difficult, it makes choosing the wrong all the more tempting.

One of the adversary's tools is to make temptations and vice as accessible as possible. While spirituality is difficult to obtain and maintain, falling into a life of sin is as easy as doing nothing or as following the crowd. Thus, a great deal of will-power is needed in order to choose the right path over the easier ones.

The good news is that when we exercise that kind of will-power, our strength of will increases. One of the aspects of the natural man is the desire to take the path of least resistance, but as we strive to choose the right, even when it's difficult to do so, our spirits grow stronger than our natural inclinations, giving us the power to resist temptation.

We frequently have to choose between doing what's right and doing what's easy, and because making the wrong choice is easy, making the right choice rarely is. But with God's help and a little bit of will-power, we can make the difficult right choices, and the more we do so, the easier it becomes. I believe that, if we make good choices frequently enough, it can become easier for us to continue to do so than to fall into temptation from there. Unfortunately, I haven't reached that point, so I can't tell you for certain, but I can tell you that when we do muster up the will-power to make the right choice, doing so again becomes a little less difficult.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mature Love

I'm not sure I understand this.

In response to my blog post last night, my mother assured me that the love two people have for each other can grow over time, and that makes a certain amount of sense, but I also think that love can weaken over time. Perhaps it all depends on the people involved and how they deal with the problems that come up.

In his April 2015 General Conference talk, The Plan of Happiness, President Boyd K. Packer said:
And if you suppose that the full-blown rapture of young romantic love is the sum total of the possibilities which spring from the fountains of life, you have not yet lived to see the devotion and the comfort of longtime married love. Married couples are tried by temptation, misunderstandings, financial problems, family crises, and illness, and all the while love grows stronger. Mature love has a bliss not even imagined by newlyweds.
This seems somewhat contradictory to me. I don't understand how "temptation, misunderstandings, financial problems, family crises, and illness" can lead to "bliss." I'm sure you'd feel something like bliss after such trials are over, but can experiencing such trials actually improve a couple's relationship?

Perhaps it can, if they face such challenges together. Working together to overcome problems, even relationship problems, can bring two people closer together. Almost of necessity, they develop greater teamwork and a deeper appreciation for each other's strengths.

I think I've been thinking about love the wrong way. Perhaps the difference between the relationships of those who've been together for shorter or longer periods of time isn't how much they love each other, but why. Newlyweds haven't always known each other long enough to have become acquainted with all of each other's faults, and they undoubtedly learn about each others faults over time. But newlyweds also don't always see all the virtues in each other either, which they also begin to see after they've been together a while. A younger couple may be attracted to each other because they haven't seen each other's dark sides, but an older couple knows each other's dark sides as well as their light sides. Their love isn't innocent and naive, but experienced and understanding. I can clearly understand how such love as that can be much deeper and stronger than that of those who have only spent a small number of months or years together.

It's hard for me to imagine my brother and his wife loving each other more than they do now, but I'm sure that, as they get to know each other better, they will also learn to love each other better, if not more, than they already do.

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.