Forgiveness + Tribulation

I gave this talk on forgiveness in my ward September 15, 2019.

Three and a half weeks ago, my wife and I landed in the Paris airport, ready to begin a two-week second honeymoon and celebration of my progress in triathlon — the chance to race at the ITU Age Group World Championships.

I qualified to participate during races last year (oly, sprint), and we got married in June of this year. So as we brought our carry-ons down from the overhead bins and shuffled off the plane, we were well familiar with our feelings of anticipation and nerves of excitement to embark on a journey one year in the making.

Forgiveness + Tribulation: Our bags at CDG
Our bags for a week in France, a week in Switzerland and two World Championship triathlons.

After passing customs, navigating French directional signage for traces of English and snacking on chocolate croissants, we boarded a train, hoisted our things up on a luggage rack and collapsed, again, into our seats for a 4-hour ride. 30 minutes in, I got up to walk around. I crossed into the car behind us and, upon returning, passed the luggage rack to look down and find the lower slot empty.

Our bags were gone.

Stolen.


From just those few words, you might have felt, right there in your seat, that gut sinking, stomach-in-a-knot-tying sense of dread — the feeling of being violated, of the world not going the way you think it should, and grand plans running awry.

Perhaps you recalled a time something someone said or did broke your sense of reality, when your trust corrupted, or when unexpected circumstances shattered your sense of the way the world and people are.

We are all familiar with tribulation.

I am going to talk about forgiveness.

We all face tribulation. By tribulation, I mean events that bring about trouble, suffering and sorrow.

We experience tribulation …

. . . from our own weakness
Our own humanity guarantees mistakes.

. . . from our own intention
Yes, on occasion we know better. We rebel.

The line between good and evil cuts through the center of every human heart.

AS, emphasis added

And sometimes, we act in evil.

. . . from others’ weakness
We are surrounded by humans, like us, blumbering along, dropping balls, communicating poorly, forgetting, assuming incorrectly even with good intent, innocently insensitive and so on.

. . . from others’ intention and malevolence
Yes, on occasion we brush up against crime, the intent to harm and destroy and rob another of his or her agency.

In all 4 situations, millstones temporal and spiritual end up around our necks.

[B]ut we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

Romans 5:3-4, emphasis added

And whether we be afflicted [no matter the source or type of our afflictions], it is for []our consolation and salvation.

2 Corinthians 1:6, emphasis added

Among patience, experience, hope and the many attributes we can develop in tribulation, practicing forgiveness is one that is always available.

A heading from a Come Follow Me lesson reads:

As I am forgiven of my sins, my love for the Savior deepens.

March 11-17

Further, I believe our love for each other and God and the Savior also deepens as we forgive — whether for sin or weakness — ourselves and others.

DISBELIEF / REJECTION

When I first looked down at the empty luggage rack, my initial reaction was disbelief. As my gut sank, I rejected the possibility of theft. “THIS THEFT CAN’T BE TRUE.” I first accused myself of mistake and error: “Am I really looking at the spot where I put them?”

I looked up. Yes, Emma was just seats away.

My gut again said they were stolen, and I held off, granting general humanity the benefit of the doubt as I wondered, “Perhaps someone had good reason to move them?”

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for the natural, hasty accusation that I was in error.

RECOGNITION / ACCEPTANCE

When I determined our bags were nowhere in the car, I shut off my disbelief, my willingness to be generous and my willingness to believe in the goodness of others. I began to accept the reality of theft. After leaving the first station, we had stopped at two others.

“NO, THE TRUTH IS WE REALLY HAVE BEEN ROBBED, AND OUR THINGS ARE GONE, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN.”

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for the harsh abandoning of granting others the benefit of the doubt, and for saying things like, “I’ll never let our luggage out of our sight again,” a statement which implies the accusation that no one, in any circumstance, can be trusted.

REACTION / RESISTANCE

But I didn’t want the theft, or the consequence of it, to be true.

In a moment, the meaning of the theft transmuted from “a few material things are no longer in our possession,” to

  • “this entire trip is a bust!”
  • “Emma will never travel with me again!”
  • “I am a failure of a man, not doing my duty to watch and protect my family and our things!”

In the swell, I resisted the reality and rejected my emotions of sadness and hurt.

Rather than letting my emotions come over me, I fought — “I don’t want this to be true” — by seeking for things I could control in vain attempts to force time backward and reality to undo itself.

“I will contact the conductor. I will get him to undo the situation, notify the police, review the security footage, apprehend the thieves, restore our belongings to us, and make all well in the world again.”

We did that, and I even paced up and down every level of every car of that train, saying to myself, “By checking every nook and cranny I might magically rewind time, undo what has happened and bring the suitcases back.”

My sadness, unacknowledged, gave way to anger, badgering the conductor to do more, and saying under my breath, “Just wait’ll I find those thieves and see what I do to them…”

Were I sharper, I might have metabolized my own anxiety rather than pushing it out on others.

Upon visiting every car and exhausting the conductor, I came to that place where Father Adam and Mother Eve arrived some time after The Fall: the realization that there is no going back to the Garden of Eden.

Emma and I experienced, as we all do, another Fall in mortality. And there was no going back to the way life was before.

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for life generally: I forgave, generally, that it happened — to forgive the world, knowing the conditions of mortality.

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for my own proclivity to catastrophize situations — to shout “woe is me, all is lost!” in a selfish show to win sympathy and attention from others.

I forgave myself for responding to feeling robbed with attempts to rob others of their agency.

I forgave myself for entertaining, even if briefly, the thought that it was Emma’s fault because she was facing the rack.

I forgave myself for being less than gracious with the conductor.

There was forgiveness for the conductor: I forgave the conductor for being a man of limited means and doing his best, which was far short of stopping the train and turning back, or calling in French special ops to drop their present tasks, review security footage at the 2 stations we stopped at and put all resources into tracking down and apprehending the thieves.

There was forgiveness for the police: I forgave the police for doing what seemed to be so little — asking the station Lost and Found departments if they had received anything and inviting us to file a report.

There was forgiveness for the thieves: I forgave the thieves for the feeling of being violated.

REACHING OUT / CALL FOR HELP

I came to myself as I realized we weren’t in this alone and that there were more ways forward than the singular solution I had at first: rewind time and undo the theft.

I sat down across from Emma and we looked at each other, aware of our shared sadness. We expressed gratitude for having each other, and offered each other assurance that all was not lost, that we’d have a good trip, and everything would be OK.

I emailed the Team USA managers to ask about getting a replacement racing jersey. Just in case, I contacted a friend here who had the jersey in my size, and asked him to give it to another friend who was traveling to the event later.

Emma contacted a neighbor to ask her to fetch a new pair of my contacts from our home and rendezvous with my friend before he traveled.

Emma made conversation with the people sitting around us, and the man behind us asked a friend of his, who was into triathlon, to recommend a store where I could buy the proper shoes and pedals for my bike, since mine had been in my suitcase.

WE COULDN’T UNDO THE TRUTH OF THE THEFT, BUT WE COULD ASK OTHERS FOR HELP TO LIVE IN OUR NEW REALITY.

REPAIRS + RESTORATION

Once we arrived at our destination, we spent the next 36 hours receiving help and going to work to restore what was lost.

We visited the bike store.

We got new clothes.

We got toothbrushes and toothpaste, and essential things to live comfortably for the next two weeks.

WE RECEIVED HELP AND TOOK NEW ACTIONS ALLOWING US TO LIVE WELL IN OUR NEW REALITY.

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for my uncle: I forgave, even here, my uncle, our host, for not knowing exactly where to take us to get what we needed to replace what we lost.

There was forgiveness for the store owners and the small town: I forgave them all for having what they had — and not everything we hoped they would.

There was forgiveness for the thieves: I forgave the thieves again, now for us taking time to do all of this, instead of our original plans.

RECONCILIATION / PEACE

It is easy to replace a shirt, or pants, or a toothbrush.

It’s harder to replace unique, sentimental and one-of-a-kind items.

Around my birthday in March, Emma remembered that during a previous trip, I threw out a suitcase that had come to the end of its days, and she presented me with a wonderful new suitcase. With our Europe trip months away, the gift was as much a gesture of restoration as a statement of promised companionship in the months to come.

I gave the suitcase a dry run during business travel that spring. Finding myself pleased with Emma’s selection, and also wanting to say, “I’m looking forward to an adventure with you,” I got Emma a matching suitcase. Having matching suitcases for our European adventure was part of the thrill of going.

The suitcases being gone, and everything within, seemed to tarnish the memory and the sentiment. And it seemed buying new suitcases simply wouldn’t polish that out.

One is not only to endure, but to endure well and gracefully those things which the Lord ‘seeth fit to inflict upon [us].’

NAM, Patience, emphasis added

Beneath any temporal restoration lays a sense of spiritual and emotional loss — where the tribulation actually lives.

Even as Emma and I restored our lives temporally, my soul was troubled:

  • Why did this happen?
  • I would have put the suitcases in a different spot had I known . . . 
  • I should have never taken my eye off our bags.
  • I could have prevented this fiasco had I . . .

The bottomless pit of worrying “Why me? Why us? Why now?” in search of an explanation where there is none, and the troubling triumvirate of woulda/coulda/shoulda, are certainly predictable, normal, human responses to tribulation. And I don’t blame myself for having had them, and wouldn’t blame you either.

But they are millstones and were around my neck on that train and the days following.

To endlessly ask “Why?” when the Lord has said, “I give you tribulation for your salvation” seems to be an impatient plea to bring about justice on our time table, rather than to shoulder the cross of mortality and continue walking toward Heaven.


My grandfather died in a military plane crash in 1961.

Some time within a year of that event, my aunt was talking with friends about whether God lets things happen, or if things happen and He is surprised. After that conversation, my 12-year-old aunt knelt in her room and prayed and asked God about it.

The Holy Ghost overcame me from head to toe and the answer was: ‘i-t d-o-e-s-n’t m-a-t-t-e-r.’ And that has given me comfort throughout my life. That it’s not given to us to know in this life. And on the other side in the grand scheme of things, we’ll be able to see and understand. But for now it d-o-e-s n-o-t m-a-t-t-e-r.

PHH, personal notes Sep 22, 2016

The answer revealed to her reminds me of the oft repeated scriptural phrase: “it mattereth not.”

To beat oneself with woulda/shoulda/coulda, seems to deny ourselves “the grace that, so fully, He proffers me” (Hymns) and to reject the gift of the veil and conditions of mortality, wherein we have space between our choices and the necessary, full, eternal magnitude of their consequences coming down on us, so that we can repent and go at it again without being doomed to live forever in our sins.


In all tribulation, there is the physical-temporal component, and the spiritual-emotional component.

The spiritual component and how we feel about it is more important than the physical because …

Things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18, emphasis added

Our visible things will not go with us.

But our unseen hearts and thoughts will.

From President Henry B Eyring:

If we are to have unity, there are commandments we must keep concerning how we feel. We must forgive and bear no malice toward those who offend us. The Savior set the example from the cross: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34). We do not know the hearts of those who offend us. Nor do we know all the sources of our own anger and hurt. The Apostle Paul was telling us how to love in a world of imperfect people, including ourselves, when he said, ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil’ (1 Cor. 13:4–5). And then he gave solemn warning against reacting to the fault of others and forgetting our own when he wrote, ‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known’ (1 Cor. 13:12).

That We May Be One, Apr 1998, emphasis added

I promise to do my best, to be patient with you. To cultivate a forgiving heart. And to seek spiritual gifts in the tribulation we experience, inadvertently and intentionally.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Books that helped tremendously in my practice of and growing capacity to offer and receive forgiveness:

I listened to all of these on Audible, except Alice Miller’s work which I found on YouTube. It’s now also on Audible.

Try Audible Plus or gift someone a 3-, 6- or 12-month Audible membership.

h/t to Ashley Rasmussen for these suggestions. Her man Danny was featured here earlier.

By |2021-02-11T14:11:12-07:00September 15th, 2019|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Pound The Rock

Pound the rock.

It’s in the footer of my website.

It’s in my email signature.

It’s the first phrase of three I have littered all over the internet. (The second and third being “Do good” and “Have a great time.”)

It’s the motto Gregg Popovich uses at the San Antonio Spurs. Their fan club is named after it. In fact, I’ve been told, it’s the only quote/motto/words-of-inspiration that appear anywhere inside the Spurs’ facilities.

So what about it? Why pound the rock?

This:

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before. — Jacob Riis

Pound The Rock - Jacob Riis

We love telling “overnight success” stories.

They aren’t true.

Every “overnight success” story is … just a good story.

A story designed to get us to believe “we too” can be as successful as the “overnight” success.

Well, we can.

But not overnight.

Because they didn’t get there overnight.

These stories, so it seems to me, often are told to sell “the overnight method.”

When we buy that method, we get burned. Expectations fall unfulfilled, and we don’t succeed overnight — because we need to pound the rock:

To pound out our weakness,

To pound in our dedication,

To pound out non-essentials,

To pound in our focus,

To pound out dead weight,

To pound in muscle memory.

The true backstory of every success (“overnight” or not) is years of trial and error . . .

. . . effort on effort, and upset and defeat followed by persistence and consistency … all of which finally yield a win.

I’ve long said the most important attribute for any marketing campaign is consistency. You can blog once a day or once a year. If you stick to your schedule, people will accomodate whatever pattern you establish … if you stick to it. What doesn’t work is rush then stop. Publish then quit. Launch then disappear, only to relaunch with flare and pizzaz in 6 months quickly followed by flame-out, just as before.

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order (Mos 4:27).

This isn’t bad news.

Success isn’t in one-trick ponies or luck-of-the-draw rewards.

Success is in being adept at producing desirable results again and again, at will.

Success is in knowing “the wisdom and the order” of how things work, the present limits of your strength (your lactate threshold, for example).

Yes, part of success is arriving at the destination, a destination — of finishing or winning a race.

But grander elements of success are:

falling in love with getting there

knowing you can get there when you decide you want to

knowing what it takes to get there, how to command the elements and the circumstances to combine and align in getting you there

in other words, knowing how to get there again, on command … without assigning any piece of arrival to luck or chance

experiencing your personal capacity to do work every day, to conquer in the face of resistance, and to survive or even thrive in the face of calamity.

“Pound the rock” is a motto to succeed every day.

Between each sunrise and sunset, put.in.the.work.

99 of 100 blows of the hammer end with the rock uncracked.

In a darker moment, the uncracked rock may seem to laugh or scorn.

“What are you doing? Does your work even count? You’re not strong enough. You have the wrong tools. You can’t do this. You’re not making a difference at all. What a waste. Now this, what you’re doing, this is insanity!! You keep swinging, expecting me to crack. I’ll never crack. The outcome is the same. And always will be. Move on … move on to easier ground.”

It’s tricky.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, seeing no results, and expecting a different outcome.

Yet that definition is insufficient.

There are some tasks that are … a pound-the-rock scenario. A scenario where is just does take 99 repeated blows of no-difference-at-all results, which, when followed by the 100th WHAM! everything changes.

It may seems just one blow counted. One blow must have been different from the others. But no … all 99 changed the structure, strength and integrity of the rock until on the 100th it cracked. All 99 up to that point took mental grit and steadfastness and belief that the work was worth it.

I’m not a “good” runner.

I’m not “gifted” or a “natural.”

I don’t have lean thighs.

My VO2 max, when I’m not fully trained, is super average.

My calves are huge, the extra weight doesn’t help.

My calves also don’t connect high on my leg, so their biomechanical leverage is . . . average.

My knees rotate out and my tibia & fibula bow in to compensate, so some force from every step gets wasted in non-vertical, non-forward vectors.

My early years of swimming made my ankles super flexible, and early years of gymnastics trained them to act like absorbers; but great runners have stiffer ankles, trained to act like springs.

Yet my half marathon times keep coming down:

1:42:09 (7:47/mi) — 2008

1:40:26 (7:40/mi) — 2014

1:28:27 (6:45/mi) — 2015

1:24:35 (6:27/mi) — 2017

Why is that?

Because I pound the rock.

There’s nothing special about me.

Sure, I’m learning better form. As I pound the rock.

Sure, I’m in overall better shape … because I pound the rock.

Sure, I’m more flexible and less prone to injury … because I pound the rock (and rollll out, thanks TriggerPoint!).

Sure, I have better run gear and better workout routines … because I pound the rock.

I just pound the rock.

And anyone can pound the rock.

This much about life seems so simple and clear: when you work hard under the direction of people who understand the mechanics of how things work, you get results.

That’s why I put “Pound the rock” everywhere.

To remind myself of, and to stand for, the ethic of putting in the work.

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Gen 3:19).

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7-8).

Mastery thru repetition.

Affinity through consistency.

Results from no work are empty gains.

Dreams with no work are naught but wishes.

Gains from shortcuts are, eternally speaking, hollow.

Unearned upsides can be wonderful blessings and grace from heaven, but if converted in my mind and heart to expectations or views that “I don’t have to work because good things simply come my way” or “I will succeed because I am deserving of success” … those attitudes diminish my soul and others’.

Which brings me to another reminder baked into those three words:

To touch base, to make contact with, The Rock … every day. That rock being the “lowercase” rock of revelation and the “uppercase” Rock of Revelation who is Jesus Christ.

To meekly remember I am able from the gift of choice.

To meekly remember I am forgiven and cleansed from His gift of mercy.

To meekly remember I am empowered beyond my natural strength by His gift of grace.

So . . . I pound the rock.

By |2021-01-15T16:47:21-07:00January 3rd, 2018|Faith, General Life, Marketing, Triathlon|1 Comment

Are we related? We could be cousins . . .

Are we related? Over Thanksgiving I found out I’m related to 12 of the 102 Mayflower passengers (5 directly), so if you have any connections there chances are good we could be cousins.

Are we related? We could be cousins.

How did I find this out?

www.RelativeFinder.org

Join my group and lets find an answer to the question “Are we related?”

The password is my first and last name together (this website without the ‘www’ and ‘.com’) — all lowercase, no spaces.

Even if we aren’t related, Relative Finder will show you if you’re related to a large basket of famous authors & poets, saints and popes, composers, entertainers, movie stars, sports figures, U.S. Presidents and their families, signers of The U.S. Constitution, signers of The Declaration of Independence, European royalty, scientists and technologists, and more.

FYI, if you’re a family history / genealogy noob . . . “3rd cousins twice removed” explained:

Your first cousins are the children of your parents’ siblings, i.e. your aunts & uncles’ kids. First cousins because you are the first generation down from the sibling connection.

Your second cousins are the kids of your parents’ cousins, or your grandparents’ siblings grandkids. Second cousins because you are two generations away from the sibling connection.

Now, your second cousins’ kids, what are they? Your second cousins, once removed. “Removed” just means however many generations off from the sibling connection. The smallest number of generation lines to the sibling connection is the “___ cousin” and the “___ removed” counts the rest.

So when my second cousins’ kids have kids … they will be my second cousins twice removed.

My Grandpa Doug‘s line goes way back to early U.S. colonial days so I’ve got some cool connections, a lot of which are through him. People including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emerson, Thoreau, Steinbeck, Elvis, Harry Truman, Jefferson, the Bushes, Johnny Carson, Carrie Fisher . . . lots of people.

Pretty cool to find these things out.

If you need a hand getting into the group or set up with anything, post a comment.

Have fun, cuz.

By |2021-01-15T15:37:22-07:00November 26th, 2017|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Metabolizing Anxiety: Highlights from Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist (Ep 20)

If the mere mention of Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist in my bio hasn’t prompted you to listen, maybe these selections on metabolizing anxiety will.

Btw, these interviews are all Q&A based — usually two Qs per episode, this one has three. To get the backdrop on this metabolizing anxiety conversation, jump to the start of the third question and Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s answer at @ 22:00.

What follows are loose transcripts from the episode. I cut “you knows,” “I thinks,” and so on, and added content (in parentheses) that I believe accurately connects allusions to previously mentioned ideas so that it’s easier for you to follow the excerpts.

 

@ 34:33 – Giving people space to grow

To tolerate the discomfort of another’s discomfort is part of what it is to actually give people the space that they need to really grow, and to manage your own anxiety.

 

@ 35:59 – Metabolizing Anxiety

If you’re going to actually grow, you have to metabolize more anxiety within yourself and not use the people around you to manage what is your work, or what is your job, or what is your responsibility.

What is of virtue is to take 100% responsibility for exactly what your responsibility is — in a marriage, or in a family, or in any group — and 0% responsibility for what isn’t your responsibility.

That sounds very selfish, but that’s actually one of the most virtuous things you can do: to really do what your job is in any situation.

It also frees up other people to grow in the ways that they need to grow.

When we get in trouble is when we rush in to kind of get anxiety to go down in the moment, but then we stabilize and mature our destructive patterns.

The virtue in creating goodness is tolerating difficulty up front. That’s what sacrifice is: you take your difficulty up front to create something better ultimately.

It’s against our human nature (to do that, to sacrifice, to tolerate difficulty up front) — it’s natural man to not to do it (to avoid difficulty up front, escaping to an easier path). But what creates goodness and godliness is doing that (tolerating difficulty now).

 

@ 40:15 – When’s the time for metabolizing anxiety?

It’s when you’re having a hard conversation, and they’re pushing on those buttons on you that you like to react to, that you get all self-righteous about.

Instead of getting self-righteous and reacting, you calm yourself down and you stay constructive. That’s what I’m talking about in the “real time”: that you don’t (use) your losing strategies, which are the reactive things we do that feel good in the moment but that keep suffering alive.

You have to really track what it is you do (habitually) so that you can push yourself to do the better thing in the face of a lot of pressure to do the thing that’s familiar. (Catching yourself before you do the familiar thing) is what development is all about.

 

@ 42:56 – The effect of metabolizing anxiety

When you step into new action, or action that’s driven by a sense of what you believe is right, even if it’s hard, you literally expand your capacity as a person, and you expand your sense of self.

 

@ 43:52 – Metabolizing anxiety includes not doing the familiar thing to get validation

Many of us prefer to kind of just do and deal with the (familiar) things that (have, in the past, managed to get us) validation from the other person, and so we constrict our relationships (to doing just those things, even if they are losing strategies that perpetuate suffering) to our detriment.

We have to work against that natural-man tendency.

 

Ask A Mormon Sex Therapist is a sub series of the Rational Faiths podcast.

Have a listen.

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Metabolizing Anxiety

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife

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By |2021-01-15T15:37:22-07:00August 31st, 2017|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Neal A Maxwell: A Complete Chronology of His Talks and Speeches

In mid 2016, I read a book by Neal A Maxwell. Shortly after, I embarked on listening to his entire BYU Speeches archive, in chronological order.

I listened to many of these talks while making the long drive from Salt Lake to Heber City. At the time I was seeing someone who lived in Heber, and each time we made plans to get together I looked forward as much to her company as I did to the drive from my home in Millcreek, up Parley’s Canyon, past Park City and back down into the neighboring valley — my quiet, private time with Neal. The drive being an hour each way, I listened to one talk there and another on the way home.

In 2017, I started listening to the entire archive of his General Conference talks.

His perspectives certainly colored this piece I wrote, where I included just one of his golden nuggets.

I thought I’d put together all the speeches and talks of this man who seemed so well to maintain proper perspective for all life’s experience. For as he once said, “This world is not the one we are preparing for.”

The first book I read was We Will Prove Them Herewith. I think it’s out of print, but you can find it on Amazon.

Will update this with all of his Ensign articles, books, etc. I have a book that isn’t on the Wikipedia books list, so I think it will take some work.

I also recommend his biography, A Disciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A Maxwell, which I finished fall 2017.

Neal A Maxwell - A Disciple's Life

From the Life of Neal A Maxwell

b. Jul. 6, 1926

1970 – Appointed Commissioner of Church Education

1970 – Feb. 23 – Spiritual Ecology – BYU/CES

1971 – Oct. 23 – Mormon Milieu – BYU/CES

1974 – Jan. 15 – Family Perspectives – BYU/CES

1974 – Apr. 6 – Called as Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1974 – Apr. – Response to a Call – LDS General Conference

1974 – Sep. 1 – But for a Small Moment – BYU/CES

1974 – Oct. – Why Not Now? – LDS General Conference

1975 – Apr. – The Man of Christ – LDS General Conference

1976 – Jan. 4 – Taking up the Cross – BYU/CES

1976 – Apr. – “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King” – LDS General Conference

1976 – Oct. 1 – Called to the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy

1976 – Oct. – Notwithstanding My Weakness – LDS General Conference

1976 – Oct. 26 – Insights from My Life – BYU/CES

1977 – Nov. 8 – All Hell Is Moved – BYU/CES

1978 – Apr. – The Women of God – LDS General Conference

1978 – Oct. 10 – Meeting the Challenges of Today – BYU/CES

1979 – Nov. 27 – Patience – BYU/CES

1980 – Apr. 21 – In This Time of Complexity and Challenge – BYU/CES

1980 – Oct. – The Net Gathers of Every Kind – LDS General Conference

1980 – Oct. 7 – True Believers in Christ – BYU/CES

1981 – Jul. 23 – Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1981 – Sep. 15 – Grounded, Rooted, Established, and Settled (Ephesians 3:17, 1 Peter 5:10) – BYU/CES

1981 – Oct. – “O, Divine Redeemer” – LDS General Conference

1982 – Apr. – “A Brother Offended” – LDS General Conference

1982 – Sep. 5 – Meekly Drenched in Destiny – BYU/CES

1982 – Oct. – “Be of Good Cheer” – LDS General Conference

1983 – Feb. 18 – Try the Virtue of the Word of God – BYU/CES

1983 – Apr. – “Shine As Lights in the World” – LDS General Conference

1983 – Oct. – Joseph, the Seer – LDS General Conference

1984 – Apr. – The Great Plan of the Eternal God – LDS General Conference

1984 – Oct. – “Out of Obscurity” – LDS General Conference

1984 – Dec. 4 – If Thou Endure Well – BYU/CES

1985 – Apr. – “Willing to Submit” – LDS General Conference

1985 – Oct. – Premortality, a Glorious Reality – LDS General Conference

1986 – Feb. 7 – Good and Evil Spoken of Among All People – BYU Management Society

  • Address given at BYUMS Washington, D.C. Chapter dinner event.
  • Only exists as two print copies — no known recording or transcript. Print copies on file at HBLL Special Collections – Americana Collection, BX 8608 .A1 no.2968.

1986 – Mar. 30 – Joseph Smith: “A Choice Seer” – BYU/CES

1986 – Apr. – “Called and Prepared from the Foundation of the World” – LDS General Conference

1986 – Oct. – “God Will Yet Reveal” – LDS General Conference

1986 – Oct. 11 – Great Answers to the Great Question – BYU/CES

1986 – Oct. 21 – “Meek and Lowly” – BYU/CES

1987 – Apr. – “Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame” – LDS General Conference

1987 – Oct. – “Yet Thou Art There” – LDS General Conference

1988 – Apr. – “For I Will Lead You Along” – LDS General Conference

1988 – Oct. – “Answer Me” – LDS General Conference

1989 – Mar. 26 – “A Wonderful Flood of Light” – BYU/CES

1989 – Apr. – Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity – LDS General Conference

1989 – Oct. – “Murmur Not” – LDS General Conference

1990 – Feb. 4 – The Children of Christ – BYU/CES

1990 – Apr. – “Endure It Well” – LDS General Conference

1990 – Oct. – Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror – LDS General Conference

1991 – Mar. 31 – “In Him All Things Hold Together” – BYU/CES

1991 – Apr. – “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds” – LDS General Conference

1991 – Sep. 27 – On Consecration, Scholarship, and the Defense of the Kingdom (pp 12-21 in the PDF, printed as pages x-xix) – FARMS

  • The version linked to above is the transcription Daniel C. Peterson published in the Interpreter in 2003. Peterson got the transcription from Matthew Roper, who was present and recorded the speech, and then transcribed it on 5 October 1991, slightly more than a week after the event. As far as anyone knows, that recording (and no others) exist.
  • This speech is more commonly known by the title “Discipleship and Scholarship,” under which it was published in condensed and polished form by BYU Studies in 1992.
  • That he would speak at the FARMS annual banquet in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU is reported in the Sep 1991 FARMS newsletter, INSIGHTS, page 5.

1991 – Oct. – Repentance – LDS General Conference

1992 – Apr. – “My Servant Joseph” – LDS General Conference

1992 – Aug. 18 – The Inexhaustible Gospel – BYU/CES

1992 – Oct. – “Settle This in Your Hearts” – LDS General Conference

1993 – Apr. – “Behold, the Enemy Is Combined” (D&C 38:12) – LDS General Conference

1993 – Jul. 4 – Provo 1993 Freedom Festival Fireside – BYU/CES

1993 – Aug. 25 – Wisdom and Order – BYU/CES

1993 – Aug. 26 – Out of the Best Faculty – BYU/CES

1993 – Oct. – “From the Beginning” – LDS General Conference

1994 – Mar. 27 – “Called to Serve” – BYU/CES

1994 – Apr. – “Take Especial Care of Your Family” – LDS General Conference

1994 – Oct. – “Brightness of Hope” – LDS General Conference

1995 – Apr. – “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness” – LDS General Conference

1995 – Oct. – “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father” – LDS General Conference

1996 – Jan. 23 – “Brim with Joy” – BYU/CES

1996 – Apr. – “Becometh As a Child” – LDS General Conference

1996 – Oct. – “According to the Desire of [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Our] Hearts” – LDS General Conference

1997 – Apr. – “From Whom All Blessings Flow” – LDS General Conference

1997 – Oct. – “Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ” – LDS General Conference

1998 – Jan. 4 – The Pathway of Discipleship – BYU/CES

1998 – Apr. – “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” – LDS General Conference

1998 – Oct. – Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ – LDS General Conference

1999 – Jan. 12 – Sharing Insights from My Life – BYU/CES

1999 – Apr. – “Repent of [Our] Selfishness” (D&C 56:8) – LDS General Conference

1999 – Oct. – Lessons from Laman and Lemuel – LDS General Conference

2000 – Feb. – Jesus, the Perfect Mentor – BYU/CES

2000 – Apr. – Content with the Things Allotted unto Us – LDS General Conference

2000 – Oct. – The Tugs and Pulls of the World – LDS General Conference

2001 – Apr. – “Plow in Hope” – LDS General Conference

2001 – Oct. – The Seventh Commandment:A Shield – LDS General Conference

2002 – Apr. – Consecrate Thy Performance – LDS General Conference

2002 – Oct. – Encircled in the Arms of His Love – LDS General Conference

2003 – Apr. – Care for the Life of the Soul – LDS General Conference

2003 – Oct. – How Choice a Seer! – LDS General Conference

2004 – Mar. 16 – “Free to Choose” – BYU/CES

2004 – Apr. – Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been – LDS General Conference

d. July 21, 2004

Neal A Maxwell: A Man with Perspective

Sources:

BYU Speeches by Neal A Maxwell

LDS General Conference Archive of Neal A Maxwell

More Interesting Neal A Maxwell Resources:

Maxwell Bibliography. An on-going project by Tyler Snow. Elder Maxwell’s lifetime cited works, grouped into Books, JD, HC and CHC, and then sorted by frequency of citations.

From “A” to “Z”: A is for Alliteration, Z is for Zion. By Don Duncan. 1997. (Working on converting this to a spreadsheet format.)

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By |2021-01-15T15:37:22-07:00June 29th, 2017|Faith|36 Comments

Sang in General Conference

My stake and a neighboring YSA stake were asked to staff the choir for the Priesthood Session of April 2017 General Conference.

I sang T1. About 40 guys I go to church with each week spread themselves out across T1/T2/B1/B2.

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Winmill YSA Ward Man Choir

#ThisIsWinmill

 

We sang . . .

Rise Up, O Men of God

 

Jesus, Once of Humble Birth

(Made the camera on this one, around 0:48)

 

Redeemer of Israel

 

and

Hope of Israel

 

Great times. Hats off to our conductor Brett Taylor, music boss over at Mountain View High School.

 

Takeaways:

  • There are 364 seats in the Conference Center choir loft.
  • Brett embraced his choir-geek music-nerdiness so much that it worked in his favor and won over the cooperation and trust of 364 mostly-amateur-singer dudes to sing with form and sound like a choir.
  • A teacher who loves what they do, cares, finds simple ways to convey and teach building blocks of technique, who provides lots of “this way, not this way” demos, and who provides lots of “see, you’re improving” feedback makes a world of difference in short time.
  • “The more in-tune that 5th is, the more truth there is in it. And thereby, the more the Spirit can testify of the truth of what we’re singing.”
  • “If you come to the performance unshaven and with unkempt hair, heaven awaits you . . . but the choir doesn’t.”

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By |2021-01-15T15:37:23-07:00April 3rd, 2017|Faith, Music|0 Comments

For My Future Mate: The Pillars of Our Partnership

Hey babe,

Been thinking about you.

I don’t know what you’ve been up to, but I’m sure it’s good and I can’t wait to find out. I’ve been working on this thing I’m calling The Pillars of Our Partnership. I’d give anything for a window into your world, if even for only an hour. Here’s a little window into mine.

The other day I was telling Nate, you know, my buddy who started The Loveumentary — the podcast where he’s interviewed hundreds of couples and relationship experts like Gary Chapman who invented the 5 Love Languages — yeah, that guy. I was telling Nate I think he needs an anthem.

Not a song (are all anthems songs?) but like a creed.

(Brian, from Boston, said, “yo! a manifesto!”)

Yes, a manifesto.

A statement of values, the pillars he is gonna preach and that he can build a community around. Something that people listening to Loveumentary episodes, and who might show up to one of his events or a conference or a meetup or join a Loveumentary Facebook group, could all point to as the foundation of what they are working on in their relationships, and a set of ideals they can use when offering support to each other. In Seth Godin language, it’s the “people like us do stuff like this” situation. For Nate, “things like this” hasn’t been codified (yet).

So I suggested he do that.

A few days later I thought, “why wait on Nate? I’ll write my own.”

Before I share what I’ve got, a few obvious things:

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][1] It’s a work in progress.

It’s about partnership, and until you and I actually start working on our partnership, all this counts as preparation.

And preparing for a thing isn’t the same as doing the thing.

[2] Perhaps even more importantly, I can’t even say we’ve come to a “first draft” until you add your say.

What’s below are my words. I know I’ve come a long way in learning and practicing the fundamentals of partnership, so I believe in my contribution, but that’s just it. It’s my contribution and I’m awaiting yours to round out this super rough draft.

I know you’ve got so much to contribute that’s unique and powerful. What you’re doing right now, what you’re learning . . . ah, I can’t even imagine how much awesome you have to contribute. Your perspective will deeply impact my understanding of partnership, as well as my performance of actually being your partner.

[3] These aren’t practices and positions I’ve perfected. I am a work in progress. It’s OK that you are too.

Just as preparing for a thing isn’t the same as doing the thing, knowing enough about something I’m striving for to write a handful of paragraphs about it doesn’t mean I’ve come anywhere near mastering the practice of it. Working with and toward the ideal of these pillars is something we’ll do together. I imagine that even if starting in a “maximally prepared” state (I read all the books! Listened to all the podcasts! Went to ALL the seminars!), actually being in a partnership will be incredibly challenging, shaping, stretching and growth-inducing. (Those are positively sounding words for HARD, incredibly frustrating and at times SUPER challenging.)

So yeah . . . this is my first cut and I eagerly await your input to get us to draft 1.

From there, every year and month and day we’ll get to revise and refine.

Preface

There are a couple life fundamentals that aren’t unique to partnership in my book, but are necessary pillars for living. Those are Choice, Responsibility and Communication.

Choice: people get to choose and we not only tolerate choice, we celebrate and embrace it . . . man, this is the first one and I’ve already re-written it several times. There are SO MANY THINGS that go into what all I mean by “choice” and how important it is. Our words and actions allow for others to choose. Every moment is a surprise because in humility we cannot predict and should not judge what others will do, and even when we do predict and predict correctly, we don’t arrogantly assume our prediction had anything to do with the outcome. Like I said, there’s a lot here. I could really use your help boiling down my thoughts. God’s ultimate gift to us is power to choose; we choose, circumstances and other people don’t choose for us no matter how much it seems the contrary, and we’re responsible for our choices.

Responsibility: directly following choice . . . because people choose, they and they alone are responsible for their choices and the following consequences. If this has a boundary where it’s no longer the case or becomes conditional, I don’t know where that is yet. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I feel uncomfortable at times. Especially nowadays when people love to blame life’s circumstances on “the system” or “the man” or some external object. Yikes. Ah . . .  so much to say!

Here’s another thing on my mind in this realm: expectations! Expectations are like choices we try to make for other people. They represent, among many things, made up rules we think everyone knows and has agreed to, even when they haven’t.

Example close to us and what we may face as we date: “If you really wanted to be a good boyfriend, THEN you would _____.” SAYS WHO? I mean, maybe. But is there a DEFINITIVE manual on being a good boyfriend? No! So if you WANT me to ____, ASK me. If you don’t ask . . . I may . . .  but I also may not! It may not be something I’m even thinking about . . . so if you want to be sure it happens, and you’re thinking about it, then ask me! Then I can choose to say Yes or No. And then I’ll be responsible for it, truly, because I have chosen.

Wow, there’s so much in here about boundaries of responsibility to unpack, but for now I’ll say: no circumstance can force choice upon a person, all choices are ours, therefore all results are ours.

OK OK OK some more here too . . . when it comes to development and personal needs, it’s my job to find out what I need to learn, it’s my job to then learn what I need to learn, it’s my job to seek mentors and teachers, it’s my job to learn and develop; it’s my job to be healthy, it’s my job to be fulfilled, it’s my job to discover what I like and what nurtures me and then do the work to obtain those things; it’s my job to ‘discover’ and decide what’s important to me — my values; it’s my job to declare for myself that “I am enough.” It’s no one else’s job to do any of those things for me. The same is true for you. Can I ask for help? Absolutely. I look forward to yours. Can you ask me for help with those things? Absolutely, I want you to.

Communication: pretty inescapable from the above on responsibility. Communication is . . . using words to express yourself as accurately as you can — yourself, meaning mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually; all the aspects of you.

Communication is using the words “will you” for requests (see my unfinished rant on people saying “Do you want to ____?” as an imperative or invitation). In response to people’s requests, communication is using the words “Yes,” “No,” or “No, and here’s my counter offer.” Communication is verbally expressing wants and desires, and then for the ones you want right now actually making the request (Will you…?) beyond the statement of desire.

Communication is transforming all internally held desires/hopes/expectations into words. Communication is not ever putting someone else in a position to mind-read their way to connecting/helping/working with/serving/loving you. Communication is not attempting to mind read, but is instead asking questions to let the person you are interested in hearing from speak the truth from their own mouth rather than getting answers from your imagination.

Communication is knowing you can only hold people to the promises they have actually made with speech and signatures (that sounds like responsibility and choice too).

Communication is acknowledging fulfilled promises and healthy behaviors; I think that’s a not-yet-complete functional definition of gratitude.

Communication is: owning and stating your stake in the ground, what’s important to you, what you value, the thoughts and intents of your heart, and taking the responsibility to let the world know what you’ve chosen in those realms.

See? I need your help here.

What’s missing? And how can it be said better . . . more simply and in fewer words?


 

With all that in the background . . .

Here’s my start at:

The Pillars of Our Partnership

The Pillars of Our Partnership

Not a stock photo — snapped this at Yale. Inside there are memorials for every student who has ever served and died in the U.S. Armed Forces. I was moved.

Why Partnership?

Because we believe that all performance is elevated and enhanced when done with the support of a dedicated partner. Even if the ‘act’ is solo (such as running a race or giving a speech or performing a piece of music) . . . a human preparing/practicing/living/acting without a dedicated partner will always, in the long run, underperform a human acting with the support of a dedicated partner.

What do I mean by dedicated?

Tennis star + coach  >  tennis star + coach(*0)

tennis star + coach + spouse  >  tennis star + coach + spouse(*0)

A coach could be called a partner. But a coach isn’t a dedicated partner. A coach is a partner for the activity they coach. A dedicated partner is a partner for all things.

This ‘math’ is our belief.

And it’s not performance alone that’s elevated and enhanced, but experience too.

Shared sorrow is half sorrow.

Shared joy is double joy.

Remember in Into The Wild when Alex Super Tramp writes “happiness only real when shared”? Yeah. All experience of that sort happens in the space between the Self and another.

And on.

 

The Pillars: Priority, Striving, Belief, Equality, Service, Togetherness, Forgiving, Vulnerability, Unconditionality

Priority: Partnership is a relationship that comes first. When I can respond to several people, I respond to you first. When I choose to allocate my time to several opportunities, I allocate time for us first. Regardless of circumstance or proportion and in all cases of competing choices, consideration goes to our partnership first.

Striving: I am a human. You are a human. I live and act imperfectly. Even when my intent is thoroughly pure, my actions will fall short and be laced with imperfection. The measuring stick, therefore, is not result or absolute ability. What counts is striving, putting forth effort that matches the bounds of present ability, accompanied with a willing heart that were it immortal and perfect would perform perfectly. Jesus asked if anyone had any fishes and loaves. He didn’t complain when the numbers were few. They gave what they had, and He made that work. Likewise, I give what I have and you make that work. You give what you have and I make that work. Together, we give grace to each other for our imperfect humanity.

Belief: Ready for this?

  • I believe in my own goodness. You believe in me believing in my own goodness. I believe in you, believing in me, believing in my own goodness.
  • You believe in your own goodness. I believe in you believing in your own goodness. You believe in me, believing in you, believing in your own goodness.

This is the ever presence and victory of belief (over fear and doubt). We give each other the benefit of the doubt. We assume first and always that the other has and is acting with the best intent — even when it seems and feels there’s ill will or intent to do harm. We assume positive will because we believe in each other’s goodness.

Believing in goodness also means believing you always have something to contribute and teach, while believing the other has something to contribute and teach you. Belief is believing in value.

Belief includes courage, and when I say, “you are enough,” you believe it, you believe that for me it really is enough and because I haven’t said so, I truly am not expecting more.

Equality: I hold myself to the same standards to which I hold you. Every agreement is a two-way street. Everything we ask for is also something we are willing to give. What applies to me, applies just the same to you.

Service . . . and Acceptance of Service: This is a pillar to love AND be loved. It’s not enough to give. Sometimes giving is easy. Service here is also to receive it. Sometimes, it is hard to receive help and support.

I look for ways to serve you, you look for ways to serve me.

You look for ways to ask me to serve you, I look for ways to ask you to serve me.

We both ask for help and support and service from the other. Especially in areas where we know the other may be lacking competence, comfort and confidence.

Because I know you embrace my meager, imperfect offerings of service, I look forward to you asking me to do things I’m no good at doing, but that will make the world of difference for you and for us. This is one way I really show my love and demonstrate Priority. Likewise, I look forward to asking for your help with things I know will be hard for you or that you may not enjoy, but you’ll strive (just as I strive) to serve because you, like me (equality), put us first (priority), being more willing to serve our partnership and be possibly embarrassed or frustrated, than tickle those insecurities and withdraw from growing our union.

Togetherness: We do all things together. See above re: how this holds even for solo performances.

You still have your victories, I still have mine. You are still responsible for your choices, as I am responsible for mine.

And yet we embrace an element of togetherness in all things.

We invite and value and recognize an element of shared victory. Of contributing service that enhanced the outcome. Of a material impact worthy of acknowledgement and commendation.

We don’t have boundaries about “my things” and “your things.” There’s always some shred of sharing and togetherness. If it isn’t obvious, or if it’s tempting to do solo and to push the other away, we resist that urge and look for and invent some way to do all things together.

Why? Because at least tangential involvement is always possible, and because of complementariness: my strengths support your weaknesses, my weaknesses are supported by your strengths. Complementary support IS how we grow together. And that’s what we’re committed to as partners: growing, excelling, experiencing . . . together.

Are we attached at the hip? No. Do we text each other every hour of the day? No. Do we relay every thing that happened to each other every day? No. Must we like the same things? No. Must we always travel together? No. Is asking for space ok? Yes, with a definite time limit of when we’ll reconnect.

All experiences are OPPORTUNITIES to grow individually and they are LEARNING experiences in how to come closer together, more fully knowing each other, operating together and fulfilling … partnership.

Forgiving: I see two kinds here.

One is forgiving in response to misperception: seeing that our experience of hurt follows our mistakingly and temporarily believing the other’s intent was for harm or driven by ill will. To come around and believe there was no ill intent and our hurt was not desired is to forgive. It’s not so much forgiving me as I didn’t intend to harm, but it’s forgiving yourself and our mutual imperfect communication that led to your misunderstanding. This again is a humble acknowledgment and an embrace of our common humanity, and it is where leaning on the Lord is so helpful. I didn’t mean for you to feel hurt. Yet, you felt hurt. It’s OK, because He felt that hurt. He can take the hurt. I didn’t want you to have the hurt. But now you’ve got it. Give it to Him. You can be whole.

The second kind is forgiving in response to actual ill will or intent to harm. I pray these situations between us will be few and far between. Ideally, never. To not include forgiving as a pillar would condition partnership on perfection. Perfection is unattainable in this mortal sphere. The moments we stand on this part of this pillar will hurt the most.

But the Lord has healed me and He has healed you. We can be made whole again and again and again.

Vulnerability: Vulnerability is a particular type of communication. It’s communication where you and I share and express all our thoughts and feelings, even the ugly ones.

There is a boundary here which is “dumping.” That’s vomiting all the nasty, which is sharing all that with no commitment for healing, improvement, forgiveness, etc. That’s not vulnerability. That twisted “vulnerability” is a form of dominating and emotional manipulation.

As Brené Brown says:

“Real authenticity actually requires major self-monitoring and isn’t . . . [communication with] the lack of self-monitoring.”

Healthy vulnerability, what I’m talking about, is that anything could be shared. There’s a willingness to share anything, and what actually gets shared is the complete truth of what’s relevant. (What’s relevant? Hmmmm . . . )

Vulnerability, in both directions is knowing it’s OK to be fully transparent because sometimes thoughts and feelings are just passing by and temporary . . . and hanging on to them and not sharing them has a way of keeping them around longer and allowing them to do more harm. So we share them, to be honest about how we feel and where we’re at in the moment. And (together) we work through them so they soften and then lose their grip.

It’s OK to share because I can stack up what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment as an experience you’re really having and not as something you’re committed to forever. And likewise, you won’t hold anything I ever share over my head, especially the stuff that I’m passing through. How can I say this better? Maybe we can borrow straight up from Neal A. Maxwell and Joseph Smith:

“Our light speeches from time to time, have nothing to do with the fixed principles of our hearts” said Joseph Smith. Should we not distinguish between the utterances of the moment and considered opinions? Do not all of us wish for that same understanding on the part of our friends, hoping they, “with the breath of kindness,” will “blow the chaff away”? (NAM, Mar 1986)

More . . . some of this came out in the section on service: vulnerability is asking for things that seem and feel hard to ask for . . . help where it feels embarrassing you can’t do it alone, desires that seem dark or weird or unconventional, challenges you’d rather me not know that you have.

Vulnerability is sharing the “darkness” within. Our inner demons. Our naughty thoughts. Our carnal natures. We all have light, and darkness. Vulnerability is letting down all propriety in each other’s company. It’s OK to be 100% you, even all the things you’ve ever thought were never OK about yourself.

Everything that’s there is you, and all that makes up the you that you are that I love. Therefore, it’s OK to share.

What else?

Vulnerability is also this: I can be strong for everyone in the world, but you are the one person where it’s OK for me to expose myself completely . . . I don’t always have to be strong for you. I will be strong. I will be strong with you and for you. But in my weakest moments, it’s OK to bare my all and be completely weak and exposed. It’s OK to have moments of powerlessness with you, moments where you have total advantage over me. And it’s OK because you’ll love me still. And I’ll love you still. And you won’t take advantage of me. And I won’t take advantage of you. And we won’t abuse the privilege of seeing the other in our weakest, most exposed positions.

I am a man. I’m supposed to be strong . . . and with you, just you, my partner, it’s OK in those moments if I’m not strong. While I’m strong for everyone else, you are the one person who gets to be strong for me.

Unconditionality: We live and choose and speak and love and act on these pillars. No. Matter. What. Nothing you do earns my fulfillment of my promises. Nothing I do causes me to deserve your fulfillment of your promises. We each, independent of the other, at all times and in all things, choose to strive to fulfill our promise in the partnership.

# # #

Whew.

I have no idea how grand and soul-stretching a journey this is going to be.

If being an entrepreneur has been a rollercoaster, then I imagine we’re in for the face-smashing, extreme-Gs of interstellar space travel. But tell you what, and this is probably obvious, I’m up for it. Not looking for an ordinary-tier partnership. I want and am working and will work for what’s extraordinary.

So, there they are for now: nine Pillars of Our Partnership.

Nine though? Don’t like the number. Would rather there be 8 or 10 or 12. I bet you’ll point out some biggies I left out. We’ll get there.

I’m so . . . just brimming and teeming with anticipation for you and what you’ll add.

When you get this, will you holler?

Onward and upward,

Nat Harward

P.S. also toying with mottos, crests, etc. “Truth and Kindness, in Deed and Word.” <== What do you think? (what led to this: strive to be kind, but never demote the truth. Words are powerful, but greater sermons are preached in action.)

P.P.S. [Nov 15] Had this thought . . . conflict and negotiation gotta go somewhere, right? Are they pillars? I don’t know . . . conflict is inevitable, you and I will never be 100% on the same page and that’s a good thing because it means we’re both continuing to have unique and meaningful contributions. We need each other. And when we’re not on the same exact page, that reality requires negotiation . . . which is communication that gets at how two people who want to choose differently will then choose to choose together . . . ok, so maybe there’s a second tier of pillars, things that combine pillars . . . communication + choice + togetherness ==> conflict; resolving conflict requires negotiation.

P.P.P.S. Guaranteed I will keep thinking of more facets; this chain of post-scripts will prolly get mighty long. Will work in those thoughts with you.

P.S.x4 [Nov 16] The word mindfulness belongs here. It’s laced in throughout already, but is so distinct it deserves to stand on its own, no? Perhaps as a pillar of living and there’s a version of it for partnership.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

By |2021-01-15T15:37:23-07:00November 14th, 2016|Faith, General Life|3 Comments

(draft) Silence and Feeling

I haven’t had the radio in my car on since . . . May. Or April.

Every now and then I’ll stream music from my phone or listen to a book or podcast.

But for 90% of the miles . . . I drive in silence.

# # #

Feeling and emotion is as real of a dimension in our human experience as thinking and intellectualizing.

We’re prompted so so much to interact intellectually.

Or to interact with responsive emotions, those emotions which are secondary. They are easier to inflame. You can kind of turn them on and off at will … anger, frustration, annoyance, disgust to name a few.

But dwelling there . . . in mind and in responsive emotions . . . has me miss out on the actual experience of being me that happens at the level of primary emotions.

Hurt.

Sadness.

Grief.

Rejection.

Contentment.

Satisfaction.

Honor.

Acknowledgment.

My world has been filled with NOISE that interrupts and drowns those out.

Those emotions are calmer.

Deeper.

Quieter.

More still.

If I move too fast and have the volume too loud, I don’t feel them.

I miss them, feeling instead whatever’s triggered by my environment.

So I’ve turned the volume down.

To feel . .

That is to be connected with myself and what’s actually happening. That is to allow what exists to be there. That is to know myself. That is to resolve all the underlying bits and pieces of my life. That is to do the actual self-awareness and self-improvement work to be available to accomplish more on my own and give more to others.

So yeah . . .

I’m a fan.

Of primary emotion feeling.

And for me, it happens in spaces of stillness and quiet.

It’s there too that, as Elijah said, comes the still, small voice of the Lord. There is that “inner wisdom” narrator. When all that there is to hear is what is inside … not the messages and agenda of others outside … there’s some good stuff there.

A lot more to say.

But for now, that’s all.

I’m a fan . . .

Of primary-level feeling.

And that happens in quiet spaces.

# # #

OH one more thing . . .

 

SOMETIMES that can even mean NOT listening to “good stuff” like General Conference talks. We can take ANYTHING and make it noise. Even holy music and holy writ and holy service can, in our dark desperate moments, be used as distractions.

It’s OK to have time and space of doing nothing but being with yourself and feeling.

We’re NOT required to cram every second of every day with content consumption and busy activity.

By |2016-10-09T23:32:39-06:00October 9th, 2016|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

(draft) A Seemingly Innocuous Argument for HRC as President that’s Actually REALLY Unhealthy

“But think of what it would mean for all the little girls in the United States and the world to see a woman in the White House . . .”

. . .  said a pro-HRC friend.

I’ve heard stuff like this before.

The token victor who then “opens the doors” for everyone else of the same demographic to feel able and capable and worthy.

Well.

It’s a totally unhealthy framework to come from.

The healthiest place for a person to affirm his or her identity is from Self.

In fact, it’s UNHEALTHY to affirm value, capability, identity, worth, possibility, in the actions of another.

Little girls don’t NEED a woman in The White House to say, “as a girl, I can do whatever I want.”

That’s unhealthy.

To place stock of one’s ability in the accomplishments of another.

If a young girl did that . . . built a chunk of her identity as a WOMAN/FEMALE on HRC being president . . .

What if HRC does a horrible job?

What if HRC gets assassinated?

What if HRC gets impeached?

What if she loses in re-election?

What if ANY un-stellar thing happens?

Then all the girls with their identities wrapped up in HRC, a female, being president, could have their futures shattered … “ah, I wanted to be president, but look how it turned out for HRC, a woman . . .”

Or whatever.

There are 100 ways to spin this.

Bottom line:

The ONLY healthy place from which to assert and affirm one’s value and identity is from the Self, and connected with that for those of us who credit existence to a supreme creator and more specific believe we are created in His image . . .

“I have worth because I say so(, that I am a child of God who believes in me and loves me fully, always). I can do good and make a difference because I can and do choose to do that(, with the gift of agency He’s granted unto me and with the power and support He lends to me every day).”

You think this girl needs to see a woman in the White House to become president?

No.

With self-affirmed value like this, she’ll get there all on her if she so chooses to commit herself to that endeavor.

It is a MISTAKE to say, “Oh, but an upside of having a token first-timer of a new demography in this visible position is GOOD because think of the message that sends to everyone of that demographic . . .”

NO.

Think about the ILL already existing in our society if YOU believe that people NEED to see “someone like them” doing something good in order for them to grant themselves permission to go for it.

EVERYONE has value.

EVERYONE is better off believing that and affirming their value on their own, rather than locating it or “finding” it in someone else’s accomplishments.

YOUR value is NOT contingent on ANYONE ELSE’s choices.

If you can see this is true for you . . .

Then indeed I believe you can see it’s true for EVERYONE else too.

# # #

Btw, this is the case for ALL combinations of demographics and roles/positions/accomplishments.

By |2021-01-15T15:37:23-07:00October 9th, 2016|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Faith Is . . .

I’m tired of lots of gospel words getting thrown around without precise definitions, so as an exercise for myself I’m laying out what I MEAN when I say . . .

 

And Faith would be one of those.

 

Faith is . . .

 

faith is deciding that a set of principles or positions are true and that you are going to live and abide and act as though they are true, when you have no factual reality/basis that they are, universally, for everyone, true

 

and it is going forward with that framework, believing in it, believing in yourself for having made it, believing in the source that makes it work (God), believing that come what may, you will weather it and the framework will still work and bring about the results you want

the belief is all there … and it’s living / speaking / choosing / acting in accordance with … that is the faith part

By |2016-10-09T19:02:43-06:00October 9th, 2016|Faith|0 Comments