Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top floor or basement -- what's your perspective?

By Elia Gourgouris
Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2009

Several months ago a friend of ours gave my wife a tile plaque that reads, "If it doesn't matter Eternally, does it really matter?" It now hangs in our kitchen and has become a daily reminder to us of trying to achieve an eternal perspective.

That one word "perspective" can determine to a large degree our level of happiness or misery in this life. So here's the choice: top floor or basement? Which will we choose to reside in, and for how long?

Let us examine the basement perspective for a minute. We've ALL been there. You know the routine: feelings such as, "It will never work out"; "I'm stuck and there's no way out of this problem"; "I'm so depressed, I don't want to get out of bed"; or even more dire, pleading with God "Please take me home, I'm done with this life!" All of these are human emotions that everyone will encounter at some point in their lives.

The circumstances could be the loss of a loved one, when the pain is so intense that we feel like we truly cannot bear it. It could be a broken relationship or a divorce that causes us to feel like the entire world has come crashing down around us. It could be a financial setback that threatens our survival. It could be one of our beloved children going astray, making poor choices and breaking our hearts.

There are so many reasons why we end up in the basement. Let's us not beat ourselves up, but rather make a conscious choice to become "visitors" as opposed to permanent residents.

The basement perspective is one that's filled with fear, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, helplessness and, ultimately, faithlessness. Like I said before, we've all been visitors at least.But let's take a look at the other end of the spectrum. What's the view from the top floor? Some might say expansive, beautiful, full of light, hope and optimism!

Clearly the higher up we go, the more positive the response to events that might even feel overwhelming. In the scriptures we read that "...this too shall pass."

What are the requirements to becoming "permanent residents" and not merely visitors to the top floor? It all starts with an abiding testimony of the gospel and the plan of salvation. I know who I am, why I'm here and, most importantly, where I'm going. I know that God loves me with ALL my imperfections and has created a path for me to return home to him.

Faith coupled with hope brings us closer to our preferred residence. The goal in life is not just to endure to the end but to endure to the end well, with gratitude in our hearts for all of our many blessings. With thankfulness in our souls for even the adversities in life, because they make us who we are and help us to cultivate empathy for those around us.

A helpful reminder that we are not alone can go a long way toward finding peace, happiness and even joy in this lifetime. May we strive to be brief visitors to the basement and quickly return to being permanent residents of the very top floor -- the one closest to God.If it doesn't really matter eternally, perhaps we can choose to let it go sooner.

If it does matter eternally, then we should choose to embrace it with all our hearts.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Where are the cons of yesteryear?

My friends, circa 1980, doing the Science Fiction thing... Mostly in Logan's Run costumes. "Renew! Renew!"

Dave the Great Wall of Provo (In a 'Star Trek the Motion Sickness' uniform), Patrica and Robin as dreaded Sandmen, Scott aka "Runner",  and a few people I don't remember the names of. 

 To quote Robin (who was also actually quoting an obscure animated film when she said it), "We were young, we were wolves..."

Ah, yes, I don't remember being this young - but I seem to have the pictures to prove it, so it must have happened.

I apologize in advance for publishing this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March Marches Along

Okay, I know I haven't posted anything since my father passed away in December. My bad. It's just been one thing after another since then, I had a cold that lingered, followed by a cough that hasn't quite left me, followed by a sinus infection, followed by more dental surgery, following by... well, you get the idea.
I feel like the women in the picture to the left: always waiting for something that never seems to materialize. Waiting for what, I'm not sure. After the 7.9 earthquake in Tonga this morning, who knows, it may be that the San Andreas will finally do the fatal shimmy they've been expecting for the past umpteen years...
There's always something.
Yet, in spite of the doom and gloom in the air, life has its moments of joy: a good book, a good laugh, a good meal, sharing with friends, working with the Young Women's program in church.
Last Sunday the Young Women sang a song about being a "Lighthouse in the Night". The song has stuck with me since we started rehearsing it a month ago. The message of the song is simple: you can be the light in someone's life. What example are you going to set?
Maybe the most crucial thing we ever learn in this life is to know that God is in reality our Father and Jesus Christ is in reality His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. That truth, if you really believe it, changes everything.
And while I'm on the subject of the women in the picture...
The following is taken from a talk given by a very wise man named Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (Ensign, Nov 2005). He was speaking to a group of young women, but I think what he says is so applicable to older women, too:
We are all different. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: “You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling confident is to always listen to your inner self—the real you.”
And in the kingdom of God, the real you is “more precious than rubies.”
Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or [one of her friends] does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good .. doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.

Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood.
In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.”

In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.” And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild.. because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.

A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity.
If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Brother Holland concludes with these words:
Much has been said lately in entertainment media about the current craze for “reality shows.” I am not sure what those are, but from the bottom of my heart I share this gospel reality ...

My solemn declaration to you is that the Father and the Son did in very fact appear to the Prophet Joseph Smith, himself a young man called by God... I testify that these divine beings spoke to him, that he heard Their eternal voices, and he saw Their glorified bodies.
That experience was as real in its own setting as the Apostle Thomas’s was when the Savior said to him, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: … be not faithless, but [be] believing.”
Dear friends, wherever you are, be believing.