My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Archive for the category “Marriage”

Change Your Course

light house at night

On Mondays I go into work late. When my wife takes her lunch from work she drives the five minutes back to our home and we enjoy our Monday lunches together.

Today when Anna Melissa came home for lunch our conversation turned to our goals as a family, where we want to be personally in a few months as we prepare to be parents, where we want to live, our careers, and other imposing subjects. After a brief conversation and exchanging of thoughts and ideas she asked almost rhetorically, “What have you done today to get us towards those goals?” She then went on and shared some of her thoughts and aspirations for us as a couple.

The question got me thinking, even though it was asked in a passing and indirect manner, “What have I done today?” And I was happy to be able to affirm to myself that I was on the right course.

Yesterday I taught our priesthood quorum in our new branch. I taught from the talk given by Elder Ulisses Soares in our last General Conference, Be Meek and Lowly of Heart, and encouraged the brethren to change whatever might be in their lives that might be keeping them from the meekness that Elder Soares so beautifully describes. We discussed tempers, pride, family relationships, marriage, children, and how easy it is to get off course. In closing I told a story about once when my pride had gotten the better of me in my life. I told them how my arrogance led to a loss of the Holy Spirit, and how eventually coming to realize I was wrong and then asking forgiveness had brought a cleansing and peaceful spirit into my life. “Change your course brethren if your lack of meekness is causing a lack of the Spirit in your life,” was the gist of what I said.

Afterwards multiple brethren came up and thanked me for the lesson. It wasn’t me though. I hadn’t even wanted to teach from that specific talk. But a loving God knew what needed to be said to that group of people at that time and He said it through the weakest vessel He had.

You may remember the story about the ship captain who had a problem with his pride. One night at sea, this captain saw what looked like the light of another ship heading toward him. He had his signalman blink to the other ship: “Change your course 10 degrees south.” The reply came back, “Change your course 10 degrees north.” The ship’s captain answered: “I am a captain. Change your course south.” To which the reply came, “Well, I am a seaman first class. Change your course north.” This so infuriated the captain, he signaled back, “I say change your course south. I am on a battleship!” To which the reply came back, “And I say change your course north. I am in a lighthouse.”

Sometimes in our lives we just need to stop whatever we are doing and change. We need to change course. We need to let go of our pride, our intellect, and our own wills and admit that there is a better way. The greatest Way of course which is the Savior’s Way and example. Treating our family, friends, coworkers, and everyday associates with love, respect, and kind words is always the best path to follow. Jesus Christ is the ultimate lighthouse. The trick is making sure to change our courses according to His prescribed plan.

 

 

 

Following God’s Plan

My wife and I on our wedding day at The Birmingham Alabama Temple.

My wife and I on our wedding day at The Birmingham Alabama Temple.

Last night my wife and I were about to sit down and enjoy a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory. I’ve always loved the show, and since getting married, she’s taken a great liking to it too. We’re only on day 23 of our marriage, but somehow we’ve rushed through the first three seasons of DVD’s and are now on season four. I’m not sure how many episodes that boils down to us watching per day of our marriage, but I’m going to assume it’s higher than we would probably like to admit. The antics of Sheldon Cooper just cannot be matched. In any case, we were sitting down on the couch last night and I felt that I needed to take a moment to point something out.

“Baby, I have to tell you something,” I said looking Anna Melissa straight in the eyes. I realized I had used a bit more of a forceful tone that I had intended to use and she looked at me like I had just said something ominous.

“Okay, go ahead,” she said somewhat reluctantly. She sat back into the corner of the couch with her legs crossed in front of her, as if she was bracing for some big storm of words. We’ve had nothing but a perfectly blissful marriage so far. Perhaps she thought this would be the moment when perfection finally ceased? She furrowed her eyebrows and looked me straight on.

I apologized for sounding so drastic, and then said something that has in a real sense overwhelmed me for the past few days.

“Y’know,” I started off casually, “if you had asked me a year ago where I would be today I would have never have dreamed it would have been here with you. I had completely different life dreams, and a vision, and a plan. This is in no way part of that,” I said as I motioned around our small apartment living room. “But,” I continued, “I cannot imagine my life being any happier than I am right now. I cannot imagine being happier in any way at all, and I love you, and I’m thankful that I married you.”

That was it.

She gave me that “Awwwe Shucks” face of her’s which is adorable, and she leaned forward for a kiss. We shared a few more brief words of how happy we are together, and then the night continued on with our recorded sitcom television. Just a few seconds worth of conversation in a lifetime full of events, but what I said was true, and as I sit here today it is still echoing in my mind.

A year ago I had big plans. They involved moving back to Utah, an eventual marriage (to some unknown beauty), being a published author by the end of the year, and a goal to learn to play the guitar. Then the first Sunday in February I met Anna Melissa. There are varying accounts to how that first interaction proceeded (I was after all asking her friend out on a date when we met), but suffice it to say I married the right gal. She is the most perfect woman in the world for me and, and as I told her last night, I could not be any happier. I would not change a single thing about the previous year. But it’s funny how life just happens amidst all of our well laid plans.

A few months ago I was listening to This American Life on NPR. The story was about the Plan B’s of life. Not people’s Plan A. But Plan B. The thing that they ended up doing after their Plan A to achieve all of their hopes and dreams and when things just didn’t work out. The engaging story included the tale of Ceurvo Man, a hired personality on a small island owned by Jose Cuervo where the liquor company does elite weekend getaways. There was also a story about a man named Barry Keenan who had gotten rich at a very young age and then lost it all, only to end up trying to kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr.

“Jeez!” I thought to myself driving down the interstate to a new job I had recently started, “I’m glad my life didn’t end up like that.” Yes, I once wanted to rich and famous, but I haven’t become a felon or tried kidnapping any D-List celebrities along the way.

It turns out Mr. Keenan’s efforts to kidnap young Frank Jr. never really worked out. However, it really got me to thinking, what was my life’s Plan A? What were my hopes and dreams? Why didn’t I achieve them? And as I got to thinking I realized that I never really planned well enough for my Plan A, or B, and somehow despite my best efforts at planning I was probably somewhere between Plan Q and Plan 22.7 subsection C.

In the Mormon culture we’re always referring to The Plan of Happiness, or God’s Plan, or The Plan of Salvation. The great and epic plan for all of our lives, planned, prepared, and perpetuated since before the beginning of time. It’s the way we’re supposed to get back to God’s presence. It applies to everyone in the world and we’re bound by covenant to try and share it with the world. There is, after all, no better way to share the gospel than to invite a friend over for some Kool Aid, smile really big, and invite them to learn about The Plan of Happiness. – No. Nothing weird about that at all. – Sometimes I think we get lost in our own life plans though, planning for education, or marriage, or kids, and sometimes lose sight of God’s plan for our lives.

On September 28th of this past year in the annual Relief Society General Meeting Sister Linda K. Burton taught that covenant keeping strengthens, empowers, and protects us. She said simply,

“Covenant keeping is essential for true happiness.”

She continued by saying that covenant keeping also demonstrates our love for the Father and the Son, and that ordinances are spiritual milestones, noting that they are the crucial test of life is to see if we will make and keep covenants.

Is my life where I planned it to be a year ago, or five years ago, or even a decade ago? No. But is yours? Have all of your plans came to fruition?

Yet I’m happy. Indeed, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. And even if I am on Plan 22.7 subsection C I know that my happiness comes from obedience to the Lord, His gospel, and my covenants. I married the right person in the right place at the right time, and we could not be happier.

My life is evidence that sometimes Plan A, or Plan B just don’t work out. My life is evidence that screw ups have a chance, and that the greatest happiness in life comes from just doing the most plain and simple things we’re asked to do.

Where will me and my family be in five years? It’s hard to say. But I have no doubt that as we follow God’s plan in our lives we’ll find the greatest joy there is to be found in this life.

In the meantime, I’m sure we’ll be catching up on The Big Bang Theory.

Preparing For Marriage

I hadn’t noticed until a friend pointed out the other day, but despite my best efforts to not turn into one of those deeply personal bloggers who bares his whole soul to the world, I have done just that. And obviously on numerous occasions. It appears that when I start thinking about marriage I just can’t help myself from getting all ooey gooey and becoming the sappiest of the sapsters and publishing my feelings to the world. (You can see evidence of my sappiness here, here, here, and here.)

“You might as well be a teenage girl crushing on Justin Bieber,” my friend said as we talked.

Justin Bieber?! Ouch. That cut deep.

So I rebutted in the best way I knew how.

“You’re mean. And you’re off the Christmas List,” I stated categorically. Yes, I really know how to punish people good.

“Face it Stan. You’re going to be 40, unmarried, and have a trailer full of cats,” he continued.

Oddly, the Justin Bieber remark seemed more hurtful. So I countered my friend’s good ribbing.

“Look, I’m only 28, I’m working on it. And I dislike both trailers and cats.”

Obviously it’s a good thing that I’m not a defense attorney.

My conversation with my friend was just another useful reminder that it’s time to get married. Truthfully it would be as easy for me to say it’s time to build a pyramid. Both statements present challenges for which I am ill prepared. I lack the most critical component needed when desiring a marriage, namely someone to get married to. And I lack 3 ton limestone blocks or skills to hoist them; so I suppose the pyramid idea isn’t going to get far off the ground. But I suppose either is possible if you’re looking for a miracle.

This is something I’ve put a lot of effort into lately. I’ve made a categorical study of marriage. The kind of man I need to be. The kind of woman I should be looking for. I’ve read my scriptures. I’ve pondered. I’ve fasted. I’ve prayed. I’ve gone to the temple and at times in the celestial room I’ve wanted to raise my hands to the heavens and say, “Hey! Yeah! It’s me again! I’m begging for some help here in the relationship department!” But each time I was about to get out the “Hey!” some elderly sister in white would give me that look that only a mother (or a temple worker) could give, letting me know that I need to keep it quiet.

Tonight I decided I was going to skip the marriage study though. – After all, you can only read about others’ eternal happiness so many times before you just want to chew on tinfoil to distract yourself from the fact that you’re single. – I figured I’d just read some Isaiah or something before falling asleep. So I got online and decided to waste a few minutes. After sitting down at my desk I opened my Google Chrome Window and decided that maybe I would browse for books at Deseret Book’s website. Christmas shopping is nearly here, and I figured I could maybe find a couple of good gifts for some people.

As soon as I got to the page I saw this:

I got excited because Elder David A. Bednar’s talks and writings have a profound way of touching and teaching me personally. I clicked on the advertisement, read a little bit, clicked on another page and ended up on a different page watching YouTube videos of Elder Bednar teaching groups of people. It was great. I was going through each video on the page individually until I saw the title of one…

Preparing for Marriage: An Invitation

And I knew I might as well give up.

I watched the video. And I was touched at how gracious my Heavenly Father is in trying to teach me, even when I’m a stubborn student.  Even when trying to run away from the lessons I need the most, the Lord had a different plan in store for my evening. It was a true tender mercy.

Yes, the Lord has been impressing upon me more and more lately that it’s time to get married. Or, if nothing else, at least time to work really hard at getting married. If you clicked the links at the beginning of this blog post you’ve already seen how sappy I can be. So here’s to hoping that I do find an eternal companion in the near future…

Because I’m afraid of what the next year’s worth of blog posts could be like if I don’t get hitched soon.

Stan Way

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