December 24, 2012
Dear family and friends,
Earlier tonight my buddy Chad Bennet from Church had sent me a text. Not long before he had typed up a really long post, bearing his testimony and sharing with everyone what Christmas means to him. It was really moving, which prompted me to send him a message thanking him. Inspiration for this post comes from what I had sent him.
What does Christmas mean to me? Every single year many of the same thoughts keep going through my mind, although I’m exposed to new ideas each new year. One thing that has bothered me is seeing the Salvation Army out in front of the front doors of major stores. Please hear me out on this. Their cause is wonderful. The volunteers have a heart of gold, especially the ones spending hours in the colder climates. However, where is this wonderful organization the rest of the year? If their mission is so important, why don’t they care enough to ring their bells in June or July? Based on this small yet important facet of the image they portray, those people only are in need just before Christmas.
Even though I will end up making more money this year than I ever have, I barely bought any Christmas gifts. Things have become so commercialized. Christmas is about family. Christmas is about really giving of yourself. Christmas is about the birth of our savior and redeemer, Jesus Christ. Here’s a great quote by Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is the time to love the Lord our God with all our heart—and our neighbors as ourselves. It is well to remember that he who gives money gives much, he who gives time gives more, but he who gives of himself gives all. Let this be a description of our Christmas gifts.
Even though I am against the commercialization of Christmas and the pressure placed on those in our society to spend until we are in debt, just to avoid being shamed, I surely do enjoy giving of myself to others. Because of not making myself vulnerable enough to really get to know the people closest to me, I have struggled to know what to buy for them. Hopefully, the lesson that I can take from this is that I need to do anything necessary to get to know these people better. I need to ask the right questions. I need to find their needs.
For some of these people many miles separate us. It makes giving of my time quite a challenge. Maybe I can find a way to give of myself. That really takes a lot of heart, pondering, and praying for answers.
I really struggle with how others see me. Normally it does not make a difference to me. However, I am a giver, a provider, and a lover. I really feel the need to share my love with others. When I stuggle to find ways to share my love or to get people to accept my gifts of love, I easily get frustrated. Of the four major types of “boxes” of justification for conflict, I am most prone to get stuck in the The Must-Be-Seen-As Box:
View of myself: need to be well thought of, fake
View of others: judgmental, threatening, my audience
Feelings: anxious, afraid, needy, stressed, overwhelmed
View of the world: dangerous, watching, judging me
The best thing to do is to stop thinking about doing things. As Yoda said, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” We are rewarded for taking action, even if it is a rushed action, resulting in mistakes. You learn so much more from your mistakes than from the frustrations you incur when dwelling on action but doing nothing instead.
Now that I have that stuff out of the way, let’s move onto some real “Change” and “Hope.” In our society we have created so many bad habits for ourselves. When there is conflict in our lives, names are called. Accusations are made. Comparisons are made. Talking-down is done. In split seconds we find ways to justify our wrongdoings. That person did this. This person said that. That person is just lazy. This person just does not care. That person is just rude.
We all are people. We all have feelings. We all have needs. Even that person that hurt you is hurting inside. Think of the person who last hurt you. Could you imagine if he / she apologized to you and wanted to work things out with you. Let’s turn things around. What’s stopping you from taking this step in the conflicts in your life?
Gratitude is the source of happiness. You have nothing to be happy about if you feel no gratitude. I beat gratitude to death on recent posts, so we don’t need to elaborate this time. For now, think of those conflicts in your life. These people came into your life for some good reason or another. Otherwise you would have never been friends, family, or a couple. Stop, write down a list of the reasons you are truly blessed for knowing those people. Read those lists out loud to yourself. You will find the heart to reach out to those people. Let go of the booby prize, which is pride / hurt. Once you’ve done that, you can claim your grand prize: a healthy, loving, meaningful relationship!
I had a lot of really crappy things happen this year. Then again, I have had some incredible blessings that I would have otherwise never dared imagine! It all comes from perception. Please read this great article, Looking for the Good by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. You will find what you are looking for. If your attitude sucks, you will find all the bad things in your life. If you really go off the deep end, you will sound like the lady described by Zig Ziglar in his talk, Attitude Makes All the Difference. Here’s a great, concise quote by Charles Dickens to help you understand this concept “Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.”
Thank you for putting up with my long-winded ramblings. There is a point to this all. It’s all part of where I have been. The journey is not to be discounted when considering the destination. Here’s where it all happens.
The year 2012 has been such an amazing journey! In January I moved over to the Customer Development Team at work. I now work just down the street from home. I get to express my gratitude to 50-100 of my company’s customers each day. Oftentimes they really don’t want to talk. Fortunately, each day I am given many opportunities to really make a difference in their accounts. Additionally, I won a three-day trip to Las Vegas, an NFL jersey, a $1,000.00 Costco shopping spree (scored a new camera!), and then won $1,000.00 at our Holiday Party! I apologize if I appear to brag; I am just so full of gratitude that I cannot contain myself!
July brought with it a two-week cross-country drive to Chicago! I got to spend time with my family in Missouri and Illinois. I even spent two days in a row in Downtown Chicago. I really love road trips, so this is something that Laura and I have been talking about doing since we first began dating in 2008!
Also, since 1998 I had not gone camping. I got to go twice up in Payson, AZ! That was such a nice break from work! Plus, both trips involved so many great people from my Church.
Yes, I have gone through a lot of struggles this year. So many people have tried to give me advice of what to do. Just like how I want to help others that I love, you too have tried to help me. There is no way that I can take everyone’s advice. I am not to be drawn and quartered! Ultimately, I am the one who needs to live with my choices. Thank you for all the time you spent listening to me. Thank you for your kind words of support. Thank you for your love.
Out of struggles come the lights at the end of those tunnels. I just want you to know that those lights are shining so brightly upon me. With so many of these journeys I have already reached the destination. However, with the others, I can already see my destination in the near distance! With those struggles comes growth! I have become such a stronger and wiser person.
I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. I have practiced so many bad habits for so long. Just like a former alcoholic, that ice-cold beer looks so good, even though the associated memories of destruction come with that refreshment. Luckily I am able to recognize my yellow light behaviors, get outside of the box, and usually I do the right thing. I am truly grateful for your patience.
I am who I am because of me. I have an unquenchable fire inside of me that is raging out of control! However, so many of you have been incredible models of who I want to become. Additionally, I have had some truly amazing people in my formidable years who laid down the groundwork: my family!
Mom in the early 1990s with Santa after volunteering for pictures with Santa
This year we have all worked hard towards being the best people we can be. Let’s not lose sight of that. Be kind to one-another. Love unconditionally. Other than the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, those are the main reasons for Christmas.
If you are reading this, please know that I love you and value the contributions you have made in my life. Merry Christmas!