Saturday, May 23, 2015

I'm a Hypocrite

There's been a lot of buzz lately in the media over hypocrisy.  There's something about people being in the limelight that makes us need to rip any mistake they make to shreds, especially when it contradicts what that person believes, therefore branding them as a hypocrite.  I guess that's rightfully so!  A hypocrite is someone whose behavior doesn't match their beliefs, and is one of the most universally upsetting types of people out there.  We love pointing out the audacity of others' hypocrisies, knowing we would never be as blatantly self-deceptive as that person.  However, that leads me to a confession I need to make:

I am a hypocrite.
I mean, seriously.  He's beautiful.

But you know what?  So are you.

The wise (and beautiful) Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said, "If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites," ("Come, Join With Us" April 2014).  That means that if any of us ever make a mistake ever with anything we think is true, we are hypocrites.

But we don't like being hypocrites.  So what do we do to remedy the situation?  Stop having standards.

That's right.  Give up.  If you have any standards at all, you will break them to some degree at some point.  Even the basics: most people believe it's important to be nice.  How often do we do, say, or think unkind things to or about another person?  You dirty hypocrite.  It's widely accepted that passing judgment on others is wrong.  But how often do we judge the judgers?  Whether or not they're actually judgmental is not really for us to know or, frankly, care about.  I'd venture to say that a good 90% of things we get our panties in a twist over have little bearing on our lives, especially the mistakes of those that are famous.  Are you ever going to meet that person?  Has what they've done actually impacted you or anyone you love?  They might reflect general problems with society, but then again, so do our mistakes.

Most of us have some sort of truths we believe in.  Most of us are trying our best to live up to those things the best that we know how.  Most of us are trying to improve ourselves to the point of living in perfect harmony with our standards.  Until we get there, though, I wonder how much grief would be eliminated from the world if we all paused just a second before lashing out at a hypocrite to think about how hypocritical we are ourselves.  What if we extended hands to our fellow hypocrites to help them live up to their beliefs instead of casting stones to knock them right back down from where they came from?
Be kind.  Ephesians 4:31-32

Personally, I fall short of my standards.  But that means that I have standards to fall short of!  I wish I could say I was perfect, but the fact is (or at least evidence points to) that I'm human.  And so are you.  And I personally think that we should all stop focusing so much on others' mistakes and start focusing on our own.

Let's just all be a little more kind is my prayer in the name of the only perfect Being to ever walk this earth, even Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ballet and Repentance

Hey, World!

It's nice to come up for air after a month and a half of burying myself in school, church, and other activities!  I've had some Gospel parallels bouncing around my head, and I need to splatter them out on a page before I forget!  Don't worry, I can still pull Gospel analogies out of just about anything.  Three months isn't enough to put out the cheesy RM flames, yet!

Since my freshman year, dance has become a surprisingly big part of my life, especially considering the fact that I was never really interested in dance in any way before.  But on finding the International Folk Dance team,

(Shameless plug: come see the Folk Dance team's performance "Christmas Around the World!"  Use promo code "CAW2014" for $2 off each ticket, and make sure to drop the name "Katie Jacobson" when you do! ;)  End plug.)

I've found a great way to develop skills I never knew I had and work towards goals that literally and figuratively stretch me.  To work towards those big goals, and because it's just dang fun, I've taken a bunch of other dance classes, including intermediate ballet this semester.  I thought the class was just going to be a breezy, fun class.  Ha.

A few little notes about ballet: it's hard, and it's painful.  You cannot half-do anything, and you cannot do all the cool jumps and turns the imaginary ballerina in your head does whenever "ballet" comes to mind until you master the basics of posture, muscle control, turnout, muscle control, and so much more.

One day in class, after a particularly intense session of my teacher lovingly cranking my legs, pulling my hips, and poking my butt back into place (she does it because she cares, I swear!), I thought a bit about how I couldn't expect anymore to actually progress as a dancer if I just stay in my comfort zone--where my legs don't quiver and my heinee doesn't burn for days after class.  Though it might burn, the constant repositioning and tweaking and straining and stretching is what makes a good ballerina.

Now repentance.  You cannot half-do anything.  You cannot expect to have an unshakable, sea-parting testimony without mastering the basics of prayer, scripture study, exercising faith, attending church meetings, and so much more.  Staying in the comfort zone is not what repentance is about--"good enough" is not good enough.  Repentance is constant repositioning and tweaking and straining and stretching until you are a different person.  When you undergo true repentance, your very desires and the core of who you are are different.  And just like ballet, improvement never ends!  There is always something to work on, even when you think you're squeezing your seat tightly enough.  (Hypothetically speaking, of course...)

And just like ballet, we have a loving Teacher who cranks, twists, pulls, and pokes at us to help us reach the potential He sees in us.  He does it because He cares, I swear!  He helps us feel that "If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26).

It's not enough to avoid the bad.  We must constantly be seeking to fill our lives with good, and better, and better.  When we're comfortable, something is wrong.  (And usually there's a finger coming to poke your hindquarters back into place right soon to come.)  That's the fun of life!

This week, focus on overcoming any spiritual complacency or comfort.  Stretch yourself!  Throw more of yourself into improving than you did yesterday, and become a better person at the end of the day than you are now.  I promise, happiness comes from sore spiritual muscles.

I love you all!

P.s. My computer isn't letting me put pictures on this one... you'll just have to use your imaginations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Seek Light

Hey, world!

I was going to start off by talking about my inner nerd, but I feel like there's nothing "inner" about my nerd.  So I'll just say what I'm interested in and let you all judge me for being one.

Subject: light.  Possesses both wave- and particle-like qualities.  Spreads out and becomes a pretty rainbow, concentrates and becomes a deadly sci-fi weapon.  Emits heat, dispels darkness, bends, refracts, reflects, is visible and invisible, and can win a race against anyone.  Heck, if you were to run a race against light and tie, you would become denser and flatter in the process!

The most curious to me, though, is how it draws things to it.  Insects to those zappy things, bears to campfires, bums to beaches, whatever.  Light has that innate quality to attract, no doubt in part because it warms and provides clearer direction, but it also seems to radiate (no pun intended) with some inherent goodness.  All these qualities are shared by spiritual light as well.

(Bonus points to whoever can come up with a parallel to spiritual light and lasers and reports back to me.)

Too perfect.
All light comes from God, which is also where all goodness comes from.  His guidance through revelation is the fastest way to gain direction, it provides warmth and comfort to a broken heart, and that goodness and light inherently seem to draw people to it.  Both kinds of light are very important to me and both have made cool appearances in my life lately.

Like that one time I came into the kitchen to turn the light off and found a beam shining directly on my scriptures.  Or after a long day in the math lab, somehow being directed to walk upstairs to my professor's office, who normally isn't there then, and being able to get some guidance from him that helped me feel tons better that day.  The light--or the Light--drew me into where I needed to go.

So in any area of your life where you may feel darkness--sadness, despair, confusion--seek light.  Through good people, places, goals, activities, as long as they shed that God-given light.  Seek it through prayer, scripture study, and seeking God in general.  It's no coincidence that Joseph Smith said he "[remained] in darkness and confusion," before he "saw a pillar of light," (Joseph Smith History 1:12-17).  God's light is given to all, and it will illuminate our paths more the more we seek Him.

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life," (John 8:12).

I love you all!

P.s. Here are some great videos on physical and spiritual light from people that have way more credence than I do!  Watch them!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Small Reminders, Big Happiness

Hey, world!

Starting classes up again has made my brain feel like a nice delicious plate of scrambled eggs.  But you know what?  Life is great!  Things might seem hard (like remembering math... as a math major),  things might get stressful, and sometimes it's been easy to focus on that--the right then and there of a hard, stressful situation.  But the Lord has given me some great reminders this past week and a half!

I didn't take any pictures this week, but a guy with a fancy camera did!
1. Serving your fellow brothers and sisters will help you as much as you help others.  That's not to say we should serve out of motivation to help ourselves; that's a bit self-defeating.  Awkward.  But in essence, we are blessed as we try to be a blessing in others' lives.  In any low-grade moping I've done, I've noticed that it vanishes as soon as turn outward and try to find someone to help that day, and I've been able to feel more of God's love for me as I've focused on feeling His love for them.  Even though we shouldn't use serving others as a way to procrastinate doing the things we need to (guilty.), I've noticed that when my thoughts are not centered on myself, they're much more positive and uplifting than when I try to shut out everyone with my impregnable fortress of self-centeredness.  (Word?  It is now.)

2. God answers prayers, but a lot of the time, it's up to us to find the answer.  I've seen so many small (and big) miracles these past two weeks, but only after reviewing the things I've prayed for and the things that happened, or didn't happen, in the proceeding hours, days, whatever.  It's so easy to miss when we're not looking!
Example.  Before a folk dance workshop I was part of (9:00am-9:00pm.  That's 12 hours of dancing.  No big deal.), I felt prompted to pray to find someone to help that day.  So I did.  And forgot about it pretty much as soon as I started trying to remember how to dance.  (Which after 18 months of groove power-down was not pretty.)  As soon as I got to the audition, I talked to a girl who didn't know much of what was going on, and was able to help her out, not making the connection to my prayer earlier.  Until later that night.  But no sooner had I made that connection than I remembered how great it is to have a God that hears, cares about, and responds to us.  Prayer is an open, continuous line of communication, if we want it to be. Cry unto Him in times of need, but don't forget about Him in between (Alma 24:27).

                                                   3. Yeah, trials are hard.  But they're necessary.  To become who we want to be, we have to overcome trials that our "who we want to be" selves would be able to handle.  It's like spiritual weight lifting: we might be that scrawny white kid at the gym, but we have to start lifting if we ever hope to look like that fridge of a man in the corner!  The best way to tackle something (or someone... not that I would know...) is take it down head on, even though we feel like taking it at an angle might soften the impact.  Just go for it.  With all your momentum heading that direction, you'll make it there.  Just like Jacob in the Book of Mormon said,
Like so.  (Yeah, Cougs!)
"We have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path," (2 Nephi 10:20).
I challenge you to seek for God's hand in your life every day, because it's always there.  It's there in helping you find people to serve, in answering prayers, and in helping you through trials.  Show God your appreciation for His help by always remembering Him, not just when we need things or when times get hard.  Life is so much happier with Someone who knows what He's doing!  So get that happiness!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to the "Y"

Last view of Canandaigua Lake...
Hey, world!

...And first view of the "Y" again!
If I told you everything I've been up to this week, you'd all fall asleep.  So, cutting to the chase, tons of things have happened!  Suffice it to say that I'm in Utah now, anxiously awaiting the start of fall semester at BYU!

I've also landed a job at the campus Subway, so I'm being paid for my "womanly sandwich-making duties."  Go ahead.  Stereotype me.  I'm making money while you do. :)

All of us coworkers have asked the general get-to-know-you questions, and I've been asked a bunch if this is my first semester.  Even though I already have three under my belt, I almost feel like it is!  Restarting college after not being in it since December 2012 and everything that goes with it has put some ants in my pants.  But through the mild worries of classes, time management, work, social life, etc., and maintaining a missionary mindset through all the upcoming things, it's just been another chance for the Lord to show me how aware of us He is.

Mission shoe collage!
Whether it's been through good advice from friends and family, words in a talk of a complete stranger in church this past sunday, comfort through the scriptures, or the happiness that comes from being kissed by a boy (my 3 year old nephew giving goodnight kisses...  Eat your hearts out, ladies, he's a cutie!), I've been granted so many tender mercies to remind me that He loves us and He'll take care of us, especially when we're taking care of what He's asked us to do.  In all my macho attempts at being a strong, independent woman who don't need no help, sometimes I let myself forget that people usually want to help, and our Father in Heaven especially does.  He wants to and He will if we just let Him.  He often sends help through "angels" here with people we interact with every day, and He also gives us that help through the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, as we seek for it.  And as I've remembered that I really can't do it all on my own, I've found strength far greater when I lean on Him for support.  Lehi in the Book of Mormon pretty well sums up the way I feel when he says,

The heavenly view out my plane window
"But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love," (2 Nephi 1:15).

Letting God into our lives is so much more than just aiming for Heaven and avoiding Hell in the afterlife.  It's about finding Heaven through His love here on Earth, too!  When we let go of our stubborn pride and just acknowledge that we can't do this without His help (or at the very least it'll be WAY more difficult than it would be with His help), we might feel like we're letting some of our strength go, but in reality, we're adding more strength to face the challenges of life than we could ever find through sheer willpower.  His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  Any time we rebel against Him, we're just adding a brick to our buckets--when will we realize we're just being ridiculous?

This week, I'd encourage anyone reading this to pinpoint some area of your life that you're trying to manhandle on your own, and then to remember that God will help you with it.  We all still need to put the effort in ourselves, but remember that He wants to and will help where He needs to.  His arms are always outstretched, and we just need to reach back.  Simple as that.  (Isaiah 19:21, 20:4).

I love you all!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Creatures or Creators?

Hey, world!

These past two weeks have seen fantastically fast-paced highlights and incredibly slow interludes (oh, the mundanity!  Haha, ha...), but that's life!  It's been a great intro back into the real world.  Not every day is going to be scheduled to the minute with soul-saving, deepy fulfilling activities, and that's ok!  I've remembered that winding down and relaxing is ok, and that I can still have meaningful experiences outside of inviting people to repent and such.  In fact, I still feel the Spirit in my life about as strongly as I did on my mission!  It's all in the way you view your situation.  Will we be creatures of our circumstances and allow the events of everyday life rob us of happiness or spirituality or other positive things, or will we be creators of our circumstances, and find the happy, make the good, and choose to move forward?  That's our decision.

Which leads everso silky smoothly into what's been on my mind, lately!  We are all accountable for our own actions.  Period.  Our circumstances may affect the level of difficulty of making decisions, or even the way we think, but in the end, no one can force you to do anything.  Options might seem limited, consequences might seem better one way than the other, but we always have our agency, or our power to choose.  Obviously, there are those with conditions that limit their accountability, which is understandable, and is a part of life.  For the rest of us though, there are no excuses!  It's right or wrong.  With the right, it's even broken down into Good, Better, and Best.  There are so many choices!  But they're all OURS to make.

Heeeeere pigdeon pidgeon pidgeon!
Tough guy.
Personal post-mission application: shooting guns.  On the mission: BAD NEWS.  Off the mission: cool!  I could choose to stay stuck in my missionary mentality of "we're breaking rules and wasting precious time when we could be sharing the restored Gospel with our brothers and sisters," or I could enjoy myself with family friends and develop a fun skill.  Another!  Going on a date.  On the mission: BAAAD NEWS.  Off the mission: cool!  I could choose to lock myself in a closet and take an oath of celebacy to remind myself of how much I loved my mission, and how I can't possibly move on from such an amazing event in my life, or I can buck up, act normal one-on-one with someone who's not another Sister (or as normal as I can be... not saying much), and move on.  Personally, I don't want to allow myself to be stuck in the past when I've been preaching about progressing eternally for the last year and a half.  We just have to choose to move ahead!

Totally hypothetical examples.  Totally just pulled them out of the air.  Totally not trying to brag about the fact that I got to shoot clay pidgeons with 12 gauge shotguns.  Not at all.

Super artsy sidewalk chain-link fence thing.
I also could have chosen to curl up into a fetal position in New York City with how un-missionary I felt there, but that wouldn't have been much fun, now would it?

So for this week, read 2 Nephi 2:26-27, and decide how you can decide better in your life.  Take personal responsibility for who you are, what you're doing, and who you want to become and do with your life, and choose to close any gap there might be!  Start today!  Nothing is holding you back.


Super artsy big city temple pic.  Eat your heart out, fence thing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Transfer

Hey.... world!  (I guess this isn't being sent to my family anymore.)

So.  I'm back.  This isn't exactly harvesting in the potato fields of Idaho anymore, but I will still continue the accounts of my harvesting on a less than full-time basis.  Just because I've successfully completed 18 blissful months of spiritual bootcamp doesn't mean I can coast to the finish; I've got the rest of eternity to go!  And Heaven knows that I'm still on a mission; I will always be seeking to invite others to come unto Christ, and I will always be seeking to better my own spirit.  I just got transferred, remember?

And what a transfer.  New area, new companion (or lack thereof), new language, new customs.  I've entered into a strange world of holding babies and hugging people of the opposite gender, and where people watch pictures move in magical, metal boxes.  I seem to be a bit out of my element, but as I study the culture of my new environment, they seem not to detect as much that I'm an awkward, scripture-preaching returned missionary.

Except for that one guy at a young single adult ultimate frisbee tournament who kept touching me on the arm that pointed out I kept backing away from him without even realizing it.  Oops...

Haha but other than that and just a few other minor post-mission quirks, I've been fine with the transition!  I've been blessed with wonderful family and friends to talk to when I feel like driving my head through the floorboards for lack of structured time, and I've also been blessed to find things to keep me busy to avoid the aforementioned feelings.  I know that the promises our Father in Heaven has made to take care of those who serve Him and His children are true!  In my personal studies, I've felt revelation pour into me of how to proceed and what to do, just like it did on the mission!  My questions are being answered one by one, and my concerns are being addressed, or at least given peace to counteract the stress.  I know I'm being watched over, and I feel the Spirit as strongly as I did while I was serving the Lord full-time.  It all depends on what you do with the time you're given!

With that said, I have seen a pull to gradually fall back into who I was before my mission.  To sink; to forget.  But as L. Whitney Clayton said when he toured the IPM back in February, "Success is doing the small things well."  I've noticed that as I start my days with a good personal scripture study, as I keep praying, as I seek the Spirit's guidance continually throughout the day, I can keep building up that spiritual armor around myself to keep from forgetting the wonderful lessons I've learned and the incredible blessings I saw and people I met on my mission.  Though it does kind of feel like my mission was just a dream, not only have I been able to see the change in myself, but mission memories come back and solidify themselves bit by bit as I do the small things and as I share those experiences with others.  The Lord has given me so many miraculous missionary opportunities since I've been back, and it's been such a tender mercy!

My mission wasn't a waste, and my life ahead of me, though not in full-time service, is not a waste either.  Now's the time to be "in the world, but not of the world," (John 15:19).  Though we all seem to focus on the second half of that statement, the first half is just as important.  Those with the light of Christ burning within them need to be a beacon to those whose light may have faded, but how can we do that if we avoid anyone who fits that category?

So, hello, World.  It's good to be back!  Even though I apparently have a hard time letting your boys tap me on the arm still (seriously, I had no idea!), I'm ready to take you on!  I know that I can do anything with my Savior at my side.


1. 4 hours of ultimate frisbee :)  It's good to be back!
2. The Sacred Grove: one of my favorite places in the world