Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pushing Your Limits - Not Your Faith.

I am starting to realize that a lot of people are confused when the LDS church says to live a full, hearty, happy life. They are confused because too often they run into a supposed stumbling block: keeping the commandments or living a happy life.

"How can I do both?" a person asks themself.

What I have realized is that people are confusing which boundaries to test in their life. The commandments and church doctrine are what they are. God is no respecter of persons. Those are not the boundaries to push, although many would call that into question.

The boundaries in your life that you are told to push are the very boundaries you have set up for yourself. You can push yourself beyond your limits without compromising your beliefs. It is done by setting realistic goals, acheiving those goals, maintaining an objective perspective of your current situation, and not being afraid to call yourself out on something.

Pushing yourself beyond your personal limits will always require personal sacrifice. The greatest victory one can have is to conquer one-self. You want a better job? Most people get a higher education. They commit to long hours of study, do loads of homework, deal with less-than-perfect professors, and pay more-than-reasonable prices for textbooks. Most college students that graduate do so with a mountian of debt. But more often than not, it's the one with a college degree that lands the career that pays the big bucks.

Another example of pushing yourself beyond your limits is in relationships. People love to be loved, but it seems nowadays they love being in control more. This could be attributed to several factors, but that's not what I'm getting at. People are less willing to go out on a limb for someone else's trust and love, and instead hold back emotions and thoughts that otherwise would be shared openly with confidence.
Pushing your own limits in a relationship does not mean comprimising your own standards for the other, but rather breaking down mental blocks and walls you have previously put up before; allowing a person you care about to get to know the more tender side of you, as opposed to the more intimate side. That, I believe, comes with marriage.

I laugh at the concept of dating sites, because it's too easy. It's SO convenient actually, it can conveniently give a person too much control in a relationship with another. You can go to someone's page and view their profile and learn all about them in 5 minutes! The greatest cliche line is "You don't know me!" well... thanks to Facebook and Twitter, you probably are a lot more "known" than you think you are. But I digress.

To sum up, pushing your own personal limits - defying the odds, doing the impossible, does NOT (nor should it EVER) involve compromising what you believe to be right or wrong. Conquering your own world has everything to do with getting past yourself, YOUR own limits, your own weaknesses.

Finally, I believe the best way to do that is recorded in the Book of Mormon, with which I will close (Jesus Christ is the one speaking in this verse)...

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Communication, A Victim Of Progress?

One of my favorite movies of all time, Disney's "Tall Tale" presents a young boy from the American West in the early 1900's who's fascinated by the latest and greatest in modern technology. He encounters the legendary Pacos Bill and during a conversation with him he mentions the telegraph, and the eventual telephone being invented by "a man named Bell".

Pacos scoffs at the idea, exclaiming "It won't be no time at all a man can find any privacy!"

Fast forward to today. How private is your life? How much do you truly value YOUR privacy? Of course you value your identity, who's to argue? But I'm referring to real privacy. Can you keep a secret? Or do your emotions leak out through a text message, Twitter, Facebook, or heaven forbid, YouTube?

Over the past few decades, many strides have been made in the realm of innovation and technology, particularly in telecommunications. When you consider how old the earth is (several millenia), it is remarkable that the human race - in less than a century - went from candles and a horse n' buggy to space travel and BlackBerry's.

Yet, despite all of this rapid progression, one has to ask if there are any side-effects or drawbacks. I can think of a few, but before I drill down on one in particular, let me just say that overall, there is a reasonable argument to be made that people's values and principles (the very foundation upon which such progression sprang from) are crumbling... not due to the weight of new horizons, but rather because people are forgetting to keep up on the roots of pure civility and responsibility from whence came so much prosperity and progress.

In the past ten years (at least) we have seen an invasion of information and communication like the world has never seen. I guarantee that every single American knows at least one person who owns a mobile phone... My question is, in all sincerity - is this a good thing or a bad thing? Or... is it just a thing?

Here's my point. What has telecommunications done with our basic people skills? Have people come closer together? Really? Or have people just been "connected" more? Are we so overwhelmed with the constant barrage of information and comminications that we fail to see that quantity is not just taking over but steadily eroding the quality thereof?

Another point: How many of you have typed or keyed that familiar "LOL" when in fact you were NOT laughing? Probably the exact amount of people who text "LOL" are guilty (yes, guilty) of this. Sure, some of you may shrug this off and think it's no big deal, but the fact is that a lot of false emotions are packed into our text messages, emails, and social network posts that it's practically fair to question whether someone is really actually laughing out loud, or they just want to come off that way. Perhaps I am looking way too far into this, but I believe there is a big problem in not expressing true emotion "out loud" and instead settling for the LMAO's and hehe's of the digital world.

I don't think there is a secret solution to solving one's every communication challenge, but I do believe that a regular study and audit of oneself helps to strengthen confidence and therefore, to communicate effectively. After all, commincation has almost notthing to do with words, and everything to do with trust.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

25 Year Audit

I turn 25 today! Wow... The folks weren't kidding when they said that time starts to pass by quicker as you get older. I do not feel as old as I am. This morning when I woke up, Tenille asked me if I felt 25. I replied, "Nope, I feel 21!" And maybe even younger than that. Not because of some delusional sense of invincibility, and not because I feel I am immature. I simply feel younger because time has simply been going by so fast.

So... 25 years... halfway to 50. A quarter of a century. Blah blah blah, yeah I get it, I'm getting older.

So every 5 years or so I tend to do an audit of my life. At 15, I looked at me and wrote a letter to myself as part of a high school assignment, basically writing to my 25-year-old self in the future. I mainly wrote of my personal goals that I expected my 10-year-older self to accomplish by that (or This, I guess) time. A few of the main things I recall that I expected were the following:

  • Serve a full time mission for my church.
  • Be married
  • Have two kids
  • Graduated from BYU

Well, if I could write back to my 15-year self pen pal, who at the time was very naive and quite cocky, I would probably write something like ":-) Haha, LOL U R funny :-P" (which my teen self would have been totally confused by). Okay, for real now. If I could write back to my 10-year-younger self today, I would have told me to be more engaged in school, to prepare for the crazy times that were to come, and to try harder to find out who I am/was. I would tell me about not taking himself to seriously, about how wonderful married life is, and how all things happen on God's time, THEN ours. I'd tell me to get a job, and to save more for the future (I'm selfish, I know! haha)

Another interesting thought comes from 5 years ago today, when I turned 20. I was serving as an LDS missionary in a little Dominican town called Tamboril, and when I woke up the temperature was 80+ degrees already, and of course, humid. I had merely slept with a sheet, no blanket, in shorts and a T-shirt. I remember laying there with my eyes open, thinking "I am no longer a teenager. I am 20 now. I should look forward to the future I soon will have to weild on my own." I had been on my mission for nearly a year at the time, and so it was also a focal point for my 2 year service. I had been a feisty one in the beginning, but had begun to see that people are more than just baptismal numbers. I began to realize on that 16th day of September in 2005 that the only sould I could truly convert and bring to Christ was ultimately, mine. I realized that everyone comes from different walks of life, and that their journey towards happiness would likely vary from my own, and that's okay. In time, I would come slower to judge, and quicker to forgive (something I still work at to this day).

As I sit here at another 5 year mark, auditing where I am currently at, I would only change the fact that I have not yet graduated from college. There is so much I lack from not having delved deeper into my collegiate studies. And yet, I have been so blessed thus far, especially the last 5 years. I have the most beautiful wife in the world, a baby boy soon to arrive in the fall (our first, sorry Teen-Brandon), and a warm and sturdy home amidst a plethora of great friends and neighbors. I have a steady job that has provided both the means of life and the opportunity for growth, having now been at Zrii for nearly 3 years now. I have been home from my mission for nearly 4 years now, and I revert back to the things I learned there, often.

All in all, as I look back to my 15-year and 20-year old selves, I think I have done pretty well for myself in some areas, and I have plenty of room for growth. I don't think this is arrogant or prideful, but merely practical and fair. I hope that I am not the only one who does a self audit of their life. It is not a complicated process, but it can be difficult to be honest with yourself; to truly separate your needs from your wants. At the end of the day, the secret is knowing that only you can truly audit your own life, and in the same breath, only you can decide where you go from there.

Many happy returns!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Riddle

Does the husband or wife run the show? Is it just she? is it he? Who's skill set is more capable of running the everyday family affairs?

Let's compare. Is he a college graduate? Is he good with money? Is he a man of honor and integrity? Is he a patient, kind, and listening man? What about her? Is she kind and considerate? Is she able to remain calm in stressful times? Does she have a degree in finance, or child development perhaps? Who then, should run the show, and if the deed must be shared, when and who should take care of what?

The answer to this riddle and all of these questions must first be tossed aside, for the primary question itself, is misguided. Neither he, nor she should ever at one time be running any "show", truly, on their own. The deeds of nurturing a child, a family, a marriage, ought ne'er to fall entirely upon the shoulders of one person. The duties and responsibilities are to be shared by each partner, or spouse. As the oxen drive a wagon forward, they must be perfectly abreast beneath the yoke, in balance, so as to move steadily forward.

Interestingly enough, when husband and wife team as equals, the load is shared, and shifted back and forth perfectly, for there is no shifting of weight at all.

Too often do couples subconsciously shut out the other, and presume to carry 100% of certain aspects of a marriage or family alone.... we see this in husbands who only pay the bills, but fail to be a father. We see this in wives who only take care of the kids and house, but fail to be a companion and comfort to their husbands.

There are many ways a family can be out of balance, but there is only one way the load can truly move onward to the final goal, and that is when the load is properly and equally shared by those parties who are entrusted to carry it forward.

A wife, a mother, a woman - regardless of personal eloquence, achievement, accolade, grace, strength, or mercy, is still incomplete on her own. A husband, a father, a man - regardless of prestige, wisdom, education, strength, finesse or good manners, cannot alone achieve what is to be won.

To be successful in marriage, in family, in life, there must not be any his or hers, no reservations or things held back. The yoke of communication that keeps all in tact must bind man and woman together as equal powers, in order to harmoniously progress to their desired destination.

Nevertheless, man and woman insist they retain, or perhaps even resent, a few personal things for themselves, and too often reserve the worst and the best for themselves. Complete trust then becomes an idea which must be deciphered by an enigma of heartache and confusion, of judgment based upon fleeting emotion from one's past.

It has become the quest of couples to solve this riddle, when the entire time the maze of in balance, frustration and confusion in which they meddle separately is not to be navigated or solved at all, but to be withdrawn from, left, and abandoned entirely as man and wife. Therein lies the solution to the riddle.

Husband and wife are given the responsibility to look after one another's best interests, to make the other feel loved and appreciated, and to look after any children they have as equal partners. Any and all mental, or emotional blocks are not to be buried deep in the confines of his or her heart, but presented to one's spouse in all humility, trust, and conviction to press forward. This can be difficult at times, and perhaps it is even necessary to prepare one's spouse for the less than honorable events of yesterday. But to do so means the release of personal anger, fear, frustration, even hate and confusion for the one, and which translates into more focused attention to their loved ones.

I love my wife dearly, and no one I know is a better example of this to me than her. She has risen from the ashes of hurt and mistrust and has blossomed into a woman of faith and grace, to whom I will be forever indebted to. I love you Tenille.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Introduction to the Chronicles

For nearly a year now, my wife has consistently updated her blog about the latest happenings in our life. Every now and then I find myself wanting to jot down a thought or two, and although it's enlightening for me (because I get to organize my thoughts into words), I don't think it really jives with the original intent of our family blog.

"Sacred Tree Chronicles"

I have always joked about my opinions simply coming from the Book of Brandon, Chapter whatever, and since my last name is Holyoak, the blog title just seems to fit. Aside from this gently satirical jesture, I will also make it known that my writings will have its fair share of religious overtones, albeit there will be plenty of practicality and simplicity.

At first, I do not plan on updating this blog on a regular basis, but rather when I have a few thoughts come to mind I feel might be beneficial to whoever is out there.

I welcome comments and thoughts, and I promise to adhere to the principles listed in the title description, to the best of my ability.

As a disclaimer, I am human, and therefore imperfect. I will do what I can to site my proper references, offer up the best case for my thought's opposition, and so on and so forth. With that in mind, I think it's perfectly fair to remind those of you out there who may not agree with what I write: that you too are human, and are not perfect, just like me. So please, if you disagree, please be respectful. This blog is not intended to spark debates, but simply to provide one simple person's point of view on life.

I'm excited to get started!