What good does us reason if we fail to see?

Today I’d like to talk about absolutely nothing at all. I don’t have anything in mind (it’s literally empty), and to be honest part of the reason I’m writing now is to avoid doing homework. This past weekend was General Conference, which, of course, means that I had zero time to do anything other than that. In the end, though, everything worked out.

To explain, most of my posts are just going to be rants about what I’ve been thinking about. Maybe they’ll go somewhere, maybe not. I’ll try to get some sort of point out of everything though.

I’ve been thinking about love. A lot of people seem to have it in their minds that love is something you fall into. Like a hole. Some gaping chasm that you’re just moseying along and suddenly you slip on a banana peel and whoosh! there you go out of control down a black hole.
That’s dumb.
I read a really interesting book over the summer called The Five Love Languages. Here, Gary Chapman points out that real love has a lot more to do with fulfillment of a psychological need than anything else. The emotional rush is a part of the process, but it wears off, and when it does, if the psychological need isn’t met, things fall apart. This is not exclusive to romantic love – for a developing child to feel loved the basic need to feel loved must be filled, and this is one breakdown that I’ve found useful.
So here’s a rough breakdown:
  1. Physical touch – these people are touchy-feely. They love hugs, holding hands, kissing, being close to the ones they care about, etc. Not feeling close to the ones they love physically can be devastating. Think of the little kid who always wants to be held or hugged.
  2. Words of affirmation – these people thrive on words of approval. Need to hear the good they’ve done. Need to know they’re needed, wanted, appreciated, and that people around them are grateful for what they do, their presence, their efforts and hard work, etc.
  3. Quality time – these people need time. They need one-on-one time spent just doing nothing. Chatting, watching the stars, road tripping, no distractions, no agenda, no nothing. Just spending time together.
  4. Receiving gifts – these people feel loved when they receive gifts. They don’t have to be expensive, fancy, or even overly thought out. Simple things like a cookie, a flower, a card, a letter, a thank-you note, or even a photograph can mean the world to them.
  5. Acts of service – these people feel loved when others help them in their work. Doing the dishes for them, making food, washing the car, shining your shoes, walking the dog, or any one of a number of things can really brighten their day.
It’s a good book if you’re interested. I recommend it.
Love is not so much a hole we fall into as it is an attitude we cultivate towards those around us. Those who best know how to love have learned to recognize what language their friends and family speak and specifically use that language to communicate their love with them.
Imagine what would happen to a person whose language is words of affirmation who, instead of getting compliments from their parents, often got hugs, but their parents always criticized them. They aren’t likely to feel loved. Each word of criticism is like a slap in the face to them.
A child who conversely speaks the language of physical touch, and often receives compliments but never hugs, handshakes, high fives, or anything of the sort from their parents will not feel loved either.
We live trying to fill our need for love. Once we start to understand that and understand the languages the ones we love speak, we can learn to speak the same language as them. It’s a simple choice, not some sort of magic equation that just works out in the end or doesn’t. Once you understand, it’s obvious.

Habits and happiness

In general, there are two kinds of people. That statement can be taken in a myriad of ways. How many cliché’s can you think up that start with that?

I personally think they’re pretty ineffective at actually telling you things about people, largely because we can’t be measured quantitatively (by amount) in many aspects, but qualitatively.
Just how red is red? Just how blue is blue?
In general, there are two extremes of people:
  1. Extreme one consists of the orderly, productivity-oriented, hardworking, nose-to-the-grindstone types. Picture your stereotypical businessman with his schedule blocked in from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm, complete with a personal secretary to keep him on schedule.
  2. Extreme two consists of the free thinkers. The ones with messy rooms. That “have their head in the clouds”. The disorderly. The artists, musicians, and hippies of the world, who could pass the whole day “just wasting time”.
There are pros and cons to both sides. Let’s call them “robots” and “hippies” for easier referral. Please understand that I am in no way making a social commentary – both extremes are just that. Robots can be seen as snobby, boring, uncaring, etc. Hippies can be seen as lazy, stupid, slackers, nobodies, etc. In general, robots see the bad in hippies, and hippies in robots.
None of us is truly one, or the other. We’re all somewhere in between, not necessarily straddling the line, but not reaching into the far extreme of one, either.
One important life lesson I’ve learned is the need for moderation. In this particular case, I’d like to point out the need for moderation with respect to our habits and how they help us achieve happiness.
Happiness really is the ultimate quest in life. Robots mistakenly believe that happiness comes from numbers, products, etc. Hippies mistakenly believe that happiness comes in any and all forms, and it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it makes you feel good.
We need both progress and relaxation. We need to take it slow, but that can’t come at the price of learning and growth. What’s the fun in life if we never learn anything new? What’s the joy in life if we never stop and watch the sun set? 
What’s the purpose if we never stop to spend time with the people we love? Money, possessions, rank, title – all of that doesn’t go with us when we die. Really the only thing we take with us is the same thing we leave – the legacy of our lives and what we chose to do with it.
At the end of our lives, will we look back and regret all the chances we never took? Will we wish we’d spent more time working, or will we wish we’d spent more time with our loved ones? Will we be remembered for who we were, or what we had?
Life is a time to be happy. It’s hard enough as it is. There’s no need to overcomplicate it.
The habits you develop today – for better or worse – will stay with you throughout your life. If you choose to plan, learn to plan for the future, not in order to live constantly expecting to arrive at some unattainable, idealistic goal, but so that, by planning each moment, you can truly live in that moment and love it as it is. The difference is something that you can only understand by crossing that bridge yourself.
Remember to smile!
Mark

Life, in all its wondrous twists and turns, sometimes leaves us in places we’d never expected to arrive. Perhaps it’s a sudden illness, or a freak spider bite on your foot, a failed class, a lost job, or, perhaps, a lost loved one.

It’s full of joys and sadness.

Happiness and heartache.

Hell and heaven.

Gethsemane and Eden.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought this past week as to the purpose of life. If God is omniscient, and life is a test, it seems to me that there would be no real point on God testing us to see if we would be obedient. Fact is, He knows us perfectly.

God knows our flaws. He knows our strengths. He has placed each of us in situations perfectly tailored to equally test each and every one of us. From God’s perspective, there is no real need of a test, or even judgement if you think about it.

And yet both exist, sure as the sun rises.

Why?

The test isn’t so we can prove to God that we’re willing to be obedient. It’s to prove it to ourselves. A very famous Spanish saying translates roughly to, “Between word and deed there’s a big ditch.” Saying we’d do something is far different than actually doing it. It requires effort to cross the metaphorical ditch to doing.