Friday, July 29, 2011

Marriage is a Place of Service

I found a reason.

Past and former readers of this blog know my strong reluctance toward marriage, mainly because I'm disgusted with the dating game. It seems fruitless to spend money on another man's wife, and I simply haven't felt the desire to be married or slog through the moments that capture perpetual YSA-hood (especially in the church).

I felt a slight change this week, though.

I've been on a cooking binge lately, trying to find new ways to use the various appliances I've purchased or received as gifts in the past few months (Yes, friends; I am a single Mormon guy and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen using cooking aides that I asked for as gifts on holidays). The experience has been a mixed review; I am by no means Emeril or Martha Stewart, but I've come to adequately use a crockpot and can grill with the best of 'em.

It just sucks not having anyone with whom to share it.

Maybe that's why marriage is such a vital institution: it gives man and woman the opportunity to serve.

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of the necessity of marriage in acquiring Christ-like attributes:

"There is no other arrangement that meets the divine purposes of the Almighty. Man and woman are His creations. Their duality is His design. Their complementary relationships and functions are fundamental to His purposes. One is incomplete without the other."

Service is vital to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without it, we cannot acquire the qualities of love, hope, charity or even (to some extent) faith. By serving our fellow men, we are serving the Lord. And him whom we learn to serve, we learn to love.

I don't want to get married out of an incessant desire to be with a particular woman. I don't want to get married so that I can multiply and replenish the Earth, fulfilling one of the great commandments of the Lord. I definitely don't want to get married to aspire to leadership positions, both in a career and in the church (trust me; I abhor leadership — some might even say, fear it).

But service to your spouse should be a foundation of any marriage. Again, from President Hinckley:

"If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion, there would be very little, if any, divorce. Argument would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness."

How does this affect me, a Single Vegas Mormon? By preparing to serve in this capacity, I find myself desiring marriage even more. By refusing to take for granted the institution of marriage, I can avoid the pitfalls that lead to so many difficulties in early married life. By learning to serve now, I can better transition to serving my future spouse.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks counseled against a "me-first" attitude when approaching marriage:

"Modern prophets have warned that looking upon marriage “as a mere contract that may be entered into at pleasure … and severed at the first difficulty … is an evil meriting severe condemnation,” especially where children are made to suffer."

I feel this is a good time to share the church's latest "Mormon Message." In a world where marriage and family are denigrated for personal fulfillment and achievement, remember the words of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. If you have strayed from the happiest levels of marriage, you can come back. The Lord wants you to "keep our love, and our marriages, our societies and our souls, as pure as they were meant to be."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

We're hiatus-ing

I'm on vacation.

I still have to work, and I have several other events taking placing in town that will require my attention. I won't leave a lengthy explanation of vacation on my work voicemail, and I will be responding to calls on my cell phone and emails to my various accounts.

But I need a break. From Twitter.

If you haven't heard by now (likely from me), Twitter is the 140-character nanoblogging service that has revolutionized the Internet and social media, with news services, athletes, celebrities and the common man counting themselves among its millions of users.

And I've been very active with it. I use Twitter during football (er... soccer...) matches, college football season, college hoops smorgasbords, LDS General Conference, sacrament meeting snoozers, planning and coordination of events, breaking news and anything else for which you can use the outlet.

But I've had enough.

L.A. Galaxy and U.S. men's national team star Landon Donovan (via his Twitter account) said he was stepping away from the popular service because "there's too much negativity on there." Likewise, I've had a few friends comment to me similar things, stating that Twitter has become its own version of high school — except with 24-years-and-older versions of their teenage selves. It's a popularity contest where the medium has taken over the media it once broadcast.

And I'm sick of it.

I never liked the cliques and social circles of high school; I always tried to pass through several categorical listings. I was a three-sport athlete, a page editor for the school newspaper, a Thespian, a recovering ballroom dancer, a gamer, an occasional semi-professional B-boy, a budding fashionista and the only Gringo silly enough to take AP Spanish. One of the few titles I didn't inherit, it would seem was Prom King — quite possibly because I never went to a prom night.

When I graduated, I thought I had left high school behind. Sure, there were many things I would miss: weekend wrestling tournaments; theatre rehearsals that lasted through the night and well into the morning; football games where the better action was in the stands rather than on the field; all-night video game sessions with the boys where we subsisted on Mtn Dew and Cheetos.

But I never missed the cliques. And that's what Twitter has become. Cliquish. Uncontrolled. A popularity contest.

And, for now, I'm done with it. I have plenty else to optimize my time. A new high school sports season approaches quickly, and we have a Web site to outfit. I'm two weeks away from taking the GRE, which will dramatically influence my future. And I want to write more on this blog (you know, because I don't do that enough, working as a newspaper reporter).

I'll still be around. Just not on Twitter. And I'll be back; there's a good chance I'll be around before the NFL Lockout ends, and I'll have more time to tweet once I've taken The Test.

In the meantime, I'll still be "hanging out" (thought not literally) on Google+. I still have email and this blog. And I still have the old-fashion phone and unlimited text messaging for anyone who knows me in real life.

It should be enough — while I'm on hiatus.

Friday, July 22, 2011

More than Treading Water

I haven't posted in several months.

It seems to be the current state of my life — full of the best of intentions, with desires to do what's right for me, my family and my current economic outlook. But I just can't see to bring myself to the final step.

I have a test in two weeks, one that will dramatically determine the direction my life takes in the forthcoming years. It's called the GRE, and it's required for admission into graduate school. I haven't taken a test, enrolled in a class or completed an assignment in two years. And so, needless to say, this step terrifies me. What if I don't do as well as I expect? What if my best efforts aren't good enough to further my education? What if I find I'm just not good enough for a goal that's been mine since junior high?

Fear and doubt are paralyzing me, making me float in a river of mediocrity for the past several months. And the interesting thing about floating is you never see yourself taking a step back. I don't feel like I've degressed in life — but I'm sure I have. Physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually; the longer I float, the more I feel myself being drained at the end of each day.

And that's when I realize I'm not the only swimmer in this pool. All around me are people doing the same thing, trying to stay afloat in a tide that is constantly changing and threatening to capsize us with every wave, great or small. Sometimes, it's all we can do to tread water, float along the pool's surface, keep our mouths inches above the element so that we may gasp for air.

But there is one who promises we can make it. The Master who walked on water in his mortal ministry is there so that we can do more than tread water, but actively swim against a current that beats, batters and belittles us at every turn. All it takes is a little faith; and, like the apostle Peter, we realize that's the hardest part.

But He is there. He stands on the water, with an arm outstretched, pleading for us to take His head and walk with Him to the shore.

Jesus Christ has borne our sins, our transgressions, our iniquities, our trials, our temptations, our sickness and our ailments. And he promises that, despite all those imperfections, we can make it to shore — if we just push a little harder, swim a little faster, have a little more faith.

And sometimes, just tread a little more water.