Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas surf

I'm grateful for a sister and sister-in-law who inspired me to put on my wetsuit and brave the cold ocean water on Christmas day. I debated it for a long time, but I am glad that my hesitation didn't get the best of me. I decided that I really wanted to go out into the waves, even if I didn't know that I did. And I decided that I would regret it if I didn't. So, I squeezed into my wet suit and took a turn with our fun sized surf board. The water was cold, but not too bad. The waves were really good and I managed to stand up twice, which is an exciting accomplishment for me. Even if I might not have regretted it if I hadn't given it a try, having tried it and having achieved some success, I was glad that I did it. It was one of those occasions where I was glad that I overcame my lazier and less adventurous inclinations and left my zone of inhibiting comfort to realize the excitement of something that I had almost considered too much effort to be worth it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Greener Map

A friend once told me about a computer game where you have a map, and all the areas where you haven't gone yet are dark, and the areas where you have gone are green. The areas that are dark become green as you explore more areas. She likened this to visiting new places in real life, explaining that it was as if she was filling in more green areas in her mental map. I like this analogy a lot because I can relate to it really well. It creates such a perfect visual image in my mind, not only for the exploring of new physical places, but also for the exploring of new intellectual and spiritual places.

It is amazing to me how much there is to learn. Sometimes I will think, that's it, there's nothing more to learn, but that is because my mind hasn't expanded yet to accommodate more knowledge or understanding. As I get older, I understand things better and I see things completely differently from how I saw them before and I wonder why I didn't understand or notice them before. It's an exciting thing to think that there is so much to learn and to feel that I am becoming more capable of learning it.

It has been exciting in my New Testament class this semester to be learning so much about Christ and to be gaining a better understanding of his life. It's exciting to still be learning more about him, even after having grown up learning about him. It's exciting to read the gospels of the New Testament after having read them before and to be able to find new meanings or ways of understanding them. And then to think that in spite of how much there is to learn from what we have, there is so much more that we don't have and that what we do have is so little in comparison to what we don't have.

As the last verse in John reads: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."

The First Christmas

One of my favorite things about BYU is the Tuesday devotionals. Today, Elder Bruce D. Porter, a leader in the LDS church, gave the devotional. He spoke about the first Christmas and gave some insights that I thought were really neat. As it was revealed through revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith, Christ was born on April 6th. This was at the time of passover. The month of April was traditionally the time of birthing for the lambs. The shepherds would stay up with the ewes as the lambs were being born. From these lambs, the lambs that were to be offered as sacrifices for the passover were to be selected. So, Christ, the Lamb of God, was born at the same time the lambs that were to be sacrificed for passover were being born. He was also crucified at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered in the temple for the passover. Elder Porter also metioned that Christ, in addition to representing the role of the lambs, represents the role of the shepherd. So, he represented both roles of those being served and those who served. He was the greatest who made himself the least.

I love learning about such neat correlations. It's beautiful how symbolic the timing of Jesus' birth and death were. It's a testimony to me of how special and important such events were, and the timing was not coincidental but rather intentional so as to show us the connection between Christ and the sacrificial lambs.

I really liked this Devotional. There were a lot of other neat things that Elder Porter mentioned. It hasn't been posted yet, but once it is, you can read it or listen to it by accessing it on this page.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Caught in the Margins

I was talking to my cousin the other day about his frustration over feeling inferior to BYU students. This frustration has been the result of vibes he's been getting from BYU students when they find out that he's a student at UVU. He feels like they look down upon him as being less intelligent or less righteous. This bothered me because as a BYU student myself, I hate to think that people would have negative views of BYU or BYU students. Of course, my cousin made sure I was aware that he loved BYU, but he was just frustrated by the feeling he sometimes gets from BYU students. He said that the most frustrating thing to him was that he had been snubbed by some girls once because of his status of being a UVU student. How sad!

So, when he left and I was feeling less defensive I could see his point of view more and how that would be really frustrating. I would be just as worked up about it if I were in the same situation. And I do get worked up in similar situations, for example, when someone asks about my ACT test scores or whether I have or had a scholarship. It's so frustrating to be subject to prejudices! The thing is, I make assumptions too. I'm not sure there are many people who don't. But, knowing how it feels to be pre-categorized, I would not want other people to feel that way because of me.

In my New Testament class something we've talked about is how Jesus did not judge people according to societal prejudices. He spoke with the woman at the well, who happened to be a Samaritan which was cause to be looked down upon by Jews in that day. She was also a woman, which also placed her lower in society. Yet, despite this, the account of her conversion shows that regardless of one's background, they may be receptive to the gospel, and perhaps even more receptive than someone else who supposedly ought to be more receptive.

Just as Jesus gave that woman and so many others a chance without letting society's prejudices influence his judgment, I hope I can do the same. In my experience I've found that often my first impressions are wrong, and it's exciting to find out that someone is just as much a person as I am and that they aren't so annoying or so unapproachable or whatever it was that they initially seemed to me. It is then that I reallize how silly it is to judge people based on so little information. If those girls had just given my cousin a chance, they would have gotten to know him better and would have realized that he is intelligent (intelligent enough to have gone to BYU had he felt right about it) and strong in his testimony of the gospel. They might have enjoyed his sense of humor and sponteneity and they likely would have found him to be quite a wonderful and delightful acquaintance.