Sunday, January 24, 2016

Religion Is Pretty Great

I talk a lot about religion on here. Religion is a huge part of my life, so I suppose that makes sense. It's something I am always thinking about and something the world is always thinking about as well. Even people who don't identify as "religious" kind of are...

Religion
noun
  1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects:
  3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices:
 
So by definition, even atheists are religious. It doesn't mean you believe in God or Buddha or Muhammad necessarily, it just means you have some sort of belief as to why you're here or what the meaning of this thing called life is. And sure, there are definitely people out there who would rather not try to wonder about it, and that's fine. All I'm saying is religion is more universal than we might think. 
 
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More commonly called "Mormons". I love my religion, and I believe it is true and that will never change. But even though I'm not looking for another church, my parents have always taught me to be open to the ideas and practices of other faiths. Not to look for reasons of doubt in my religion, but to better appreciate how other people live and practice. I think this is such an important thing to do, and I am so happy my parents taught me this. 
 
Now, I haven't been to hundreds of different churches in my life. But I have gone with other family members and friends to their churches on multiple occasions and a couple of weeks ago I had a really nice experience.
 
My good friend, who is a non-denominational Christian, invited me to her church service because she was performing in the worship band there. I had been to her church once before and had a very pleasant time. This time, I went with another one of my friends, who is also LDS. The service started, and a few minutes in the worship band began singing and performing Christian-rock type music. These are the types of songs you would hear on a Christian radio station. I listen to Christian radio a lot actually, and I really like the music. But in my church, the songs we sing are hymns and the only music is from a piano and/or organ. We stay seated and the tone is softer. At my friend's church, everyone stands and a piano and guitar is played. In similar churches I have seen many different instruments, including drums before. I'm not pointing out good or bad here, just the differences. 
 
And that was the thing. It was different. Truthfully, I felt a little awkward because this was a different way of expressing faith and worshiping God than I was so used to. When we see differences, in any aspect of our lives, it is so easy to become prideful. That's what I did. I began to think about how this maybe wasn't a good way to worship, etc., etc. Then I looked to my left and saw a sweet, pretty lady, probably in her sixties. Here eyes were closed and her hands were in the air and she was singing along as loud as she could. I couldn't stop looking at her. Sometimes she would place her hand over her heart, sometimes she would fold them, but the entire time her eyes were closed and she had the sweetest, happiest, most peaceful smile on her face. 
 
This wasn't what I was used to. This wasn't what worked best for me. I still love my church and believe it is true. I still would love if everyone understood the truths of the gospel that I know. But for this woman, this church - this religion - was working just fine. I could see the happiness and peace on her face so clearly. We may not agree with what everyone else is doing. And let's be honest- if you are a part of one religion, you have to think every other religion is wrong, otherwise you wouldn't be a part of that particular one! But it isn't our place to judge others and their way of worshiping. The fact that we are worshiping God at all makes Him so incredibly happy. There are much worse things we could be doing with our lives than going to church. 
 
I'm afraid this post is very jumbled and unclear, but at the very least I got something out of it.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year!

Here I am. Again. After a long absence, apologizing. Like I have anyone to apologize too, really. I seriously doubt anyone reads this. So I guess I'm apologizing to myself. Sorry, Anne, that I'm a super lazy person most of the time and go long periods of time without writing.

That aside, Happy (late) New Year! 2016. Wow. Where did 2015 go again?

After going through some old journals recently I realized I did not make any New Year's Resolutions last year. Hmm. I don't know why. I don't think resolutions are a necessity, but I don't think they're bad either. I think they can be a very good thing as long as they are realistic and obtainable. (On a side note, I also found my resolutions list for 2014 and quickly realized I accomplished NOTHING on that list. Sort of a bummer.)

But like I said, I'm neither for or against resolutions. Whatever motivates you to make yourself a better person is what you should put into your life. I like lists. So here are my resolutions

1. Workout 3-4 times a week. Since taking a year off from school I have realized I am a lazy couch potato, especially when it's cold outside. I'm pretty active at work, but when I'm home...eh. I'm also going to be in China for 4 months soon, so maybe this should instead read "be active for 30 minutes a day" or something. Yeah, let's go with that.

2. Eat healthier! Less Sugar! I know goals are supposed to be measurable and these are very vague, but I don't know how to measure healthy eating. Let's be honest, I'm not going to be measuring out my food portions six times a day (I eat a lot, OK?). Also, less sugar has been a goal of mine every year pretty much since I turned twelve. I am a sweet tooth like no other.

3. Be more productive with my time. Yes, once again vague, but this is something I'm going to try really hard to work on. Less Netflix, less social media, more reading, more writing.

4. Finish the first draft of my book. I'd love to finish it completely, but writing a book is a long and not always very fun process, so I'd like to be realistic here and give myself a chance. Plus, China this year is going to change my routine up quite a bit. But a first draft? That's doable. I have also been told many times that a first draft is that hardest part.

5. Read more books and scripture. I'm sort of combining two in one here. I need to read my scriptures more. Everyone does, probably. Also I need to read more. I love to read, and I often forget how much I love to read until I start reading again. Not being in school has given me a lot of extra time (no homework!), and I need to take better advantage of it. Plus John Green said the best way to become a better writer is by reading, so...yeah, imma get on that.

6. Appreciate myself and my accomplishments. I have a tendency to compare myself to other people and put myself down. I have written about it on multiple occasions. I think a lot of people have this problem. It's sort of human nature. And while it's good to want to better yourself, it's not good to think you aren't as good as someone else because you haven't done everything they have. This falls under the category of mental health, which is JUST as important as physical health. Seriously. Loving yourself is so important. So this year when I accomplish something, I'm going to congratulate and reward myself. That doesn't mean boasting or bragging, just being happy for me and who I am.


It's a pretty hefty list. But completely doable. Let's go 2016.