My children and I starting a new path in 2011. Photo by Katie Stirling
Last year I took a full-time job at the university where I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees. After several years away, being back where I spent so much time in my past has been both a wonderful and strange experience. The campus is a palimpsest, with layers of time and memory revealing themselves as I walk through buildings and down tree-shaded paths. There are the benches in the fine arts building where I took naps after art history class my freshman year; the school supplies area in the bookstore where I spent my hard-earned money on fancy gel pens to liven up my note taking; the building where I received my patriarchal blessing in a small campus office. Some of the places where I lived, worked, and studied have been completely erased—torn down to make way for new construction that still disorients me after being back on campus for a year. Eighteen years ago I was one of the new freshmen I now see walking around feeling simultaneously excited and scared (although I didn’t have a cell phone glued to my ear at the time). Continue reading
The first time I really thought about Alma’s advice to his son Shiblon about passion–“bridle your passions, that you may be filled with love”–it was in the context of a seminary lesson on sexual purity. And for years afterward, I assumed that was all there was to know about this scripture: physical passion is a good thing, in moderation.
But lately I’ve been coming back to this scripture and wondering if there isn’t more to it. The quarterly theme for Segullah is passion, and thinking about passion in a broader context has me rethinking Alma’s advice.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how passion plays into a career. As I’ve been actively interviewing for internships next summer, I’ve had to focus on what I want to do post business school. “What I want to do” is a complicated question when you have to keep in mind what you’re good at, what industries interest you, which locations are compatible with your chosen field, how your future career may complicate family life, along with a slew of other variables.
In the back of my mind, I think of the supposed wisdom repeated to me in my adolescence: “Do what you love.” I repeated this mantra as I declared myself a theatre major in my undergrad. Surely loving what you do is the first guideline when settling on a career path. As I supplemented that degree with one in advertising and then worked in the industry for a few years, though, I found that loving what I did was nice, but it wasn’t a guarantee for a successful profession. Or, at least, I might approach a project from a less-than-passionate mindset, but I soon found myself enthralled once I dug into the work. Continue reading
I learned a long time ago that if I pray for patience, I invite trials. But I am just gaining an understanding of what happens when you pray for compassion. You gain two things: a great awareness of your own shortcomings as well as a great awareness of other peoples’ pain and suffering. If I start thinking that I have it all figured out compared to other people, I am soon receive a reminder that I am a beggar before God (Mosiah 4:19). Ah. Now I understand the scripture that pride precedes the fall (Proverbs 16:18).
I’m trying to find a stance in relation to the suffering now made visible before me. As an oldest child, type A, ambitious person, I am tempted to rush in and take over when others struggle. However, I can’t rescue people from the hardships of their lives. If I did, I would be unable to manage my responsibilities to my own family. More importantly, I would deny others the opportunity to claim their own successes. It’s an act of vanity on my part to try to rescue or fix someone else. True compassion means that I support them as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord (Philippians 2:12). I can only stand as a witness to the growth they experience with the help of divine assistance.
When my ten-year-old Mary, made the goal to climb Mt. Timpanogus this summer– a trek of 15-18 miles– I promised I’d stay with her every step of the way.
On practice hikes with her brothers, I’d noticed Mary hiked slowly but steadily until she was rushed. When someone insisted she walk a little faster or denied her a rest, she froze, became insecure in her abilities and more than once, turned around and went home before reaching the top. Continue reading