Why I won’t do homework on a sun-day

Before I get started, here is what you should know:

I love school.

No, really, I love it.  I always have.  In fact, the summer before 1st grade, I asked to be in summer school, so every morning my dad would leave “worksheets” on the kitchen table for me to do.  I just love to learn.  I believe that our purpose in life is to learn and grow in order to become like our Heavenly Parents and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  When I learn, I feel myself growing closer to them, and I marvel at this world that was created for us.

But as much as I love school, and as important as it is to me, I also believe in the notion of a sabbath.  That term can mean different things to different people.  For many religious people, including myself, the Sabbath is a day (perhaps sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, perhaps Sunday) to rest from typical labors, worship God, and reconsecrate oneself to Deity.  Certain customs may be observed–part of my personal observance typically includes attending worship services, abstaining from shopping or dining out, and reflecting on my relationship with God through journaling and/or scripture study–all with the intent of regaining focus on what matters most in a busy world.

When I was a junior in high school, I decided to devote myself on the Sabbath hardcore.  Let me rephrase that: I didn’t change my observance, but my circumstances made my observance more difficult.  A typical day went like this:

5:10 am Wake up, get in car for early-morning seminary

5:25 am Arrive at early-morning seminary class (my mom was the teacher, so we were always early)

5:50-6:35 am Early-morning Seminary

6:35 am-6:50 am Travel home

7 am Prepare (Unless I went straight to school from seminary, in which case–homework)

8 am Leave for school

8:30-2:30 pm School (Or was it 2:40? 1:47? Does anyone who went to Moanalua High School understand the bell schedule there? I still don’t.)

2:30-5:00 pm, or maybe 6:00 pm, or maybe 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm Band or orchestra rehearsals, track practice, student association meetings, homecoming practice…who knows what else I ever did

I guess I did homework sometime after that, because I was taking 8 classes (the typical schedule at my school was 6 classes), and two of those were AP classes, and I was the vice president of the student association, and part of the National Honor Society and blahblahblah I WAS BUSY.

I decided to stick, hardcore, to my decision not to do homework on Sundays.  I wanted that day to be for God, and–if we’re being honest–my spiritual immaturity also led me to have a fear that if I didn’t stick with it, God would smite me and I would not get a 4.0 GPA.  Because, you know, He’s like that.  (Not.)

Several months later, I had an ecclesiastical leader make an unsolicited comment to me about the Sabbath and studying.  I was applying to universities at the time, and he reminded me that if I went to a certain one on my list I was likely to encounter many students would not study on Sundays.  I could understand their viewpoint, since it was my own.  But that good bishop reminded me that to learn is to become more like God.  That conversation didn’t lead to me block off my entire Sunday for studying–that felt like an abuse of the day–but it did help me to understand the sacredness with which I ought to regard my schooling.  That conversation is why I can’t stand to do a poor job on an assignment.  I’m not learning to earn a mark; I’m learning to become more like my Father in Heaven.

All this being said, one thing I have learned from my less-than-perfect attempts to keep the Sabbath day holy is the principle of recovery.  Rest.  Replenishing.

In his (phenomenal) book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel H. Pink describes how to “take a sabbath” as a means of regaining mindfulness in our lives:

Select one day a week and remove yourself from the maw.  Stop working.  Don’t answer your email.  Ignore your voice mail. Turn off your mobile phone.  Most Western religions have established a Sabbath–the seventh day of the week–as a time of peace, reflection, and prayer.  Whatever your faith, consider experimenting with the practice.  (And this need not be religious at all.  Secular Sabbaths can be equally re-energizing.)…Sabbaths, however momentary, can be important punctuation marks in busy lives.  (Riverhead Books, 2005).

This principle has helped me to feel calm during hectic semesters because I–the chronic type-A, focused, semi-workaholic student–believe in taking not one, but two days off from homework.  I try to avoid homework on Sundays, and I do the same on Saturdays.  I joke that Saturdays are sacred to me, too.  On Sundays, I worship.  On Saturdays, I play.  Both help me prepare to work and serve and teach and study and collaborate very, very well Monday through Friday.

This was my day yesterday:

8 am Wake up roommates, get ready for the beach

9-11 am BEACH BEACH BEACH followed by (sun)BURN (sun)BURN (sun)BURN

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11 am PLATE LUNCHES OF GLORY from Papa Ole’s (obviously ingested very, very quickly)

12 noon OMG there is a Sodalicious equivalent in Laie?  Prayers of gratitude all around.  (And everyone really should go check out So’Da Bomb–they’re wonderful and couldn’t be more friendly.)

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2 pm Shower, nap, get dressed with no rush

4 pm Meet up with friends at the temple

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6 pm Meet up with friends for sushi

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8:30 pm Continue the delicious food day with homemade ice cream (okay, okay, confession–neither the ice cream nor the plate lunch were ingested quickly…I just thought I’d saved pics of them from my Snapstory…and then I realized I hadn’t…)

10:30 pm Pick up something for the linger longer meal after church tomorrow, chat with a beloved friend

#blessed

12 midnight Go home wicked happy

That’s how I stay afloat each semester.  I believe in working hard, and worshipping hard, and playing hard too.  And I live by the counsel of a modern prophet of God, who said

Pres & Sis Hinckley

In all of living, have much fun and laughter.  Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.

-Gordon B. Hinckley

 

Happy Sabbath, sweet humans.  Let’s go rock this week.

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Instruments

One night over dinner I told someone I love that I never would have expected us to become such good friends.

“We are just so different,” I said.

“What do you mean?” he asked, confused. It was June, the beginning of the summer. By this point we had spent an entire year doing everything together.

Our waiter came to the table, refilled our glasses. I paused.

I thought he would know exactly what I meant. That our principles didn’t always line up. That despite his interest in the gospel, and his love for God, there were still things I did that he would never want to do. That I did things he probably thought were odd, even if he did think them good. But in that moment I realized how profoundly wrong I was. I—the girl whose father is not a member, whose family is inactive, who has never believed that being Mormon is a prerequisite for being a great person—was brought to my knees, there at the Macaroni Grill.

“I just…I guess I’m not really close to any other athletes.”

He shot me a funny look and stole a bite of my food.

What I said was true, but it was wrong. Even as I said it, I knew it was wrong. That wasn’t it at all. I thought we were different. I had spent so long thinking of him as a person who would never be interested in the gospel, in the life it teaches us to lead. But as I looked at him—at him right there across from me—at who he was and all that he was trying to become, I realized that we were not different at all.

 

When your own words come back to haunt you

from December 2014:

This week I’ve realized how important it is to see beyond our circumstances.  That’s occurred to me mostly as I’ve pondered the Christmas story.  In Luke 2, where we read the story of the Savior’s birth, there are just two verses where we learn about Mary: “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19) and then later, when Christ is 12 and preaching at the temple, “…but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart” (Luke 2:51).  Those stood out to me because they just seemed so out of place. We read of all the things happening, and then they seem to pause for a moment and we learn that Mary was taking it all in.
I know the song goes, “Mary did you know…” but from the scriptures we know that she knew quite a bit. The angel Gabriel appeared to her and from that she knew Christ would be the Savior. She knew that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost.  She knew that she was on a path pleasing to God, since He had chosen her to birth and raise His son.
But she didnknow He’d be born in a manger.
She didnt know she’d have to make a 70-mile trek to Bethlehem.
She didnt know that the inns would be so crowded that she’d end up essentially in a cavity of a rock, giving birth to her first child.
She didnt know any of that.
You have to wonder, what exactly was Mary thinking?
She was a great woman, to say the least, but maybe, just maybe, she thought things would have gone easier, or more simply.  Maybe she thought there would have been a place prepared for her, at least to give birth. Maybe that’s what she would have expected.  It’s what I would have,  if I had known that I was playing an integral role in God’s plan.  And how often are we like that? We’re doing what’s right, we’re sure that we’re on the right path, and things are just not as easy as we’d expected.  They’re tricky and sticky and it just seems like, if we were really doing what was right, life would be a lot more simple.
I think what we can learn from Mary, and from the story of Christ’s birth in a manger, is that God is at work even when it looks like He isn’t.
And that’s the fun part—having the faith to ride into Bethlehem anyway, trusting that something great is happening, something beyond what our mortal eyes can see.

My 18 months as a full-time missionary

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were the happiest of my life.

They were definitely the hardest.  And easily the most exhausting. But somewhere in there comes the happiness that comes from doing hard things (and from doing them well!).

For most of my life, I did not plan on serving a mission.  But in 2012 everything changed and I knew that I wanted to serve my Heavenly Father by spending 18 months as a full-time proclaimer of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

People serve missions for a lot of reasons.  And I don’t know if I care so much about why people go as I do why they stay.  But for me my intent in serving a mission was so simple: I knew my Heavenly Father wanted me to go, and I wanted to do whatever He wanted me to do.

Life as a missionary is quite different than normal life.  You leave your home.  No cell phone, no Facebook.  You don’t work, or go to school, or date, or watch TV, or wear jeans (…except for certain purposes, i.e. service).  You go nonstop from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm every day.  Sometimes people talk about the sacrifices of serving a mission, but for me I never felt that they were sacrifices.  For everything I gave, I received so much more.  So much more.

One thing I gained was a strong sense of loyalty to the restored Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today.  That occurred to me on a day in August when it was 98 degrees and humid in only a way that Virginia can be.  I was knocking on doors in a community of mobile homes and mostly getting yelled at.  My companion (missionaries always go two-by-two, or sometimes, three-by-three) had been on her mission for about a month.  It was really, really hot, and I had sweat dripping from everywhere.  And as we walked from home to home in the blazing sun, I realized that I was so happy to be there, and so glad to be sharing the message that God still speaks, and that the way to find happiness is HERE and it’s TRUE.

Another thing I gained was a love for obedience.  I’ve always been a rule-follower, but on my mission I really learned that nothing we’re asked to do is arbitrary.  Obedience to the commandments of God is the most important thing in my life.  I feel like I learned that through training wheels: the missionary schedule is detailed and very important.  I learned that if I could be on time for studies at 8 am, even when only me or my companion would know if I were late, then I could be obedient in much larger things.  The practice of submitting my will to God’s in small things prepared me to be obedient in larger matters.  (And it helps me to have faith that I’ll be blessed for doing so.)

I just learned more about love in 18 months that I ever would have expected—love for God, love for others, love for myself.  And I learned about it through these amazing people that I met, served, and served alongside.

I just couldn’t be more grateful for every day I got to wear that nametag.