I am the symbol of Christianity

I am the symbol of Christianity. So are you.

Every religious practice across the world puts great meaning into its symbols. When thinking of Christianity in general the symbol of the cross instantly comes to mind. It is a symbol of Christ’s death, and the sacrifices we must make to live with Him again. The meaning behind it is important, but it is not the true symbol of Christianity.

To those more initiated in the lore of Christianity the fish has special symbolism as well. During the times of Nero and the apostasy of the church across Europe Christians were heavily persecuted. They were turned in by neighbors and friends, ridiculed, spat upon, and even executed for sport at state events. The symbol of the fish gained special meaning among believers. It let them know that they could speak openly of their beliefs, or that they were among friends. It guided them through the catacombs to where they could meet in secret and still worship according to the tenets of their faith, and the dictates of their conscience. But the fish, like the cross, isn’t the true symbol of Christianity either.

The true symbol of Christianity is found in the Christians themselves. We are the symbols of Christianity.  We are the symbols of everything it means to be Christian. We do not worship the cross, nor a dead Christ, or any image of Him or His prophets in any way, shape, or form. We worship the Living Christ. We glory in the Living Christ, and we live our lives so as to bring glory to His name.

What does this mean – to literally be the true symbol of Christianity?

The way we live our lives should flow from our faith as naturally as water flows forth from a spring. It means that the way we live our lives in such a way that those we meet know of our honesty, integrity, compassion, long-suffering, strength, and love. The only true symbol is Christianity, or of any religion or movement, is found in the lives of those who profess to belong to it.

How do you live your life? And what do you live it for? Are the beliefs you profess instilled into your every action and interaction with your fellow men? Do your actions speak of your dedication and self-transcendent way of life? Or the greed, lust, corruption, and pride that so commonly plague the world? As they say – if we do not stand for something we will fall for anything. What do you stand for?

How will you become a living symbol of Christianity?

You know the answer to that question already – for the actions you must take echo inside the chambers your heart and soul. They are the promptings that have been conveniently ignored throughout your life, or the ways you know you should live but don’t, the truths you have been taught but have forgotten amidst the demands and cares of life.

Will you exemplify, in action, what it is that makes us great and binds us together?

The actions you choose to take today will set the stage for all future generations after you. How will you be remembered?

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Transcending Ourselves

Reposted from Forward Walking
February 27th, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

Why are we here in this life? The answer is as simple as this: to transcend ourselves.

First, what does it mean to transcend ourselves?

a.)   To transcend means to rise above, go beyond, overpass, or exceed.

b.)  To transcend ourselves means to act differently in the present moment – in a more positive way –  than we would have in the past.

1)     It is begun when we act in alignment with the truths we have been taught.

2)    It is manifest when we finally overcome that which we have struggled with for so long.

3)    It is realized and finally recognized when we find ourselves teaching others how to overcome the same things which we have passed through.

c.)   To transcend ourselves means that we have finally felt the reality of forgiveness in our lives, that peace can be restored to our souls. This will only occur as we change our lives  and seek forgiveness for the mistakes of our past – from others, from ourselves, and from our God. Teaching others is the culminating virtue of repentance.

———-

Second, how have I learned this?

Several years ago, a friend called and asked if we could talk. He was and is an amazing man, more full of love than anyone I have ever met. As we talked I learned that he was struggling in his relationship with his wife. It troubled him to his core. They’d been married for several years, and had been fighting and arguing more than usual. At this point he began questioning if he had done the right thing by marrying her, or if he was the best person for her to be happy with. His words brought tears to his eyes.

After sharing this, my friend paused and asked me what I was thinking.

I’ve made many bad decisions over the course of my life. I will be the first one to admit that I am not perfect in any way, shape, or form. But it is from some of those bad decisions that I learned the most amazing lessons – lessons that changed my life forever.

So when my friend asked me this, several stories from my life came to mind, and I began to share them with him.  One one of the things I shared, in particular, was what I consider the biggest mistake of my life up to this point.

These stories, plus the time we shared together, were enough to change my friend’s perspective on his marriage. Realizations that came to him caused his tears of pain, fear, and uncertainty to turn into tears of joy, peace, and gratitude. He had heard what he needed to hear, seen what he needed to see, and understood what he needed to understand.

However, in sharing my observations – which I learned by virtue of bad choices made throughout my life – I relived many of the emotions associated with them. The shame, anxiety, regret, and sadness that accompanied the initial bad decisions revisited my heart, and I began to see myself as less than I was. The feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty my friend had felt were now duplicated within me.

But, being the wise man that he is, my friend looked at me – both of us were now crying – and said something that I will never forget.

“Dan, don’t beat yourself up. When you can finally teach someone else the lessons you learned because of your bad choices, you can know that you’ve finally been forgiven for what you did. What you’ve done here is beautiful. You’ve taught me from your experience. When you can teach someone something like that – something that you’ve learned from the mistakes of your past – then those mistakes no longer have any hold on you. You are free, and you are forgiven. You have transcended the mistakes.”

In the years since that conversation, I have thought much about what my said that day. There I was to comfort him, and in the end he comforted me and helped me find peace again.

———-

We can transcend ourselves. We can find peace. We can rise above the weaknesses of our lives, and soar like the eagles – confidently moving upon the winds which surround us.

The bad news is that we all have weaknesses, and we will sometimes fall. Each of us will make bad choices and will have to live with the resulting consequences.

The silver lining amidst it all is that there is hope. We can feel peace again. We can be made whole and move forward in our lives. We can transcend ourselves and move onward and upward into a brighter day.

When we can help others overcome, pass through, and learn from the things we have experienced, we unlock the key to our own freedom.

When we can teach or help another pass through the lessons we’ve learned from our mistakes, then we will know that we have finally transcended those things. And, in like manner, we transcend ourselves again and again.

Will you commit to transcend yourself today? What will you change? Who will you help?

Quotes on Being

The words you are about to read are a collection of various thoughts and quotes taken from my personal journals. In them I hope you can find something that will speak to your heart and help you on your way…

They do not follow any logical flow or conclusion so please read as you feel so prompted…

As human beings in this fast moving world we focus much time on how to, how to, how to. Just as vital as what you must do, however, is who you are.

As the germinating seed in growth, reaching up toward the light, becomes all that it was meant to be, so too as we stretch ourselves toward the light do we become all that we were meant to be.

Everyone is fighting hard; first against oneself, then against the world.

In the presence of what we are not, we become what we are; this is called ‘being’. This ‘being’ creates the world in which we dwell, and move, and live; a world of dualities and paradoxes, a world of truth and fiction, of black and white, of right and wrong. In not being all things have being, even you and I.

Contradictions define. Differences made clear clarify both sides. If you would discover what something is: decide what it is not. In not being all things have being.

In finding our purpose the search is not in finding something to do, but rather, in discovering who we are.

It’s not what we are accomplishing; it’s who we are becoming.

It is wisdom in itself to exclude those distractions, temptations, and sins, from the ever closing encircling that is taking place within our lives. We circle ever nearer to those things upon which our hearts are set. True success is found in circling in upon those refining, developing, godly things which invite us to move towards the light – for the end result of such a choice will fill our very lives with light.

In the search for True Self we must not look for it abroad. Many a man has spent his life in search of something outside himself that can only be discovered within.

It is not about accomplishing all of your goals and dreams in life; it is about who you become on the way to accomplishing all of your goals and dreams in life.

Out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaketh.

Sacrifice is necessary, for we truly show who we want to become by the sacrifices we are willing to make. It is through the things that we actually sacrifice, however, that we become who we are.

All men become what they think about and they think about those things that they hear, read, see, and do. Guard your mind and you guard your destiny.

Stop seeing what you see and start seeing who you’ll be. Stop seeing what you see and start seeing who you’ll be.

The little things in life make all the difference. They determine who and what we will become.

The things that we learn we do. The things that we love we remember. The things that we live we become. All things that affect us for good or ill have been learned, loved, and lived.

There comes a time when it is no longer enough to show potential, but a time when we must live up to our potential.

True self is revealed when one analyzes the connections between oneself and one’s time; between oneself and one’s responsibilities; between oneself and one’s speech. The revealed differences that come from such an analysis truly show us for what we want and who we are.

We do not teach what we know, we teach who we are.

We form and create our destiny by who we become; all things stemming from our thoughts.

Who we are on the inside reflects on the outside, and in all the people, places, and things that we choose to surround ourselves with.

Who we become is but who we are today, drawn out over time.

Focus on what you are to become, not what you have done.

There come times in life when we must ask ourselves some questions; What do I want to be, do, accomplish, and be remembered as? Each time the answers change and a new journey begins.

The world is neither miserable nor joyous, but the people in it. The world is but a reflection of what we ourselves are.

Life is nothing more than the polishing of the stone we wish to become. To become such we must polish our ideas and in so doing, polish ourselves.

Read it twice, even three times, for it is a subtle difference. We do not become successful by what we do alone, but by who we are. Read it twice, even three times, for it is a subtle difference. We do not become successful by what we do alone, but by who we are.

As in temples of old, the great stone walls becoming sun bleached and marked by all who pass, so it is with the temples of our lives; through the bleaching and purifying process of life, and the marks left by all who pass that we become who we are today, immortalized in stone. We must remember, however, that the greatest shaping effect upon the temple of our lives, does not come from the bleaching and purifying experiences of life, nor from the marks left by those who pass, but from the way in which we have carved the stones and upon what we have built the foundation of who we are.

Until we awaken as the masters of our own Destiny we follow the principles and edicts of the culture and time in which we find ourselves. Will you allow the culture of your time to dictate your destiny? 

Or will you awaken from the dust, stand up, step out, and speak up? Will you decide who you will be? Will you shape the path of your own destiny or relegate yourself resignedly to whatever the world gives you?

What will you decide to be?
Who will you decide to be?
And who will decide, if not you?

Character and Obedience

Speaking of character in a recent article Richard G. Scott said, “It is the manifestation of what you are becoming. Your character will be the yardstick that God will use to determine how well you have used your mortal life… Strong character is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what goals you have accomplished… Your character is being solidified by consistent correct choices… Neither Satan nor any other power can weaken or destroy your growing character. Only you can do that through disobedience…”

In the development of character obedience is at its core. It is our character, or our habits of obedience or disobedience, that are at stake in every decision we make, big or small. And in reality there are no big decisions – only small ones.

The real question is whether or not we will choose to cultivate a habit of obedience to the laws, commandments, and revelations of God? Or whether will we cultivate a habit of disobedience to those same laws as we seek to serve ourselves?

Whatever habit we create in the small decisions of our daily lives will be the habit we act from in our moments of crisis and confrontation.

It isn’t about the size of the decisions we make. It’s why we make them.

Are we are cultivating a habit of obedience, or of disobedience, to truth and direct revelation?

Will you trust God and cultivate a habit of obedience to the truths of the gospel and what you have received as personal revelation? Or will you cultivate disobedience as you rationalize the deviations and distractions that take you from fully living as you know you ought, no matter how sound, reasonable, or logical, such rationalizations may seem at the time?

—– Receiving Revelation —–

Nearly a year ago I was sitting in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Taking in the calmness which surrounded me I began to wonder what God thought about my beard. I’d heard, and participated in, numerous arguments back and forth about whether or not it was acceptable to have a beard in the temple, or in church at all. I wanted to know God’s thoughts on the matter and determined to ask Him as I sat there.

Bowing my head I reaffirmed to myself and to God that whatever He told me I would honor and obey, aligning my life with whatever I was taught. I know that it was precisely because I felt this way that I received an answer.

Thoughts flowed calmly into my mind as I listened, “You may grow your beard as you like, my son, but when you come into my house, whether here (in the temple) or in one of my chapels I would ask that you come clean shaven before me. It will show the respect you have for Me and help you prepare yourself spiritually for coming into my house.”

Since then I have shaved each and every Sunday prior to going to church and every day that I have attended the temple.

Now, I do not try to insinuate in any way that I have received revelation for the church at large, or for anyone but myself. This is a personal commandment I received in response to a heartfelt prayer. It came as I sincerely sought the mind and the will of the Lord regarding how I should act before Him. Aside from the commandments of the gospel, which are for all men, you must seek your own revelation and confirmation with regard to how you should live your life. The interesting thing is that often you will already know the answer before you ask – you will have already felt what is right and in prayer will find the confirmation of what you have already felt in your heart.

—– The Small Things —–

So why is this story important?

Well, this past Friday a rather large and painfully obvious cold sore had formed on my upper lip. It was not a pretty sight and I had decided not to shave that morning because of it. I told myself that shaving would risk the possibility of nicking it with my razor, which would hurt, and that having a beard would serve to hide it somewhat so that it didn’t stand out so much.

So Sunday, prior to going to church, I was trimming around the edges of my beard, questioning if I really should shave my beard off all the way or not. As I pondered this questions began flooding into my mind…

“What is more important to you? Keeping the commandments of God or how you appear to others? Will you obey God and honor the promptings, revelations, and commandments you have received – no matter how small they may be? Or will you endeavor to hide your imperfections, and disobey the word of the Lord concerning you, for fear of what others will think? What is more important to you? Keeping the commandments of God, or worrying about how you are perceived by your fellowmen?”

Well that was very direct, I thought. And there was my answer. There was no explaining that away as an overactive mind. Those questions were right. The choice before me was very clear. And though it was not what most would call a big or important choice it was. In reality there are no big choices, only small ones. I was reminded that all big things hinge upon the small and simple things of life and that by very small things are great things brought to pass. The great moments of our lives will be but comprised of smaller moments all put together.

Some of the biggest lessons of my life have come from the smallest and simplest experiences of my life. This would be no different. This simple cold sore had become an instrument in God’s hand to teach me a deeper lesson: to remind me that every decision in life is 1) a small one, and to teach me that 2) it is really about whether or not we cultivate the habit of obedience or disobedience to what we have received.

If I chose to follow God’s commandments now (shaving), what most would call an unimportant decision, then wouldn’t I choose to follow God’s commandments when it really mattered? If I chose to follow His commands now when the discomfort to myself would be small, slightly physical and a little socially, then wouldn’t I do so when the discomfort, and consequences, were real?

If I hold true to the revelations He has given me, and the truths of the gospel, in the small decisions of my life then won’t I hold to them when the larger decisions of life arise? Won’t honoring what I have received now help to cultivate the habit of obedience so that when I am sorely tempted or distracted it can be relied upon to keep me upon the sure path of truth?

—– Self-Evaluation —–

What about you?

Are you cultivating a habit of obedience, or disobedience, to what you have received? What are the small things that you need to work on? What truths have you forgotten, or been distracted from applying in your life? Where have you rationalized the deviations which have led you to this point? And where can you improve and get back on track?

What small decision will you make today to come into alignment with the truths you already know in your heart to be true?

That one decision will make all the difference.

When A Loved One Commits Suicide

Reposted from Forward Walking
January 24th, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

As an oldest child, I am used to fixing problems—both in my life and in the lives of my siblings. With the suicide of my brother in 2008, for the first time in my life I faced a problem that I couldn’t fix.

dan and bro

My brother lay in the hospital for a week before he died, and I couldn’t do a thing about it. He’d attempted suicide in the side yard of our house. He shot himself while I was working on my truck on the other side of the house. My mother was doing dishes and my father was working in his office. My father and I both heard something, but didn’t connect it as a gun shot. After all, why would a gun go off in the middle of the neighborhood?

It was a small-caliber gun, and the shot sounded to me like a dropped bolt or a nut. I looked around for what I had dropped and, not finding anything, went back to work. My father said it sounded like he’d dropped a pen on the hardwood floor. He too looked for what had made the noise, couldn’t find anything, and went back to his work.

My mother, however, felt prompted to go outside, ended up finding my brother, called 9-1-1, and got him to the hospital. I ran around back when the ambulances pulled up in front of our house, and my mother came out of the back yard crying. My father had gone back there the moment my mother called for him. I can still remember my father holding my brother’s head in his hands, putting pressure on his wounds until the paramedics could take over.

After three brain surgeries and many prayers, the doctors reconstructed my brother’s skull as best they could and stitched him back up. The hospital scans showed no brain activity beyond what was needed to sustain life. The pressure in his brain fluctuated dangerously, and his hypothalamus had stopped functioning all together. His body could no longer heat or cool itself properly, so the nurses heated and cooled it alternately using heated blankets and ice.

While my brother was in the hospital, our lives stood still. Neither my father nor I went to work, and my mother virtually lived at the hospital with my two sisters. Over the course of the week, we all spent time grieving in our own ways.

During my grieving and answer-seeking process, I wrote frequently. This is actually when I started my first blog, which I have continued to this day. Between that and the conversations I had with family and friends, I began to process the changes that my brother’s choice had suddenly brought into my life.

Prior to that moment, the things I had dedicated my time to were meaningless. The only thing that really mattered in my life now was family. That was it. Nothing else even held a candle to the importance of my family.

Maybe if I had been around more, this wouldn’t have happened, I thought. Maybe I would have seen the signs and been able to stop him. Maybe I could have helped him more. There had to be something I could have done–right?

As my brother lay in the hospital dying, there was nothing to do but wonder what I could have done differently. I was his older brother. Wasn’t it my responsibility to look out for him, to care for him? Wasn’t I my brother’s keeper? Wasn’t I partially at fault for what he had done? Couldn’t I have done more?

I shared these thoughts with a friend, thinking aloud about everything I could—and SHOULD—have done to save him. I couldn’t help but cry. My friend stopped me, and spoke kindly amidst my tears.

“Dan, who do you think you are? You’re not Superman. You can’t save everyone…”

And she was right.

Today I share that same message with those of you who have lost someone dear to you and blame yourselves in some way for their loss. If you’ve ever asked what you could have done differently or how you could have changed the outcome, you are asking the wrong questions. These questions only lead to pain, not healing.

In the wake of tragic events such as suicide, these kind of thoughts are inevitable to some extent. It’s what we do with the thoughts when they come that determines whether we begin to heal or whether we prolong the process of our healing by wallowing in self-blame.

In the midst of such a loss, I know it seems like healing will never come. But I promise you it will. The light of hope will again shine in your life, and you will find purpose once more.

But you are not Superman any more than I was.

Those we love have their agency—or freedom of choice. As they use this agency, they may make choices that hurt themselves and cause us great pain. And while we would do anything to save them, what becomes of them is ultimately their choice.

We cannot mitigate the effects that other people’s choices will have on our lives. None of us is at the center of the universe, but the actions of one truly can affect the lives of all around them. As you mourn a loved one’s bad choices, please recognize and accept that your reactions affect those around you, too. And though you may be in pain, recognize that there are those who need you in their lives as well. Your decision to either move forward in the healing process or wallow in self-blame will have unintended consequences on those you love as well. Please choose to heal. Please be present with those who are still with you.

We can only help those we love if they let us. In the same respect, others can only help us if we allow them the opportunity to do so.

It took me some time to realize that we cannot take responsibility for the choices and actions of others. I could not have changed what my brother did, even if the circumstances had been different—only he could have changed it.

We can—and should—love them, help them, and encourage them to make good choices in their lives, but—in the end—the choices are theirs to make.

It is a hard thing to do, but we must relinquish the responsibility for our loved ones’ actions to them. We must let them live their lives . We are not responsible for the self-destructive choices they may choose to make. To believe otherwise requires us to live our lives forever condemned to misery and self-blame.

This is not to say that we should never try to save those we love!

dans bro1In the years leading up to his death, I tried everything I could think of to help my brother, as did my parents. And I know we’d do all of it it again in a heartbeat if we could. For what is love but the desire to save those we love from pain?

But always remember, You’re not Superman. You can’t save everyone…”

Please start now to let go of any self-blame you may be hanging onto, and let your own healing process begin.

If you would like to read more of Joshua’s story, or what we went through as a family in the wake of his passing, please visit CaringBridge. Since Joshua’s death in 2008, my family has founded the Freeman Family Institute in his honor.

The Only Sure Foundation

In the distance a Man walks amidst the waves of the sea. They rise and heave, moving all around Him, undulating back and forth as they threaten the very foundation upon which He seems to stand. And yet, in spite of everything He sees, He walks peacefully, calmly, and serenely forward through the squall to come to those who stand in need of saving.

The image of Christ walking calmly and serenely on the water, amidst the winds and waves of the sea, brings peace to my troubled soul and teaches me much.

Imagine the most violent storm the world has ever known. Then imagine a man walking calmly forward through it all. He holds his head high and his eyes are bright and clear. The waves roll and churn all around him. The wind, try though it might, cannot seem to make him seek cover from its might. It seems that a great calm surrounds the space immediately around him and his feet find footing where there seems none. On he walks through the billowing storms of life.

We are in the midst of such a storm as you read these words. The sacred and the spiritual is under attack at levels unimaginable but a few short years ago.

This image, this vision, is of you and I at our best. It is of you and I when our lives are based on truth and light, in line with the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is a promise in scripture. It is as real as our faith is deep.

As the storms of life beset us and the winds threaten to blow us off our feet, as the waves threaten to swallow us up into their depths and wash away the foundation upon which we stand, I think only of Jesus Christ and the sure foundation upon which he walked, and upon which we must walk if we will survive the storm which surrounds us.

And what is that foundation you ask?

The foundation of His gospel. If we build our foundation upon the gospel of Jesus Christ then it will not matter what storms rage in our lives, or how unsure our footing may seem to be at times.

As long as we walk forward, in faith, trusting in God, and give no place in our hearts for fear, we shall walk forward firmly and deeply rooted upon the only sure foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)

If we would walk calmly forward amidst the storms of life, amidst the waves of sin and temptation which seek to drag us down into their depths, then we must build our lives upon the rock of our Redeemer. We must build our lives around Christ. He must be our center.

From that decision forward into the rest of our lives we move.

Will you place Christ at the center of your life? Will you give place for Him in your heart and change your life to let Him in? Will you build upon the foundation He teaches us how to build?

If your answer is yes then you may confidently look forward in faith for the day when you too may walk calmly forward amidst the storms of life and find solid footing upon which to stand. It will not be a solid foundation as the world sees it but a solid foundation as the Lord sees it. It will confound the wise and give strength to the weak. It will be accessed through humble prayer and right living. It will not be able to be bought or purchased for any price and if, in our moments of need, we are bereft of it we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Upon what is the foundation of your life based? Upon what, and whom, do you stand? When the storms of life best you will they find your foundation wanting or will it endure even the buffetings of even the most mighty storms?

Will you choose to build your life upon the only sure foundation – the only foundation that will give us “peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come?” (Doctrine & Covenants 59:23)

You Were Built for Relationships!

Reposted from Forward Walking
January 8th, 2014 by Daniel Adam Freeman

“The way I figure it, YOU were BUILT for relationships!” he said.

Sitting in the desert, I poured out my soul to a dear friend Jeff Martin. He had a deep well of wisdom from which to draw, and although I wasn’t expecting anything in particular, I was curious what he would say.

I listed off all the reasons I couldn’t be in a relationship. I was too free-spirited. I didn’t want to get ‘stuck’ in a resentful relationship or ‘settle’ into one. Doing that wouldn’t make anyone happy. And I didn’t want to have someone ‘stuck’ with me either. What kind of a life would I be offering them? How could I ever settle down and stop changing? I loved change too much.

Jeff smiled. “You say that you have commitment issues and that you can’t be in a relationship because you’re afraid of getting stuck, of being unable to change. You think that you’ll be trapped and lose your freedom to change. Well, you’re wrong.”

I was skeptical. I was wrong? I couldn’t see how. What could he possibly say that would change anything?

I nodded my head, inviting him to continue.

“Several years ago,” he began, ”I was working a lot with married couples who were separated, wanting a divorce, or already divorced. Their relationships were suffering, and they no longer desired to be together. In every instance–without fail–they had grown apart. One of them had changed in some way that the other hadn’t. One would always say to the other, ‘Why can’t you be like you were before?’ Each of them wanted the other person to change and meet them where they themselves were. Because one of them changed and the other didn’t, they literally grew apart. The couples who couldn’t change in the relationship as life evolved, ended up separating.”

I listened intently. He was talking about change, but so far he seemed only to confirm my fear, not remedy or lessen it. Where was he going with this?

He continued, “These couples grew apart because one of them changed the other didn’t. The point is,they didn’t change together. From everything I have seen, it is the people who love change the most who are best prepared for, and BUILT for, relationships. If you are willing to change, learn, and grow–together–you can succeed. It was the one thing consistent with all the relationships of the couples I worked with: they didn’t change together.

You love to change. So, the way I figure it, YOU were BUILT for relationships!”

He was right. Committing to a relationship meant committing to change WITH someone I love. We could change together for the rest of our lives.

What wasn’t to like about that?

In that moment, something clicked inside of me. I suddenly saw the world in a different light than before. I saw with fresh eyes the women and relationships in my life–as well as the actions I took on a daily basis to avoid both.

A pit of anger grew within me. I turned and swore at Jeff. “I can’t believe you told me that! Aghh! Why did you have to do that?!” I growled, and turned away.

He chuckled and began to laugh, “Wow. I hit that one right on the head, didn’t I?”

———-

dan2

My hope is that I can pass on the gift Jeff gave to me in that moment–the gift of an altered perspective.

For many years, I didn’t want to be in a relationship because I worried it would stifle me, and that I would grow to resent myself and the woman I married. Jeff opened my eyes to the reality–and necessity–of change in relationships. I wasn’t some screw-up that could never be happily married. I wasn’t damaged beyond repair. Enjoying change wasn’t the kiss of death to a relationship. On the contrary, it was the breath of life.

That lesson is one I needed to hear, and I will be forever grateful for it. The moment Jeff’s perspective expanded before me, I knew that I could no longer live as I had before. The funny thing is, I was angry because I didn’t want to change!

After this conversation, the entire direction of my life altered, and I suddenly wanted to be in a relationship.  I wanted to find someone I could love and change with for the rest of my life. That was an adventure, a life, an eternity, that I could commit to.

To those who are single, I ask: Will you commit to such an adventure? Will you accept that maybe–just maybe–you were BUILT for relationships, too?

And to those who are already in a committed relationship, married, or considering the possibility of divorce, ask yourself this question: Are you willing to change together?

If you want your relationship to succeed you must be willing to change, but not individually. You must change together. Successful and happy relationships are not about sacrificing yourself to become what your partner wants, nor about them sacrificing themselves to become what you want. This is not to say that you will sacrifice or change the same things, but that the sacrifices and changes you make must ultimately serve the same goals and bring you closer together. Support one another. Sacrifice together. Grow together. Change together.

Will you recommit, to the adventure you committed to in the past? Will you accept that maybe you were BUILT to succeed in your relationships too?