be here now

I can't even count the number of times that I have started a post and stopped because I forgot or ran out of time or something in the last few weeks... I guess that a lot of that is because the things that have been on my mind lately are pretty personal.

I'm a little bit all over the place recently - School is hard, but it's awesome. Friends are fantastic. Dating is... Dating. I've been struggling to have good, effective scripture study, and that really frustrates me.

Honestly, I feel like sometimes I am failing as a returned missionary. There's so much that I learned out in the mission field that I should be so much better at applying. And while a lot of that comes from Satan (see my last post on that here), there's definitely also truth in there.

In institute on Monday we started talking about how we are accountable for our time. I am extremely guilty of wasting time. I spend hours on social media sites and my cell phone. I put off studying my scriptures, studying for my classes, spending time with the people I love... It's really dumb. Especially because I know better. Preach My Gospel (essentially the missionary handbook, you can find it online here) encourages missionaries to use their time wisely. In fact, the apostles and church leaders who wrote Preach My Gospel considered it so important that they wrote an entire chapter on it (chapter 8!). So... I spent 18 months learning more about that, and trying my best to be better at using my time.

I am decidedly against making resolutions solely for that it's a new year, but I think it's about time that I do make some goals for this year. These goals are things I've thought long and hard about, not just things I thought up because oh look, it's 2015 and I should jump on the resolution bandwagon. I find that those things don't generally end up getting done. However I think it's super important to make heartfelt, serious goals! Goals help us to progress. Elder M. Russell Ballard once said:
“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.”
One of the many useful things I learned on my mission is that an unwritten goal is just a wish. So... I'm going to write my goals down. I won't write them all on here, but I would like to share one.

With this goal comes a story. About a month after coming home from my mission, I started attending my local Young Single Adult (YSA) ward (church unit) in Bountiful. The first week I was there a young man spoke (we don't have clergy that give sermons in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - members of the congregation take turns giving "talks") who was leaving on his mission that coming Wednesday. He encouraged us all to remember to live in the moment, and shared a story of his choir teacher at Westminster who always told his students to leave their other commitments and worries outside of his room, and to "be here now."

Those words penetrated my mind then, and continue to regularly do so again and again. They pop up in my head often - generally when I'm not focused on where I am or what I'm doing - and I am brought back to the present. Not past experiences or future plans, but here and now. I think that it's so important to reflect on experience, and it's definitely also important to make plans, but it's just as important to live and enjoy what's happening right NOW. I'm making a goal to do just that. To be thankful for the present. So if nothing else... I will strive to do that this year!

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