01 January 2014

Past and Future: Accounting and Vision

A year ago I wrote this post in anticipation of 2013.

Truth be told, my list of accomplishments this past year is not so large. My life's activities have not changed much since last January. I haven't done anything really great. But I have learned and grown so much.

John Wooden said that the things that change us are the things we read and the people we meet. I find myself changed by both.

The Things I've Read

I have come to love my mass communications degree. In it, I have learned the effects media have on the perceptions, and thus actions, of individuals, the family unit, society, and even the world (and that’s not just poetic; it’s documented). My studies have have shown me the pros and cons of media and prompted me to tone down and refocus my own usage.

Media and technology are wonderful tools; they offer a wider world with infinite amounts of knowledge. Used too much or for the wrong reasons, however, they have the potential to promote entertainment saturation, the loss of ability to think deeply, detachment in human relationships and the creation of isolated virtual worlds that cannot effectively promote the important things in real life. 

Because media—mass and social—have the power to change people from doers to observers. From active members of the world to passive apathetics. Media can do so much good; but only by users who are disciplined and focused on doing good. I have observed the tendency to passive smorgasbord surfing rather than active participation in my own conduct; and I want to, this year, be more responsible in my media choices and make real contributions in the world.

The People I've Met

I have learned this year that getting close to people is an uncomfortable experience. Because each close relationship becomes a mirror through which you must examine a different side of yourself. Some people just bring out the worst in you—but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. The closer to others I've gotten, the more room for improvement I have found in myself. As well as a heightened sense of self-understanding:

I am passionate and driven. I am selfish and insecure. I am sincere and hypocritical both. I don't compromise my values, sometimes to the point of self-righteousness. I am a woman and, sometimes still, a child. The Lord and His gospel are the most important matters of my heart. Family, and its promotion, is my passion and love. The pursuit of excellence is my ambition. I value the virtues of work, stretching and simplicity. I aim high, and I love to learn and talk about the deep and weighty things in life. 

What Stands Out Most

Above all, however, the things I have read and the people I have met have all somehow combined this year to form my own vision of the kind of home and family I want to build in the future:

A home that is

  • Simple and modest, with enough money for our needs and a few of our wants.
  • Comfortable, with as little excess in mindless entertainment and distraction in unearned luxury as possible.
  • Centered on Christ and character rather than convenience and currency.
  • A haven from the madness outside.

A home where

  • The priesthood presides in worthiness and wisdom and is sustained in love.  
  • Children are taught, nurtured and disciplined in love.
  • Husband and wife work as a loving, trusting, respecting team. They do their best to fulfill their roles and serve each other and their children, humbly and with the Lord's will in mind. 
  • Parents teach, through example, the importance of striving—striving, every day, to be the best person and disciple of Christ one can be.
  • Christ is at the center.
  • God and family come before all else—in time, practice, affection and loyalty.
  • Prophets and priesthood leaders are sustained in word and deed
  • Parents teach the importance of being worthy of and following the Spirit every day.
  • Husband and wife don't just read scriptures and say prayers—they study the scriptures and truly pray every day, and they teach their children the importance of doing the same and letting such experiences change them.
  • Good, old-fashioned moral character is valued and honed. 
  • Hard work, responsibility, service and self-sufficiency are prized. 
  • A love for the temple breathes.
  • Children learn from books that raise their sights, enliven their imaginations and inspire them to reach for high and noble goals.
  • Chores, rules, playing outside and thinking creatively somehow blend in eclectic, healthy symbiosis.
  • Integrity and personal excellence are the orders of the day.
  • Members value what is truly important; distraction is kept at a minimum.
  • Entertainment is a wholesome enhancement rather than the droning rule.
  • Deliberate discipleship and decorum are practiced
    • In those daily, small and simple, conscious-building practices of devotion, respect and propriety that refine those who choose to observe them as nothing else can. 
    • Because while character may be revealed in the great and terrible moments, it is forged in the small, everyday observances or neglects.
  • Differences join together to form the perfect family formula.
  • Each member finds support, loyalty and love.

I could write several books about what 2013 taught me. The pleasant surprises and muscle definers have been many and varied, exhilarating and taxing. But this post is too long as it is, so I'll stop. What Haskins wrote is right. 2013, I have a feeling, turned out exactly like 2013 was supposed to for me. Hopefully I turned out the way I was supposed to as well. And now I'm excited to see what 2014 has to teach and change in me.

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