Love is service, not emotion

Love for many is elusive.  We find infatuation quickly and jump into relationships based upon infatuation while professing we have found true love.  True love exists however few understand what this is.

Infatuation makes our hearts beat faster and our minds to go to mush as we get caught up in a whirlwind romance often driven by the flames of physical passion and desire.  We crave the burning chemical rush from the flames of this passion and believe we have found our soulmates.  We come from a space where our own needs and physical desires are met.  These self serving emotions are just as quickly snuffed out and we are left wondering what went wrong.  There is no foundation for infatuation, it is fleeting and built from nothing.  Infatuation hits quickly and dies faster.  We pick up the broken pieces left over from our crushed expectations and move on to the next adrenaline rush of emotions believing this time it will be different.

The world sees this as love.  We hear continually that one can fall out of love.  I argue this is impossible.  One cannot fall out of love.  We fall out of infatuation.

Love is different.  When love is real it is service.  It is kindness.  It is compassion.  It is not self serving and driven by the whims of change.  It is not fleeting and it does not die.  For when love is real, our desire is to serve others that we love, not for them to serve us.

YES we can love someone whom does not love us back.  This is common and happens often.  The greatest love stories are those that both parties have placed the others needs before there own.  They serve one another.

There are many stories told of couples when one becomes ill and the other one steps up to serve them and care for them.   It is clear that their bond and love they share grows during these difficult and trying times.  Their love grows during this season of service and caring.

We often hear of a mothers love for her children. WHY?  Because when the children are young they are fully dependent upon their mother.  Their mother loves them and this love grows as they continue to serve them.  Children learn to love their mothers as they in turn serve their mother as they grow.  Children desire to please their parents and in so doing they serve them, this service develops love.

There are many that will argue that in just as many cases that one person serves while the other one takes.  While this is true, look at the one that is always the one that is the most heartbroken when a relationship ends.  It is ALWAYS the one that served and gave the most to the relationship.

True undying mutual love can only be attained when both parties make the other a priority and serve them without expecting anything in return.  True love is service.

Anyone who goes to a foreign country to serve for any reason always comes back with a love for the people and culture in which they served.

If you are struggling in your relationships and wonder where the magic went, try genuinely serving each other and be amazed at where this will lead.

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The Service of an Open Door

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Do you advocate for people?  Do you help others find success even when there is nothing for you to gain from helping?  How often do you open a door for someone just to open it?  Do you passively or actively look for ways to help someone?

Many people feel like they will help others, oftentimes they will provide acts of service that can help someone in a time of need. I question how many of us will truly open doors for the success of another.  We find great satisfaction in the moments of help and service, mowing lawns, helping someone move, feeding a family in a time of need, etc..

There is an old saying often attributed to Confucius that says,

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

I would argue that the same concept holds true in helping others.  If we serve them in ways that will open doors and help create a successful future then we are performing a greater act of service than we could ever do by the traditional acts of service such as making a dinner for the sick.  While these acts are wonderful and oftentimes needed, how many of us can truly help change someones life through service?  How many of us confuse a random act of kindness for that of service?

We all know people, we can all open doors for others.  The only question that remains is are we willing?

Image:  Clipart

There are No Rules in Domestic Violence – My Story

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 I was asked to speak today to some of our state senators and representatives.   Here are my remarks:

I am a survivor and former victim of Domestic Violence.

I have been mentally, emotionally, verbally, physically and financially abused by my ex wife.  I have been bitten, hit, kicked, cut, and bruised.

There is a lie in our society that men cannot be victims of abuse and that if a woman abuses a man the man is somehow weak, or they did something to provoke her and deserve it.

There are no rules in domestic violence.  It is not conditional based upon gender or age.   It is not specific to your level of education, race, income, religion or social status.  It is a plague that is destroying families and our children and we must act to put an end to this scourge.  Abusers will blame the abused for making them into the abusers they are.  This is part of the manipulation process abusers use.  Sadly, many of us fall victim to this lie and believe it.

If we falsely believe that domestic violence will go away by ignoring it, or if we fall victim to the many lies about this plague we are abandoning our children and grandchildren to continue perpetually down this evil path in our society.

Domestic Violence impacts every one of us in this room.  Whether or not it is public knowledge or anyone outside the victims immediate family knows about it, such as in my case, we all know someone who lives this hell.  It could be your daughter, your son, father, mother, grandchild, or neighbor.  It could be a leader in your church or a teacher at school or your coworker and friend.  Most victims are silent, looking for help and not knowing where to turn.

In Utah we are surrounded by many who by outward appearances have great and amazing families.  From an outward perspective, I had it all, a great family, a great wife, a great job, a beautiful home and great kids.  No one ever suspected the hell I and my children were living as a result of her abuse.

Many have asked me afterwards why if things were so bad would I stay in the relationship for so long.  First and foremost I will tell you that I love my children and am a deeply devoted father.  I worried for their safety and well being if I left.

Remember I had been told by the many police officers and those in the legal profession that I turned to for help, that a man cannot be a victim of domestic violence and if it is happening then he provoked her to it.  Utah has a terrible history in family law, one that quite frankly we should all hang our heads in shame over and that is the blind obedience of the judges to mothers and custody.  This was the single largest issue that kept me in this abusive relationship.  I didn’t want my children to suffer without my protection for them.

In the end, like most abusers, she left when she found someone new.  My relief at this being over was minimized as the courts gave custody to her.  My biggest fear in leaving came true.

My other primary reason for staying is abuse doesn’t always start off being physical.  Abusers manipulate and make the abused feel worthless and that they don’t deserve anything better and that they deserve what they are getting.  This lie held me hostage for years.

It was upon finally being freed from this abuse that I began to know about the resources in the community like the Domestic Violence shelters and what they do.

I have spent countless hours volunteering to help with anything the local shelter was in need of, from painting, to moving furniture, to fixing toilet seats and washing machines.  I have spent the time to know and understand what they do and why they do it.    While a handful of the shelters will take in men, and shelter them from abusers, there are many that do not primarily due to funding issues.  I don’t believe I would have sought shelter as financially I was in the position to leave if I needed.

What I wish with all of my heart and that would have saved me and saved my children from witnessing the abuse is the knowledge available through the community outreach efforts of the shelters.  The education and resources they provide that would have given me direction and support were not known to me.  I was unaware that anyone could help my children and I during this nightmare we were living.

The South Valley Sanctuary currently operates a community outreach center in West Jordan to assist those in need of resources and support prior to the need to seek shelter.  We need more of this in our communities.  We need to ensure that our children are protected and that the resources are given to those making a difference on the front line of this plague everyday!

The domestic violence shelters need your support to continue to operate and not only provide the shelter from the violence, but the ongoing community outreach, training and resources to those in need prior to the need to flee. It is far less expensive to make certain that resources are available to those in need than it is to prosecute and house the perpetrator and bury the victims when the violence turns deadly.

We cannot end the violence if we are merely reactionary.  We must provide the resources in addition to just shelter that many in this community are in dire need.

As you review the funding this year, I hope that my story resonates with you and opens your eyes to the need for additional resources that will help these shelters continue to provide safety as well as resources to your daughters and sons experiencing violence at home to get the help that they need, before your need to plan their funeral.

What We See In Color, Others See In Black and White

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Our lives are colorful. Vivid and radiant colors that penetrate the depths of our souls through our life experiences and challenges.  Many times the color with which our lives are lived, while clear to ourselves are seen in black and white terms by those around us.  The judgments of others are oftentimes cast in a cut and dry, black and white application for everyone else, while at the same time expecting others to see the color in their own lives prior to casting their judgments upon us.

It is my experience that others who like to judge in such a way are typically ones with whom their lives have been experienced in black and white terms and are therefore unable to see the color that exists for others and the choices they make.  Harsh judgments, when cast upon others indicate a weakness of vision for the one judging.  They are typically incapable of seeing or understanding that not all lives are the same and cannot be seen through the same lens.

There are individuals whom spend inordinate amount of their time gossiping and judging others and the decisions and choices that others make for their own lives.  These individuals who judge, on the outside appear to have it all together, yet they actually suffer from such deep and often hidden insecurities about themselves that they deflect those feelings onto others through the judgments they make.  These judgments made through a black and white lens actually  represent hidden discouragement at some failed endeavor.

Conversely, those with whom their lives and experiences have color to them and are not cut and dry generally tend to be more forgiving and compassionate individuals.  They spend more time serving and donating their time to worthy causes.  The color that challenges and heartache bring into ones life allows them to see others and the world that they live in a much clearer manner.  They see others for whom they are and not what they think they should be.

If your life is lived through black and white lens it’s time to examine your own life with the same scrutiny that you examine others and their lives.   Life is meant to be lived in color, not black and white.

Thanksgiving: More Than An Annual Event

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As I reflected this past week upon the many blessings in my life for which I am deeply thankful for, I noticed many posts eloquently written regarding thanks and the things others are thankful for as well.  I thought about Thanksgiving and what it means.  It seems that annually we see an increase this time of year in people counting their blessings and in wanting to help others in need.  I wondered how long this feeling will last this year.  Will we make it past the 2nd week of January this next year?  Could we even maybe make it to February?  How about Spring?  How long will we remain thankful until we end up back into our old life and start focusing again on what we want instead of what we have?

I wonder what this world would be like if we could all spend an entire year focusing on our blessings instead of our wants.  Focusing on serving and helping those in need instead of focusing inward.  Spending our time in uplifting conversations instead of gossip and problems.  This past week leading up to Thanksgiving, nearly everyone I encountered or interacted with was pleasant, polite and in a cheerful mood.  Imagine what it would be like if we treated everyone like that on a regular basis, not just because of a holiday.

Being thankful and recognizing the blessings we have in our lives daily helps refocus our energy more effectively to be a force for good in our own lives, our families, communities, and nations.  Gratitude and being thankful for what we do have provides peace in our souls and provides a calm reassurance that things will be well in spite of sometimes seemingly difficult and insurmountable circumstances.

A truly thankful person does not boast of their thankfulness, they quietly thank God for the  blessings in life.  They are ones that others enjoy being around, they focus on good things in life and serve others willingly.   They are the ones making a difference in their families and communities, as they focus outward on others.

As we move towards the Christmas holiday and the season of giving, and receiving, may we spend our time being thankful for what we have been given and not on what gifts we want. As we say goodbye to another Thanksgiving holiday until next year, may we take with us the gratitude and thankfulness that we so abundantly shared with others this year and keep it with us daily and not just yearly.

My Hospital Visit with a Dear Friend

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I spent part of evening yesterday visiting with a lifelong friend in the hospital.  His stay was a short one, overnight, yet he works out of town and we don’t visit often, other than the occasional text message or Facebook correspondence. I have known this friend for over 30 years, back to our school days and our lives have crossed paths many times as life has taken us in different directions. I sent him a message Tuesday to let him know that I thinking about him and hoped that the surgery would go well. Late yesterday afternoon after he had gotten to his room he messaged me to let me know how we was. After exchanging a few messages he told me he would love to see me and to come up.  Without hesitation I told him i would be up to visit.

I live about 45 minutes away so the drive there provided me much time to ponder and reflect upon my friend and our lives.  As young men we were both very driven and motivated. Our lives were very similar and we shared similar dreams and ideas about our lives and our future.  The paths we took in life started on a very similar path, we graduated from high school together, we both left to serve missions for our church.  Upon returning we began school, working and started our families.  As life became busy as it often does, we would go years without talking only to run into each other and pick things up where they left off.  Friendships like this don’t ever die, they continue regardless of what life brings.

My friend and I reconnected years ago through a devastating and deeply personal loss of his.  I did everything that I could to be there for him and to help him while knowing I could in reality do nothing.  This was going to take a lifetime and all I could do is love and care for him,which I have tried to do yet I know I have stumbled in this area many times for him.  I wish I could have been a better support for him in his time of need.

We discovered as we reconnected the similarities in our lives with our struggles and challenges we had faced.  We each had very different and unique obstacles before us, yet the pain of divorce, the lies and the deception of ex spouses, the fight for our rights as a father and other challenges were eerily similar.  We handled these issues in different manners, we had grown apart in our social, political and religious views throughout this time when we hadn’t been around one another, finding ourselves in many levels on the extreme opposite sides of some of the most divisive issues our country is facing.

As I drove to the hospital I thought about the irony of this, here was one of my closest lifelong friends I have ever known.  This was a man that I knew without doubt or hesitation I could call on a moments notice for help and he would give me the last shirt off his back or his last meal to help me.  Our friendship has never been threatened or challenged as a result of our differing opinions and beliefs.  While visiting in the hospital we discussed briefly some of these explosive issues, ones that usually would cause extreme arguments, in this case we always respect the others opinion and agree that we will never agree on these issues. There were no arguments, only discussion as we talked about them.  The fact is that he has been one of the best friends I have ever known, certainly the most loyal.

As we talked, a comment he made resonated deep within me, it all revolves around compromise.  He said that if we were the last 2 families left on the earth and we needed to build a home for our families and we only had time to build one home, we would never agree what needed to be in the home, yet we would build one that would meet both of our families needs because our families needed it.  We are very similar this way, we will both put the needs of others ahead of our own.  We compromise.

Imagine the problems that could be solved with compromise, compassion and friendship.  The chasms that separate families, communities, friends, and this nation would all disappear with true compromise and placing others needs before our own.  To my dear friend I say, thank you for the time yesterday and for your lifetime of friendship.  There is no distance too great between those who care for each other.

A LABOR DAY SAMARITAN IN MAJESTIC WYOMING

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My wife and I love short weekend retreats.  Oftentimes we wake up in the morning and leave with no destination in place.  We have discovered many wonderful little roadside attractions over the last 4 years.  These wonderful trips have created amazing memories for us and opportunities to meet some wonderful individuals along the way.

This past Labor Day Weekend was one such trip.  My wife and I decided last minute to get away and go in a direction we had never gone together.  We headed for Wyoming and the Tetons.  We were excited for the much needed time together hiking and enjoying the mountains as we always do in a new and majestic setting.   We anxiously left home and headed for the Tetons, just us and our baby girl.

The trip took an unexpected turn as we neared our destination, we had arrived just outside of a little town called Afton, Wyoming about 80 miles from our destination when our Jeep overheated.  We sat on the side of the road as we waited for the engine to cool down then examined the hoses and radiator.  Strangely, nothing appeared to be broken so we filled the radiator up and head onward.  We overheated again, the sun had set and we were nearly 10 miles from Afton with our 8 month old daughter.

We sat on the side of the road for a few minutes as we contemplated our options.  We said a prayer for help and got out to look at the car again, wondering if we could fill up the radiator again to crawl into Afton.  As soon as we opened the hood,  a truck stopped by, this young man hops out and says “hi I’m Mike, can I help you?”  My wife and I quickly exchanged looks of relief and gratitude with one another as we graciously accepted Mikes help.

As we looked into the Jeep, we noticed that the pulley on the water pump had fallen off and water was coming out of it, we were not going anywhere!  Mike quickly pulled his truck around, hooked on a tow rope and pulled us into town and to a hotel parking lot.  This good Samaritan proceeded to walk into the lobby of the hotel with us to make certain there were sufficient rooms available,  After we checked in, Mike asked me for my cell phone number and told me that he would call me in the morning around 7 am to help us further.

Sure enough, the following morning Mike called as promised.  He told me on the phone that he would be there to pick me up in about 30 minutes.  Mike had made arrangements for the local auto parts store, which was closed due to the labor day holiday, to open up long enough for us to get a water pump to install.  Mikes friendship with the owner had made that possible.  After obtaining the necessary parts from an extremely kind and generous owner of the parts store, Mike and I headed to his office to verify the torque specifications for the water pump, then we headed to Mikes house to move some vehicles around out of the driveway so as to have access to his garage.

We then met my wife and daughter back at the hotel where we again placed a tow rope on the Jeep and towed it to Mikes home.  We proceeded to take out the old water pump and replace it.  Mike had to the necessary tools to make this happen.  We were unable to get the jeep into the garage, so we stood in the down pouring rain outside the garage as we replaced it, all the while Mike was urging me to stay in the garage to stay dry, I was unable to oblige that request as I was so humbled by this mans sacrifice and willingness to serve that I was going to be there assisting him on my car.

Graciously and humbly we thanked Mike for his extreme kindness, generosity and service to complete strangers.  Mikes example of service was truly an answer to our prayers the night before for help and assistance.  Mike sent me a text message hours later following up to make certain that my beloved wife had been able to see the Majestic Tetons for the first time.  He was more concerned about her and what she had hoped for on this trip than his time, inconvenience and rain as he helped us.  His unquestionable desire to help others provided a much needed service that we were in need of.  My wife and I will forever be grateful for his service to us in our time of need.

Thank you Mike and may God bless you and your family!  You are a remarkable example and a fine young man!