Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just Pray


I was recently privy to a conversation that took place in which a number of people were discussing the proper way to pray. I heard many a 'thee' 'thus' and 'thou' in the conversation, as well as instruction that we should not speak to Heavenly Father as we speak to our peers because He is royalty.

I don't quite agree...

Yes, I believe that there is a time and a place for proper prayer etiquette; family prayer, sacrament prayer, and really any public prayer in which we are not only praying on behalf of ourselves, but others as well. However, I truly believe that such level of propriety is not required in our personal prayer.

Here is what I know about my God...

He wants to hear me.
That's it.
He simply wants to hear me.

I don't pray as if He is on a giant throne and I am bowing in front of Him, ten steps below.
No, I pray as if He is sitting right next to me.
His big burly loving arm around me.
My head resting on His shoulder.
My tears falling on His robe.

I don't worry about propriety or etiquette.
I don't worry about sounding or looking pretty.

I just pray; raw and vulnerable, much like this song by Kelly Clarkson:

Irvine


Whether we confidently pray to Him out loud, whisper silent prayers to Him deep within our hearts, or write Him letters and read them out loud to Him... It is no matter.

He cherishes all of it, for He loves us, and simply wants to hear us.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Same Sex Attraction is Not 'Wrong'

I had an experience today that really offended me, and I'm struggling to release the resulting anger.

It happened in the second hour of my church block; Sunday School. We were discussing the beatitudes, as well as the new laws the Savior delivered to replace the law of Moses, when we came to the following verse:

Matthew 5:28:
But I say unto you, That whosever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 
Knowing that so many struggle with the concept of lust, and what it really means, I raised my hand andreferring to the text of the scripturestated (and I quote); "Being triggered or tempted by a woman is not a sin, and does not lust make. It is what we do with that trigger or temptation that can lead to lust."

At the end of my comment I heard a man (who I will henceforth refer to as 'The Man') on the other side of the room half whisper under his breath; "Wow Sister Agla, are you into women?"

And then came the laughter.

Even though it was only a handful of people, who were also within hearing distance of his comment, it was deafening to me.

I flushed a deep hot red as my countenance darkened.
I wanted to run.

My struggle.
My shame.
I thought I was over it.
I thought I'd let it all go.

But his one little comment, followed by the laughter of the crowd, struck incredibly deep.

I wasn't sure if my husband had heard, even though he was sitting right next to me, so as to not call attention to myself I reached inside my purse and quickly sent him a text asking such. He confirmed that he'd heard it and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry."

It felt good to be validated.

When the meeting ended, I rushed out to avoid facing The Man. He'd repeated "I was just kidding" a few times after his comment, in what I assume was an effort to minimize what he'd said, and I wasn't about to satiate his desire to get me to agree with, or even applaud that effort.

Obviously, I was in a very rough, sensitive and vulnerable place.

After church, my husband let me know that he felt he needed to talk to The Man, so he stopped him in the hall after church. He didn't get mad or blame, but simply desired to shed some light on my perspective. He said; "there is no way you could know this, but my wife works with many women who struggle with same sex attraction, so she is very sensitive to the topic." The Man responded positively at first, stating; "Oh I didn't know that. I didn't mean anything by it," but then quickly rationalized by saying; "but it is wrong."

My husband's efforts were valiant, and I thank him. Not only did he defend me, but he also kept my confidentiality, for I don't just work with people who struggle with same sex attraction, but I myself struggle with it as well. I wrote about it once before, here.

The fact is, same sex attraction is not wrong.
How we respond to it can lead to wrong doing, but the innate temptation is not wrong.

I am not wrong.
I am not wrong.
I, am not wrong.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"How Did Your Addiction Start?"

If you guys haven't checked out Addo Recovery, please do. They are rockin' the addiction recovery world, So very proud to be working with them on multiple different levels.

Anyhoo...

I recently interviewed with them for their new online TV show, 'Addo TV.' The interview has been produced in segments...

One of which, is below:

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Progression of Sorts (draft 1)

Once surrounded by darkness, now an ember of light
Hopeless, once was, a future now bright

A progression of sorts, her journey has been
Striving not for perfection, but for courage to reign

Fear, once easy, her weakened heart to grasp
Vulnerability and compassion, true virtues at last

The battle, forever, for her happiness, her soul
Forever facing forward, eternity her goal

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fifty Shades of Impurity

Fifty Shades of Grey has become somewhat of an epidemic; threatening to destroy what little innocence remains in this world. 

I will preface this post by acknowledging that I have never read the book, nor ever will. The same, of which, applies to the film being released on Valentines Day (of all days). 

The spread of such nightmarish spiritual toxicity reminds me of an experience I had a while back. I was sitting in my 12-step group listening to a woman expressing how she wished she could handle "touching the gray like normal people." Her statement struck me, not as funny, but as worrisome. It led me to deeply ponder the concept of light and dark, and the resulting 'gray' when the two become blended.

What do I mean by 'touching gray?' Well let's first examine what the word actually means.


gray: adjectivegrayer, grayest.
  1. of a color between white and black; having a neutral hue
  2. dull, dreary, or monotonous
  3. of a neutral tone, intermediate between black and white, that has no hue and reflects and transmits only a little light.
  4. dismal or dark, especially from lack of light; gloomy
On one end of the gray spectrum we have white, or light, which is clean and unstained from the blackness of the world; purely untainted from sin. It represents the pure Light of Christ and everything that is virtuous and of grace.  

On the opposite end we have black, or dark, which represents the inky blackness and impurity of the world. It represents the ultimate culmination of sin and defiant abandon into the grasp of the dark one's grasp.  

Our goal in this life is to actively strive to get as close to the white as possible. Of course, perfect whiteness or perfect purity will never happen in this lifetime, but our God given gift of agency allows us the opportunity to choose to get as close to white as possible. Gratefully, so long as we persevere toward such a worthy goal, the Atonement of our Savior cleanses us of all other impurity.

Mixing even the tiniest amount
of black (darkness of Satan) with white (the Light of Christ within us) will surely produce a shade of gray. I venture to say, even one of fifty shades.

So the question is this; Why, when our mortal goal is to be as close to white as possible, would we ever knowingly and willingly mix with dark?

Satan wraps his inky blackness up in a beautiful gift wrapped box; telling us the gift is special, just for us. He makes it enticing and exciting. He uses powerful manipulation so that we will justify and rationalize 'touching gray'.


As easy as it sounds, it is actually quite difficult to give up the things that taint our spirit, and it definitely doesn't happen over night. We simply must come to the point in which the balance shifts. 

Imagine standing in the middle of a teeter totter, our weight evenly distributed, allowing both ends of the devise to hover equally in the air. One side light, one side dark. We need to lean toward the light in order for the weight to shift in that direction. Our desire to be near our Savior must outweigh our desire to be of the world.  

Does Heavenly Father expect perfection? No, and good thing. But He does expect progression
All He wants is for us to continuously strive to do better.  

It really is that simple.

This world is full of darkness that continually threatens to dim our light. However, the Light of Christ can reside in each of us; purifying us from within. 

Let us be spiritual fireflies; allowing our Savior to charge each one of us with His light as we go out into the world providing illumination for others in their dark places. So long as we remain in the presence of our Savior for rescue, refuge and rest, our light will forever burn bright and never be dimmed by even the darkest shade of gray.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The 'B' Side of Phone-Sex

This is an exposure post, of sorts.

I had a conversation with someone a day or two ago regarding phone sex. More specifically, what the whole interaction really looks like.

I was reminded of an old co-worker of mine, Filamer. I know, strange name, but awesome woman. Kind of like me. Haha, just kidding.

Fil and I worked together at the Coco's in Torrance, California. We worked so well together, in fact, that the manager would schedule just the two of us on Monday nights, leaving each of us to man a full half of the restaurant on our own. Some nights were crazy busy, but other nights were slow; giving us plenty of time to talk and get to know one another.

On one such slow night, I noticed Fil studying some papers and asked her what she was doing. She said that she was memorizing scripts for her second job. Not knowing she even had a second job, naturally, I asked her what the job was. Half laughing, she said she was a phone-sex operator.

Keep in mind, this was long before I started recovery, so instead of being shocked, I was actually quite intrigued. So much so that I asked to see the scripts myself.

Now, they shocked me.

EVERYTHING was scripted. NOTHING was allowed to be ad-lib'ed.

I'm dead serious. It was like this...
  1. Operator greets caller and works to determine what caller 'likes.'
  2. Depending on what caller responds, operator chooses one of a number of different scripts at their disposal, and begins the role-play.
  3. Throughout the interaction, operator is scripted to respond a, b or c in response to caller's direction of conversation.
  4. Rinse and repeat as many times as possible in an effort to keep caller on the line.
  5. If caller does not stay within the boundaries of the script, operator responds 'd' in order to get caller back within written (and legal) boundaries.
I just sort of stared at her, marveling that phone-sex is nothing like it is advertised.

She laughed again, and agreed, and even continued to tell me that the 'stereotypical' phone-sex operator more matches the actual truth of things, rather than what the advertisers would like us to believe.

Women behind the scenes who are:
  • Kicked back with their feet up, filing their nails
  • Working on homework
  • Watching TV
  • Listening to music
  • Crocheting
  • Reading 
And sadly, even:
  • Putting callers on mute; mocking and laughing at their requests

The operator is not emotionally or even sexually invested in the call. It's just words to them. Their goal is simply to keep the caller on the phone as long as possible in order to increase sales which, in turn, means more money for them.

It's very real and sad how both participants can get sucked into the false world of lust. One feeding their lust by way of sexual encounter, the other feeding their lust by way of making money.

The adversary has honed his cunning; telling the operator that they are not being immoral because they are not 'physically' participating with the caller, and that they can make easy money doing so because they will never lack for callers.

On the flip side, he tells the caller the same, that they are not being immoral because they are not 'physically' interacting with the operator, while also telling them that no one will ever find out because 'it's just a phone call.'

To both of them, he whispers; "It's OK, you are not hurting anyone."

The truth is, everyone effected by such a callwhether knowingly or unknowinglyis harmed; starting with both parties participating in it.

This is not the life the Savior wants for them, for me, for us, or for anyone.

It's simply a big fat trap.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do As I Do, Not As I Say

So, I learned something today.

Let me first back up a bit, before I share what I learned.

I was visiting with a friend of mine a week or so ago, and she shared with me a struggle she was having with someone living with her. The person was not being responsible, not contributing to the household and basically being a nuisance. My friend was frustrated because they allowed this person to stay with them for few weeks only, just to help them get on their feet. Also, the person was not on my friends lease, which disallows extended visitors.

The situation was really stressing my friend out, and she wasn't sure what to do.

As a complete joke, I blurted out; "You should totally write a fake letter from your landlord stating that she is aware of the unauthorized tenant, and that you have only a few days to get them out or everyone will be evicted."

Today, I found out she did just that.

My heart dropped when I heard she'd done it, because I knew that I had given her the idea.

It taught me that even the slightest whispering of actions without integrity can lead to dishonest behavior.

It taught me that both the Spirit and the adversary are gardeners of sorts, each patiently waiting for me to plant seeds with my words so they can, in-turn, nurture them to grow.

On the plus side, the note worked and the squatter moved out.
I might be just a little bit happy about that,.

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"