Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Feel So (Un)Pretty

I woke up early this morning and felt the left side of my nose and started crying. I had extensive reconstructive surgery on the inside of my nose and sinus' yesterday afternoon to fix parts of my nasal cartilage that had structurally collapsed and were causing me several health issues. The surgery naturally had caused one side of my nose to be swollen and unsymmetrical from the other.

My nose is something that I'm already super insecure about due to life long bullying from my peers (all of whom I can still tell you their names and what names they called me; fatty, ugly, big nose) starting in junior high and all the way up to college.

I cried to my parents telling them if my nose doesn't heal normally, then I have to get plastic surgery. My nose is already hideous to me when it's symmetrical, the thought of it being deformed is unbearable.

For me, the nose is just the tip of the iceberg. I've dealt with severe body image issues since I was 12 years old. My brother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 2000. At the time, there wasn't much conversation going on medically about mental illness. My parents freaked out and sought treatment for me as well, not fully understanding how mental illness works. I was put on the same medication my brother was on and I gained 50 lb. as a side effect of the medicine. I am NOT bipolar we quickly found out, and as a result of being on medication I didn't need, it caused a spike in depression and irritability.

I battled weight issues through middle school up to my sophomore year of high school. I endured bullying from not only classmates, but my own siblings at times. I developed a very negative perception of myself and had a very distorted view of what I looked like.

I began a crazy crash diet/work out routine and dropped close to 40 lb. within a month. I would be on the treadmill or elliptical for an hour and a half a day burning at least 1,500 calories. I was anorexic and bulimic. It became an obsession that it took help from friends and family to overcome, and even now I struggle with extreme insecurities and body image issues because of it.

An interview I did a while back on my struggles with being a guy who suffered from an eating disorder:

In addition to my insecurities with my weight and my nose, I struggle with the way I look.

The first time I was ever told I was attractive or good looking by someone that wasn't related to me or an old lady in the ward congregation was by my first girlfriend at 18 years old. She told me and I literally thought she was messing with me because I didn't see how anyone could find me appealing or attractive at all. I've always felt like and been the nice guy that finished last. Never the "crushee" or "boyfriend", always the "great friend" or "crusher."

My insecurities have seemingly gotten worse lately and I literally have imaginary lines drawn all over my face with notes on what I would want to do to change and improve my looks such as orbital reshaping, ears pinned back, nose job, cheek revision, chin sculpting.

I can't tell you how many times I've been told that "David you're such a great guy, I'm just not attracted to you." There are things you get used to, and that is definitely not one of them. I've had my heart broken and stepped on so many times because it's been alluded to that I wasn't an option to someone because I wasn't better looking. It's the worse feeling in the world and just makes you want to climb into a hole and die.

I write this not to seek attention or obtain sympathy, but to raise awareness. Everyone has feelings and insecurities, guys included. Not only that, but viewing someone as unattractive or ugly does not take away their feelings or the fact that they are a human being. It hurts no matter who says it and where it's coming from.

Watch your words, you never know how damaging and hurtful they really are, even if you think someone is strong enough for them.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

What No One Tells You About Being Mormon And Single At 25

I graduated from BYU-I back in April. I turned 25 in August. 25. I'm now five years from 30. When the crap did I get so old?

To the outside world, 25 is fairly young. You're normal if you're not yet married. It's not a big deal.

In Mormon culture, it's a much different story. My parents married at 20 and by the time they were my age, they had two kids and a third on the way. I don't even have a dog.

BYU-I is a Church school notorious for short engagements and quick marriages. Everyone jumps on the marriage train even if they barely know someone. There's a reason its unofficial name is BYU-I-Do and most common major for women is a MRS degree.

To say the least, my accomplishment of graduating without marrying someone (yet alone steadily dating one person) is fairly impressive.

I was prepared to not marry at school. My major being what it was and my tendency to avoid any girl who couldn't form a coherent sentence without speaking at a tone that cause dogs to howl or using like as every other word; it was bound to happen.

I was prepared to move to Texas and start my new life.

I was prepared for new people and new experiences. 

What was I not prepared for? The loneliness.

The nice thing about being married is that you this person stuck with you all the time. They're home when you come home at the end of the day. They're there to drive you crazy, to hold you when you cry, or to chase you around the house with a water gun.

I didn't realize how alone I felt until moving back to Texas. Friends at school who had gotten married forget about you all together because they have their own lives and families to provide for. Single friends, unless you live by them, sadly tend to forget about you. I've never felt so alone as times when I've gone days without having a non-school-or-work related conversation with someone who was not part of my family.

Then there's the whole intimacy part of it. I'm 25, so of course there's sex. But it's so much more than that, it's the idea of being mentally, emotionally, spiritually AND physically close to someone. Humans are meant to physically touch each other, and I'm not talking about sexually here. I'm talking about hugs, sitting close to each other, and cuddling on the couch. The human fetus spends on average nine months in the warmth of it's mother's womb, feeling the comfort of her heartbeat and voice. Then for the first crucial years of life, babies are held constantly. There's a reason the fetal position is called the fetal position, it's our natural subconscious position of comfort. 

I've found myself over the last 6 months aching for connection. My body and heart literally aching to be close to someone, to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel peace.

It has become so frustrating and disconcerting to me that I'm so alone. I crave that companionship that so many others have. There are literally no foreseeable potentials here for me which makes it that much harder. Then you add in the continuous message from Church culture to get married, and see everyone who is happy and married... Sometimes it just gets to you. Sometimes it's just too much.

In the Church you're taught since you exit the womb that you're going to go to BYU and get married and then you'll have 12 kids together (never ever ever ever, like ever) and live happily ever after. What you're not taught, is what to do when you don't fit the mold. When you enter uncharted territory and there's no set sunday school answer to rely on.

I was baptized, I earned my Eagle Scout award, I received both priesthoods, I went to the temple, I served a mission, I went to BYU, why am I not married yet? What did I do wrong? What's wrong with me? Where's my happiness? Why can't I have someone? Why do I have to be alone?

I've struggled with depression and doubt. I've struggled with anger and sadness. I've been angry at God and more than once found myself shaking my fist at the heavens. I've cried more tears than I knew to be humanly possible.

I came home at the end of a bad day-not that terrible, but a day where you feel like it's the straw that broke the camel's back or I'm-going-to-eat-an-entire-gallon-of-ice-cream; and I was in tears. I was exhausted and hopeless. I messaged my friend Danielle and voiced my troubles. She listened like the champ she is, and then offered me these sincere pearls of wisdom:

"She's out there. And she's probably looking in the mirror on nights like tonight wondering where you are and thinking, 'He's missing it. He's missing my life. Where is he?' I thought that for years. She's out there David, I know she is. Can't you feel it? I could. When I was quiet, I knew there was someone--I just didn't know who or where or when. 

"I think love and marriage and sexual satisfaction in that relationship have much more to do with true charity, the bond you have with another human, and the connection of your two souls than other non-important superficial things. She's out there doing her thing wishing she could share her life with you already. I mean, hey, maybe she's not a member and the Lord is working with her, bringing her slowly to that point so that she will someday embrace the gospel and you and think, 'What did I ever see in Maggie Gyllenhaal's geeky brother?' It could happen.

"In all seriousness, though, when you're really still and listen, don't you feel that the Lord's plan for you includes a wife and children? I can totally see that for you. I see you totally happy in the future with new stresses and worries but this time with a wife and kids. And seriously David, med school and residency suck for you and your wife. I've watched it firsthand with two siblings and many friends. The least you can do is spare your wife undergrad and prereqs. So just focus on you and getting through this phase and think of it as consecration, 'I'm doing this for you, honey, so that you don't have to carry this stress with me, so that when we meet and start having children, there will be that fewer years that my children will have to have a daddy (and possibly a mommy) who work all the time to get us to a better, more stable future."

Danielle's words resonated within my heart. To my mind came promises of marriage and children included in my patriarchal blessing. I again shed tears, but this time they were tears of joy. The spirit reminded me and comforted me of things I needed to remember.

I don't believe Heavenly Father wants me to be alone-in fact I know he doesn't. He wants my happiness but he knows what will make me most happy even if I don't. 

I don't believe that we all fit into one mold or timeline of when we're supposed to get married or reach certain expectations by a certain age even if culture norms dictate otherwise. We are all different and we are supposed to be. 

In no way, shape, or form has my chronic #foreveralone-ness been cured. I still don't really have any prospects, and I still get down and out a lot about it. But I have been promised-promised by a perfect Heavenly Father that if I hold up my end of things, he will hold up his end which includes a wife and children. It will happen.


Friday, October 24, 2014

When Your Best Friend Divorces You

A handful of individuals are lucky enough to have the same best friend from the time they were born. They make it through the perilous adolescent years together and young adulthood. Then they're pretty much guaranteed to be the two old grandpas sitting on the porch in their rockers in Secondhand Lions. The rest of humanity experiences friendship in a less organic way, usually through work, school, or church. 

My family has spent the majority of my life moving around the United States. I've called three different places home over the last two years. Because of this, my interpersonal relationships/friendships have been developed in the less organic way. In my experience, said friendships are much more difficult to maintain and tend to fall apart as time goes on. Not that it's all been completely depressing, I had the rare (and surreal) experience of speaking to someone from midnight to five in the morning - who I had just met the same day. We connected instantly, and it felt like catching up with a friend you hadn't seen in forever.

But what happens if you lose them? We're all prepared to have some type of romantic relationship fail (excluding marriage). But when it comes to divorcing your best friend, your world as you know it falls apart.

It's unexpected.

A romantic relationship usually has a multitude of warning signs that things are coming to an end. Most people are able to spot the iceberg before it hits the Titanic and they jump ship. A friendship dissolved is as sudden and traumatic as a car accident. Everything was going fine and then suddenly all is wrong and turned upside down. What you once had is gone, and a lot of time there's not a real reason for it. 

It leaves you feeling vulnerable & exposed.

I do not know anyone who isn't married, who is as candid with their significant other as they are with their best friend. Best friends share everything, every beautiful, ugly, private, painful, wonderful thing. When that trust is ruined, that friendship dissolved, one can feel like they are suddenly and overwhelmingly transparent to the world.

There's no uplifting quote.

Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are littered with uplifting quotes such as "There's plenty of other fish in the sea," "If you can't handle my worst...," etc. These are great and all for your average middle school girl attempting to get over her crush breaking her heart. But nothing is available for comfort when you lose your best friend; it just sucks.

Your constant is gone.

Life changes. College, marriage, careers, babies. Weight fluctuates, hair is lost. Everything around you may constantly be spinning, but your best friend was always there for you. When you have this... this best friend who knows literally anything and everything about you. You can do and say whatever in front of them and they hold no judgement. You share this way of speaking to each other without words. You can talk forever about nothing. You send snapchats of the ugliest face you can muster. You have entire conversations in movie quotes. Cuddling is always an option. You embrace their crazy, they embrace yours. 

There's no one there to help you get through it.

When you break up with someone, who is the first person you usually go to? Your best friend. They break open the ice cream with you, or plot out a Carrie Underwood style form of revenge. When you break up with your best friend, who do you go to?

Friday, September 5, 2014

What Do YOU Want?

"'So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever and ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What's it look like? If it's with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I could do it again, if I thought it was what you really wanted. But don't you take the easy way out.'

'What easy way out? There is no easy way out. No matter what I do, somebody gets hurt.'

'Would you stop thinking about what everyone wants? Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want. What do YOU want? What do you WANT?'

'It's not that simple.'

' What do you want?'

'I have to go now.'"

Thanks to fairytale popular culture and stupid movies about vampires, relationship expectations wether they be romantic or platonic have been skewed and idealized to something that is merely a fantasy.

There's this false idea that if someone really loves and cares about you they will know what you want and what you need. No reminders needed, and of course one shouldn't have to!

I've been so completely guilty of this train of thought. I expect those I love to know what I want and need and to be able to just do it. Then when they fail to meet my expectations feelings get hurt and people are pushed apart.

How in the world is someone else supposed to know exactly what you want and need unless you tell them? They're not psychic. They can't read minds. They may love you, but they don't spend all day sitting around trying to figure out what's going on with you.

People are different. Our ideas of what we want to/should do vary. We all have different love languages. Our loved ones all come from totally different background that is the norm for them and they may generally think everyone else does it the same as their norm, so you have to spell out your norm.

It is necessary for one to be vocal with those you love. You have to say something or you're going to tell yourself a lot of stories and get your feelings hurt unnecessarily a lot.

There are a MILLION ways to get your feelings hurt. Which is better? Hoping for a perfect surprise and feeling deeply hurt because people have their own lives and thoughts and forgot to their psychic about your uncommunicative expectations, or just telling them what you want and getting it?

It's always better to speak your needs and wants and have them met than to tell yourself stories about how people know what you want but they don't care, cause that ain't true.

Saying things (while making sure not to be whiny) like:

"It means a lot to me to get texts when you're thinking of me just to know I'm important to you even when I'm out of sight. It just makes me feel good."

"Call me if you plan something even on weekdays. I can't always go, but I feel left out if I don't get invited."

"Even if I can't go, if you tell me what people are doing, I still feel included in our group of friends."

Etc. Etc.

I want to commit myself to being a genuine and transparent person with those I love and what my needs are. If there's anyone out there who actually reads this blog, I challenge you to do the same. I do believe it will spare us all so much heartache and hurt feelings.

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” 
                                                                                                        ― Marvin J. Ashton


Saturday, July 26, 2014


Elder Marin J. Ashton taught:

"[The scribes and Pharisees] brought unto Him the woman taken in adultery. These enemies … tried to trick Him. They sat her in the midst as an exhibit, as a sinner, as someone unclean. He didn’t flee from her presence. … She was taken in adultery—in the very act. There was no doubt about her guilt. They were setting Him up in what appeared to be an impossible situation. Moses’s law says to stone her. 'What sayest thou?' [John 8:5] they asked, tempting Him, trapping Him—putting Him in a no-win position.

"Whatever He said, He would be accused of wrongdoing, wrong judgment. They were tempting Him to see if they could get Him to lose His patience and forget who He was. Stoning her would be cruel. Ignoring her would be wrong. … He stooped down and wrote on the ground as though He heard them not (getting their attention and preparing everyone within earshot to be taught). … And while it was silent, they continued asking. I can hear the questions of mischief: 'C’mon, say something. We’ve got you. Are you afraid to answer?' But Jesus was in charge. …

"Jesus lifted up Himself, in humble and meek majesty, and said these most powerful words: 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her' [John 8:7]. A perfect answer from a perfect person.

"Today in our responsibilities, situations, and callings, we need to be reminded of this over and over again. In our dealings with all people, let him who is without sin be the first to criticize or find fault or belittle. … He stooped down and wrote on the ground. They heard what He said. They felt the impact of His silence of spirit while He said nothing. Convicted by their own conscience, they left on their own, not driven away. They went out one by one—not to find stones but to nurse their spiritual wounds.

"He was left alone with the woman. I’m glad that’s recorded. Some of us are inclined to avoid being with those who have fallen. … He said, 'Where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?' [John 8:10]. … Jesus Christ took time to ask and to listen. Oh, if we could do more of that! Our answers would be so easy, so much improved. …

"The woman taken in adultery answered the Lord’s question regarding her accusers by saying, 'No man, Lord.' And then this powerful declaration came: 'Go, and sin no more' [John 8:11]. The Master was teaching in that day and also teaching in this very hour. His great message: despise the sin, but love the sinner. I hope that can give us strength and confidence and a closer relationship to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus did not condone adultery. He gave the woman love instead of an authoritative lecture. She and the accusers needed a lesson in love. The situation called for mercy and compassion. How rewarding it is to know that Jesus believed that man is greater than all of his sins. Is it any wonder He was referred to as the 'Good Shepherd'? He loved all of His sheep whether they were strays, hungry, helpless, cold, or lost."

I graduated from BYU-I in April. I loved the time I spent at school and I will forever treasure my memories and experiences there. Graduating though has brought me much relief.

BYU-I is a church sponsored institution, meaning that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints subsidizes costs for those who attend using tithing funds. Tuition is super cheap because of this.

All Church schools have an "Honor Code" that students agree to live by:

Current and former Presidents of BYU-I have made their own unique additions to the Honor Code that are not present at other Church sponsored institutions. The most widely known:

*No shorts or sweats on campus
*No flip-flops
*Fitness center uniform

My very first semester of college I attended BYU in Provo. The only time I ever heard about the Honor Code was during my initial welcome to campus tour on my first day. People aren't encouraged to rat out each other and they aren't all up in each other's business. Students were treated like adults because they were now in college.

On the flip side you have BYU-I. The Honor Code is shoved down your throat multiple times a day. Every. Single. Day. The administration posts propaganda with #I Honor It posters everywhere. Students are encouraged to micromanage each other and report any rule breakers.

This extremely rigid mentality permeates from the administration and has carried over into ecclesiastical leaders who are over the student wards. I've spoken to countless individuals who are good people who just made mistakes but are afraid to go to their bishop because they don't want to be thrown out of school. Put your education in jeopardy or live with guilt for a couple of years? The choices suck. 

Dallin H. Oaks said "To be righteous, an intermediate judgment must be within our stewardship. We should not presume to exercise and act upon judgments that are outside our personal responsibilities. Some time ago I attended an adult Sunday School class in a small town in Utah. The subject was the sacrament, and the class was being taught by the bishop. During class discussion a member asked, 'What if you see an unworthy person partaking of the sacrament? What do you do?' The bishop answered, 'You do nothing. I may need to do something.' That wise answer illustrates my point about stewardship in judging."

It feels like most people fake smiles and pretend to be perfect without a fault or flaw. No one would ever dare admit to making mistakes or being imperfect because that risks exposing that you're human and capable of flaw. Doing dangerous stuff like that could get you sent home. 

"A standard can be unrighteous because it is too harsh—the consequences are too severe for the gravity of the wrong and the needs of the wrongdoer. I remember a conversation with an LDS newspaperwoman who described what happened when she reported that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the golden plates in 1826, a mistake of one year from the actual date of 1827. She said she received about 10 phone calls from outraged Latter-day Saints who would not accept her admission of error and sincere apology and even berated her with abusive language. I wonder if persons who cannot handle an honest mistake without abusing the individual can stand up to having their own mistakes judged by so severe a standard." (Dallin H. Oaks)

Many argue that those who have broken the Honor Code that they've agreed to live by deserve to be thrown out. No one is perfect but the Savior. We all make mistakes. It's outrageous to think that this doctrine is not applicable because the Honor Code is above it. The Honor Code IS NOT doctrine. My allegiance shouldn't be to a code or to a university. It should be to God. #I Honor It, #I Honor Him. 

Moving to Houston and attending my new singles ward was something I approached apprehensively. I didn't know anyone. I would be the newest addition to the ward, one the girls would be deciding if I was worth pursing and guys sizing me up as a threat or not. 

From the get-go everyone I met in my new ward was super friendly and welcoming. People were almost overly nice. In my pessimism I dismissed it as a bunch of fake judgmental Molly Mormons and Peter Priesthoods who had never been through a hard thing in their lives.

As time progressed and allowed me to get to know individuals beyond a superficial level, I've been forced to eat my judgements and see what incredible people surround me.

Unlike Idaho where largely it felt like a facade that people maintained to remain in school, ward members here are genuine saints. I've met and heard stories about a recovering alcoholic, a divorcee, a prodigal son who at one point fronted a heavy metal screamo band, another young man covered in tattoos from a previous life, a worthy priesthood holder who privately struggles with same sex attraction, and a young repentant woman who struggles with the law of chastity.

These wonderful, stalwart, incredible people do not just talk about the gospel, they live it. They know what it means to have and use the atonement. They believe and have faith in the Savior because THEY KNOW HIM from countless hours pleading with him on their knees. No one here is perfect and they don't pretend to be. They all truly love and believe in the gospel and enjoy learning and growing in it. They are all on different stages of the journey of life, but they are all trying to do better and make good choices.

The Church was never supposed to be a building full of perfect people who cannot make mistakes, the Church is meant to have imperfect real people struggling and learning in the gospel together.

Our devotion and faith should be something we do for ourselves because we love the Savior and want to do what's right, not because we feel compelled out of fear.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf addresses all of this perfectly:

"We have all seen a toddler learn to walk. He takes a small step and totters. He falls. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents.

"Now, brethren, compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and, dear brethren, that should be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time.

"I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so He could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward Him. Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged—never to give up or flee our allotted field of service—but to take courage, find our faith, and keep trying."

#I Honor It #I Honor Him


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,

Happy 55th Birthday! AND Happy Father's Day! You get a twofer this year! 

Thank you.

Thank you for working so hard and living without so that I could grow up with mom always home.

Thank you for deciding to have a fourth child. I know that three was a handful and it took a lot of convincing to keep going. I'm glad you did!

Thank you for giving me your height, dark skin, and blonde hair.

Thank you for affectionately naming me David "Toad".

Thank you for calling me "Doi" and coining the term "The Doi language".

Thank you for allowing me to come home from Church every Sunday when I was young and sit on your belly in my white Sunday shirt and underwear munching on graham crackers while you laid on the couch.

Thank you for taking me on errands with you every Saturday growing up, making rounds at The Home Depot, lunch at Mickey D's, and pretending not to know that we would end up at Toys R Us at the end of each trip to purchase me a new Power Ranger Megazord much to Mom's protest.

Thank you for taking the time to read to me every night until I started grasping the concept of reading myself.

Thank you for laying in my bed with me and fighting off the monsters while I fell asleep.

Thank you for teaching me from a very young age to work hard. For teaching me that no one owes me anything.

Thank you for teaching me how to be organized.

Thank you for teaching me to give everything you have, even if what you have isn't a lot.

Thank you for teaching me how to use the riding lawn mower at ten years old despite your better judgement.

Thank you for suffering through Scouting with me. I know you understand my deep loathing for camping and the confusion that comes with people who actually want to spend a night sleeping on the ground.

Thank you for taking me to every Harry Potter book midnight premiere even though a lot of times you had work early the next morning. 

Thank you for bribing me with $300 dollars to play football in 8th grade and then not being too disappointed in me once I quit after one practice.

Thank you for always providing me with a vehicle to get around in. 

Thank you for supporting me in my musical endeavors despite that not being an area of interest for you personally.

Thank you for helping support me on my mission morally and financially.

Thank you for helping support me in college. For all the money spent on housing, flights, gas, and food.

Thank you for using your time and money to attend my college graduation.

Thank you for letting me bum off you after college while I get the next step of my life together.

Thank you for your sense of humor and laughing at my inappropriate jokes.

Thank you for caring enough to annoy and poke fun even though I whine just as much now as I did when I was five years old.

Thank you for putting up with me screeching "DAAAAAAADDDDDD" in the most annoying way possible.

Thank you for making sure your children have everything and more. 

Thank you for accepting me for who I am and not trying to change that.

Thank you for withholding judgement and showing love when I make mistakes-no matter how large they are sometimes. 

Above all, thank you for being my Dad.

I love you Daddy.

David "Toad"

Friday, June 13, 2014

He Is Aware

On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.

In her recently published memoir, MY STORY, Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.

She shares one such experience of faith in the chapter titled Cold Water.

"I'm not sure how long it was into my captivity. More than a couple weeks, but not quite a month, I guess. We had gone a long time without going down to the stream to get any water. Maybe Mitchell was just lazy, but I didn't think that was the reason. I think something may have spooked him, causing him to be afraid to go down to the spring. Maybe he was worried that someone had become suspicious of him on one of his trips into the city. He might have seen someone down in the canyon. I don't know what it was, all I knew was that I was thirsty.

"Down in the valley, the search efforts were still under way. Though weeks had now passed, my parents were working hard to keep the story of my kidnapping in the press. They knew it was vital to make sure that people were still aware, to keep the search efforts going and my picture in the news. From what Mitchell had told me, my posters were still up everywhere. The first time Mitchell had seen these posters, it had made him very proud, but I don't think he expected the search efforts to keep going for so long. And though he tried to hide it, I could see that he was worried.

"Which meant that we weren't getting any water until he was certain it was safe to head down to the spring.

"Mitchell started to ration what little water we had left, but eventually we reached the point where we only had a few cups remaining in the bottom of one of the plastic containers. Mitchell drank, then poured a cup for Barzee, then poured the last few drops for me. Though it didn't even fill my cup, I drank it eagerly. The water was warm, having been sitting in the sun, and it tasted like melted plastic. I drank it in one gulp, then put the cup down.

"And that was it. The water was gone.

"I stared at the other water containers, but I knew they were empty. We had checked them several times already, taking off the lids and pouring out the last few drops. Still, Mitchell went over to shake them just to make sure that they were empty. He could do that all he wanted. There was no water in the camp.

"It was the end of June deep into the boiling days of summer. Utah is a desert, and it had not rained since the first week that I was captured. Temperatures hovered in the nineties, sometimes reaching above a hundred. A hot wind blew every afternoon, drying us like leather. My skin was dry, my throat, my eyes. I was so dirty and so thirsty that I thought I would die.

"After the sun had gone down we sat around for a while to savor the cooler temperatures, but eventually we went to bed. I was always the first to crawl into the tent. Mitchell came in beside me, then Barzee beside him. Before we went to sleep, he always checked my cable to make sure it was secure.

"Surely he'll go down to get water in the morning, I thought as we settled down in bed. It was the only thing that I could think of as I drifted off to sleep.

"The night was long and restless. Morning came. Mitchell didn't say anything about going down to the spring. I asked him, but he refused to talk to me about it.

"All day we sat and cooked in the summer heat. Mitchell checked the water containers once again, but all of them were dry. I had thought that being hungry was difficult, but it was nothing compared to this. Nothing compared to the burning in my throat. Nothing compared to the drive to find something to drink. And I wasn't alone. Barzee and Mitchell felt it too. I could see it in their eyes. I could hear it in the dryness of their voices. Whatever had driven Mitchell to stay away from the bottom of the canyon must have been very powerful indeed.

"The day dragged on. Hot. Miserable. Dry desert heat. I was beginning to lose my energy. None of us wanted to eat. I begged Mitchell again to go down and get some water. I begged him to let me off the cable. I offered to carry the containers if he was too tired to carry them himself. I tried to understand why he wouldn't go, but none of it made sense.

"Evening came. We went to bed. I fell into a restless sleep.

I was awakened in the middle of the night. Sitting up, I looked around. The moonlight filtered through the nylon fabric, casting the inside of the tent in a pale, yellow light. Mitchell was asleep beside me. Barzee was lying next to him. Both of them were breathing deeply, Mitchell's throat rattling with every breath. I looked around in the moonlight. Something had wakened me. Turning, I looked toward the front of the tent.

"There was a yellow cup sitting beside my pillow. I leaned toward it, checking it in the moonlight. It was filled to the very brim with water. I stared at it a moment, not believing it was real. I reach out to touch it. The cup was cold. I pulled my hand back and looked around. Was I dreaming? Was I crazy? I quickly turned to Mitchell and Barzee. Neither of them had moved. I listened. A gentle breeze blew through the tops of the trees, swaying in the night. I turned back to the water. Slowly, I reached out to touch it once again. It was cold as ice and filled to the top.

"I picked it up and drank it. The water cooled my throat and filled my stomach. It was cold and clear and wonderful, the best-tasting water that I had ever had.

"After drinking, I stared at the empty cup for a long time before laying my head back to the ground.

"Where did the water come from? I had no explanation other than the water came from God. I know we didn't have a drop of water in the camp. I know that neither Mitchell nor Barzee would have wakened to give me any water, even if they had any left to give. And this water was fresh and cold, like it had just come from the spring.

"I never told them about the water. I never talked about it at all. But over the next few days, I thought a lot about what had happened. Why did God do it? How did it happen? What was God trying to say?

"Would I have died without the water? Certainly not. As thirsty as I felt, and as terrible as it was, I was not teetering on the eye of a life-or-death situation. And I was not alone. Mitchell and Barzee needed water too. Mitchell wasn't going to stay up the mountain and let us all die of thirst. Eventually he would have had to go down to the stream.

"So why did God send me the water?

"Because He loved me. And He wanted me to know.

"He wanted me to know that He was still near. He wanted me to know that He controlled the Earth and all the heavens, that all things were in His hands. And if He could move mountains, then He could do this thing for me. To Him it was a small thing-a terribly easy thing to do-but for me it was powerful as if He had parted the sea.

"This experience reminded me once again that God had not deserted me, that He was aware of my suffering and loneliness. And that assurance gave me hope. It helped me to keep my faith and gave me the strength that I needed to go on.

"It also gave me something else to think about.

"At the time, I had pretty much conceded that Mitchell might kill me. And if he didn't kill me, then I was condemned to a life of suffering and captivity. But the appearance of the water seemed to indicate that God had another plan. It told me that the fight for freedom wasn't over. God knew the end from the beginning and there was still hope for me.

"In my life, I have come to believe there are lots of examples where God provides us little miracles to give us hope. Most for these experiences are not as obvious as waking up and finding a cup of water. Some of them are much more subtle. We may even have to look for His miracles along the way. But they are there. And they're important when we are struggling with the challenging battles of this life."

(Smart, Elizabeth. (2013). My Story. New York, New York. St. Martin's Press)

President Thomas S. Monson said:

“Wherever we are in life, there are times when all of us have challenges and struggles. Although they are different for each, they are common to all.

“Many of the challenges we face exist because we live in this mortal world, populated by all manner of individuals. At times we ask in desperation, ‘How can I keep my sights firmly fixed on the celestial as I navigate through this telestial world?’

“There will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone. Fear replaces faith.”

Casey and I were having a conversation over the phone a couple days ago about life and the trials that each person is given. We both felt that it was a common thing for people, especially in LDS culture, to say that everyone has trials, they're just different. 

We both felt that though that may be true, it seems to us that not everyone was given the same level of challenging battles in this life. Casey expressed that it seemed like there were many that just seemed to have it all while others were struggling to get through each day.

The hard fact of the matter is that life is NOT fair. Even within my close circle of family and friends, there are many trials given that I feel are much more than one person should have to suffer.

It can be so frustrating and honestly easy to find anger with God when we become so impatient hearing others tell us to "just hang in there" or "endure to the end."

I know I'm not the only one who often seeks for instant gratification because I'm sick of waiting and sick of being told that "in the eternities it will be made right."

Casey best summarized it as your entire body being on fire. Having someone notice and tell you that if you can just hang in there, a year from now the fire will be extinguished when all you want and all you need is a bucket of water then and there to relieve your pain and suffering.

Ether 12:27 tells us "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I want you to imagine what it would be like if you had no weakness. If you were completely perfect in every aspect of your life. If you were perfect physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, academically. Would you have a reason to fall on your knees? Would you have a reason for the grace of God to play a role in your life? It has always been necessary for man to fall so that we could experience joy and eternal happiness.

The prophet Lehi explained:

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen [been cut off from the presence of God], but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created. …

“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:22–25).

Had Adam and Eve not partaken of the fruit, man would have never fallen. We would have never been given mortal bodies and the opportunity to progress eternally and become like our Heavenly Father. We would be spiritually damned, unable to move forward. 

Had mankind not become mortal, we would not know heartache and pain, but we would also not know happiness and love. This has been the plan all along.

President Monson has told us that "We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask. We have the promise: 'Pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.'”

God knows the end from the beginning. He has a greater plan for all of us, greater than we know. He walks with us every single step of the way, carrying us a large majority of the time when we are too weak to continue on by our own two feet. 

Like Elizabeth, let us look for the cup of cold water in our lives. When life seems bleak, when it seems like happiness is no longer possible, let us look for the little miracles that remind us that God is there. That he is aware of us. That he loves us. That he wants us to keep fighting.