Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I've been doing some introspection today, and I dug this gem out of my saved emails. It's some advice from my oldest brother, David, on a past relationship I had, about how to know if it was right to continue forward with it. I don't know why I was thinking about it (well. let's be honest--it's hard to live in Provo and not think about marriage at least five times a day. Oh... that's just me? Yikes).

Either way, it's the best advice I've ever gotten or seen or heard on the matter, and I thought it might be helpful to more people than just me. If you're not LDS, some of it might not make sense to you, but I still think it should point you in the right direction. Enjoy!


I overheard that you have been praying about what to do with your
relationship with Ryan.  When I was going through those experiences, I
really would have liked for someone to give me some actual useful
advice on how to recognize the right answer, and there wasn’t any to
be had.  But, in retrospect, I’ve decided that the process really
isn’t as mysterious and unfathomable as I was led to believe it was.
I hope sharing some of my experiences and insights won't be awkward or

Some of what I share may not be useful to you until after you’ve
already figured it out, and you probably already know some of it, but
I think it would have helped if someone had explained it to me.  So,
here it is.

What doesn’t matter: Don’t try to attain perfection.  I spent a lot of
time thinking about dating in terms of economics and optimization.  In
other words, I wanted to get the best combination of compatibility,
intelligence, spirituality, and attractiveness; and I always worried
that, if I held out a little longer, I might find someone better and
secretly feel like I’d cheated myself.

We’re trained to think this way, out in the world, where compatibility
is considered to first and most important prerequisite for chemistry
and success in a relationship.  The Gospel, though, I’ve realized over
time (and, in part, since I’ve been married!) gives us a different
standard.  If you think about it, so long as you marry someone who is
going to stay on the path with you through thick and thin to the end,
he’ll eventually end up being perfect—and so will you.

I’ll admit that it’s not easy to get the wires uncrossed after being
culturally trained to think of dating as getting the maximum possible
value proposition, but I have found it to be a very real example of
how repentance and the Spirit continue to improve our perspective over
time.  The most important element is to take the leap of faith and
realize when a person is “good enough” on the various dimensions that
are important to us, and not worry about finding “the very best.”

Note that you won’t fix each other.  You’ll learn to adapt, and you’ll
each give up some of your annoying habits, but others are so deeply
rooted in your natures that they won’t go away in this life; but, as
long as those habits aren’t inherently evil or make you feel
worthless, the Spirit can smooth them over.

I’ll warn here that there are things that are important, and you do
have to make sure that there is some compatibility and chemistry in
the mix.  When I dated Kim, she and I had lots of things in common,
but we just were not right for each other.  She really, really needed
her guy to be bigger than her for her to feel secure, for example; and
we really detested each other’s tastes in terms of fashion, music,
movies, &c.

Here is an example of what not to do.  I determined to bend myself
into whatever shape I needed to, to do or be “whatever would make her
happy,” and I was still never good enough for her, and could never
really convince myself that she was good enough for me.  That kind of
relationship is very unhealthy, but can be addictive, because it can
be motivated by a very chemical, exciting, passionate, and immature
sort of love that is hard to say no to.  But, it is grating and
humiliating, and it leads to darkness and contempt for self and the
other person, and should be broken away from as soon as possible and
at any cost.

This is how you can recognize an answer “no.”  I promise you will not
miss it if you are staying close to the Lord and keeping open lines of
communication with your parents and Priesthood leaders.  If you feel
like something is really suffocating inside of you, what you’re doing
is wrong.  When I broke up with Kim the first time, after the phone
call, I lay on my back on my bed in my apartment and experienced a
sensation that was palpable, almost as if I were suddenly outside
breathing fresh air; it was literally almost like watching the stars
come out on my ceiling.

I don’t get the sense that this suffocation is a part of your
relationship with Ryan; I just consider it an essential lesson to
mention, because I learned it the very hard way.  You want the
opposite effect: your relationship should make your soul breathe more
deeply and clearly.  A really good relationship makes all that is good
and right inside of you, all the things you are really proud about,
blossom and grow; and makes the bad things you dislike about yourself
want to wither away and die.

What does matter:  Again, priority one is making sure you are paired
with someone who will make it to the finish line with you, which is
the only and ultimate guarantee that you will have the perfect spouse.
 Thus, hold a high standard for righteousness—make sure that your guy
does his home teaching, goes to the Temple, honors his parents, takes
extra pains to make sure your dates stay away from any gray areas of
appropriateness, and so forth.  Of course, like attracts like: if you
want that kind of a guy, you better be that kind of a gal.  If you’re
not (and none of us is perfect), just repent and readjust your
priorities.  If you do that, and a prospective suitor starts to think
you’re “extreme” in your dedication to the Gospel, that would be at
least a yellow flag.

How to recognize an “answer:”  I think that the one bit of advice that
no one ever sat me down and explained in terms that I could understand
was this: that the “answer” of whether or not I should marry a person
would come in the same way as a testimony.  It’s something that
requires some “work faith,” but it starts to pay off really very
quickly in terms of knowing how it’s going to go.

Apply the same rules to gaining faith in the eternal value of the
relationship as Alma says applies to a testimony of Gospel truth.
Plant the seed and see what it starts to make you and him become.  You
might ask yourself the following questions:

•       Do you make him feel like he could grow up to be a general
authority, or a bishop, or a mission president?
•       Does he make you feel like you could be a great mother, mentor, and
teacher of your children?
•       Does your association with him make him feel more intrinsically
motivated to do the right thing and fulfill his church assignments?
•       Does your relationship encourage both of you to grown and be better,
or do you mostly find that you are each other’s best excuse for
slacking off?
•       Does he inspire you with confidence that, if he had to do it alone,
he could and would raise your kids in the Church?  Alternatively, is
he a man that you could hold up as a father figure and example in your
home even if he were to pass away?
•       Do you feel more royal and free to be your best self around him, or
is he just really fun to do things with?

If prayerfully and thoughtfully answering these and similar questions
increasingly leaves you with a happy feeling inside, I think you can
safely take that as an answer that you should move forward.  If, on
the other hand, you find, even after some time, that you have to bully
a yes out of these questions, that would also be a pretty safe answer
that it may be time to move on, either because either or both of you
aren’t where you need to be yet, or because you just don’t fit in the
right ways to resonate with each other.

Assuming everything feels good (not “just right,” only good), you
should move on to the next step.  The closer you get, the more the
true nature of the relationship will come out, and the more the good
feelings will be confirmed, or the bad feelings will become
un-ignorable and you will feel the way I felt about Kim.  If you
really want to marry someone who will be a good comrade and companion
in the uphill battle for getting your family back to the celestial
kingdom, I promise you that God will not let you marry the wrong
person, because, really, He wants your life to be awesome even more
than you do.

This is nerve-wracking business, and I know how anxious I was about
not wrecking the most important decision of my life.  If you stay
close to Heavenly Father and move forward in faith in a way similar to
what I have described here, I promise that you will be able to make
the right choice, and that you will eventually grow into it.  Also,
don’t be shy about asking dad for advice; he is an invaluable
resource, and he has Priesthood keys to know how best to help you.

Anyway, I hope that all this has been at least a little helpful.  I
love you, and am keeping you in my prayers, especially this fast


David Blen Nance

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Boston Marathon Bombing

I wanted to write a post about this. I have a hard time with posting about tragedies on Facebook. It's not that I'm not sorrowful or sympathetic to the pain the victims face, but I sometimes feel like Facebook gets clogged with almost obligatory posts. I don't doubt people's sincerity, but I sometimes think people post about it because they're afraid everyone is going to think they don't care, and I refuse to be apart of that. It's not that I don't care. It's not at all that I don't care. I just hate the pressure of social media in times like these.

I do have thoughts I would like to share with whomever cares to read them. Here they are:

The Boston Marathon bombing affected me more than any of the other recent tragedies. I used to live in Colorado, but no one I knew was harmed or even in the vicinity of the theater shooting when it occurred. I can not even wrap my head around what it might be like to witness or be a victim of a shooting. I have never had a child, or experienced the death of a loved one, so the immense pain surely induced by the Sandy Hook shooting is not something I can even fathom. I cannot relate to this. I cannot empathize. I often find myself thinking any sympathy I feel is wildly inadequate relative to the tremendous torment being experienced by those affected by these acts of terrorism.

I have run a marathon. I have felt the complete drain of energy, the complete toll that running 26.2 miles takes on the body. I have felt the relief and gratitude of seeing my family  and best friend waiting for me at the finish line. I have felt the inspiration and accomplishment that comes from working so hard for a goal and finally attaining it. This must have been nothing compared to how hard the runners of Boston Marathon worked to qualify for it, how they must have felt to finish it, how they must have felt to know the people they love most in the world were waiting for them at the finish line.

So now, just knowing what I know and understanding what little I understand, to imagine that triumph turn to terror; that inspiration turn to desperation; that exhaustion turn to despair. To see a day of happiness and well-deserved pride turn to a gruesome and horrific scene of blood and limbs literally spattered across streets, people running around in fear and confusion, and family members and friends crying over loved ones. To see these people of such immense character lose their loved ones, those they cherish most, those who had sacrificed their time to offer unending support and unconditional love. To see them lose their limbs--to lose the use of their bodies which are so essential to the lives they have chosen to lead, to have their dreams dashed by something that no one could ever have expected to happen. I am nauseated by it. I echo the entire nation when I say that there are not words to express my sadness to know that anyone would have to endure such a trial.

I also echo the nation when I express how amazed, inspired, and uplifted I feel to know how many people helped in the wake of the event. To see how quickly emergency response teams were on it, to hear of many runners running an extra 2 miles to the hospital to donate blood, to hear of people offering their home, their help, their resources, without even a second thought. It's beautiful. For one sicko who wanted to rob the Boston Marathoners  of their incredible experience and life as they know it, there are hundreds who did not hesitate to restore, to assist, to comfort those that stood in desperate need of comfort. It makes me want to cry, how wonderful people can be. It's so beautiful, how God created us with the basic instinct to help. And it only strengthens my testimony of how trial can be a blessing. This single awful incident created countless opportunities to serve and connect with each other on a level that is so uniquely human. While those who are suffering most from the tragic events of the marathon absolutely do not deserve these hardships, they have been blessed with the opportunity to grow. Or to fail, as is the nature of this life. We fought a great war in our premortal existence to experience such pain and overcome such challenges. We knew it would not always be pleasant, but we knew it would be worth it. Beyond worth it.

Stephen R. Covey said, "It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause us sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well."

I pray that the victims of this tragedy will be blessed with the strength to overcome this tragedy, to let it forge their character and develop their internal power. I have faith in humanity, and I have faith that this will be for our good.