Monday, August 24, 2015

Not All Knights in Shining Armor Remember to Wear Shining Armor





I pride myself on being a fairly self-sufficient individual. I support myself. I can cook, bake, and decorate a nice home. I’ve made sure to also learn those less feminine skills that gender roles designate are more of a masculine duty, like changing the oil in my car, fixing a flat tire, or jumping the car battery.

I’ve never wanted to be a burden on anyone. And as a single woman, I find it wise and prudent to be able to do most things myself and not need to call for help for every little thing. And if I can’t do it myself (I admit, I have a few limitations) I make sure there is enough money to hire someone who can. I admit it, I hate to ask for help.

But even the best laid plans of a determined, fiercely independent woman sometimes things go awry. And from these SNAFUs we often learn our greatest lessons.

When It All Goes Wrong

So there I was, ready to hit the road with friends for a ski trip. Now, let me explain what this entails for all of you western U.S. types. Ski resorts in this part of the world can often be found in remote locations, and not just twenty minutes up the nearest canyon. In our case, it was a good three hours away, in a far off state park in a different state, and to say it was in “the sticks” wouldn’t be wrong.

We hit the road at six in the morning, most of us operating on less than five hours of sleep. We stopped on our way out of town to pick up one more friend out in the suburbs. We passed by a gas station that always brings up mixed emotions for me. It was the worst day of my life the last time I was at that gas station, and just the sight of it makes me choke up. It was a place where a few years ago I realized my life had officially hit rock bottom. I’ll forgo the details of what rock bottom looks like. But I’ll say this much- rock bottom is an awful and horrible place.

Worst Day Ever

But that gas station was also the place where two important events happened in my life. The first was that I learned how to accept and appreciate the true kindness and charity of strangers who correctly suspected I had hit rock bottom and helped me. The second was I learned how to ask a friend for help, and accept his generous assistance. Allowing my friend to see me in such an awful situation taught me a new level of humility and honesty. But his willingness to help me before even knew what the problem was, taught me what a good man can be. So when my skiing buddies and I passed by that poignant little gas station, my heart filled with gratitude and memories yet again.

Little did I know what the day ahead held for us, or else I would have considered staying behind at that gas station.

We passed the gas station and drove on. It was less than an hour later that I looked in the rear view of the 1997 Suburban I was driving and saw clouds of white steam pouring out the back. I should add here that I normally don’t drive this jalopy. It’s on loan to me while my much younger car gets an expensive transmission and clutch repaired. I’m incredibly grateful for the loaner jalopy, even though the rest of this story may make you wonder why.

Other cars quickly started to flag me down as the small cloud of steam turned into a massive cloud of steam. I exited the highway, with the other car of friends, following right behind. Of course, I managed to pull off on the one exit on that highway that doesn’t have a gas station, let alone any sort of business or dwelling, anywhere in sight.

Admittedly, I had no idea how to handle the situation. Steam pouring from the front and back of the car at the same time was not something I’ve experienced before. I was lost. And I felt horrible because it was obvious I was about to ruin the day for my friends.

Never Trust a Jalopy, Always Trust Men in Carhartts

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tim Gates is Awesome


You know how for almost 10 years now I've been telling you how great the band Due West is?
Well, here's a quick video about Tim Gates, the lead vocalist for Due West. Just kinda proves how amazing he is!





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Thursday, August 20, 2015

10 Myths About Mormons and Gays



In December 2012, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the launch of a new website, MormonsAndGays.org. The site was designed in an effort to encourage understanding and civil conversation about same-sex attraction, and to dispel myths regarding the Mormon Churchs stance on same-sex attraction.

But eighteen months after the launch of the site, many Church members are not aware of the site, and still get many facts wrong about the Churchs official positions. Entitled, Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction, the site features a number of videos from people who share real experiences from their own perspectives on what can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Churchs Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Because we dont understand everything about this subject it is wise to stick to the revealed word of God as found in the scriptures. What we do know is that the doctrine of the Churchthat sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are marriedhas not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same-gender attraction.”

“As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate,” Elder Quentin L. Cook said. “Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”

There are still many misunderstandings and myths regarding same-sex attraction. Sadly, these misconceptions can be very harmful to others. The following myths are all corrected on MormonAndGays.org or Mormon Newsroom. The information provided below is not paraphrased, but are direct quotes from the site, with the name of the General Authority that said it, or the section title on the site, or linked to articles on Mormon Newsroom.

Myth #1: Same-sex attraction is a sin.

Same-sex attraction is a reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Its important to remember a few things that people dont always understand or remember. And that is that homosexual behavior is not the unforgiveable sin. The atonement and repentance can bring full forgiveness there, and peace. And secondly, Id say though we dont know everything we know enough to be able to say that same-sex attraction in and of itself is not a sin. The feeling, the desire is not classified the same as homosexual behavior itself. And the third point I would mention is that when people have those desires and same-sex attractions, our attitude is “stay with us.” I think thats what God is saying “Stay with me.” And thats what we want to say in the Church: “Stay with us.”- Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

Myth #2: Same-sex attraction is a choice.

Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all Gods children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

No one fully knows the root causes of same-sex attraction. Each experience is different. Latter-day Saints recognize the enormous complexity of this matter. “Being True to Religious Beliefs

“Thats where our doctrine comes into play. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions whether nature or nurture those are things the Church doesnt have a position on.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman: Same-Gender Attraction.

“Whether it is nature or nurture really begs the important question, and a preoccupation with nature or nurture can, it seems to me, lead someone astray from the principles that Elder Oaks has been describing here. Why somebody has a same-gender attraction who can say? But what matters is the fact that we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important.” Elder Lance Wickman, “Interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman: Same-Gender Attraction.

Myth #3: Gay is a disease.

We recognize in each other our common needs for intimacy and companionship and can discuss them without shame or rejection. Attraction to those of the same sex, however, should not be viewed as a disease or illness. Elder Christofferson.

Myth #4: The Church has changed its position on same-sex attraction.

There shouldnt be a perception or an expectation that the Churchs doctrines or position have changed or are changing. Its simply not true, and we want youth and all people to understand that. The doctrines that relate to human sexuality and gender are really central to our theology. And marriage between a man and a woman, and the families that come from those marriages thats all central to Gods plan and to the opportunities that He offers to us, here and hereafter. – Elder Christofferson.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'm Going to Succeed Because I'm Crazy Enough to Think I Can




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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

4 Lies Singles Shouldn't Believe



1. If you are single, there is something wrong with you. You shouldn’t be happy with your life if you are single.

Being single does not mean you are inherently wrong, broken, or incomplete. It simply and only means that you are not married.

You should be happy with your life, regardless of your situation in life. No matter what your marital status, life will throw you curveballs, complications, tragedies, and extreme happiness. There’s a reason they compare it to a roller coaster. Your job, your entire purpose in life, is to be happy. “Men are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) There was no exception given for, “Except the single people. They have to stay miserable forever.”

Believing the lie that single people are less valuable or important, or that being unmarried means you aren’t loved, is a dangerous and awful trap. It opens the path to doubts that question your worth as a child of God. It cheapens the belief that every Child of God has a purpose and a reason for existence. It creates doubt in your own individual worth, and fuels the fires that lead to body image struggles and spiritual doubts.

Sister Kristen Oaks told a CES Devotional, (September 2011), “I say to those of you who may lead a single life: depend on the Lord, enjoy every opportunity, and delight in the life you have. Women were born to nurture, and we are surrounded by opportunities to do soin our Church callings, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Relish those opportunities.

To the men: We live in a world that teaches that education and financial security should precede marriage. The Lord teaches otherwise. In the interim before marriage, I also see many of you enjoying travel, video games, boys’ night out, and free meals. Men, the sisters need you to be the most valiant you can be. This is true, and I want you to listen: In the Lord’s plan, those of you who marry will progress to a degree that you never imagined. That is a promise.”

If you are not single, ask yourself if your words and actions towards your unmarried friends, family, and acquaintances, values them as a Child of God, or shows your lack of acceptance of them because they are not married?

2. There are no good ones left. I’ll never meet anyone.

I won’t pretend it doesn’t feel like this sometimes. But the truth is, there are thousands and thousands of worthy, active, and attractive LDS singles out there. If you haven’t found one yet, you just haven’t looked everywhere.

Get in the car and drive a few hours to a singles conference in another city or state. Do a Google search and find more online dating sites. Join one (or more) of the dozens of LDS singles Facebook groups. Contact old flames. Contact old friends and ask them to set you up. Don’t just sit at home, attend one stake singles activity a year, and declare that there are no fish in the sea.

And don’t forget to continue to improve your own appearance and offerings. Are you putting your best foot forward?

Monday, August 17, 2015

What You Need to Know About Dating, Mormons, and The Rules




The Rules.” A mythical book of rules for women and dating. According to legend, if you follow their thirty rules for courtship and dating, the man you have always dreamed of will ask you out, woo you, treat you like the queen you are, and eventually propose. But only if you keep to their rules. Their very strict rules.

For the purposes of this article we will be referring to Not Your Mother’s Rules: the New Secrets for Dating, published in 2013. And not the more archaic original.

There are women who swear by The Rules. Others who laugh it off and mock it. There are men who doubt its existence. Others who are oblivious to them. Men who despise them. And then there are the Southern women who just call it common sense.

I’ve read “The Rules” (both the original and updated) a few times. I’ve followed The Rules at times. I’ve broken every single one of The Rules at times. I can see the arguments from both sides. And I’ve heard the laments from the men.

But lately I have wondered if The Rules really work for Mormon women in a singles ward?

Let me explain.

In my mid-singles ward there is/was a consistent 3:1 ratio. Three women for every man. Three beautiful and talented women for every single man. And not all of those men are looking to date. Plain and simple, it can feel like a competition to get the attention of the good guys and get a date. The women feel like they have no choice but to be proactive, invite the guys over, flaunt what they got, and make sure they are noticed and remembered.

All of this goes against the teachings of The Rules. And I can’t help but wonder, if Mormon girls in singles wards changed their approach, and followed The Rules, would there be more dating and relationships?

The Rules
  1. Be a Creature Unlike Any Other
  2. Look Like a Creature Unlike Any Other
  3. Don’t Talk to or Text to a Guy First
  4. Don’t Ask Guys Out by Text, Facebook, etc.
  5. Don’t Sit or Stand Next to a Guy First or Flirt First
  6. Wait at Least Four Hours to Answer a Guy’s First Text (and then 30 minutes thereafter)
  7. TTYL: Always End Everything First
  8. Don’t Answer Texts or Anything Else after Midnight
  9. Rarely Write on His Wall and Other Rules for Social Networking Sites
  10. Stay Away From His Facebook Profile
  11. Don’t Email a Guy First and Keep it Brief
  12. Make Yourself Invisible and Other Ways to Get Out of Instant Messaging
  13. Don’t Talk Too Much in the First Few Weeks
  14. Don’t Just Hang Out or See Him 24/7
  15. Let Him Suggest Skype and Visit You More in a Long-Distance Relationship
  16. Don’t Lose Your Friends Because You’re So Obsessed with a Guy
  17. Don’t Introduce a Guy to Anyone First, Invited Him Anywhere First, or Friend His Friends First
  18. Don’t Write to Guys First, Ignore Winks, and Other Rules for Online Dating
  19. Don’t Pay for Dinner or Buy His Love in Any Way
  20. Don’t Choose a College or Job or Relocate Because of a Guy
  21. Don’t Get Wasted on Dates or at Parties, So You Don’t Say or Do Anything You’ll Regret
  22. Buyer Beware… Weeding Out Bad Guys (Cheaters, Addicts, Players, and Time Wasters)
  23. Don’t Be Self-Destructive by Dating Married, Unavailable, and Other Mixed-Messages Guys
  24. Stop Dating a Guy Who Cancels More than Once
  25. Don’t Send a Guy Anything You Wouldn’t Want Him to Have If You Broke Up
  26. Don’t Accept Booty Calls or Meaningless Hookups
  27. Wait Before Sleeping with a Guy
  28. Don’t Put on the Freshman 15, Go to the Gym, and Other Rules for Looking Good at Every Age
  29. Wait for a Guy to Follow You on Twitter First and Rarely Return Tweets
  30. Don’t Date Indefinitely without a Commitment

(A few of The Rules don’t quite apply to Mormon culture obviously. So we’ll skip over and ignore those.)

Do The Rules apply or work for women in a singles ward where the ratio of women to men can be staggeringly not in their favor? Where just getting to talk in the hallway to a man can feel like a weekly competition? And Sunday dinners and taking a plate of brownies over to a guy you like is an expected commonplace occurrence?

Or is it possible that The Rules are what we need to help spur more dating, and less hanging out and waiting for something better to come along?

Where’s Waldo?

In my most recent mid-singles ward we had about 400 people attending on an average Sunday. With 5 Sunday School classes, an overflowing sacrament meeting, 2 Relief Societies, and 2 Elders Quorums, it can feel like an Olympic event just to find your best friend to sit with. You can meet a new person, have a fabulous conversation with them, and then it may be months before you spot the person at church again. There are so many people in our ward it can feel like Where’s Waldo in there week after week.

So when The Rules suggest that a woman should never instigate a conversation, or angle herself into the seat beside his, invite him over first, etc., it might seem like a really bad strategy. How else will a guy ever notice you in a sea of other women, if you don’t help him out a bit? He may truly never see her in the crowd.

It’s a tough call to make. I’ve been a Rules Girl, and I’ve been the anti-Rules Girl. I’ve asked out men, and I’ve patiently waited and wished for a man to ask me out. And here’s what I can tell you- The Rules do work. Even when it might feel like they don’t.

But I’m not here to try and convert every woman over to The Rules. It’s a choice.

The Argument in Favor of The Rules 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Praying for the One: You



God gives all of His children equal opportunities for happiness through the Atonement. He is our Heavenly Father, and like all fathers, He doesnt love one child more than another. Of this, there is no argument. He wants us to be happy.

And yet, we forget this easy to accept principle when it comes to seeking an eternal companion. We make it into something difficult and complicated. Many of us allow the idea to creep into our minds that there must be a “saved,” certain, special someone out there for us. We believe that there are trials and tribulations to be endured so that we can meet the One.

Have we made the “search” for love that much harder on ourselves by creating and building up this idea that there is only one person who can make us eternally happy? (Spoiler alert: the answer is yes.)

A friend of mine made a very insightful and interesting comment regarding the search for an eternal companion. “Its hard to believe or understand that a loving Father who answers when I pray that I have enough gas in the car to make it to payday, or protects me when my car breaks down, doesnt have an opinion on who I marry.”

I sat and thought upon that idea for a while. Shes right. It does seem hard to fathom that the God who helps me with something as trivial as finding missing car keys, doesnt have a stake in my potential mate.

But then it hit me.

My roommate is wrong. And so was I.

Theres a very huge difference in having the faith that the Lord will help me find the missing keys, or will get my jalopy home, and saying He has an opinion or an interest in me finding the car keys. When I find those keys, it is because I had the faith to be led to find them. Its an answer to a prayer. And while the scriptures are very in-depth, detailed, and written to be applied in all time periods, Ive yet to find a verse that says, “look under the couch.”

But in comparison, there are dozens of scriptures, both ancient and modern-day, that tell us where to marry, how to marry, and who to marry. They just leave out the specific name of the person, and what day and where to meet him. But thats okay. Thats where faith comes in.

Consider this advice from Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “The right person is someone for whom the natural and wholesome and normal affection that should exist does exist. It is the person who is living so that he or she can go to the temple of God and make the covenants that we there make” (in Conference Report, Sept.Oct. 1955, 13).

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