Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My big little brother ~

Today is my brother's birthday. I call him my "big little brother" because his stature is larger than my own, and he is younger than me (it was very catchy in a song I wrote to my family; I'll share the lyrics to that song another time). So in honor of his big day, I am dedicating this post to the great wonder that is Vivic:

My mother calls him the "miracle baby." Vivic was born 2 months premature, and more than 2 pounds lighter than the normal healthy newborn. He was named after the doctor that helped preserve his life during his first wee hours. They are the only 2 people I've EVER known with the name Vivic. So when I tell people that they will never meet another Vivic, it's just as literal as it is metaphoric, haha. My mom was always afraid that the complications revolving his birth would implicatively affect him as a person. Boy was she wrong! Vivic, since day one, has NEVER let anything get in his way.

Vivic is the youngest of the four of us. So naturally, he was a little more spoiled (he will never admit that to you, but it's true). But he was a great kid. He always thought for himself. He would get into a lot of trouble because of it, too. Whenever my parents would scold him for things, and tell him to do or not to do something, he ALWAYS asked "Why?" And if he wasn't satisfied with the answer he got, he'd ask again. And again. And again. He's relentless, haha. But it was always something I found admirable.

Most kids who are born premature are typically shorter, or smaller than other children. Not Vivic. He's always been larger than life. He was never an obese guy. But he's definitely not starving, haha. And he's got such a big personality. My brother has always been a clown. He has quite an inate sense of human humor. He can get anyone, and I mean ANYONE, to laugh. And the best part about it is he doesn't even have to try! Vivic has more energy than most people I know, and others feed off of it when he's in the room. It is a wonderful sort of energy that draws you in and keeps you there. It is a healthy, positive, vital type of energy.

But I think all in all, it's his heart that counts the most. Vivic has the biggest heart. He may not be the warmest person, or the most affectionate. But he is probably one of the most generous. He is quick to forgive, and quick to forget. He does whatever he can for me because he loves me. I already shared in a previous blog one of my most memorable and intimate experiences with Vivic. He is living proof that blood really is thicker than water. He puts me before almost everybody and everything else. He respects me, and tries so hard to make me happy. He is my best friend! And he is so worth getting to know. To know him is to love him! He is popular in many social circles because of his wit and charm. And not that he's 21 years old, those circles are only going to grow even larger!

I doubt he'll read this, but in case he does, I want Vivic to know that he is the best brother in the world! I could not have dreamed up a better brother for me, ever. I thank God that Vivic is in my life, and that we will be together, eternally bound by the ties of brotherhood. I am so blessed to have the best big little brother, and I love him.

Happy Birthday, Vivic!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Things That Come in Two's

There are great truths about human nature that allow me the opportunity to learn more about myself and others around me. I am always intrigued by the dual nature of many learning experiences. I'll give you a few examples:

Death - Though it can be quite tragic, there are 2 beautiful things you learn from it: (1) The value of a life, and how much someone means to you; and (2) the blessing that having today is, and not to spoil it by rushing into tomorrow.

Change - Real change, life-altering change, only occurs after we experience one of 2 things: (1) pain, or (2) pleasure. It's true, and you'll realize it after you are either deeply hurt, or have an amazingly wonderful experience!

Life - Humans don't experience static, stagnancy, permanent status quo. We are always in a state of (1) growth or (2) atrophy. Every bit of ourselves works this way - our muscles, our brains, our spirits.

There are many more I can share with you. I'm just very tired right now. I just needed to begin this post before it escaped my brain.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happiness is a Choice

I knew a kid who was called to serve a mission in a foreign land, and had to learn to speak the language. Prior to this appointment, he had minimal exposure to the culture or language of these people he had been called to serve. His patriarchal blessing, however, promised that he'd accomplish the feat of mastery over foreign languages through his faith and diligence.

After a few months out on his mission, however, his parents informed me that he was struggling terribly to learn the language, and communicate with the people he met. Growing up around traditions from another culture (Samoan), and being familiar with the culture and language he was new to, I understood the difficulties that this kid was facing. His parents and I and my best friend tossed around ideas on how we could help him out (my best friend is fluent in the aforementioned language and culture), and we finally decided that there was little we could do but pray on his behalf, for the mental and emotional strength he needed to overcome his struggles with the language barriers.

I committed to praying for him on several occasions over the next year. Whenever I spoke with this kid's parents, they would inform me of the progress he was making, and they looked more and more relieved and happy for the success their son was finding in this difficult trial.

After he returned, I spoke to him about his mission, about his experience with the people and the culture. He lightly spoke about it, and made no deal about his mission, either good or bad. Then, later, I heard him speak sarcastically about the language and returning to that place, and was really saddened by his candor. Didn't this guy realize that there were people out there that were praying for him while he was on his mission? That we asked Heavenly Father to help HIM specifically with his trial? That the very thing he was taking so lightly, others had taken seriously enough to pray to God about?

I continued in this vain for about a week until my mind was taken back to an experience I had years ago. I remember being 20 years old, and very unhappy with the way my life was going. I had envisioned my perfect life as a child: doing a semester of BYU after high school before leaving on a mission right at 19; coming home at 21; getting married by 22; finishing college at 24; being discovered by 25; selling a million records by 26; having 6 children (including a set of twins) by 30; and yada yada, right?! Instead, I was 20, with a year of BYU-I under my belt, no plans to return; no mission call; disfellowshipped from the church; and worst of all, the gradual realization that I was gay, and probably never going to marry or have children! I was very depressed.

During this time, I was visiting my then bishop every week. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. He didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear, but he always told me what I needed to hear, and didn't do it until after he listened to what I had to say. He gave me the most sound advice I'd ever received: "Happiness is a CHOICE." He taught me that happy people don't end up that way by accident. They make the conscious decision to be happy, and that I could be like that if I simply chose to be." I remember trying, a little in vain in the beginning. But one weekend, I did find a way to be happy, and I remember things going well for me. A good friend asked me specifically about that weekend later that month, after not seeing or visiting with me for quite a while. After I declared to him my positive experience, he gave me a big hug and said, "Good, because that's the day where I felt impressed to pray for you."

Years later, I'm reminded of the choice that I have: the choice to feel the way that I want to feel. No matter what is going on in my life, I can either moan and groan, and complain about my circumstances, or I can choose to bear my burden with hope and faith, with the surety that pain is temporary, and that I will make it through whatever is happening. I'm sure that when Christ suffered for me in the Garden, that he did not do it begrudgingly. He willingly atoned for my sins, out of love and out of faith in me. Jesus suffered so much more than I ever will have to, so that I don't have to. So why should I choose to? I am going to follow his example, and bear my burden with a positive spirit, with the reassurance that I have a Savior who knows exactly what I'm feeling, and knows how to succor me. Even if I must bear a difficult trial like SSA, or being single, for the rest of this short mortal life, I will die in the real hope that Heavenly Father has prepared a way for me to experience eternal and everlasting happiness with Him, which gift is more precious and priceless to me than any other temporary things this world has offered me for pleasure. I have made my decision, and I am happier now than I was when I was that confused 20 year old kid.

I am never going to complain about having SSA again, or any other seemingly impossible trial I will face. I will choose to be happy in the knowledge that God would never give me more than I can handle, especially with Him there with me. Besides, I never know who is praying for me!