Sunday, November 22, 2015

prayerful marriage (guest writer)

I promised, and here I am delivering: a blog entry from yours truly, Ben Godfrey, sharing his side of our unorthodox love story.

Hey folks! Ben here. Not too long ago Aileen wrote a blog about how she and I ended up together. I thought that I would share my side of the story because it creates a broader perspective. About a month before I met Aileen I prayed that I would meet someone that I could get a little dating experience with, someone I could call my girlfriend and perhaps consider having a future relationship with. When I first met Aileen I had no idea that I would ever consider marrying her or that she was an answer to my prayers. In fact I didn’t even think she would end up holding the title girlfriend. She was a quiet shy girl that I enjoyed talking to at the school library on Tuesday mornings. I thought she was really cute. I’d see her every other day at institute and would sit behind her during class. I was too afraid to sit next to her though.  I’d thought about it a number of times but never summed up the courage. Silly me.

Anyways, as I said before I talked to her on Tuesdays at the library. I always looked forward to that. I would see her sitting at a table by herself and join her. She would spot me coming and look at me with this face akin to embarrassment. So I’d go embarrass her. It wasn’t often that I had the courage to talk to a girl I thought was attractive especially when I couldn’t tell if she wanted me there or not but for some reason I didn’t care. I would talk and talk and talk and she would listen despite the fact I interrupted her astronomy homework. One particular Tuesday morning I talked really loudly and she shushed me. She was so embarrassed that I was as loud as I was that her face turned bright pink. I couldn’t help myself. I talked even louder. I wasn’t intending to be a jerk or anything of that sort. Her reaction was just so cute and funny that I had to see it one more time. She seemed to think it hilarious that I was so loud. It probably seemed innocent to her.

Later that day or perhaps later in the week I invited her to come to an activity I was planning. She said she would let me know but didn’t show. I was pretty disappointed. A week later I invited her to another activity I planned. Again to my great disappointment she didn’t show. But this didn’t faze me because she had sounded so sincere about coming that I had to assume the best of her. I figured she got lost or something. So I didn’t worry about it. One Thursday shortly thereafter, I was at the Rocklin institute building trying to decide if I should go to the Book of Mormon class or if I should try to get some homework done I was worried about. I decided to go to the class on the basis that the prophets had told us to. I told myself to have Faith. After class Aileen decided to wait out in the hall for some reason. It was the first opportunity I had to talk to her outside of the library or class because usually she would take off without a word. I talked to her for a couple of minutes about random stuff and then went to the restroom. Then I started kicking myself for not taking the opportunity to ask her out. She was quite pretty after all and I figured that though she had missed my activities perhaps she would be interested in going out with me. So I did a 180 out of the bathroom and then asked her if she wanted to join me for a movie. I was scared to death when I asked her. To my surprise (and great relief) she said yes! I booked it into the main room of the building where everyone liked to hang out and ran around the room excitedly shouting out my success. Don’t worry, Aileen was not in ear shot so she didn’t hear my excitement or see all the high fives I administered.

The next day we went and saw the movie and had Chick fil A. I wasn’t really sure what to think of her at that point except that she was really funny and seemed sweet. So I asked her out again that same weekend. I started asking her out over and over. She would come to my place and I would go to hers. She watched general conference with my family, helped me feed some cows, became the llama queen, and took pictures with me on the statue of Claud Chana etc etc. Finally there was the evening when I attended her concert. She played the oboe well enough that she was in the Sacramento State University Orchestra. We had a good time together. I went home that night quite in love with her. She texted me wondering where we were at as far as a relationship was concerned so I called her. I was scared to death because I wasn’t sure where I was at with the whole thing. But I couldn’t seem to get enough of her so I asked her to be my girlfriend. She said yes to that too! We dated for several months. Then I went off to BYU Idaho. I didn’t really think things were going to work out since there would be about eight months of time between the two of us. I remember the horrible knots that were in my stomach as I drove across Nevada. I believed that was the end. Once I was established in Idaho however we started Skyping. After three or so months of that I really thought I should go and date other people so I could find my wife. I didn’t think Aileen was it at that point. I wanted her to be but I thought Heavenly Father had other plans for me so on April First I broke up with her, in person. She came up to visit me and I broke up with her. Pretty cold right? Actually it was the most harrowing experience of my life. I loved her so much. But I thought it was the right thing to do.

I didn’t enjoy being separated from her. It was a lonely time for me. I took some other women on dates and I even got excited about one or two but I kept comparing them all to Aileen. They would remind me of her and it would make me sad. On occasion I would think to myself, “at least they don’t do such and such,” trying to justify my separation from her with anger. She had made me mad from time to time, but I missed her. I even loved her for being a pain in the butt on occasion. Well, after dating around and finding that most of the girls either thought they were too good for me or finding that others were not half as intelligent as Aileen was I began to question my decision. After a few months of this I got a random phone call from guess who! Months of not talking to her and suddenly out of the blue Aileen calls me. I couldn’t stop talking to her after that.

It took very little for me to fall right back in love with her, though when I think about it I can’t say I ever fell out of love with her. For those three months I missed her and was also angry at her. I was angry at her for not being “right” for me. I soon realized that was a false presumption. She was right for me. It took the separation for me to realize that. Not long after she contacted me I told Heavenly Father that I was done looking and was going to marry her if possible.

I remember saying to him, “I’ve decided I’m going to marry Aileen Carroll and I was wondering if you would support me in this.” To my surprise he said that he would. A few months later I asked Aileen to marry me and she also answered in the affirmative. I realized that I had to make the decision first before Heavenly Father would give me a response to that question. I had to choose her, then he would choose us. To anyone out there who is considering someone, decide, and then ask. Don’t expect to get a response from Heavenly Father when you ask, “Is she the right one for me” or “Who should I marry?” Those are for you to decide. Only then will Father in Heaven give you a response.

I love Aileen. I bear witness that it was God that brought us together. I will always be grateful for that, and for her.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

scribes and samaritans

Forgive me already; I have slept a total of 1 hour in the last 38 hours. But I felt impressed to write, and it is Thursday, and it has been a while.
"A poor, wayfaring Man of grief / Hath often crossed me on my way, / Who sued so humbly for relief / That I could never answer nay. / I had not pow'r to ask his name, / Whereto he went, or whence he came; / Yet there was something in his eye / That won my love; I knew not why."

Many of us, religious upbringing or not, are familiar with the parable of the good Samaritan. A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, when some thieves ambushed him, taking his clothes and his belongings and injuring him. They left him to die on the side of the road. A priest soon came walking by, and upon seeing the man, hurried to the other side of the road and kept going, giving him nothing. A Levite soon came down the road, and repeated this same action when seeing the Jew, naked and dying, on the side of the road. Finally, a Samaritan, whose people have a bit of a tense history with the Jews, came along this road and saw this man, his enemy. He was moved with compassion. He stopped, washed and bound the man's wounds, and took him to an inn where he paid for him to stay and be fed until he was restored to health.

In the New Testament, Christ speaks often with the different groups in charge of religion in the holy land. It is not uncommon that He calls them out on their hypocrisy, on how hard they make it for others to enter the kingdom of heaven, how they make the calls and act without love in their hearts, and many other awful things. The Scribes and the Pharisees get plenty of this talk in Matthew 23; Christ calls them out on being hypocrites time after time after time, culminating in informing them of their condemnation for killing the prophets of God.

Finally, in Christ's teachings, He commands us to love our fellow men as we love ourselves and our God. What we do unto "the least of these [our] brethren", we do to Christ. All of our actions, whether they be love or malice, selflessness or envy, charity or hatred, come down to the simple truth that we do these things to Christ. Our Savior bore all things; does it not make sense that He bears the things we do to each other in these ways?

Even as it is taught in the Book of Mormon, when Christ visits the people of the Americas and delivers the same sermon He gave on the mount in 3 Nephi 12:
22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.

We are taught that we have to love our brother, with no hate or anything, before we can stand righteously in front of God and our Savior and deserve entry into Celestial glory.

How should we treat those Syrian refugees? How should we treat the Muslims slaughtered by the cowards that hide behind their peaceful faith? How should we treat those that choose to live here among us as our fellow men and citizens in this blessed country?

It will never cease to amaze me how many of those who claim that this country is God's, who post scripture and doctrine, turn to spit hatred on those of a different faith. Even as the children of Israel were told to love strangers, for they too were once strangers, so should we. We are all strangers, we are all wanderers in this life. It is only through love and love only that we will find our way.

I do not intend to show any ideas of how to fix this problem. I am a 19 year old college student, and if I could fix all of this, it wouldn't be a problem. I simply mean to show my testimony of Christ and what a true disciple of His should be. I simply believe that we can never go wrong when we listen to the Spirit and serve and love our fellow men, especially those poor wayfaring men, women, and children of grief.
"Then in a moment to my view / The stranger started from disguise. / The tokens in his hands I knew; / The Savior stood before mine eyes. / He spake, and my poor name He named, / 'Of me thou hast not been ashamed. / These deeds shall thy memorial be; / Fear not, thou didst them unto me.' "

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Long time no see! 16 credits and 6 classes are kicking my butt. But I found time (mostly just motivation) to write today.

Don't worry, that promised guest post will happen soon. Just have to get him to do it.

I was sitting in Sunday school today, feeling the weight of my life and my weaknesses. I came before the Lord with a broken heart as my offering. When you do that, He always gives you so much to heal you and uplift you, and all you need is faith to be healed. The lesson was taught by a gorgeous young woman who started off by saying that it was mostly a video lesson because she hadn't had time to prepare much. The lesson she taught would never have revealed that. Each video seemed to have been carefully selected. All of her discussion questions provoked thought and brought the spirit. She waited patiently through silences for the Spirit to speak to class members. And I learned things I needed to, and I was taught by the Spirit what I needed to learn. I turned to Ben and commented on how I liked the way she taught; where the men who teach in my ward don't like the silence and sometimes step on it with "Anybody? Anybody?", she waited.

At the close of her lesson, she broke into tears. She apologized for what she thought was a sad excuse for a lesson, and explained how sad she was because all of us in the audience had served missions and knew way more than she did.

My heart broke. This woman had so much humility she thought she had failed when she had taught better than some RMs that I've heard spend an hour sharing mission stories. She taught of Christ with the Spirit so strong. She felt she was less simply because she hadn't served a mission.

The age change has brought so many blessings. It saddens me that so many women now feel inferior because they haven't had the experience of a formal mission call. There is no ranking in Heaven that places those who did not have the opportunity to serve under those who did. There is no rule that states that some things can only be taught to those called by the prophet himself to serve for a set length of time in some area. All of God's teachings are available to those who ask. We should never act prideful or judgemental about a mission. It is a blessing, but for some of us sisters, it is not necessary.

I hope that the woman who taught today trusts all those that told her how beautifully she taught. She is just as worthy as any RM. And any RM is just as worthy as her. We are all equal to our Savior so long as we follow His commandment to come unto Him.