Thursday, January 28, 2016

a universe of divine order

I have been reflecting on what to make this post about for a couple of days. Elder and Sister Bednar came on Tuesday to speak to us at devotional and a "date night" for married students (and engaged!). It was an incredible, faith-affirming experience for me. The Spirit testified that God calls prophets and apostles today just as He always had. I figured I would write about what Elder Bednar taught us (me), and I will, just in a different way than I anticipated about 45 minutes ago.

My day today ended with Old Testament. Unlike Tuesdays, when I have to run to get a good devotional seat, I was free to stick around. I knew it was time to ask my professor a question that had been on my mind for a couple of months.

I'll preface this by saying that my Old Testament professor is Ron Anderson, the same guy I grew to love in Biblical Hebrew last semester. I loved that difficult class, but couldn't continue with the second course because my degree needed to take over, and it so has. But I wasn't about to skip the second half of Old Testament, and I wasn't about to miss having him as a professor. So I took my very basic skills at it and joined the front row of his Old Testament class.

A month or so ago, something interesting, a difference, about the temple was pointed out to me. I tried to figure out why that one little thing was different, but I just couldn't. No ideas or hypotheses came to mind. I wished I were back home at the LDS Institute of Religion, because there is a teacher there (who studied also studied Hebrew) that I had plagued with so many of my troubles and questions before and I knew he'd be able to answer it. Then, I realized it: why not ask his old classmate, Brother Anderson? So I stuck around after class until the room calmed down enough for me to ask my question.

He answered it in a way that showed me entirely why this difference existed in one single "aha!" moment. Though I can't blog any details about the sacred temple teachings, I will say that the reason the difference existed was directly related to the topic that I heard Elder Bednar speak about 2 days ago. Because I had learned about repetition and revelation from an apostle of the Lord, I was finally ready to receive the full and complete answer to my question, and I was prompted by the Spirit to do so. My question was answered, and because of my faithfulness, Brother Anderson was inspired by that same Spirit to proceed to teach me even more about the temple and the gospel and to tell me words of comfort that I needed to hear. I felt the Spirit testify in my heart of the beauty and divinity and completeness of it.

Or, it was all just a happy coincidence.

Supposedly, the universe exists because of a coincidence. The human race got lucky and this planet had the exact perfect ecosystem and chemicals and water, that weird substance, and all these other crazy complicated high-detail things and the human species evolved to become sentient and powerful and religious and weird and unique above all other things on this earth. So complicated, in fact, that they write run-on sentences and a term to describe that type of sentence and a way to publicly share these sentences and facts. I could go on. Statistics are not in favor of the human race, and yet we exist.

I'm not trying to say that, in 6 24-hour periods, the Earth was made and everything thereon. I'm not trying to say that evolution doesn't happen. I'm simply saying that I don't believe in coincidences.

Someday, I will have this knowledge of physics and the universe that I carry on beyond the grave. I'll get to see how the Earth was made and how it fits into the laws I learned and how to change some of those human theories to be pure and correct. It will be incredible because I will see the infinite care that a God put into the place for His children to inhabit and grow to become like Him. What a day that will be!

For now, I'll keep learning, trusting, and enjoying the divine order in my life. I have no time to do all that I do, and yet it gets done and I have all of Sunday to devote to my calling and my spiritual well-being. Small miracles happen every day, and I testify to you all that they are never coincidences.

As a temple sealer said to me and my family, "There are no coincidences, only choreography".

Sunday, January 17, 2016

God's modulus

The power of prayer is real, and sometimes, it can seem like a real test of the human ability.

Before the semester started, I prayed for the opportunity to serve in the church and to help the members in my ward. With my crazy difficult class schedule, I wasn't sure what I was going to be called to do. I was called to be the first counselor of my Relief Society. 

I mean, it could have been worse. I could have been called to be president, but both Relief Societies in my student ward already had a president from last semester. Dodged that bullet. Honestly, I can't be more grateful to get to serve. I love my role as a Latter-day Saint woman. I love knowing the divine potential I have as a daughter of God. I love reading Sheri Dew books and rambling to Ben about how strongly I feel as a woman of science and faith. 

More importantly than any service I could do, I am grateful that Heavenly Father is giving me this opportunity to grow and stretch myself. I've been crazy stressed, and it's only been one week of the semester. I have more homework than I have hours in the day. I don't even have time to socialize or have fun or do anything related to the word "leisure" if I want to get all of my homework done.

I know that the Lord is aware of this. I know He knows I can hardly handle what I have already on my plate. He is aware of my every struggle and my every prayer and my every weak moment. And I know that He trusts that I can handle this calling.

In my Physics II class, we learned about fluids and elasticity. The interesting thing about solids is that they change under pressure. The main equation we learned for elasticity was Young's modulus:

F/A = Y (ΔL/L)

This looks a lot like pressure = Y (% increase in length). However, since we are talking about the elasticity of solid materials, "pressure" is referred to instead as "tensile stress" and the fractional increase in length is called "strain".

The interesting part comes in when considering how objects (steel, concrete, copper, wood) react to tensile stress.
The slope of the graph reflects how stiff the material is, like pure gold compared to titanium. From the beginning up until the yield point, the material will compress or stretch but when the tensile stress is removed it will return to its original length. Past the yield point and before the failure point, the tensile stress will permanently alter the object so that it is forever longer or shorter than it started. Finally, at the failure point, the object breaks.

This is a perfect parable. Living life in the elastic region, we are never changed. We experience stress sometimes, but it doesn't shape us or change us. Heavenly Father takes us and puts enough stress on us to shape us and make us into who He knows we can be. He will never push us past our failure point; He will never give us more than we can take with the Lord on our side. We only need trust in Him and in the Atonement (which can fix us when we break ourselves) and He will shape us into who we need to be.

I know that by putting the Lord's kingdom first this semester, He will guide my paths. He will provide a way for me to learn all that I need to when I put His will first. I have no need to fear. When my burden is more than I can bear, the Savior is there to help me carry it. All I have to do is be humble, teachable, charitable, and patient with myself, and allow the tensile stress of God to shape me into a better person.
"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." -1 Nephi 3:7

Thursday, January 14, 2016

potentials

So, I haven't slept a full night in 2 weeks. It's been fun. School started a week ago yesterday, and I have had schoolwork until 11 or 12 at night. I'm essentially drinking physics, differential equations, and computer programming from a fire hose. Honestly, I'm exhausted, it's a lot of stress (or is it strain?), but I am kind of enjoying it. I am learning so much right now, and with Ben working as many hours as he can, I have a homework buddy almost all the time.

Ben is seriously the best. I fell asleep on the couch the other day for a power nap while he was getting off from work. I woke up emotional, as naps often make me, and so I was pretty sad. He came over, and I just kept getting more sad. I had tons of homework (as is the norm) and I was overwhelmed with trying to understand things in my classes. I asked if he would help me a little bit with making dinner for us, and he said he wasn't sure he could because of all of his own homework. That's when the fuse blew, and I literally just started crying. Pretty hard, too. My stress release is crying, and I'm pretty sure I have blogged about that before, but yep, I hid my face and he didn't realize why until a few moments later when I was really crying. He took it like a CHAMP. He was kneeling by me on the couch and he just wrapped his arms around me and said sweet calming things while I just let it all out. Eventually I calmed down, got up, and he helped me thaw some spinach for dinner.

Anyway, enough of that. I'll write a brief message, and then I have to get on with my homework.

I'm taking Electricity & Magnetism (without too much calculus) and so the word "potential" is all over the place. It's the hardest class for me right now, and this stuff always has been, because magnets, how do they work? There are days when I do the online assignment and get half of the questions completely wrong. I'm not a natural scientist. I am fascinated by how things work, and I'm fairly decent at math, but in reality, I'm less of a thinker and more of a feeler. I would excel in a field in psychology or sociology. I love people and I love caring for them. I am a nurturer, just as my nature as a woman helps me to be. In fact, when it comes to my major, it isn't even that I want a career. The men in my classes talk about what research they want to do, where they want internships, what they hope to study in graduate school. My graduate school will be the university of motherhood, my degree in raising a family in righteousness and safety, and I will be graded on the love and kindness that I have. My degree is so that I can have something to pursue after my children are grown, or something I can pursue part-time at home. It is so I can stretch myself and teach my children why the sky is blue and why bubbles are rainbow and why their straw looks bent in water (what I lack in E&M, I make up for in waves and optics, apparently).

I work hard because I know I have the potential to become so much more. I have been promised the help of God in pursuing my education and in understanding complex theories. The great thing about science, art, literature, engineering, math, dance, and anything else is that you don't need an inherent skill. You don't need to be a natural. Sometimes, if you're like me, what you love (physics) and what you're natural at (not really sure actually but not physics) don't quite line up. You can work hard and achieve anything.

We are eternal beings in mortal bodies. We have been placed here to learn and stretch and grow. We make choices and we apply faith and we work hard and we can become anything we could ever dream of. Never be too afraid of failure to pursue the course you feel is best. Heavenly Father takes our failures and changes us, guiding us to the greatest success we can have.