Sunday, September 18, 2011

After All We Can Do, Narnia Style

The Chronicles of Narnia are pretty much my all time favorite books and movies. Some may say the movies aren't that great, but I absolutely LOVE them. I just re-watched Prince Caspian for about the 20th time tonight while doing some work that didn't require a huge amount of brainpower. There is a scene in this movie that brought me to tears the first time I saw it and brings me close to that each time I've seen it since. Do you remember this part?

Let me remind you in case you forgot. Peter, Susan, Edmund, Prince Caspian and the Narnians are fighting the Telmarines who are trying to take over Narnia. Before the battle started, they sent Lucy out to see if she could find Aslan because she was too young to fight. And because she was the only one who believed in Aslan enough to have seen him since they returned. She's in the middle of the woods and Aslan finally shows up, awakens the trees and sends them to fight with the rest of Narnia. The trees completely freak out the Telmarines and they retreat to the river. They get to the bridge they had built and stop. Lucy, little Lucy, is standing alone on the other side of the bridge. She reaches into her cloak and pulls out her little dagger, cocks her head to the side, inviting them over, and waits. Then Aslan walks up next to her, roars really loud to call the river spirit to come destroy the bridge and the battle is over.

Do you realize how amazing this scene is?! Some people when I've talked with them about it, don't see any significance, but to me it is huge. Here's Lucy. She's little. She probably fought plenty during their first stay in Narnia, but now she's back to her small body and her siblings think she is too weak to fight. She probably is too weak physically. But she goes, she pulls out her dagger and she stands on the other side of the bridge waiting for a whole army to come towards her. She never looked away, never flinched. Just stood there, completely confident. But where did her confidence lie? In Aslan. I'm sure she knew she would not be able to fight the Telmarines on her own, but she also knew that she wouldn't have to. But the great part is, she was willing and ready to do her part, small as it may be. She would have fought fiercely with that dagger if Aslan had asked her to. She was ready to fight the forces coming toward her, because she had someone infinitely more powerful than them by her side.

Are you catching the connection here? We need to be Lucy!!! We are all constantly standing across from evil forces who want nothing more than to bring us down. To destroy us, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. We stand against the forces of Satan. And we need to pull out our daggers, ready to fight them head on. Because we do fight them everyday. With every temptation to do wrong, or not do right, we are fighting the might of Satan. And really, we don't have that much to fight him with on our own. But, thanks be to God, we are NOT alone. We, like Lucy, have someone infinitely more powerful than the forces we face standing by our sides. Jesus Christ, who Aslan represents in so many beautiful ways, is there with us every step of the way. He can handle those forces. He can protect us from harm. All He asks is that we do what we can with what we are given. Lucy didn't have a sword or a bow and arrows. She had a tiny dagger. But she used it. She did everything she could, small as it may have been, and Aslan took care of the rest. That is exactly what Christ does for us. He asks that we give Him all we can. It doesn't matter the amount, but that it is truly and honestly our best. And He takes care of us. He not only fights the forces of Satan for and with us, but He takes away our sins when we lose a little bit of the battle. He makes us clean again. How amazing is that?? Right now I kinda feel like I have a plastic butter knife to fight with. It's not much. But I am doing all I can to try to fight Satan in my own way and I know that my Savior is by my side, helping me fight and making me stronger. I could not accomplish anything without Him. But because of His amazing Grace, I don't have to ever be alone.

One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is 2 Nephi 25:23.
"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do."
I used to think that meant we had to be basically perfect, and then the grace filled in. But that's not how it works at all. All we can do doesn't have to be perfection. Sometimes all we can do is very small. But He knows what that is and His grace covers EVERYTHING else. We just need to honestly try. Not only does grace cover us after all we can do, but despite all we can do. Because even the best person cannot even come close to saving him or herself. We are NOWHERE without the grace of Jesus Christ. He loves us so much that as long as we are willing to let Him be in our lives, He will take care of everything else.

So how about it? I want to be like Lucy. She is my #1 fictional hero. I want to have the faith that Lucy has to fight with my dagger trusting wholeheartedly on my Lion, my Savior who never leaves my side. What about you? Will you stand up and be like Lucy too?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Study of the Butterfly

When you look at the word psychology and divide it up into it's root words, what do you think of? Psychology becomes psyche and logos. Psyche meaning the mind or the brain, and logos meaning the study of. So, psychology means the study of the mind. Or at least that's what I've always learned.

In my Psychotherapy Theory class this week we were studying Carl Jung. We had a guest lecturer who works at the Jung Institute in Houston. He explained a different definition for the word Psychology. Apparently psyche, when it is directly translated into English, means SOUL. So, psychology becomes the Study of the Soul. He then asked the class what everyone thought about that, good or bad. I was initially thinking to myself, "how could you NOT like that idea?" I was so surprised when the first 6 or 7 comments were about how they did not like the idea of the study of the soul. They said things like, "we don't need to bring religion into our science," "if I'm working on people's souls, I have too much therapeutic power over my clients," and "bringing the soul into psychology seems reductionistic."

WHAT? I was in complete shock by their answers! I can understand being slightly wary about bringing religion into psychology. However, I don't think that the soul has to be religious. I have two concepts of the soul. One is very religious and has to do with my belief that we lived with Heavenly Father before we came to earth, that we came here to be tested and tried and learn to know our Father even though we can't see Him, and that we will eventually return into His presence to be with Him forever. Then there is my more human concept of the soul. When I think of who I am as a person, I don't just think about my mind and my thoughts. I think about my feelings, my sensations, my desires. There is so much more to me than just my brain. There is so much more to people than just their minds. I think it reduces a person's potential so much more to say they are just the brain and the electrical and hormonal connections that are made. I am not my brain! I am not my mind! I am my feelings and so much more. I am my soul. I am me. I wish my colleagues who didn't like the study of the soul would not fight against religion so much that they are blind to concepts typically used by religion, but that aren't necessarily religious. Open your minds please!

THEN. Then the guest lecturer explained that psyche, not translated to English, but in Greek, (or whatever language it originates from), means butterfly. So now, Psychology becomes the Study of the Butterfly.

Mind. Blown.

What do you think of when you think of butterflies? I think of beauty, flight, change, peace. All of these things apply to a person when they reach their potential in this life. Caterpillars are ugly (in my opinion). They eat a ton and then get really lazy and wrap themselves up in a cocoon. Then they go through a mighty change, a metamorphosis. But in order for that change to actually matter, they have to go through the crazy hard process of fighting their way out of the cocoon. This is a time of incredible pressure and pain. But when they push through it, they emerge as beautiful butterflies. They fly around, free and peaceful.

That is exactly what we as people need to go through in order to become our best selves. Life is hard!! Parts of it are ugly, we indulge too much in things that may not be good for us, we try to be lazy and avoid things that are hard but that will help us. On our own, basically we suck! But as we go through life we are given things that help us to become more. We go through hard, horrible times where we are experiencing so much pain, feeling like we're under so much pressure that there is no way we can survive. It flat out hurts! But when we hold on and work with the pressure instead of against it, we can get through it. And when we get through it, we become better. We learn from our struggles. We improve ourselves. We help others who go through similar things. We become so much better and get closer and closer to reaching our potential. We CANNOT reach our potential by having a life of ease. It is only through our struggles and pain that we learn the things we are here to learn. It is only through our struggles that we improve ourselves. And we go from lazy, ugly, fat caterpillars, to beautiful, peaceful butterflies. We fly higher than we ever could if we did not experience hard things. We must go through our own metamorphoses to become our own, beautiful butterflies.

My goal in therapy, what I'm in school for, is to learn how to help these beautiful butterflies emerge from their cocoons. We all go through times when we can't get out on our own. We need outside help, whether from family, friends, religious leaders, or at times, professionals. With the help of these people who truly care for us, we can still make it through the hard stuff and come forth beautiful. This is why I decided to go into therapy. I want to help people, couples and families to become the best they can and reach their fullest potential.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

And So It Begins...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!


(deep breath, Rachel...)


I just finished my second week of grad school.


AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!


I'm still trying to decide which emotion those two screams are supposed to be portraying. There are just too many emotions floating around my head and heart that I don't really know how to make sense of it all.


FREAKED OUT.

Oh my great day. What on earth do I think I'm doing in grad school? Do I even like school? Do I even have the motivation to make myself do well? When I graduate in two short years, people's happiness is going to be affected by me. I want to do couple's therapy. So, marriages and families will be at least somewhat dependent on me and what I say and do. AHH! That is a lot of responsibility to place on yourself when your natural tendency is to be really, really lazy. :/ Not to mention that I'm already behind in my reading, I haven't started researching for my class, I am slightly behind on my TA job because I can't figure things out... and I could make the list go on. So, this emotion could also read: OVERWHELMED.


EXCITED.

Oh my great day. I've wanted to be a marriage therapist for almost 4 years (and probably much longer than that, but I didn't realize it til then) and here I am finally getting started to pursuing my dream. And I'm in a new place, in a ward with way more cute, good guys in it than my last ward at BYU, living with my sister, seeing my best friend and her baby every week, going out with the sister missionaries regularly, and again...the list could go on.


RELIEVED.

Oh my great day. I never have to worry about applying to a school again. I'm here. I'm doing it. Things haven't blown up in my face yet. I'm getting to know people in my program and as far as I know, they don't think I'm crazy. (though, we'll be getting to know each other quite well...I'm sure soon they'll know I'm crazy). My loans finally came through so my tuition is paid and I have a parking pass. Still need to get an ID. But things are progressing. I'm going to be okay.


WONDERING ABOUT THE UNKNOWN.

Oh my great day. Have you heard the drama about the apartment? Well, not that there's horrible drama, Sarah and I just have NO IDEA where to live. We signed applications to a complex in the ideal area, but not the ideal apartment itself. Then we got home and there might be some available at Sarah's complex that she already loves. Oh yeah, and there's the one that we would sign at in a heart beat, but it's by the Galleria. That equals traffic from hell. The deepest and darkest pits of hell. So even though we'd love to go there, we really don't want to drive there. Then there's the unknown about what my future holds. Lets be honest, there are less LDS men here in Houston than in Provo. What if I don't find someone here? Will I be single forever? Or if I do find someone, how on earth will I fit dating into my already-busy-after-only-two-weeks schedule? Then if I get married, what do I do about working/having babies? Oh geez... emotions are going back into the overwhelmed area... I hate the unknown. It totally freaks me out! I guess life would be pretty dang boring if I knew everything, but ahh! I'm freaked.


MISSING PEOPLE.

Oh my great day. I miss my friends in Utah. Amanda. Melanie (though she's not in Utah). Justine. Cameron. Everyone else at the coding lab or the Dean's Office. Kayla. McKenzie. Todd. Michelle. Rachel and Ned. Alissa. Jessica. Shiree. Again, the list could go on. I thought I'd be okay leaving them all behind, and in most ways I am, but dang! I miss them! And although I'm excited to make new friends, I kinda just want to keep the ones I have and not have to worry about making more. And I miss my brother, Michael (who knew!). I hate goodbyes and I had to make a lot of them all at once. Boo. I'm never moving again.


Tired.

Oh my great day. I'm sooo tired. I've been on campus today for almost 12 hours and still have just over an hour to go. Chronic fatigue from two illnesses + grad school...doesn't work quite as well as I thought it would. I'm tired. And I have this feeling that I'm gonna be tired for the next two years (at least!).


Confident.

Oh my great day. I can do this! We had our first role play in psychotherapy skills yesterday. I was so nervous. We were supposed to be practicing attending skills (which I think I'm pretty good at) and reflective statements (which I pretty much suck at). We broke up into groups and I was the last one to be the therapist. (No, I didn't do it on purpose). But I got to see two other people do it first and hear all their feedback before it was my turn. I credit my success to that. But it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting! We were only supposed to ask four questions in 10 minutes, and I only asked 4! I always ask questions! But somehow I did it and I feel much more confident than I did two days ago. Not overly confident. Just confident enough to push myself to get a lot better. Because I'm not quite as freaked out as before. This is good! I think I can handle being a therapist. (Watch me feel the complete opposite next week...).


But most of my confidence is coming from the fact that I know without a doubt that this is what Heavenly Father wants me be doing with my life right now. And if He wants it, it's gonna happen! I just need to keep putting Him first and trusting in Him, and everything is going to work out just fine. I am so grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost which I feel will definitely be helping me as I try to help the children of Heavenly Father find more joy and happiness in their marriages and families. I'm grateful for the comfort God gives me when I'm stressed and overwhelmed. There is nothing I can't do with Him at my side. And I know that as long as I keep doing what He has asked of me, He will be there every step of the way. And that gives me a lot of confidence.