Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On Tithing

I've always paid tithing. Ever since I was a child, I've diligently sealed up an envelope of money and passed it to the bishop every time I gained income. It was always easy for me. I declared on my mission that I had a testimony of tithing. I taught about it and people believed my testimony.

But I've learned something recently about myself. My previous "testimony" of tithing wasn't a testimony at all. I had never had that trial of faith that made it a testimony. It was just something I had been trained to do.You see, money has never been an issue in my life. My needs were always met by my parents, so any and all income was just bonus.

And then I got married and suddenly finances were a real pain in the butt. We started budgeting and skimping and barely being able to pay our bills. And here enters that trial of faith.

I have been tempted so often to skip paying tithing. Often, I would skip it upon receiving a paycheck, rationalizing it by saying, "I'll pay it with the next check."

Every time I did that though, I noticed something:

The bills would suddenly get harder to pay.

Weeks later, I'd remember that I hadn't paid tithing in a while and send in a big check to catch up, usually using the last of the money in the bank account.

And all of a sudden, we had enough money to pay the bills again!

After one of those big checks, Del suggested that we make a habit of paying tithing immediately, right after we receive money, so we stop missing it. So I did. As soon as new money entered the account, I would immediately pay tithing through the online system.

As if a switch was flipped, suddenly paying the bills wasn't so hard anymore. Del got a good paying job that will support us, and my income can go almost solely into savings now.

And all we did was make sure to actually pay tithing regularly.

Now if you ask about my testimony of tithing, I can firmly say I believe in paying tithing and I definitely believe the blessings that go along with it. That trial of faith strengthened my testimony now, and I don't ever plan to stop giving 10% to God.

I wouldn't be able to afford it.

Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Love Writing Again

I've been struggling to write as of late. I call it writer's block when people ask why I've slowed down. Honestly, though, it's because my passion for writing has fizzled out of existence and I don't really like it anymore.

Don't get me wrong, when people ask my hobbies, I still say, "I'm a writer." But I just don't write so much anymore because I don't have that passion anymore. It's so low on my priority list for life that everything else gets in the way and I never get to it.

Then the other day I had a breakthrough. I had been having a really bad day - one of those days where everything goes wrong and you end up sobbing yourself to sleep. Except, after sobbing, I couldn't sleep. So I climbed out of my bed, went to the laptop, and started to write. The words came easily and smoothly and I wrote several thousand words without even thinking about it. By the end of it, I was feeling much better and went back to bed where I fell asleep peacefully.

Thinking on that, I realized something:

I'm not writing for myself anymore.

When I first started writing, it was because I was in a dark place in life and writing is what kept me sane and moving forward. Eventually, others found out that I wrote and discovered I had some skill, and suddenly I was writing novels for NaNoWriMo and working towards publication. My writing had to be perfect, because I knew someday, others would read it. But that was the problem.

I was writing for others, not for myself. My passion for writing died because it became stressful for me. It became work instead of pleasure.

So when I went in and just wrote again to find inner peace, with no goal in mind, the answer of how to start writing again came back.

Write like no one is going to read it. Create characters that are totally unrealistic. Make aliens attack and zombies fight them off, if you feel so inclined. Write to write, not to please others.

Not that I won't ever get a novel published or let others read my work. But I'll write first for my own enjoyment, then go back and edit and clean it up, and get it publishable later.

And then I'll love writing again.