Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Each Life That Touches Ours For Good

In one year from now, I cannot possibly imagine where my life will be. Everything appears to be going so well, yet never before has it all felt so wrong. Tim's passing continues to make me consider what I am doing with my life. I just read some of the comments people have written about him online. How is it that one person can have such an impact on the lives of so many. What never ceases to amaze me are the masses that write about that one or two times they actually met or hung out with Tim. And yet, they describe the huge impact that he had on them and how much they miss him. Awestruck. There is no other way to describe how I feel. And envious in a good way, I think. Nothing would bring me greater joy and happiness than to know that I could make a positive impact in someone's life. If I could even impact just one person the way Tim did to hundreds. Truly his life was one of service, selflessness, and love.

His life has thrown mine into a much needed reorganization. It makes me ill to think that I have become so enveloped in the game of career-building and chasing after the so-called American dream. What for? While financial soundness and stability are worthy goals, I do not want them to be the ultimate reason for my existence. I long so much to forget about my life and serve others. I feel so torn right now between where I am at and where I want to be. I feel like it would be foolishness to not get the CPA and to get some good work experience to fall back on; yet at the same time I view it equally foolish to continue this pursuit of worldly wealth and power.

Surely the Lord has something more important planned for my life. In fact, I know he does. In my patriarchal blessing, the Lord tells me to seek out a career of service. I have prayed about what this means for years, and never felt very good about any of the options. So I felt that maybe the opportunity would arise in the future and that I should just continue on this path in the mean time. Now, I feel like that could not be further from the truth. Yet, I fell like I should at least complete the CPA since I really am so close. Some days, I just wish I did not wake up. So many doubts, so many questions, and so little time. Work is starting to get super busy and there are so many things that I feel like I need to do. Elder Oak's General Conference talk entitled Good, Better, Best has been such a good source for me. I really need to weed out some of the good things in my life and focus on the best things. Even Halloween, which I usually am very excited for has all but been written off for me. I don't think I'll even leave the house tomorrow night.

Which brings up another interesting question. Am I depressed? Do I need to seek professional help? Or is this just a phase? I cannot tell at this point. Last week I had dinner with Sarah-Dawn and we talked about a lot of things on our minds. Afterwards, she thanked me and said that she would love to do that again sometime. I don't think she could even imagine how much what she said meant to me. If that is how Tim felt when he helped people, it is no wonder to me why he did it. That was one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in my life in the past few years. I hope that I can continue to become somebody that people feel that they can rely on and trust. Anyway, Sarah-Dawn and I just talked about a lot of things that have been on our minds, and even though we come form very different backgrounds, I feel like we relate well and that we understand each other. It was just as therapeutic for me as it was for her.

So this is where I find myself at this point. Trying to make better decisions, yet feeling so confused at the same time about what are the best decisions for me. I feel so alone in my journey. I feel like I have no one to turn to. I guess this is the point where I realize that my Heavenly Father is always there for me and that nobody is better to turn to than Christ. I guess I just wish that I had one family member or friend that I could absolutely confide in and trust. I wonder how long it would take anyone to realize if I just didn't wake up again. It seems pretty pathetic to think that my coworkers would be the first ones to realize that I am not there. Such is life...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two points for honesty

Life moves on. I think back to the past couple of weeks, and I don't think that I could actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. But somehow, things have gotten better. Work this week has been 1000X better. I am not as stressed about anything anymore. Everything is going to be OK. I finally feel at peace about my life.

The words of a Guster song have been in my head a lot recently. In case you have never heard of Guster, google them. I had never heard of them until last summer when I went to a concert of their's near DC. Click here to read the lyrics to their song. I have really been thinking about how I want to make some serious changes in my life, but they don't seem to ever stick around.

And then when I think that my life is so awful, I am reminded how blessed I really am. There have been some awful fires in Southern California this past week and a lot of people have lost their homes and some have even lost their lives. What on Earth am I complaining about. My life is fine. One of the fires started right here in Irvine last Sunday and has brought the worst air pollution I have ever experienced. I have had a headache since Monday and even the inside of the office I have been working in this week is smoky. My eyes have been burning and my lungs hurt as well. It looked like Armageddon out there. And yet, I feel that I have been so blessed. I am safe, my family is safe, I have a great job, great friends, and I am young and healthy (well except for the temporary smoker's cough).

Anyway, I am just not very sure about many things right now. All I know is that I want to take my life in a completely different direction than the one it is headed in right now. Not that my life is headed in a bad direction. I feel like I really have a lot to be proud of, but I just know that there is so much more out there. So, farewell for now. I am writing this like someone is reading this, which I am still pretty sure nobody is except for me.

I think things are over with Kaitlyn.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mormons and Muslims

Tonight I attended a really cool lecture given by a professor of religion from BYU named Daniel C. Peterson. He is the head of LDS/Islamic translations at BYU. He spoke at the Irvine Stake Center and the Islamic community was invited as well. He spoke on the similarities and differences between Mormonism and Islam, and the Church's view on other faiths. It was amazing. Brother Peterson really knows his stuff and was able to deliver his message in a very respectful manner, while not avoiding the difficult questions at all. He was very entertaining and intelligent, a mix I feel like I don't see too often. Anyway, I learned a lot and it really made me realize that we are all children of God how much we have in common with Muslims. Now obviously there are some major theological differences, but Brother Peterson explained a lot of the beliefs that we share. We worship the same God and they are definitely a very devout group and adhere to many of the same standards that we do. i knew most of that already, but tonight it really sunk in for me.

It was also interesting to realize how much our histories are similar as far as being persecuted and how we are perceived in the United States. Afterwards I got to talk to a member of the Muslim congregation and I gained a new respect for them. I never felt any sort of hatred for Muslims in general, and definitely knew that Osama bin Laden does not represent Islam very well; but alas, Islam is new to America and unfortunately we as Americans view them as foreign and sometimes with suspicion. I guess it will take a while to dispel those myths. I imagine it is similar to how people view Latter-day Saints with suspicion; but once they meet a Latter-day Saint, they view us differently. It was a great experience and refreshing to see how mush we have in common, especially with all of the focus on differences today. It was nice to recognize that we are all people, children of our God and that we have so much in common.

Anyway, besides that I didn't do much today. I studied for the CPA exam and ran a few errands, but I found myself not wanting to do much. I really wanted to call Kaitlyn, but part of me did not want to. I can't describe it, but I just needed to be alone today and think. Dave is in Australia right now and Jared was gone all day. I needed to think today. I think I might be suffering from depression right now. All of my siblings definitely are diagnosed and known to have issues regarding depression, but I guess I always liked to think that I was immune to all of that. In reality, I think I might need to seek some professional help. I find myself not being able to cope with everything right now. I think part of my issue may be stemming from Tim's death. It really has hit me hard and made me reflect on my life in a way I never have before. Nobody around me knew Tim and I just with I could talk to somebody that would understand why I am so sad. That plus a stressful few days at work, worrying about the CPA exam, realizing that I will be spending Christmas alone here in Orange County, and really feeling like I have no friends is just piling up on top of me. But at the same time, I think that some of this is good for me. I feel like I need to be humbled so that I will be willing to accept God's will in my life. I feel like a big change is headed my way and I need to be ready for it. Who knows if I will be ready for it.

Yesterday at work, I got so frustrated and while at work I wrote the nastiest blog I could ever imagine. I was so frustrated with the way work was going and cannot imagine working at this client again. Unfortunately, I know that I will be back there in January for 2 VERY long weeks. Luckily, I did not publish the posting, though I still have it saved. The person that wrote that blog yesterday needs to move on. Yesterday at work was evidence that I still have a long way to go before I am the person I want to be. I have no patience for stupidity. That sounds so mean, but I don't know how else to say it. Anyway, hopefully I don't have too many more days like that, or my career at PwC will be a lot shorter lived than I ever imagined.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What is happening?

I am not sure how to describe today. Work started out alright. Not much work to do but I still managed to keep busy for a while. Went to lunch with Kim and Nacolynn. Went back to work, with nothing to do. Bored, bored, bored, passing the day. Then Brad decides that I need to stay til 7 o'clock doing nothing. Yeah, that's right. Now I knew what I was getting into when I started working in public accounting. Late nights are apart of the job. But working late in to the evening is one thing; sitting around doing nothing is a whole other story. And yes I know that 7 is not that late.

But needless to say it frustrates me. Why on Earth would you not give me the work earlier in the day when I was asking for it. I came home a little upset, anxious, and bothered. Is this what I can expect at PwC? I thought I would be working with smart, hard-working people, but this week has made me reconsider that notion. I cannot describe how frustrated I was. I was trying so hard to be more patient, but who can be patient when you are sitting at work doing some mindless task that is unnecessary and can be done tomorrow during the day when I have nothing to do. Aahh!

OK, I'm better, I promise. Jenn called me right before I was about to leave work tonight and we talked for a while. She was asking me what she should do with Laura and I gave her my input. Then she told me something that blew me away: Trev went to church last week, and to General Conference the week before. Holy cow! I am so excited for Trev. I am sure it must be because of some girl, but I pray that Trev can at least feel the Spirit a little bit and have the desire to put his life in order now. Other than that, not too much has happened to me today.

Well, actually, the thought of pursuing a new career was cemented into my mind today. I hope that maybe it was just a brief feeling that I had because I was frustrated. I really want to like my job, but I guess I feel like I want to do something that will make a difference in the lives of others. If I could go home from work knowing that I even helped one person that day, how much more rewarding would my life be.

I about had an anxiety attack tonight. I could not study for the CPA exam, I could not think, read, or sit still. I felt like I was about to have a heart attack. I briefly wished that I would and just be put out of my misery. Why has God put me on this Earth at this time? Why does he permit me to live? What does he want me to accomplish? These questions will not leave my mind. I feel so alone right now, and so confused. I feel like my faith is faltering, while at the same time I feel like I have so many reasons to rejoice and for my testimony to be growing. I hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope that it is not a train.

I talked with Jared tonight about our families. He shared with me the experience of coming back to the Church and gaining faith in Jesus Christ. He told me about what it felt like to know that so many family members were praying for him. It made me realize that I do not pray for Phil very much. He sure makes it hard for me to want to pray for him, but I know that that is no excuse at all. In Matthew 5:44 Christ says: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Am I ready to put my belief in Christ into action? It was a part of the wakeup call that I am currently receiving. I really do love my family, but their actions towards me make it difficult for me to show my love sometimes. Am I just one of the Pharisees? It's always easy to love those that love you first. This is one thing that I need to put into action in my life. I guess that is one of the things that I admired in Tim. He loved everybody. It didn't matter who you were or where you were from or what your story was. All of these things running through my head...what will they lead me to do? I pray that God may have mercy on me and help me in this time as I strive to make myself an instrument in his hands. I guess, I need to keep life in perspective, and take it one day at a time. Tomorrow, no getting mad at people. Be patient. See people for who they are, children of a loving Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jesus and Lazarus

A couple nights ago I read John chapter 11 in the New Testament, and gained a deeper understanding of the atonement. We know that Christ died for our sins and suffered every pain and affliction that we may encounter on this Earth. One thing that struck me as I read about the death of Lazarus was that Christ experienced the loss of a close friend, just like we do here on Earth. I think I often forget that besides his experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ experienced our pains and sorrows in his daily life. John 11:35 says Jesus wept. Imagine that. The Savior of mankind, the Son of God, Jesus Christ himself, wept. He obviously understood the plan of salvation and the resurrection, but he still mourned at the loss of a friend. In the next verse the Jews declared, Behold how he loved him! Christ understands the pain of losing a loved one. Christ not only knows this pain from the atonement, but from his personal experience. It never ceases to amaze me the different meaning that the scriptures take on at different points of my life. I know that in times of distress, sadness, and pain, the Son of God knows how to succor us because of his experiences.

Today at work was better. Yesterday was a struggle for me as I felt a little overwhelmed, under appreciated, and anxious about my job. This afternoon the topic of conversation at work turned to saving for the future versus spending money now while we can. Wayne, who is also LDS and is married, was talking about the importance of saving for the future. Brad disagreed slightly and then shared with us something form his personal life. His father who had prepared well for retirement, died unexpectedly at the age of 62. Brad said he thinks it is more important to live it up now, because you never know when you will die. Two different opinions, both with good points I felt.

It make me really reflect upon the light that the gospel brings into our lives. While Brad has never mentioned whether or not he is a religious person, my impression is that he was not really raised in a church. I cannot even fathom losing a parent at such a young age, and so unexpectedly. I can understand why he maybe doubts the existence of God. It can be so hard to see the hand of God in our lives when someone so close to us is taken unexpectedly. Without the knowledge of the resurrection and eternal life, I am not sure how I would react to death. It sure would scare me a lot more, not to say that it doesn't a little bit already. Anyway, it made me look at Brad in a different way. Not just as a coworker, but more as a child of God. It made me want to reach out to him a little bit and share with him the plan of our Heavenly Father. I pray that the opportunity arises someday.

Anyway, besides that, not too much more to report on. I seriously am considering different career opportunities though. I realize now, more than ever before how precious life is, and that I do not want to wake up one day realizing that I have not done what I really want to do, and that is to serve others. I don't know how, or where, or when; but I want to find a career of service. People on Earth today are in so much need, and I know that the Lord looks to us to reach out. When that opportunity will arise though, I am not sure though. With Tim gone, I know more now than ever before that there will be people in need of comfort, and that they will be looking for people to turn to. May God grant me the ability to be an instrument in his hands I pray.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The fortune cookie that changed my life

OK, so the title may be a bit much. But today when I was at Pei Wei with the engagement team for lunch, my fortune cookie read the following: Generosity and perfection are your everlasting goals. Very fitting I thought for a Latter-day Saint. And even more so for me right now, as I seriously reconsider my goals for life and who I want to become.

Generosity- Something I would like to be more known for. I can honestly say that I have been feeling more generous in my life and less concerned about myself for a while. As explained previously though, the past week has been a roller coaster for me and today I even briefly considered just quitting my job. Glad I didn't. I know that is not what God wants me to do, and that in reality, I can make a difference in the lives of the people I work with. Though I would much rather quit and serve those in need, I know that it's a little hard for the needy to help the needy. So I'll keep the job, . . . at least until I can pay off the student loans and a few other debts I have. After that, no promises. I sure hope nobody from work reads this. I don't think I really mean that anyway, it's more just a thought that crossed my mind today.

Perfection - Eternal progression is something that I believe in. Many people may find it hard to grasp that some day we can become like our Heavenly Father, but not for me. Especially not after tonight's Institute class. We are studying the New Testament and Brother Holbrook did a fantastic job tonight of explaining in depth the what happened on the Mt. of Transfiguration. Amazing. That's all I can say. I know that God lives and that he does indeed desire his children (that's me!) to live with him someday in eternal glory. Man, do I have a long way to go. The key to eternal progression is eternity.

Anyway. I find myself recovering emotionally little by little each day. I still think of Tim and what a great example he really was to me. I find myself pondering the things of life while at work, and a couple times I have had to get a hold of myself before I lose it at work. I wish everyone I know would have known Tim. He really makes me want to be a better person. I hope that someday I can become as charitable as he was.

Monday, October 15, 2007

So I am new at this game

Right now I am not sure who I am doing this for, myself or for others. I guess I feel like this is more personal therapy. Hmm, it will be embarrassing if someone actually reads this. I feel like there are a lot of thoughts in my head that I never am able to formulate into words, and for some reason, my journal seems a little too self-edited. So we'll try this venue for a while.

I guess right now the biggest thing on my mind has been what really makes a life worthwhile. I recently graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting. I moved from Utah to Irvine, California where I now work for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). I love my job, my coworkers, and the challenging environment of public accounting. I love my ward at church, my 2 roommates David and Jared are awesome, I could not wish for cooler roommates, and I am currently dating an a amazing girl named Kaitlyn. Besides her though, my entire life feels like a waste. Is this really what I signed up for?

It's not that I don't enjoy my life (I really do), it's just that I feel like my priorities are a little out of place. I focus so much on myself and what I want right now. I feel empty. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves. I guess I felt that I was doing an okay job until a few days ago. That's when I received the wake-up call that my life has been in need of.

The Facebook is such a funny thing. I've been thinking about closing my account for a while now. It was Thursday evening after my interview with President Clayton (the Stake President of the Newport Beach Stake) that I came home and logged on to see what some of my friends were up to. I scrolled down to the bottom of the home page News Feed to see that a friend from my mission, Ryan Ward, had joined a group entitled Tim Filichia-Until We Meet Again. My heart skipped a beat and I clicked on the link. I saw a picture of my friend Tim Filichia and then read the group description. Tim had passed away in a car accident while driving back to BYU from Arizona the Sunday prior.

Now first you need to understand that I was not Tim's best friend. I met him on my mission and really have only had a few interactions with him over the past few years since I returned from my mission. But to say the least, Tim impacted my life immensely. He was the kind of guy that EVERYONE wanted to be around. He was the most loving, caring, and genuine person I have ever known in my life. He was funny and yet he never made anyone feel uncomfortable. I remember hearing him talk about the people he taught in Texas. He cared for those people so much. He cared about everybody, and he didn't just say it, he showed it. I wanted to be more like Tim and he really helped me see what I really wanted to become. Coming from a home that sadly lacked male role models, Tim instantly became one of mine. He was an example to me, and to so many others. If everyone on Earth had even half the love for others that Tim had, the world would be such a different place.

I would sometimes describe Tim to other missionaries that never knew him and describe the level of love he had for others. It was impossible to do though. But anyone who did know Tim, knew exactly what I was talking about. I wrote in my journal about what a good example Tim was to me. I told others about him. But sadly, I never told Tim how much of an influence he had on me. His passing has really made me reflect upon my life and what it most important. Am I really going to be an accountant? I love learning about the financial markets and all, but is this really how I want to leave my mark? Literally hundreds of people have written on Facebook, and elsewhere online about the impact that Tim had on their lives. If one did not know Tim, they would probably feel like people were going a little overboard. But having known him, I understand the impact that he truly has had on lives. This might seem like a bit much, but he really changed my life. He has made me think about the meaning of life, and reflect upon what I am doing with mine. How will I be remembered? That is a scary question to ask myself right now. I can't imagine anybody saying the kinds of things about me that they would say about Tim. At least not sincerely. I mean I know I have close friends and that people do care about me, but do I even come close in blessing the live of others the way Tim did?

I guess Tim has made me realize that I need to be kinder and more loving, TODAY. I need to chill out and show my love for others. I often joke that I am emotionally void. The past few days have been anything but. I have cried so much. I bore my testimony in church yesterday, and lost it completely. Even after church, I sat in the chapel and talked to a couple friends, as tears streamed down my face. Tim was such a great person. The world will never be the same without him. I feel as though God could have taken me up, and it really would have made no difference. Why did He have to take someone with so much potential to love and to uplift. The pain in my heart right now is unbearable. I wish so much that I could just go back and tell Tim thank you. Thank you for showing us the way. Thank you for loving so unconditionally. Thank you Tim, for being you.

I feel like I need to reorder my life in so many ways. I started by writing his family a letter and letting them know the positive influence he was in my life. Then I wrote a list of people who have likewise influenced my life, even in the smallest way, and I am now going to write them and let them know. I talked to my sister Jennifer today and let her know. She really is an amazing example to me. She may have made mistakes in the past, but she has been so valiant and courageous in her faith recently. I cannot thank her enough. I also wrote an email to Sister Doxey, a religion professor I had at BYU that really inspired me. I also drafted a letter to Elder Joesph B. Wirthlin. His General Conference talks have had such an amazing influence in my life and they are always so uplifting. The list is pretty long right now, but I am not going to allow any more time to pass. Tim's life has touched me in so many ways, and I will not allow others to go on without knowing how they have blessed my life.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure blogs are supposed to be way shorter than this, but hey, this is my first one, give me a break.