Help Thou Mine Unbelief

On one occasion Jesus came upon a group arguing vehemently with His disciples. When the Savior inquired as to the cause of this contention, the father of an afflicted child stepped forward, saying he had approached Jesus’s disciples for a blessing for his son, but they were not able to provide it. With the boy still gnashing his teeth, foaming from the mouth, and thrashing on the ground in front of them, the father appealed to Jesus with what must have been last-resort desperation in his voice:

“If thou canst do any thing,” he said, “have compassion on us, and help us.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

–Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe”

It’s been a dark couple of months. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t written on this blog since I left New York, which has basically been the result of feeling like I haven’t really had the words to say what has been happening lately.

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Since about April of this year, I’ve been going through a “faith transition” of sorts. All my life I unquestioningly believed everything I was taught about the LDS church and its doctrine, and then this spring, around the time when the gay marriage debate started to really heat up in Utah, I realized I actually had no idea whether I believed any of it. A lot of my questions circled around social issues that the church has taken a stand on, essentially gender roles, LGBT issues, reproductive rights, etc. I was really struggling with figuring out my place in the church as a woman who is very career-driven, unmarried and had no real desire to marry immediately and be a full-time mom. Although I know a lot of great women who work outside the home, don’t have children, don’t marry until later, etc, it’s definitely not popular to admit that you don’t necessarily want the “cookie-cutter Mormon life.”

In my feminist circles I know a lot of women (and men) who have chosen to leave the church because of sexist and hurtful things that have been done by church leaders, in church doctrine (or what they perceive as doctrine), or mainstream Mormon culture. I definitely do not condemn them for this choice. I’ve heard a lot of well-intentioned members say things like “if they really had a testimony of the gospel, that wouldn’t bother them.” I can see where that statement comes from, but it is nonetheless very hurtful. Having doubts or going through periods where being a part of the church is painful does not mean you do not believe the gospel is true or that you never had a testimony of it. Everyone struggles with some aspect of their faith at some point in their life. If you haven’t, you’re lying to yourself or haven’t really evaluated your testimony. It’s a part of the human experience to grow and change and re-evaluate what you believe. I know this, but for some reason, I have had a really hard time forgiving myself for having doubts, allowing myself to be human, allowing myself to take my questions to the Lord.

In my darkest moments, there were times when I contemplated leaving the church altogether. Some issues I have been wrestling with seemed to be unresolvable from a gospel lens. However, through all of it, I want to believe. I want to stay. I want the gospel to be a part of my life. 

For a long time, I sat in the dark. I refused to take my questions to the Lord, refused to go to the temple, refused to really allow the atonement to heal me. The thing about darkness, though, is that there isn’t a way out until you decide to take a step in the dark back toward the light, and so I decided that I wanted the light again in my life. I wanted to believe. 

This man’s initial conviction, by his own admission, is limited. But he has an urgent, emphatic desire . . . We are told that is good enough for a beginning. “Even if ye can no more than desire to believe,” Alma declares, “let this desire work in you, even until ye believe.”

So I’m trying, I’m working. I’m allowing the Savior to heal me and to carry me through when I don’t have enough faith on my own. Because that’s the whole purpose of the atonement. We do what we can, and He makes up the rest.

When facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation: “Lord, I believe.” I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.

I know my doubts and questions won’t immediately go away because I decided that I wanted to Lord’s help. I don’t know that I’ll ever get to the end; I may always have these questions, but fortunately, I don’t have to know everything right now, as much as I want to.

Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.

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Dear New York

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last — the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is the third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”
-E.B. White, “Here is New York”

Dear New York,

I know we had our rough patches, a very rocky bump or two here or there, but what is love that you haven’t had to fight for? What is love that did not require the entirety of one’s being? What is love that did not demand an excise of blood, sweat and passion? I know of no real love that did not steal a portion of my soul, that did not mark me forever. 

I love the haunting melody of the saxophone player in the early morning light of the Financial District, winding its notes around skyscrapers and tunneling through the crowded streets. I love the enthusiastic Metro AM guy with the perpetual smile at the top of the subway stair at Wall Street. I love falling into bed after a relentlessness day in the city and listening to the constant hum of cars out my window, never ceasing, never slowing. I love warm nights in Midtown and rainy afternoons in the office. I love the sunset from the High Line and the quiet thrill of stumbling upon that perfect hole-in-the-wall (sushi place/pad tai/nail salon/cookie). I love the way you chew me up and spit me out, leaving me to wonder every day why I work so hard to love you.

Ours has not been an easy love, New York,  but every time I think about leaving, you remind me of why I came — searching for something within your endless streets and unending miles of concrete. 

So, farewell for now, Dear New York, but of course, once you fall in love with New York, nothing else is quite good enough. 

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I wanted it to be you.

I have found the Holy Grail of New York City nail salons. This is not a drill. I reallyyyy needed a manicure today (yes, need.) so I did some yelping and found a place on the Upper West Side that was supposed to be great. It’s called, creatively, NYC Nail Spa. IT WAS AMAZING. Young did magic work on my fingers and toes, seriously, he was so thorough it was ridiculous. While he was doing my manicure, this other guy comes up behind me and STARTS GIVING ME A BACK MASSAGE. And then when my nails were drying, he gave me another one because I’m really pretty I gave him a really great tip. Seriously you guys, I want to get a Yelp account just to review these guys and I’m depressed they’re in New York and not in Utah. 

After that very important venture, Gracie and I went on a hunt in search of all the You’ve Got Mail places on the UWS. 

Please enjoy this while you are viewing the following photos. 

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JF: You and I would never have been at war, and the only thing we’d fight about is which movie to rent on a Saturday night.
KK: Well, who fights about that?
JF: Some people. Not us.

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I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.

We also found Joe Fox’s apartment at 152 Riverside Drive, but the actual location of the set was 210 Riverside Drive, and it looks a lot different than the movie… so I didn’t take a picture. BUT I WAS THERE, NY152. 

Joe Fox: N-Y-one-five-two. One hundred and fifty-two. He’s a hundred and fifty-two years old. He’s had one hundred and fifty-two moles removed, so now he’s got one hundred fifty-two pock marks on his… on his face…

Kathleen Kelly: The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable.

Joe Fox: One hundred and fifty-two people who think he looks like a Clark *Bar*.

Kathleen Kelly: [laughing] Why did I even tell you about this?

Joe Fox: A hundred and fifty-two stitches from his nose job. The number of his souvenir shot glasses that he’s collected in his travels.

Kathleen Kelly: No! The number… the numb… his address? No! No, he would never do anything that prosaic.

I just realized I smudged my perfect manicure. WHYYYYYY

Here are some other photos from my weekend adventuring. 

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I got in a lot of trouble for this. *apparently* you aren’t allowed to take photos in the Frick Collection.

After we went to the Frick Collection, which is worth the trip, even just to see the incredible house, Courtney and I lunched at this little Italian place called Barbaresco’s on Lexington Ave. Right after we ordered, there was a car accident right outside the restaurant. Someone had hit a parked car. It was our waiter’s car. Woops. 

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Sweet Revenge cupcake and our milk “pairing.” Oh, and Courtney.

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This is Carla. She just got out of jai for getting caught buying weed. She really needed this flower that some gay guy gave Courtney.

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Since it took A WEEK to get my stupid debit card in the mail, I was driven to desperation and had to get McDonalds on friday. Obvi, had to document my shame.

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NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!!

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Brooklyn Bridge. If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere.

F-O-X. 

Uptown Girl

UPTOWN GIRLLLLL SHE’S BEEN LIVIN’ IN HER WHITE BREAD (BRED?) WORLDDDD!

Literally every time I get on the uptown subway I think about that song. I am most definitely an uptown girl these days. WAYY uptown. Like, who decided we should live on 125th? Oh, right. It’s like a million times cheaper than living in midtown.

Tonight I finally got to go to the Manhattan Temple! It’s been on my list the whole time I’ve been here but it has never worked out. But today, Ashley and I finally got the chance to go! The only time the temple could squeeze us in was with a group from a Spanish branch, but it was great. The spirit is the same in every language, thankfully. Also, especially cool, the 10 year anniversary of the temple being in New York is only 3 days away!

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Stole this photo straight from the Mormons themselves. Sorry, copyright: Jesus.

After baptisms, we went up a few blocks to check out Gray’s Papaya. It’s this famous New York hotdog place that’s been there for a million years. Apparently, you’re supposed to get the “recession special”: two dogs and a large papaya juice. Weird, but oddly enough, the flavors work together.

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An unattractive photo of me with wet hair after baptisms, and Gray’s Papaya!

I tried to find the clip from You’ve Got Mail where they go to Gray’s Papaya while NY152 is “tweaking” the situation with ShopGirl. But I couldn’t. So of course I watched a bunch of other You’ve Got Mail clips instead. Because it’s the best movie ever made. Erin, back me up here.

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Here’s photo evidence. Also, I was def wearing a better outfit than Meg Ryan. Seriously, her wardrobe designer. I guess it was the 90s.

152 insights into my soul, people.

 

These streets will make you feel brand new

I basically have two jobs:

  1. Do really cool stuff
  2. Write about said cool stuff

I’ve been really failing at that second one for awhile… apologies.

I’ve had  A LOT of adventures to catch up on. Since aint nobody got time to detail the past 3 weeks here, please enjoy a photo collection that basically sums up what I’ve been doing when I can escape the office.

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Insomnia Cookies. They stay open until 3 am. So you can make bad choices at all hours.

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A neat wall of graffiti we found on a Saturday in Brooklyn. Hanging out in Jay-Z’s hometown.

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The coolest hipster food fair in Williamsburg. Of course, all the food is locally grown.

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The most delicious gourmet macaroni and cheese with sautéed mushrooms I got at Smorsgasborg.

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A very anatomically correct mammy sphinx at Kara Walker’s art exhibit at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. Made of 4 tons of sugar, it’s a tribute to the slaves who worked in the sugar factory.

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Selfies with Heather at the Egyptian temple in the Met.

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The most amazing street tacos at Chelsea Market.

MEMORIAL WEEKEND

 

 

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Coney Island!

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Ate at the original Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs on Coney Island. I don’t really get it. I guess it’s hard to be as good as J Dawgs.

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“It’s not hard, not far to reach. We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach.” -The Ramones

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Just eating a Salty Pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream…. . .

… Recently:

 

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A really horrendous picture of me and Courtney at Kinky Boots when we won the lottery! SUCH a fun show. I was laughing the entire time.

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Georgetown Cupcakes of the TLC show “DC Cupcakes.” I highly recommend the peanut butter cheesecake cupcake.

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Just hanging out with a mammoth at the Natural History Museum.

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Go sports! Do the thing! Make the goal!

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The prettiest Central Park sunset of Jackie Onassis Reservoir. Resisting the urge to write “#blessed” on this photo.

It’s hard to believe I only have a week and a half left in the city. I’m starting to feel a little nostalgic, but at the same time, I’m excited to head to DC in a few weeks and especially excited to see my mom. I think I’ll probably be back sooner than I think. New York has a way of drawing you back and getting you lost in its streets.

New York Favorites

  1. Levains cookies
  2. The High Line in the evening
  3. Burger Joint
  4. Flea markets and food fairs in Brooklyn
  5. Rockaway Beach
  6. The Manhattan temple/ going to church in New York. Something about it is so different here.
  7. Central Park on Sunday afternoons
  8. West Village and the Upper West Side, my favorite neighborhoods.
  9. Cheap mani/pedis
  10. The shopping… I can’t even.

Planning many more adventures this week to check off the last few things from my list before I head out… stay tuned!

Cause all these streets, they make me high, they make me different

They call it New York City.

-“New York” by Urban Cone

 

 

Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name?

If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York, New York.

-Frank Sinatra 

So I’ve been in New York a month and I can officially say… I don’t love New York. There. I said it. Shoot me, millions of T-shirt wearers and people who hit up all the stores in Times Square and called it a day. Living in New York is HARD. Especially when you have a full-time job you aren’t crazy about and the thing you look forward to going home to at night is sleeping on a gym mat  incredibly hard mattress. It’s hard. I think my experience might have been very different if I had a job I loved and lived in a neighborhood that I wasn’t afraid to be alone in after dark. It’s also hard not having any good friends. I have friends. The BYU kids out here are great, but I sometimes feel like they’re all BFFs and I’m kind of just tagging along. 

Rant over. I’m incredibly blessed to have a paid internship in New York. I know how many people would trade me lives 1000% over. I just came to New York City with a lot of romantic expectations that were slapped in the face by a harsh reality. Being a grown up is hard. 

Instead, let’s talk about FOOD. 

Levain Bakery is the stuff of the Gods and I’m positive the dark chocolate chocolate chip cookie I ate on Saturday was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. I’m actually pretty sure God made it. Imagine, if you will, a HUGE warm, soft chocolate cookie with melty chocolate, surrounded by concourses of angels singing praises in your mouth. It was the size of my head and I’m not even mad I ate it before dinner. Hands down the best thing I’ve eaten in New York. And I’ve eaten a lot of stuff.

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This is the peanut butter one, which I imagine is just as delicious. Guess I’ll have to go back and try it… darn.

Later that night, (when we had actual room for dinner after cookies), me and my friends Brad, Ashley and Alyssa went to Brad’s favorite Italian place, Pappardella. Brad lives around 72nd in Manhattan and works in finance… so he can afford restaurants that have FOUR dollar signs on Menu Pages. I cried a little when I saw the check. It’s fine. The ravioli was delicious and it’s his favorite for a reason. 

Tonight there was a mix up with plans and group texts so I ended up by myself at the New York Public Library with a dead phone. Normally that would have been fine because I love libraries…but it was closed. So I just got a sub-par burrito from Chipotle (Seriously, why do I keep trying Chipotle? I hate it every time) and ate in Bryant Park and eavesdropped on some 24 year old cocktail waitresses talk about taking photos of each other for their new lifestyle blogs after brunch this weekend. Then I remembered that my About Me photo on this blog is of the Yip Yip aliens from Sesame Street. And then I watched this clip and was CRYING laughing. Turned my night right back around.

Yip, Yip. 

If you understand the title of this post based on a joke I made earlier, you get a metaphorical prize.