Happy Aniversary

I've been anticipating writing this post for awhile. I've been thinking about what to say and how to say it. I figure I'll never be able to write anything exactly the way I want to, so I'll just do what I can.

One year ago today, I woke up early in the morning and finished stuffing things into two huge suitcases, praying they'd fit. I drove down to Provo where I had lunch at Olive Garden with my family. We took a few pictures, then it was time to say goodbye. "It's not even that long, I'll be back next October!" I distinctly remember saying that to my mom as she teared up. I didn't cry, I was too excited. As I look back, I wish I would've cried. Eighteen months is a long time.

I can't write about all of my mission. There's too much to say, so I'll highlight some important things:

-The first time someone ripped me apart. I remember the anger and disgust in his voice, and how small I felt. I remember sitting in the car after that thinking about what he said. For the first time in my life, I started questioning my beliefs. I had to really sit down and think, read, and pray. It was the first time I had done that, previously in my life I had always just had the faith necessary. But I finally had to find out for myself if what I was teaching everyone was true.

-Getting called to be a trainer after only being out for six weeks. It was the first time that I almost said no to a calling. But I managed to choke out a yes when the Assistant to the President asked me. My trainee trained me. I learned how to truly love and how to be brave. She taught me how to think the best of people when all I wanted to do was talk trash about them. She made me walk up and knock on doors of houses with big, scary dogs chained up in the front yard. I was with her for four months, and she became my sister.

-Experiencing the darkest times of my life. I had experienced some dark times previously--I was diagnosed with depression when I was sixteen. But nothing I had gone through compared to the density of the darkness I was wading through. I had no desire to do anything. It took a lot out of me to get out of bed in the morning. I felt completely hopeless, like I would never be happy ever again. (I'm fragile when it comes to talking about this stuff. I hope people will be gentle when reading this) I didn't want to die, but I didn't want to live. I was in so much emotional pain that I wanted to literally stop existing. I just wanted to dissipate into the universe and be gone. After I was open with my mission president about how I was really doing, it was obvious that I needed to go home to get better. It was so hard to pack up my bags after only being out for six months. I felt like a failure, a disgrace. In the six months since then, with much encouragement and love from those closest to me, I am back in the light. Ultimately what got me out of the darkness was the help that the Savior provides through the Atonement.

A year ago, I went on a mission. It just turned out that it wasn't the mission I expected. The Lord called me on a different kind if mission, a mission to learn how to love and empathize with people who swim through dark waters. I was called on a mission to learn what the Atonment really is and how it can help me in my daily life. I'm sure I have a lot of other things to learn about on this mission of mine, but I know they'll come in due time. Today, I'm just grateful for the hardest, best experience of my life when I served as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Growing Pains

I've realized I tend to refer to my childhood/past a lot in these posts. I think that is because I constantly draw on my experiences to help me in current situations. This post is going to be no different.

When I was little, I had pretty severe growing pains. I'm sure I'm not alone. My legs would just positively ache at times. It was miserable. I didn't understand why growing would cause pain. In my mind, growing was supposed to be easy and fueled by vegetables.

This experience with growing pains reminds me of a story:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 174; book 4, chapter 9, paragraph 10]

It hurts to grow. It hurts to become stronger and a vessel of the Lord. But I'm a firm believer that the pain is worth it. I look back at the past six months since I got sent home early from my mission, and I see how much I've grown. It was an extremely painful six months, and I still face some pain. But I've learned. I've gained a stronger testimony of the Atonement and its power to heal and to bless. I've learned how to empathize better, how to help more, and how to love wholeheartedly. Pain is an inevitable part of our mortal experience, and I'm learning to be grateful for it because it is helping me become who I need to be.


Happier Days Ahead

I'm not very good at hope. It is an attribute I constantly study and pray for. I'm just one who falls prey to the darkness of despair pretty easily. Confession time: the past little while has been pretty crummy. A living hell at times. I've been feeling pretty hopeless about pretty much everything in my life: school, love, friends, you name it. As I was doing my normal perusing of Pinterest, I came across one of my favorite quotes from Elder Holland:

I absolutely love this quote because it gives me a different perspective on hope. Hope isn't believing that everything is cheerful and rosy. It isn't even believing that absolutely everything will be fixed. It is about having trust in our Heavenly Father, trust that in the end, He will make everything all right. Hope isn't not drinking the bitter cup, it is drinking and trusting. Trusting that somewhere down the road, there are happier times and experiences in store. So here's to hoping.