Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Peace

This is a blog post I have been thinking a lot about, and I still haven't decided exactly how I want it written. Partially because it's so vastly different from my last blog post. But, I think what I'm going to do is tell two different stories. Beth Ann Root was two very different people in both of these stories, but despite those differences, she came to the same conclusion.

One of the most pivotal moments on my mission happened when I was out knocking doors. My companion and I came across a man who was very kind, but very stubborn in his insistence that he would never read the Book of Mormon. His reason why was because he said that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. He went on to say that Joseph had made prophecies that didn't come to pass, so he was a false prophet. He explained that he tried to seek answers, and he never was able to find any. He wasn't able to give us any specifics, so my companion and I couldn't answer his questions, either. He was genuinely concerned for us, because of our commitment to the Gospel. He was very kind about it all.

I remember at one moment, very clearly thinking that I had a choice: to rely on the witnesses I had received from the Holy Ghost and hold fast in my testimony or to let his statements bother me and to allow them to cause me to start doubting in my testimony. So, what I did was take out my Book of Mormon and talk about faith. I explained to him that I had experiences where the Spirit told me that the Book of Mormon was true. I explained that I had received answers to questions and found peace and happiness in difficult times through the Book of Mormon, so I believed it to be true. I then explained that if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith, who was the one who brought forth the Book of Mormon, translating it by the power of God, had to be a true prophet. A false prophet could not bring about a book that was so good and that was completely and totally from God. And, if the book was true and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true church, organized by God. And that was it for me. I wasn't shaken by a little opposition. I was able to recognize that I wasn't going to have all the answers, that I didn't know every little thing about Joseph Smith or the history of the church, or even about the church in general. But, I knew my testimony. I knew the experiences that I had had, and I couldn't deny those experiences. So, I simply held fast, and found confidence and solidity in my testimony.

Fast forward a few years to this past General Conference. I wasn't exactly in a super stellar place. I had a lot of darkness and bitterness in my heart, because, you know what, being gay and an active member of the church is hard crap. I was getting more angry at people and less understanding. I was being overcome with so much negativity and darkness, and I knew it was impacting me. I was trying to have good and regular scripture studies and attend the temple regularly, but, for some reason, it just wasn't cutting it. I was getting desperate for relief, so I went to Heavenly Father for what felt like the umpteenth and asked for answers during General Conference. I needed something. When President Nelson spoke to the women of the church, I knew Heavenly Father was giving me my answer. Among the things I needed to do was read the entire Book of Mormon before the year ended. I had just gotten past the Isaiah chapters, but I started over and started my earnest and desperate study. This was it for me. This was my test before the Lord. If He did not deliver me from the darkness and bitterness by me doing this, I was unsure if I was ever going to be able to get rid of it. I was about halfway through the Book of Mormon, when I noticed that a lot of the anger and bitterness I had been feeling had disappeared. I was less enraged about things, I was more pleasant to be around, and I didn't go around raging quite as much about stupid things people say/do or the false doctrine that I heard being taught. But...the bitterness and darkness was instead replaced with something else: confusion.

Why were people who, after seeking God's counsel and who were trying to do all that they were supposed to say that they felt like leaving the church was they should do? Was God telling some to leave, while He was telling some to go? Even gays! Some were forsaking their partners, even spouses, to be baptized  - or rebaptized - in the church, but then some were deciding to leave their heterosexual marriages and pursue a partner, in order to have that complete satisfaction and happiness. I was shook. I was confused. I didn't get it. I felt like no matter what option I took, I was going to have some sort of misery in my life. I honestly didn't see a way out. I thought about what it would mean to be with a woman and the impact that would have on my life. I thought about staying active in the church, single and celibate for the rest of my life. I thought about staying active in the church and trying to find a husband (I actually downloaded Mutual - for the second time - and then less than 24 hours later deleted it, because out of all of the options that one felt like the most nope-ish. Liking someone's personality doesn't mean compatible for marital happiness). I literally didn't know what to do, and nothing made sense. I talked to people, seeking their understanding, their testimonies, their experiences.

And, I kept reading the Book of Mormon. As I got closer and closer to the end, I don't think any of my questions were ever resolved. But, peace started entering my heart, and the conflict and the wrestle that I was having dissipated. When I finished the Book of Mormon, I made a decision: I was choosing to stay. Why? Because the Book of Mormon brought me peace when literally nothing else out in the world could. By following the guidance of a prophet, My burden was not taken away, but it became possible for me to carry without feeling like I couldn't move. I felt relief. So, I chose to rely on the experiences I have had, and instead of letting the doubts and the confusion fester, I'm choosing to trust, just like I did when I spoke to that man while I was on my mission.

Faith does not mean you do not have questions. Faith does not mean you don't have doubts. Faith does not mean you understand everything. Faith simply means you decide to trust what you belief, and act accordingly. As you do so, you gain more understanding. I've decided to nourish what I believe, rather than what I'm confused about. That doesn't mean I'm not seeking answers - because I am. But, not as frantically or with as much panic.

Why do some people feel that God is telling them to walk away from something that I believe to be God's church, His work and glory? I don't know. But that's probably between them and God. I mean, it is His work, not mine. I don't want people privy to every single wrestle and conversation I have with Him, so why should I feel privileged to the same thing with others. Do I believe those people are wrong to say God has led them away from the church? I don't think I have a right to have an opinion on whether that is right or wrong. My journey is not their journey. God is understanding of all things and all circumstances, and He will work things out in the way that He feels is best. Do I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's Kingdom, complete with necessary doctrines, covenants, and ordinances? Absolutely.

Would it be easier for me to walk away from all of this and just live my gay, happy life (see what I did there?). Possibly. But, God, through His undeniable peace, had told me I am where I need to be for the most about of happiness. And, as I have made the decision to stay, and made the choice without bitterness or frustration or without the hope that it could be a different way, I have found what I've been searching months for: peace.

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship...and they awake him and say unto him, "Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, there was a great calm."  Mark 4:37-39

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Keeping it real

There's a line in Twenty One Pilots' song "Kitchen Sink" that used to confuse me, but now I feel like it is a perfect representation of how I feel most of the time.

"Here's a prime example of a stand up guy who hates what he believes and loves it at the same time."

I'm going to be pretty frank and open with this post. I believe in being authentic, but a lot of time when I write my posts, I write about the strength of overcoming and commitment, and less about the day-to-day confusion and frustration.

So, here's the dealio. I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's church. I believe it with all of my heart. Every time I read my Book of Mormon, the Spirit testifies to me of it's truthfulness. And, I have a strong testimony of President Nelson. I believe that he speaks for God and he is leading and guiding this church as God would have him. I believe that Joseph Smith restored this church, and that this is the same church that Christ established when He was on this earth. Above all else, I believe in my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is my Redeemer. Through Him, we have the Atonement, which provides us with God's grace, to strengthen us and to redeem us. These are truths I can always fall back on, and because my faith is secure in these foundational truths, all other teachings and principles of the church slide into place.

Now, here's where things get tricky: sometimes, I don't want to live according to those teachings. Sometimes, I think too much has been asked of me. Sometimes, I feel like God has required too much of me, to require me to bridle my passions. I want to be with another woman. I crave that relationship and companionship. There was one night, I got home from work late. It was about 12:30 am. The day had been a little bit frustrating, as well as the day before. I was worn out, emotionally drained, and, more than anything, I wanted a person to go to. Instead, I came home to a dark apartment. My roommates were in bed, which was to be expected, and I'm not super close to them, so I don't know if I'd vent to them about my day anyway. When I climbed into bed, all I wanted was someone to be there with me, to hold me, to comfort me, and to support me. All that week, I felt a profound emptiness inside of me, because the companionship that I was craving was so much more than just friendship. I wanted a person to be with me. I wanted to be intimate with someone - emotionally and physically. And I wanted that person to be a woman.

In these moments, I become so frustrated. And, I become weak. Sometimes I do things I'm not proud of, because of my vulnerability. I try to justify things. Lines become blurry. I feel like my burden to bear isn't fair. Isn't God perfectly just and merciful? Where is the justice and the mercy in being alone for the rest of my life?

Of course, there will be the people who's gut reaction will be to say, "Well, you can always have a boyfriend. You can still have a husband." Yes. You're right. That is always a possibility. And, granted, it is more appealing than being alone for the rest of my mortal probation. But, it also is really hard. What man is going to want to be with a woman who isn't physically attracted to him? Those rare occasions when I go on a date, I usually come home with the thought, "Yep, definitely don't like dudes." Dating and marriage is hard to begin with. Add the complications of different sexualities? It gets so much more complicated and messy. It is rare to find an individual who can work with all of that. I know to some of you it may sound like a cop out. To you, I'm sure it seems more like a toddler stomping her foot on the ground and yelling, "It's not how I want it, so NO!" But it's so much more complex than that.

So, some days (most days, every day, depending on the week/month) I hate the fact that I'm so committed. I hate the fact that I care so much about my temple recommend. I hate the fact that I have this burning testimony. I hate that I know the truth. Because I want to give it up. It'd be so much easier. And, while I know it wouldn't be an eternal commitment, I would be happy. I would be able to keep living a lifestyle that is still similar to my current lifestyle. It would just add a relationship that would make me happy. I get angry. I get desperate. I feel so many things inside of me that I don't know what to do.

But, then, there are other days. Days where I feel God's love being poured down upon me. I know He doesn't like that this is so hard for me. I know He would provide an easier way, if that were the best thing for me. I know He yearns for my lasting happiness, and that He provides things, people, events in my life to help me be happy. And I AM happy. But I'm also often miserable. And I know that, despite my frustrations and misery, there is an eternal perspective, and that eternal happiness is waiting for me.

But, goodness, do I hate that eternal perspective, sometimes!

So, I'm writing and sharing this, not because I want people to feel sorry for me or to praise me for sticking to my faith. I don't want either of those things. This is just me. This is how I am. This is my lot in life. It is what it is. But, this perspective has made some things clear to me.

One: No matter how confident I am feeling, I cannot say if I will remain faithful at all times. I am mortal. I am committed, but I may also hit a breaking point. If I hit that point, I know ultimately, I will feel guilty. But I sure as hell won't need anyone to point out my mistake or make me feel even more guilty. Because it will be my decision to make. No one else's. If I choose to walk away from the Church and its teachings - or even just some of its teachings - what I would hope from people is the Christlike response: love. To be accepted, regardless the choices that I'm making. Not to be the gossip of the group, because I would still be me. One of the most touching moments I had when I was visiting some friends in Utah was when my friend told me that if I decided to pursue a relationship with another woman, I would be welcome in her home, and she would want to meet her, that nothing would change in our friendship. That is what I would hope from everyone.

Two: I cannot judge another person for walking away from the church, or for willingly breaking a commandment. I don't understand what they are experiencing and what drove them to that decision. I have no place to judge them. My place is only to love. We are all sinners. We all willfully rebel, at some point in our lives. The role of a disciple of Christ is to live the Gospel to the best of their ability, love others, teach, accept, and invite. This does not include browbeating, pushing, forsaking, and turning your back. This does not include gossiping, fake friendships, or avoidance.

Three: Everyone you see at church is a sinner. Your bishop. Your relief society president. Your Sunday school teacher. They sin. So, if someone shows up, and you know they were at the bar every weekend for the past month, love them and just be happy that they are there. If you know someone is smoking regularly, but they still are at church regularly, be happy that they are there. Now, obviously, that doesn't mean you don't teach the Gospel. You teach true principles, but don't point fingers and don't hold anyone to the standard of perfection - because you can't uphold that standard, either. The only one who could was Christ, and when He met sinners, He didn't point out their many flaws. He just loved them, spent time with them, and taught them when He could.

So, I guess my message is that I am vulnerable. We all are. I have no intentions of walking away from something that I know to be true. But I also can't say that I never will. But, it also is why I've started going to the temple every week, why I do my very best to read my scriptures every day, why I will go to a ward that isn't my own, because I can't go to my own ward because of work, and why I seek people who fill me with the light of God's love. Because, despite how much I sometimes hate the fact that I'm so committed to Christ and His Gospel...I am committed. I've made covenants, so I'm doing what I can to ensure that I keep them. In the end, I know it will be worth it. But I know that I am weak, so I may end up making mistakes - I have ended up making mistakes. And that's okay. That literally is what Christ's Atonement is for. We have access to grace - to help us repent of those mistakes and to help us withstand our weaknesses. Grace is the only way to keep it together through vulnerability.

 It's okay to be vulnerable, it's okay to be weak, and it's okay to be confused and uncertain. What would this mortality be without a some strife and angst - and the ability to choose despite everything we know and feel?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

I Feel My Savior's Love

This weekend I had the chance to go to Utah. I planned a quick trip so I could visit some friends that I hadn't seen in years (and within those years, most of them got married and had kids, or are currently pregnant. Apparently I need to visit people more often...) During this trip, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of love I felt. Not only from my friends, but also from the Savior.

Life is hard. I think everyone can agree with that. I often find myself focusing on the more difficult pieces, rather than the blessings. As I drove about this weekend, traveling to visit my friends and then driving back to Idaho, I couldn't stop thinking about how blessed I am. I had been feeling really bogged down. I love my job, but it's definitely tough, and I've had a few rough days recently. I've been feeling confused, frustrated, bitter, angry, lonely - like, all the feelings. So, briefly, I couldn't stop myself from thinking that my life wasn't fair, that it was stupid that I had to endure the trials given to me, and I felt like I was hanging on just by the tips of my fingers.

I slowly started getting my crap together, but I definitely could tell that I damaged myself a little bit, by letting those feelings overwhelm me. I let too much darkness in, and I felt a little bit hollowed out. But, I am here to tell you that, this weekend, I have been filled. I have been filled with light and with love. And the whole reason is because God sent His angels in the form of my wonderful friends.

I didn't get to see everyone that I wanted to see while I was in Utah, but God made sure that the people I saw could soothe my soul and heal some of the broken pieces of my heart. This weekend, my friends were standing in the stead of my Savior.

I felt Christlike love as one expressed to me that no matter what choices I made, she wanted to be a part of my life, and she would always support me. I felt Christlike as I confessed insecurities, mistakes, frustrations, and the desperation of my feelings, and the response was to point out Gospel principles and to tell me that they loved me. I felt Christlike love as one gently rebuked me for my frustrations towards other people, who are only as imperfect as I am. I felt Christlike love as hours of time were given up to be with me. I felt Christlike love emanate from those wonderful people, as they ached for the things I said I was going through, trying to understand, so they could support me in the way that the Savior would. I felt Christlike love through their words, making me feel strong, despite how frail and broken I am. I felt Christlike love, because they are what disciples of Christ look like, because they carry His light and live His teachings.

My Savior ministered to me this weekend, through my friends. It was such a sacred experience. And I'm not saying that my friends are, like, these impossibly perfect people. I am a strong advocate for acknowledging that everyone sins - it kinda keeps us from getting to judgey, ya know? So, no, my friends are not perfect. But that's the glory of life, is that we do not have to be perfect to minister and to be disciples. My friends may not be perfect, but my friends love the Savior. They try to do what is right. And that is what really matters. That is why I love being around them, because they are examples to me.

So, really, I just wanted to remind y'all of the power you have to bring light into people's lives. YOU have the power to help those around you feel of Christ's love. I have been brought closer to my Savior this weekend, and I am so grateful for it. Never underestimate your ability to do good, simply by loving others.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Choosing to Suffer

Viktor Frankl was an incredible man. He was a psychiatrist whose theory is unique - even calling it "logotherapy," showing it's uniqueness, as there was nothing like it ever before. One of the things that makes him so important, to me, is what he did before he became so world renowned. He lived in Austria during World War II. Due to his profession, he had connections that would have allowed him to escape Austria and move to the United States, safe from the action of the Nazis and the condemnation of the concentration camps. But, he would have to leave his parents behind. This left him with a very difficult choice. Escape the hardship that he knew would come his way, but leave his parents, or stay with his parents, knowing he could be a strength and support to them in hard times.

Frankl chose to stay. He chose to suffer, and even with everything he went through, he didn't regret that decision. Through his suffering, he learned a great many things - many things pertaining to his theory and his practice. He learned about himself, about others, and about God. He learned there is beauty to be found, even in the most profound suffering.

Sometimes we have decisions in life that are hard. Sometimes we are faced with challenges that will cause us to suffer - and, honestly, sometimes making correct choice, the one that will benefit us as well as the people around us, will cause incredible suffering. In those instances, never choose the path of less suffering, just because it is easier. Only choose it if it is right.

I chose to go on a mission: that brought suffering of a sort into my life that I didn't have before. I chose to go to college: there was suffering alright, there! I choose to remain active in the church: there is an element of suffering in that. I choose to no act on my same sex desires and attractions: Bruh, suffering. I choose to work at a job that makes it hard to have a social life, to go to church regularly, that messes up my sleep schedule and eating habits, and that puts me in regular stressful situations where I am in charge of people's safety and security: suffering.

These are choices that have brought beauty into my life. They have brought meaning into my life. I have learned lessons. I have been brought closer to people. I have grown in strength and in perseverance. I have become more because of my suffering. Suffering makes me compassionate. Suffering makes me understanding. Suffering makes me appreciate people in my life. Suffering makes me self-reflect. Suffering turns me to my Savior Jesus Christ, whose grace I can rely on. Suffering has taught me the importance of never giving up on myself - and on other people.

To switch gears just a little bit, I want to address those who suffer immensely in life, so much so that they feel it is better to remove themselves from this life. My plea to you: chose to stay. Choose to suffer. It's going to suck for a little bit - maybe even for a long while. But, I promise there is beauty to be found, as you choose to stay. There are people to be loved, as you choose to stay. If you can find meaning in your suffering, some purpose to it - compassion, the ability to understand someone else who is suffering just like you, so you can care for them and show them that they are important.



To wrap it all up, sometimes life is going to suck. That does not mean you are doing something wrong. That does not mean you are worthless. That does not mean you should stop and give up - at whatever it is! If you are suffering, you're suffering right there with the best of them: Jesus Christ. He suffered more than any of us ever could. And He CHOSE that suffering. For you. Next time you find yourself going through a hard time, and you feel like you are suffering, just remember: there can be meaning and purpose found as we suffer.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lessons from Work

So I love my job. I mean, working with juvenile delinquents has it's ups and downs. I'm still learning a lot and have a lot to improve on. I'm still trying to find a balance of responsible staff and the staff who will laugh easily and not fly off the handle or hold a grudge when a stupid choice was made. I'm trying to figure out when to let the group make a mistake and when to step in and tell them to do something else; when to empower their agency and when to take care of things and manage a situation myself. Luckily, it's only been 2 1/2 months, so there is a lot of understanding with the staff I work with.

More than just learning about how to improve in my job, I'm learning important principles in life. While I was driving home from work tonight, I was thinking about what happened during the final checks of the night, before I left. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and the Spirit started whispering some things to me, and I knew I wouldn't be able to go to sleep tonight without writing some of those thoughts. Nothing was new, grand revelation, but just a reiteration of things I have learned before, a reconfirmation and an expansion on those things.

I work with a group of juveniles who have been given the label of sex offenders. When I tell people this, I get a number of reactions. Most of them are a little uneasy for me. When I first was assigned to my cottage, I felt a little bit uneasy. That unease disappeared after about a half hour of being told I would be working with them. This is because of one simple principle:



Yeah, they have made some pretty terrible, and, for some, disgusting, decisions. But everyone - everyone - has the capacity to change. **Let me hold you up right here: some of you are thinking "But,  what about - " No. EVERYONE has the capacity to change. Especially the kids at this facility. They just need help. So they're sex offenders? So what?? All the kids at the JCC are criminals, so why make a big deal about it!! Honestly one of my favorite parts of my job is just getting to know the kids. I honestly enjoy being with them. I love seeing them help others. I feel proud of them when I see them managing their emotions, trying to improve - even if they slip up sometimes - and seeing them have a successful day. I genuinely love the kids at the JCC. They're obnoxious, manipulative, disgusting criminals. But I love them. You know why? Because God loves them. I truly feel His love for them. I can't help but love them, after that.

Tonight, my experience simply reminded me of all of this. A juvenile was struggling with something, and I wanted nothing more than to just hug him and remind him that he is not his past. He does not need to be held back by what he has done or what his group thinks of him, because of who his was before. Maybe it was the fact that he was crying, and when I see genuine tears I turn soft and want to take on the world for that person, to take away all the bad feelings. (Usually, though, I just look away, otherwise I start crying sympathy tears, and because I don't know what to do besides offer food and awkwardly pat their shoulder.) But, maybe it was because in that moment, I saw, just a glimpse, of how our Heavenly Father sees him: a child who is trying to do the right thing and who needs love and support.

We all make mistakes. Maybe we haven't committed a crime and been incarcerated, but we are far from perfect. We need the turn away from our sins just as badly as any criminal does. We all need to rely on God's grace. Who am I to say that I am more deserving of love, kindness, consideration, and help, when I am struggling on the path, same as that criminal? God loves all of His children, no matter what - literally. Sometimes I think we forget that it is also our responsibility to make sure everyone understands that love, and, when we have the opportunity to share it, to feel that love. No matter what a person has done, they will always have the capacity to change, so who am I to hold them back by assuming they will always be defined by what they once did.

So, my message to that young man tonight who cried desperate tears, and to anyone who is reading this: You are not your past. you get to decide, right now, which direction to fact. And, if you are facing your Savior, or, if you are not religious, if you are facing the path of reconciliation, caring and concern, empathy, and productivity, then you don't need to feel discouraged or unworthy. Because you are not your past.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Your Core Truths



Today, I was inspired by this song. I know...for any of you long-time readers, I tend to reuse Sara Bareilles songs, but, I mean, if a song is good, you can't deny it! But, I was thinking of this blog post, which I actually had no intention of adding a song to, and then I listened to "Brave" and it just felt right.

What I love about "Brave" is that it is all about being true to yourself and letting the whole world see it. You don't reserve your core truth for yourself when you're all alone; rather, it should be something you share with everyone who can see you. This can be hard to do, though. I think that sometimes, we ourselves, forget or lose sight of what our core truth is. We get distracted by a whole lot of other things.

I've been thinking about this because I've had people express to me that they feel like I am not being my true self, that I'm denying myself and who I am by choosing to recognize my attraction to girls, yet refusing to act on that attraction.  I understand their concern and I understand why they might feel that way. I mean, I'm all about being true to yourself! I want to be true to myself! But, I guess I see my identity as being so much more than my sexuality. It's one facet of who I am, and it by no means defines me. In fact, let's take a look at exactly what my attraction to women is: feelings. 

I like feelings. Feelings give us depth, can teach us, and connect us to people. But, feelings are not always meant to be acted upon. In fact, there's a scripture in the Book of Mormon that discusses this. Alma, when talking to one of his sons - and not his son who went about gallivanting with a harlot, which I think is pretty significant - says, "see that ye bridle all your passions," (Alma 37:12). Alma was teaching his son about feelings.

We all have feelings that we need to direct and control. That does not mean we have to get rid of our feelings. But, if we feel so angry that we want to ram our car into another individual, punch someone in the face, or yell uncontrollably, we should probably resist that temptation. If we are attracted to someone who is married, we probs shouldn't pursue that individual. If we become so hopeless or depressed, and our coping mechanism is to go to a bar and binge drink, we should probably not do that. Just because we have feelings or tendencies does not mean that we are meant to act on them. Instead, we are meant to bridle them. I feel so strongly about a lot of things, but that does not mean that I am going to go about passionately acting or expressing all of things. In fact, that is something that the kids I work with at the JCC are having to learn - they are feeling things, and those feelings aren't necessarily bad, but when they act on them, then it can be a bad thing.

In the heat of the moment, we can get caught up in what we are feeling and act in a way that actually is not in accordance to our core truth. If I were to act upon the homosexual feelings or impulses, I would be going against my core truths and identity. You see, I made covenants with my Heavenly Father, and so my core truths, which involve integrity, diligence, and faith, mean that rather than act upon those feelings, I choose to keep the covenants that I have made. Just like when I get angry while driving, I may want to say all the swear words towards the other drivers who try to change lanes into me, drive slowly in the left lane of the highway, or don't use their blinkers, but I don't, because I try to uphold my core truth of kindness and goodness.

I will never be offended when someone comes to me, questioning if my life choices actually are an expression who I am. I understand wanting to help someone let their brave out. We all need to be a little bit better at letting our brave out. But, just remember that our brave goes deeper than what you feel, but who you are. And who you are is so much more than just what you feel. It's your values, your identity, your visions.

So, my message to you is to let your brave out, whatever it is. If it's expressed in who you choose to be with, what you choose to study or what career you choose to pursue, what hobbies you pick up, or how you treat people, just do it. And just be true to who you are and to your core. Only you will know what that is, and if you actually are being true to you. No one else can determine that for you.  You will have distractions along the way, That's okay. Just learn to bridle in those distractions. Direct them to actually building you up.

And...just...be you. Unashamedly, unabashedly, apologetically, you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Chasing the Sun (Part 3)




I've used this song multiple times on my blog, but it's probably one of the most meaningful nonreligious songs I've ever come across. I discovered it a little while after I got home from my mission (after I decided to go discover what Sara Bareilles music I had been missing out on from the previous 18 months of my life) and the lyrics just really struck me.

When I came home from my mission, I was really lost. I knew what I wanted to do, but it all felt so far away. I knew I had a purpose to fulfill, but the steps seemed so far distant. .I wasn't even going to be able to get back into school until the next fall - and I got home from my mission in October. I ended up starting school on September, almost 11 months, to the day, from the time I got home from my mission. That was incredibly discouraging for me, and those 11 months, although there was plenty of good times and plenty of light, were still incredibly dark. So, Chasing the Sun served as a reminder to me, to always be running after my dreams. I have so much to be grateful for, down to the very breath that I breathe, so I shouldn't do anything less than just go out and try. Since then, I've been trying to run full blast towards my dreams. Obviously, I'm not perfect in that. Sometimes my run turns into a meandering stroll, or I feel so exhausted or overwhelmed that it takes all of my power to not just flop down on the ground, and simply stop moving forward. But, I never did.

In April, I graduated with my Bachelor's of Science in Psychology. It was thrilling to have accomplished something that brought me one step closer to reaching my dream, but I knew I still had a long ways to go. I aim to get my PhD, but that requires both money and experience (also, the GRE, but, you  know, that's a completely different beast to tackle). So, I started applying for jobs. I started getting really frustrated, because very few job openings provided very much money or experience that would actually be helpful for grad school or what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But, there was one: to be a rehabilitation technician for the Juvenile Correction Center. The pay was stellar, the experience was literally perfect, not only for grad school but for helping me figure specifics out in regards to what I actually want to do for the rest of my life, plus, I would actually be helping people. I applied and a month went by, and I didn't hear anything. I ended up getting a job for another company as a fraud specialist, and was told I would start Monday, May 21st. A week before I was supposed to start with that job, I get a call from the JCC, saying they wanted me to come in for an interview. I was stoked, so I, of course, said yes, with high hopes.

After the interview, I was told that I would find out if I would get the job in about 2 weeks. So, I started my other job, each day anticipating a phone call. That never came. The 2nd week ended, and I resigned myself to being a fraud specialist for the next 2 or so years, while I saved up for grad school. So, that Tuesday, of the third week, I check my phone while I was on break, and I had a voicemail from the JCC asking me to call them back - it turns out, for the purpose of offering me a job. So, I quit that day and then started work at the JCC the very next day.

The fact that I have a job at the JCC thrills me, every day. It's not a convenient or easy job. It's not comfortable and I can't be lazy. And I love it! I feel like I'm running full blast towards my dream. I feel like I'm accomplishing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. I feel confident that I am where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do, surrounded by the people who need me and who I need. I am chasing the sun, and it is a beautiful experience.

Probably the most significant thing, though, through all of this, is that I have felt my Heavenly Father's love. He is invested in my life. I wanted specific things, to reach my ultimate goal. I went to Him with every single one, with every single concern, with every single desire, and with every single question. And He gave me literally everything that I needed and everything that I wanted. It could not be more perfect. He was invested enough in my life to respond to every single detail, because it mattered so much to me, and because they all pointed me in the right direction. I know it doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes He points us in a different direction. But I am so grateful for this experience, because it has shown me that when the Lord gives us the option to choose - because each time I would ask Him for direction, He told me to make a decision - He will respond, trusting us to make the right choice.

So, here I am chasing my dream. And, though my life is not perfect, I couldn't be happier.