Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A note for you, My Reader

A year ago today, this blog was created.

I am sure that many of you are aware of how it came to be. I felt inspired to do it after my Mom, Dad, and two youngest brothers, Keegan and Liam, passed away, due to carbon monoxide poisoning that filled our house, because of a faulty water heater.

I had thought that it might be something good for me. Maybe it would help me with my grief. It would be therapeutic for me. An escape from the world that I felt swarmed by. This would be the pathway to a world where I could go into the innermost parts of my mind and heart, and really discern what I believe to be true. It would help me to discern what I was really feeling.

But I never dreamed that this blog would receive the attention and the reaction that it did.
I didn't think that you, my reader, would read it and learn from it. I didn't think that because of you, my reader, I would continue to write for as long as I did. I've never been a Blogger. I didn't know how it worked. But because of you, I felt the desire to keep going.

And so, this blog post is for you.

This is a personal thank you from me to you.

Some of you, I know well. Some of you are family. Some of you are friends. Some of you were first hand witnesses of my hard days, and my good days. Some of you were there for me when I needed to cry. Some of you were there when I needed to vent, or scream, or throw martini glasses and old cheap porcelain plates. Some of you were there to give me a physical hug. Some of you took me in as your own.

And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Some of you don't know me, and I don't know you. Some of you may be from far away places that is nowhere near this little town called Pocatello, Idaho. Some of you maybe heard about me on the news, or saw me in the LDS Living Magazine. Some of you, because of the goodness of your hearts, wanted to help out in some way, extend a hand for me to hold onto. They came in forms of cards, emails, Facebook messages, gifts even. They came in the forms of prayers and fasting.

And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I do not know how else to say exactly how I feel. This year has been... well, A New Normal. Things nowadays are becoming... comfortable, to an extent. Things are as they are, and they can't go back to the way it was.

I'm starting to accept that.
I guess you could say, I'm entering into the acceptance phase of grief.
But, let's be real, I don't think grief really goes away. It gets easier, and I find new ways to cope with it, and new strategies.
I thought that once I hit a year, I would be 100% better. I would be healed, and move on. Such is not the case, not when you love someone (let alone four people) that much, with your whole heart.

And that's ok. It's ok to not be completely better right now.

I may know you, and I may not know you. But I feel like we all have something in common.

We are human, and we go through hard things.
And maybe my trials are not deemed to be as "hard" as your trials, and maybe your trials are not deemed as "hard" as mine. Nevertheless, we go through hard things. Who defines hard, anyways? Pain is pain, and hard is hard.

We are children of a Father in Heaven. I really truly believe that. And I truly believe that these things that happen are for our good. If there's anything that I learned for myself this year, is that hard things will happen. And we decide if it's going to strengthen us, or weaken us.
Which, of course, is so much easier said than done. Believe me, I GET THAT.
But, it's true.

To you, my reader, I want to thank you for enduring. Thank you for not giving up, even when your life is down, and hard, and you lose someone you love. Thank you for still going on when you just want to crumble. Thank you for holding on to the hope that life will get better.

You strengthen me.

I've been asked the questions a few times in the past:

"Will you continue to blog, even when it's up to the year?"

I've thought about it a lot. And I decided, yes, maybe I will. Maybe when I feel that there is something that needs to be shared. And hopefully, someone out there, will need it.

I am grateful for this opportunity to share with you my testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his Atonement. That's another thing that I've learned. It's the MOST IMPORTANT THING. If it wasn't for that, none of this would matter.
I invited all to come unto him. I would invited everyone who is seeking something in your life, go to him. I promise, he is there.

My reader, thank you for giving me something to strive for. You have helped me through so much.

Life is always becoming A New Normal. Because, we are always changing. It's constantly new.
Isn't that just so cool?

Monday, March 2, 2015

If I were to go back...

If I could go back in time, and see myself in different phases of my life, would I? And if I did, which parts of my life would I visit?
Would I change anything? 
Would I say anything?

If I could go back and tell Younger Me anything, what would it be? 
I been thinking about that a lot the last couple of days.

If I could go back, maybe I'd go to newborn baby me. I'd want to see myself, connected to tubes and machines. I'd want to see my lifeless body. I want to really know what it was like. 
I would want to approach 25 year old Dad, as he is worried, crying, praying and begging Heavenly Father to allow me to live. I'd want to say, "Daddy, it's me. I'm 23 now, and I'm alive. You taught me well. You taught me how a man should be. You taught me to be strong. Don't worry, Daddy. I'm gonna be ok."
I would approach 23 year old Mom, exhausted in the hospital bed, uncertain and afraid and traumatized of what had just happened. I'd want to say, "Mom, it's me. I'm going to live. You are strong. So very strong. You've set an example of how I should be as a mother and a wife. And so much more than that, you taught me how to be a friend, and a confidant. You taught me the importance of having a Christ-centered home. You have done so well. Don't be scared, Mom. It's all going to be ok." 


If I could go back and see the Younger Me, I think I would go back to elementary days. I would see the happy go lucky me, and I would say, "Jensen, make sure you stay that way. The world need more happy people." 
I would want to tell her, "Don't be insecure about your hearing impairment, no matter what. You don't know this now, but someday, you are going to serve a mission. You are going to learn Sign Language! And it's going to be hard, but you will be able to do it. When you get the prompting to go, don't fight it. Go! There will be people there that will change your life, and things you will learn and teach that you will have to hold on to when times become super tough. But you're going to be able to do it." 


If I could go back, I'd go to middle school me. I'd say, "Stop WORRYING about how you look! I can assure you, nobody really cares, and no one is really eyeing you. Instead, focus on who you are! This is critical. You NEED to know who you are, and more importantly, WHOSE you are. Yes, this is an awkward point in your life, but I promise, braces and glasses aren't going to last forever. Just be happy with who you are. Don't fall into the trap of negativity and depression. It's not worth it. And it will affect you for a long time after. So please, just don't do it."


If I could go back and visit the Younger Me, I would probably go to 15-16 year old me. I'd approach myself as I'm sitting alone in the hallway, and I'd say, "Jensen, GOOD RIDDANCE! Seriously, friends like that aren't friends at all. What you did was right, and don't think otherwise! Next year, you are going to gain so many new friends, and these friends will remain your friends long after high school. You're 23 now, and you're still friends with most all of these new people you are going to meet. These friends are going to get you through so much, through the hardest trial of your life, and you need friends like that; friends that helps you to remember the positive. Ya, this sucks right now. It does. 2 more weeks, and things will start looking up again. You just need to keep going."

If I could go back, I'd also visit 17-18 year old me. I might say, "Focus on school. You're so close to being done with high school and then you NEVER have to go back! Don't waste your breath on the uncertainty of what's going to happen. I promise, things work out for you. It's not easy, but it works out. That's how life is, really." 

Maybe I'd go back to my college years in Rexburg, Idaho, at BYU-Idaho. I'd watch how I was. I'd see the friends I've gained. I'd smile, because slightly Younger Me doesn't realize yet that these friends are still her best friends 2-3 years later.

I would definitely go back to my mission. I'd want to watch the transformation. I'd see stressed out me in the MTC, in a silent room, with hands waving at me. When Younger Me starts to cry on the third day, I'd say to her, "Don't you dare quit! Don't you dare go back! Don't you dare go back to what you used to be. Your mission will literally save you! You need to be here! One day, you will get this language. I promise! It's not going to happen overnight, but it is going to happen!"
When I would come upon the days when Younger Me feels alone and small, I'd say, "Don't underestimate your work. You have to drink up everything that you learn here, because in just a few short months, you are going to need this. You will hold to it, cling to it. People here love you, and they will miss you when you are gone."

On February 23, 2013, I would sit by Younger Me, and I would let her cry. On that night, I don't think that I would say anything.
On February 26, 27, and 28, I would be standing by her and her brother. I would watch her when she cries as they close her family's caskets. I think I would be waiting for her for when she runs out of the room. I'd make sure to be close for the viewing and the funeral.

And then, on March 1, I would come to her and say, "Jensen. This is going to be the hardest year you have ever experienced, even more so than your mission was. Because, this is part of your mission. But, look at yourself. Look at me. Next year, you will be engaged to that boy you love so much all those years, and you will be doing things that you never thought you would be able to do. You'll be a speaker, a teacher, a friend, a confidant. You will do things because when things are hard, it's better to just DO. Don't give up. Don't do nothing. Be something. Be someone."

If I could go back...
But would I?
Maybe not.

Things are looking up. They really are. Things get better.

When I look back on all of those experiences, I see the Lord's hand from the get go. He was always there. He never left. He never would. He never will.

Life is unfigureoutable.

We lose some. We win many. If we allow it, that is. We are taken care of. We are carried. We are caressed.
We are never alone.

Has he not taken care of me up until now? Would he not continue to do so? 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Little Bit Longer

The whistle was piercing as one of the boys accidentally pushed over other teammate in order to get the ball. Another foul shot. Of course, the crowd was not happy. Some fathers were standing and waving their arms, irritated and screaming down to the referee. Mothers were frustrated at the call, commenting to their friends or husbands. Highland against Madison high, and Madison was catching up.

But I wasn't focused on the game. No. Nor did I really care about the calls that the refs made.

I was focused on the Highland basketball team. 

Those boys were growing up so fast. I recognized most of them. I recognized them because they have been in my home as elementary school boys, playing with Keegan. 

Keegan was not playing basketball. He was not out there hustling. Heck, he wasn't even sitting on the bench, frustrated, planning on how he could be a better teammate and player.
That was a gift of his. Even if he wasn't the best, he worked harder than anyone else, because he truly believed that he could be the best. 

But no, he wasn't there. Nor was Dad screaming at the ref. Nor was Mom talking to her friend. Nor was Liam sitting there with his game system.

They weren't there, and that was all that I noticed.

I forced myself to sit. I forced myself to watch. And it worked... for about 15 minutes. The more I stared out into the court, the more I realized the emptiness that I was witnessing. The more I stared, the more I recognized the gaping hole that was once again, searing wide open in my heart. 

I  couldn't take it anymore, so I left. I walked out of the gym, into the crowded hall, shimmied through students and parents (thanks for the skinny genes, Mom,) and out the side door. 

And I ran. Out by the drama department. Pass the drama department. Into the parking lot. Through the parking lot. Into the neighborhood next door. I kept running, and crying, which eventually turned into heaving sobs. Those still happen, you know, those heaving sobs. I ran until I couldn't run anymore. I walked until I felt too exhausted. I sat on the curb. Stared at the stars.

Orion was staring down at me. So was the Big and Little Dipper. So were all the other constellations that I don't even know. So magnificent and so vast.
And at that moment, I felt so small.
And the questions started rolling through my brain again.

"Why are they gone? Why am I here?"
And even more recently...
"How can you expect me to do this? How much longer do I have to do this?"

There was only wind to answer me for a little while, making my tears become colder. I didn't want to go back in yet. I didn't know what the outcome would be.

A thought came into my head.

"I expect you to do this, because you are of me. I made you to be able to do hard things. Just a little bit longer." 

Did everything become better after that? No, not entirely. No, I did not go back to the game. Yes, I went for a very long eventful walk after that. And I still cried.
But it really struck me. 

For though I need to be preparing for the future, I can only really do that by living in the present, savoring each day, and using it for the benefit of growth and learning. When things are hard, we want them to be done NOW. We want to be strong NOW. We want to come on top NOW. 

But instant gratification is not the Lord's way of doing things. 

The strongest muscle has to be torn. The prettiest flower has to grow. The strongest testimony has to be tested.
That's why it's called a TESTimony. 

Everyone is hurt in one way or another. And hurting is hard. And hurting can damage plans and ambitions. 
But it doesn't have to control it. 

I hope that one day, I will have that happiness again; that FULL happiness. And I know that I will.
It will just take some time.

And I think I can do it for just a little bit longer. 


Monday, January 26, 2015

Gold Stars and Grey Dots

One of my favorite children stories growing up was the book by Max Lucado, "You are Special."

(For anyone who doesn't know this story, I suggest you read it. This is a spoiler alert. So, if you would prefer to go read this story first, do it!)

The synopsis of the story is this: There is a little wooden town with a bunch of little wooden people called Wimmicks. No Wimmick were the same, and they each had their own box of stickers. The stickers were either gold stars, or grey dots. Everyday, these Wimmicks would give out these stickers and stick them to each other. If a Wimmick was tall, beautiful, a good singer, an athlete, a performer, smart, or anything deemed as positive and/or desirable, that Wimmick would receive gold stars. On the other hand, those who may be small, too round, have scratched up wood, if they tripped, or if they made mistakes, would receive grey dots.

No one wanted the grey dots.

The main character of the story is a Wimmick named Punchinello. He is clumsy, he is unpopular, and he always (unintentionally) made mistakes. Pretty soon, he had received so many grey dots that he allowed those dots to become his identity. He was known as the grey dotted Wimmick who didn't do anything right.

Naturally, he began to believe it.

Then one day, he meets a Wimmick name Lucinda, and she is unlike any other Wimmick he has ever met. What made her different? She didn't have any stickers. Neither gold stars or grey dots. And the craziest part of it was, it was because the stickers couldn't stick to her.

Of course, he becomes curious, and asks what it was that made that possible. She answered, "Everyday, I go up the hill and visit Eli." Punchinello had no idea who Eli was, but he decides to go and visit him.

The little puppet goes up the hill one day to Eli's home, and he goes in. Eli knows him by name, and he is so excited to see him! When Punchinello asks, "How do you know me?" Eli response is, "I know you because I made you."

They talk for a little while, and Eli tells Punchinello the secret. He said, "The only way the stickers will stick is if you will let them. When you care about what everyone thinks about you, the stickers will stick on. The stickers will cease to stick once you decide that what I think is more important than what they think. And I think that you are special." (Summary of the actual dialogue.)

They have their conversation, and then Punchinello gets up to leave. As he is walking out the door, the master creator calls out, "Remember, you are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."

The story ends with Punchinello thinking to himself, "I think that he really means it." And when he does so, one of the grey dots fall off of him.

Perspective is an interesting concept. Because human perspective, I believe, is never fully true.

I've done a lot of speculating this year, and I realized... I have a lot of stickers.
I may have lots of gold stars: I'm a blogger, I'm well known, I've written articles, I've spoken at events, I've been interviewed. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from people. Which is nice...

But I also have a lot of grey dots, most of which comes from myself; the feelings of sadness that I beat myself down about, or when I get frustrated that things are not going the way that I want it. Maybe it's because I don't feel that I deserve blessings, due to my lack of faith in one thing or another. A LOT of internal black dots.

Sometimes, I feel absolutely covered. It's suffocating. So many stickers.

I don't want grey dots. I don't want gold stars.
I just want to be clean.

And that kind of cleanliness can and will only come when things are accepted. When I accept myself as I am, when I accept that what happened happened, and when I realize that other things are going to happen and that's how life is. And it's not because Heavenly Father doesn't love me, or wants to push me to a limit.

It's because he is the ultimate strategist.

It happens when the Atonement is accepted, fully and completely. Sometimes, that's hard. Sometimes, it's REALLY HARD to accept the Atonement. I don't know why we do it to ourselves. Maybe we think we are better than that, or that we don't deserve it.

I think it's mainly because we simply don't understand it. Not in its entirety. And as people, it's hard to accept things when it's not fully understood.

Again, that's where faith comes in.

Sometimes, I just need that little reminder that it's ok to be broken. We have to be broken so that we can be fixed, and made into something greater. And that being broken does not mean that you are weak. It means that you're human, and you hurt.

And being hurt takes a lot of strength. Being hurt takes a lot of love.

I can't begin imagine the amount of love Christ had, being in Gethsemane, then the cross, to hurt as much as he did.

I wonder if He ever felt like he had stickers. Stars or dots. But, then again, I don't think so.
I think he was like Lucinda.
In fact, that makes perfect sense.

He was perfect and clean.
But at that moment in his life, he took on everybody else's gold stars and grey dots. It must have been suffocating.

Yet, he is the reason that the stickers can fall off.

He did it because we are special. He loves us.
And he doesn't make mistakes.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Plan of... Happiness? Pt. 1: Consecrated Trials

The two biggest lies that we profess as truth:

1. If we pray, everything will be ok.
2. We will be happy if we do what we are supposed to do.
 
I know I'm being pretty bold, and pretty frank, and not saying your typical Sunday School answers, but that's just how it is.
 
I'm not saying that I don't believe in prayer, and I'm not saying that I don't believe in being obedient. On the contrary, actually. Those who really know me know that that is not the case. What I am saying, though, is something that we may not always want to hear. 

Life is not fun and dandy just because we do good things. In fact, most people who do good things and try their best tend to be the ones who struggle or are slammed with the hardest things. Now, surely, that is not always the case. There are many stories where people do what they need to and things go according to their plan, for lack of a better way of explaining it. And yes, in the end, everything will eventually turn out if we do what we are supposed to do. But, perhaps, before you get to the "eventually" part, there's all the "crap, 'why me's', what did I do wrong, I'm doing everything right"... The list could go on and on.


In short, life is not always happy.
Which is weird, because the plan is called "The Plan of Happiness."

And I'm pretty confident in say that everyone who has ever lived would agree with me that life is not always happy. Even the most positive people would say that there are times where it's not too happy.


Why though? This is a question that has been impressed on my mind for the past few weeks. Why is the Plan of Salvation is known as the Plan of Happiness when sometimes, it's not really happy? Yes, I know, in the grand scheme of things, at the end of it all, we can be happy and be with families forever and all that jazz. But there's got to be more to it than that, right? What is it about The Plan that makes it happy? That made all of us here want to join in on it?

And so, for the next while, I'm dedicating my studies and this blog to that topic.
Starting now.
 
 
PLAN OF HAPPINESS: Day 1
...
 
I am an introvert. More so now, anyways. I don't know if people understand that. Perhaps it's a choice thing, but after that first week, and the many interviews and speaking events after that, the comments I get from customers at work, sometimes it's nice to just be... alone.
 
When I'm alone, my mind wanders. Sometimes, they are happy thoughts, and I think about things that used to be, or how it will be to see them again. Sometimes, I think of the typical girly things, like my wedding day, or when I graduate, or when I'll have my own little family. Sometimes, I think about the opportunities that I've experienced from this, the missionary opportunities I've experienced, the career path I've chosen.
 
And sometimes, they are not so happy thoughts. Many times it goes back to that first initial night. That first initial week. Sometimes, it's "How dare I be alive?" or "I'm alive, but for what?" Sometimes, it's the feelings of failing, or not being everything that I could be or should be. 
And the pain that I feel in those moments is indescribable. No one would know what those feelings are like, unlike you have literally experienced losing such impactful people in your life in such a fleeting of a moment, so unexpectedly.
 
The pain is the worst. 
And lots of other pains stem from that initial pain.
Sometimes, in consequence, my attitude, or my instinct, is irrational. It's not really me. I find myself literally talking to myself through my thought process. "Jensen, you have no reason to be angry right now, you're just hurt, you need to calm down, count blessings, today you have a job, today you have family, you are done with the semester, you have food on the table, you have people who love you and care for you..."   
But, if the downward spiral has already started, it is difficult to climb back up right away.
 
Why do we hurt?
That was my first question.
I decided to read 2nd Nephi chapter 2. And in that chapter, there was a specific verse that stood out to me. Verse 2.
 
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
 
 (Hint Hint. Focus on last part.)
 
You know, sometimes you will read things a million and one times, and it's more like a skim. But every so often, something will just pop out at you. And for me, that was the word, "consecrate."
 
I was curious what that word meant. Well, scratch that. I knew what it meant, but I didn't KNOW what it meant. And that is when the dictionary is most helpful.
 
WORD OF THE DAY
Consecrate: dedicated to a sacred purpose
 
I replaced the word with the meaning.
 
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall DEDICATE TO A SACRED PURPOSE thine afflictions for thy gain.
 
It really made me think.
 
So... this pain that I feel, these trials that I face, (and others as well) can be literally DEDICATED to a SACRED purpose for my own gain?
So, that means... these trials AREN'T random?
So, that means... they are very SPECIFIC?
 
Ah ha...
 
But then, the question still stands...
What, exactly, is "the gain?"
 
It's to be like him.
It's to experience the happiness that he experiences.  
It's also to experience, perhaps, some of the pains that he experienced.
 
"God doesn't do random."
It applied to my mission, it still applies now. Nothing is coincidence. Take that or leave it. But that's what I believe.
 
I also think, that ya, I'm doing what I can, and life is still hard. I pray, and sometimes, answers take a while to come. I do what I'm supposed to, and no, they aren't coming back. At least, not now.
So no, we won't ALWAYS experience happiness. We will have sadness. That's life. It's how we grow.
But, we won't ALWAYS experience sadness, either. We will have happiness. That's life. It's how we develop.
 
But, thanks to what I just learned just from studying the scriptures, I personally think that these things that I feel, and these trials I deal with, and the worries, and the strife, and whatever else, are consecrated.
 
And if I will allow myself, I can gain.
 
If we allow ourselves to really grow, to really develop, to really take what we can from our experiences...
Wow.
We can be so incredible.  
 
And maybe, that's just a little bit of a reason why it's called the Plan of Happiness.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm feelin' good

It is times like these when I just need to remember to count my many blessings.

You know those times. Those days where your first class drags because the monotone speaker drones on and on and on about things that you can just look on a paper yourself. Those times where you forgot an important assignment, so you can't even be in class, because there is no point. Those times where you work most of your week, not being able to do homework until later, but then, being so exhausted, which already adds to the mental, and not to mention, physical exhaustion of just living.

There. That felt better. I needed to get that out.
I'm not perfect.
And I'm not great all the time.

I think that makes me secretly sad. I want to be great all the time. I want to feel the way that people view me to feel; spunky, lively, independent, adventurous, happy go-lucky. I want to be like my heroes. I want to always be smiling. I want to be positive.
But, more often than not, I'm just not.

I think, quite honestly, it's always been a struggle for me. Even when I was younger, I was not always the most positive. Mostly about myself. I always picked on myself.
But, I have this ability to "fake it till I make it." Which helps sometimes.

And then, I have days when I just want to crash and burn.
So, I do.
I crash and burn.

Sometimes, it comes in outbursts and angry words. Sometimes, it's holding in feelings of frustration when random people are annoying me with their constant prying into my life with questions while I am just trying to sell them some rolls. Sometimes, it's when I'm crying to my boyfriend about how sad my life is without them, and how I want to move on but I don't feel like I can.

So, I let myself feel those moments. I eat them up. Spit it out. Engulf in the moment.

And somehow, I always feel worse.
It's not necessarily a great way to live.

And so, I count blessings.
Here we go.
...

Today, I woke up in a bed.
Today, I have a car to drive.
Today, I am able to go to school.
I won't be going hungry today.
I have family.
I know what it is like to love.
I know what it is like to be loved.
I won't be alone for the holidays.
The gospel is true.
Families are forever.
I'm learning about something that I truly love to do.
I'm learning about things that I truly don't love to do, but I'm still learning, and that's what matters.
I have friends. Lots of them, that would do anything for me, and I for them.
I'm wearing clothes.
I have a phone.
I'm using talents to help people.
People are using talents to help me.
Music filled my ears today.
I don't have to work today, and I get to work to tomorrow.
Heck, I have a job.
I'm dating an amazing awesome guy.
I live with funny people who entertains me all the time.
I get to see my brother in 4 DAYS!!
We will be together during the holidays.
I can always start over.
I read scriptures this morning, and learned awesome things and got answers.
I'm warm.
It's Thanksgiving Break! HALLE-FREAKIN-LUJAH!
I survived school.
Heck, I'm living life!
I'm doing hard things that most people my age will never have to deal with, and I'm growing and developing from these things.
I have people who help me with these things.
God is patient, which is a blessing, because heaven knows he needs it with me.
Christ is patient, which is a blessing, because sometimes, I am a brat.
My body functions fairly well. Better than most.
I can run.
I can walk.
I can jump.
I can play.
Christmas is coming.
Outside is pretty.
I'm sealed to my family.
...

I did that just now, no pre thinking. Just sat and wrote for 5 minutes.
And now, the day doesn't seem so bad.
I really do have it good, don't I?
I'm feelin' good.

So, a cliche' (LOL, if you know me, you know how much I just LOOOOVE cliches'...) Thanksgiving challenge for you. Especially if you had a not so great morning like myself.

Set a timer. 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, I don't care. But set it, and start writing. Write all the blessings you can think of. Temporal or spiritual. Today or yesterday's. Whatever you feel.

See how much the Lord really does.
You'll be amazed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Realization

December 25, 2013 was the last time I saw them.

It was via Skype, for which I am eternally grateful. I remember being so excited to talk to them and see their faces. Keegs hair was out of control long and curly. Liam looked not so little anymore.

They wanted to talk to me the most. They wanted to hear all about the mission. I told them all that I could. I showed them their sign names.

I talked to Mom and Dad next. I told them about my mission. I updated them on things that they asked about.

But, I didn't tell them too much.
Because I knew I'd see them just a few short months later.

"Man, I can't wait to serve a mission." Words spoken by Keegan Parrish.

I realized something today.
Unless you have served a mission, it is more difficult to listen to the missionary stories. Maybe not hard, but I've come to realize that the people who have served missions are the ones that really connect to your stories. They know what you've gone through. They understand your "missionary vocabulary." They get it when you talk about the struggles. They really understand your joy when even just one person comes to church.
I don't know, they just understand.

And that was something that I was super excited to talk about with them.
Especially Dad. Because he would have understood.
Keegan and Liam were planning on being able to understand when they turned 18.
Dad and Mom were planning on being able to understand when the time was right.

It hit me today, how badly I had wanted to share those experiences with them. How badly I wanted to reminisce and remember and reflect with them. How much I wanted to tell the boys, and get them excited about their own missions. It was going to be so cool! We would have all served.

I wish I could have known that that was going to be the last time I would see them. I wish I could have known that it was my last chance to verbally tell them.

Patience is such a virtue. The unknown may frighten us. The possibilities keep us on our toes. And the yearning within us causes us to wonder. And sometimes hurt.
Patience is definitely a virtue I have yet to achieve.

I like this description of patience:

Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God's will and accept his timing, When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith- you must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled. (Preach my Gospel, page 120)

So, I'll wait.
And one day, I'll be able to tell them everything. And one day, they will be able to tell me about their missions.
Because that is what they are doing. They are doing missionary work.
That's what it's all about.
It's all about the work, and learning, and growing, and developing. It's a constant, strait path.

No, not straight.
Strait.
It's a one way road, and so narrow, and requires our absolute best. Not perfection. That's impossible. But our best.
And our best is always possible.

I can't wait to have that time again.

I can't wait when we are all sitting together, and we can share everything that we learned from our missions.

"And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions... But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions." Alma 34:40-41 

The longer the wait, the sweeter the reunion.