Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eyes Wide Open

Yesterday wasn't a good day.

I mean, ultimately it wasn't actually half bad, but from the get-go it was...a little rough.

Perhaps it was the three and a half hours of sleep, or other conditions beyond my control, but I couldn't shake this horrible feeling of being lost. I had symptoms of it prior to that day, as you can see in the previous blog post. I was hating life again. I was hating where I am and what I'm doing, which I knew was ridiculous because so many excellent things are happening right now. I'm directing an elementary school musical. I'm assistant stage manager for a musical on campus. I'm finally able to participate in improv workshops, something I've been yearning to do since my junior year in high school. I'm acting like myself on a daily basis in public locations.

I was aware feeling the way I felt was stupid, but I couldn't shake it. I couldn't get rid of that all-consuming sorrow and despondency. I prayed like forty times in four hours. And I felt incrementally better each time, but there was still a constant under current of "things suck."

And then I went to mission prep.

I don't know if I'm going on a mission, let me say so up front. A couple months back I started taking life seriously again, and putting my faith in my Lord and His gospel on a higher pedestal than everything else. I've never planned on going on a mission. I always blew it off with the confidence that I'd just decide when I was 21, because by that point I'd so obviously be in a committed relationship/married/nearly married and therefore not be expected to go. So I wouldn't go.

So I never considered going.

Even when they changed the age, it wasn't like I knew immediately that's what I needed to do. I thought about it a lot, what this would mean for me, suddenly aware that 21, though no longer the limit, was not as far away as I imagined as a thirteen year-old in Young Womens. My answer upon hearing the announcement and pondering, there at work standing by the microwave, was to live my life as if I were to go on one, something I hadn't been doing prior to that moment, and something I honestly didn't actually put into effect until about a month later.

I've been a little embarrassed to talk about it, because when you say you haven't been living the gospel fully in a predominately Mormon society, the judgment most often passed--and you realize this because you've been guilty of doing it yourself--is that obviously they've done something drastic like break the Word of Wisdom or let someone into their bed; of which I did neither. But, we were looking in Joseph Smith History in Sunday School, and read this verse, and...how can I be embarrassed now?

JSH 1: 28 "...I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilt of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament."

Why I never even knew this existed I could not tell you.

Actually, false. I didn't know because I didn't need it until now.

To return to where we were before the digression, once I started fully doing my part with regards to faith, testimony, the gospel, I started to turn to Him for everything; something I should have been doing instead of taking a year hiatus. I realized I'm at this point in my life where everything can either go right or go wrong. I'm an adult. If I had chosen or if it had been right for me I could be living on my own right now. There are peers my age not going to school, working full time to build a life. There are girls on my Facebook page who are home tending to children. I can't afford another year of figuring things out for myself--I figured out nothing in that year but a system for laziness.

So I ask Him everything.

And with regards to every big decision, my answer is the same:


I took a mission prep class because I didn't know what I'm waiting for. I still don't. But I saw no harm in preparing for a mission that I may or may not go on, because if I don't end up going, at least by taking the class I followed the prompting given that day in October, and worked toward living as though I were going to go.

I'd been waiting all day for mission prep, because I felt so sluggishly bogged and despondent and the small nudges of comfort from my inward praying for peace wasn't enough.

I struggled for a moment, sitting in mission prep, my mind still insisting on sinking into the tar pit of my heart and giving up, when the fog cleared, just a little.

I remembered a moment from Friday night, out with the Improvables at Dee's. I'd been talking to my BFF Charlotte (who I honestly hardly know but she's super nice and awesome, and I can see us becoming some form of BFF's some day), and I immediately felt better. Everything that was bothering me, all the cannons that were sinking my ship, ceased. I realized that though this one fragment of my life is less than desirable, so much more of it is amazing. And the thing for me to do now is focus on the amazing parts, and let the other sort itself out with time.

Then these three girls put in a video they'd made. From what I gleaned they are three best friends, all headed on their missions. They'd compiled footage of each of them opening their mission calls, so that each would read the same line and progress down the letter.

I watched them each uncover where they were going. Dominican Republic, New York, Wisconsin, and that old thought drifted in through my new found peace.

I wonder where He'd send me.

I started idealizing Virginia because Jason Mraz was from there, but the more I looked into it the more I realized it truly was a place I'd like to see. But that's the thing: I've never seen it. Virginia became a place in my mind, a metaphor for a happy place, an area of solace. Comfort. But I realized one day everything I've allowed Virginia to be is everything a mission would be.

I've daydreamed heading out there and finding myself, coming across the right people, becoming a fulfilled person. Experiencing joy. I'd take care of myself, because I'd be on my own. I'd gain experience I lack sitting here on my bed in my parents' house. I'd grow.

I don't remember when, but it occurred to me a mission would be that long-imagined month or more staycation in Virginia. But a mission would be less risky. A mission would have more stability than a college student deciding to embark on an adult life across the country, where no one could help her if she needed it.

Why not? I thought, crying for the third time that morning, but for an entirely different reason than heartache.

Why not a mission?

I'm not saying I'm going. I'm not saying I've decided.

I'm saying I've decided to actually think about it. To finally set myself down and determine, prayerfully, what I'm meant to do with my mortal sojourn, instead of waving a hand and saying "future Erica will have to decide."

I'm checking unknown, for now. I'm not expecting an answer now; I don't think He'd give it. He knows how much of a one-track mind I have. The time will come. Someday the waiting will be over. But for now I'm waiting productively.

For now I'm waiting in Him.

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