Friday, September 27, 2013

But There's a Difference in Wish and Wait.

Things are different.

And to the few of you that read this blog, I suppose I'll have to tell you the thing I'm not really talking about in public because there's still that little voice in my head that says "No. You're not. So just be quiet."

I'm going on a mission.

At least, to concede to the voice in my head, that's my intent.

I've had the notion swirling in my head on and off for about the last year. As you may recall, they changed the mission age last October, and I feel like I've written this before so I won't be extensive with it, I realized I wasn't in an position to serve a mission. I wasn't one of those girls who could grab the phone in that instance and set up a meeting with my bishop and post on Facebook about how my mission papers were a few signatures away from being sent in. And that bothered me.

I've never planned on a mission. Never. I always told myself I'd wait until I was 21 to decide; by then I'd surely be married or steadily dating a fellow that was days or weeks away from popping the question, and the idea of leaving my secular life for 18 months wouldn't matter or be applicable. 

Over the past year a lot has happened. I meant to blog about it on Tuesday, as it was the one year anniversary of that time I met Jason Mraz and it only seemed appropriate, but I haven't had time. And now my mind's on other things. Climbing out of my digression, within the past year I decided to try for the mission thing--tentatively--and see what came out of it. I started reading the Book of Mormon daily. I started saying "official" prayers. I took a mission prep institute class.

And I'd decide to go. I'd share something in a religious context and would feel this buzz that a mission would be the right choice. Then I'd leave institute and it'd be gone. I'd lay everything out and conclude it was best to stay home and continue on in the schooling and the hunting for a man. And then an hour later I'd want to go on a mission.

I couldn't keep an answer, and it began to worry me that this was one of those instances the Lord was leaving up to me; that I would be fine and could progress in whichever course I should chose, but there was nothing critical hinging on the choice. That's all it was: a choice.

And He was letting me use my God-given right to chose.

And that scared me. If you've ever worked with me, you know I tend to be indecisive about a lot of things, or that I at least require someone else's opinion to balance out my perspective before I come to a conclusion. Deciding to set aside 18 months of my life is not a small choice. And I hated that I had to chose. 

I wanted a Saul of Tarsus moment. I wanted to be struck down with the right option and to rise from the moment as though scales were falling from my eyes, knowing what course I should tread with the remainder of my life.

I suppose, using that lovely thing called hindsight, I've reached that point. 

Kate Carroll's farewell. I almost didn't go. I had my own church meetings I could be going to, no one was going with me to her farewell. I didn't need to go.

But I went. And I remember writing in my notebook that I was glad I was there, that I had made that sacrifice to come and see her off and hear her speak. I was grateful for the experience, and (and I wrote this at that moment, mind) if I hadn't gone, I wouldn't have had it. What experiences would I miss--never knowing what they could have been--if I elected not to go on a mission?

Every friend I've mentioned my indecision regarding the mission to has told me without hesitation that I would make a good missionary. I had a girl in my mission prep class seek me out after class one day asking me how far along I was on my papers, and when I explained I still was undecided she told me based on my comments in class that I would be an excellent missionary. 

"I'd like to live out of state. At least for a few years." I said in between chips.

"Yeah. I went on a mission; I could live anywhere, I've proven that to myself. I want to live around here." He said it and it smarted; I knew he didn't mean it as a stab, but I took it as one. A mission would cure my itch to get past these mountains and experience something beyond the shade of my current umbrella. He didn't know, but I reacted to it as if he understood my want to know where God would send me, should I ask for the call.

I talked with one of my married friends and she pointed out how the world is getting worse and children born into this world will need a righteous priesthood holder in the family. A girl I've never even personally met but became friends with on Facebook because I knew her older sister posted some quote from an Apostle about who better worthy to raise a righteous generation than a woman who has served the Lord.

I made a pro/con list last Sunday in sacrament meeting. And as I wrote the cons it hit me how stupid they all were. For months I'd been clinging to these factors as my, for lack of a better word, excuse to stay safely sheltered in the linear life I have built. And they were stupid. I had to make myself finish the list because I just wanted to give up because they were so dumb, and I knew--for the first time--in that moment that I've known all along what the answer was. I've known all along what the answer had to be. I just really didn't want to see it. I wanted the Saul of Tarsus moment to knock me off my feet and into the field because I didn't have the strength to come to the conclusion on my own. If I had to go there, I wanted Him to push me there.

That night I was talking with my parents and remembered the one con I hadn't written: money.

And everything came crashing and it all felt so wrong and I could do it. I couldn't go. 

I talked with one my best friends yesterday and she did some math with me, and we determined that if I spend next semester in the way I planned when the mission thing became very apparent, I can finance a mission perfectly. 

And I can't ignore it anymore. Thousands of times I made the decision and changed my mind, then a few days later made the decision and changed my mind. Things are different this time. I made my decision, changed my mind, and since that moment it hasn't left my mind. I haven't had that hitherto. I haven't had this film of "mission" glossing over all my thoughts, I haven't had that as the backdrop in my mind, as the dart board I aim all my darts at. But I do now. I can't get it out of my head. 

And I feel stupid that it took me a year to get to this point, but at the same time I needed that year of unofficial preparation. I needed a year of my optimistic plans falling through, a year of my faith growing, a year of my courage developing, a year to establish an open love for this gospel as something I not only carry but share. I needed this. 

I needed to wait.

I told him I'd prayed about my ex, and that the answer was to keep carrying on; I haven't had enough experience with boys to know if the relationship needed ending or not.

"Did you...pray about us?" He asked me.

"Yes." I told him, truthfully.

"And what...was your...answer...?"

"Wait." I answered, almost before he could finish his sentence. 

He laughed. 

I've been waiting for a while. I wasn't sure what for, only that good things were coming to me in due course of time.

There's a difference in wish and wait. Abby said the hardest part was deciding. And I don't think I can hide from it anymore. 

All the time was worth the wait.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Most Beautiful Day

"How is everyone today?"

"So good!"

"Wow. Why so good?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I've kind of been irritated because I got up this morning and my shoe was broken but I'd already gone out the door so now I'm wearing a broken shoe and I'm just trying to convince myself it's a good thing."

Today has been the most beautiful day.

My new shoes of less than a month that I'd worn, prior to today, a grand total of once have a broken zipper on one shoe which leaves it functioning like a tissue box on my feet. I forgot my institute notebook today. A gal I know called me by my best friend's name. Someone told me I should donate blood. I was late to my acting class and they'd already started warmups without me. Construction workers broke the main water line to the one building on campus I was spending the rest of the day in, leaving all of the restrooms with signs reading "No water; please don't use" on the doors. I found out about free pasta after having lunched on a bag of mediocre pretzels. There are open spots for female parts in an original play reading for this Friday, and Friday is the only day this week I work. My music scene for my directing class filled up half as much time as I'd anticipated, leaving my music at an awkward cut-off point instead of rounding nicely to a close. And my shoes. Did I mention my shoes?

I don't know what it was about today, the pastel of the weather or one determined notion to be optimistic about a broken accessory, but today has been the most beautiful day.

There were blessings, yes, I'm not saying awful things just kept happening. I actually had to really dig in my memory for all the wrongs I just listed. I got to use my free institute parking pass today, the janitor waited until after I'd left the bathroom to do that creepy janitor knock, I talked with that cool girl in my institute class, received a free Caprice Sun, ran into that guy from my Spanish class not once but twice, gave feedback in Tracy's class to a fellow actor without feeling like Tracy thought I was an incoherent dullard, had an epiphany that saved my music scene thematically, caught Derek just in time to borrow his keys to get books from the prop hall for my epiphany, was chosen for Niki's music scene and got to have fun with some friends in pantomime, related my traffic patterns well enough for my "actors" to follow them, got a ride home with one of my best friends, was greeted at the gate by my two adorable puppies who couldn't wait to play with me, found something suitable at home for second lunch, watched an unseen and hilarious episode of Spongebob, went to the temple (in which there was zero crowding) and had one of the female workers tell me I had a beautiful spirit about me.

And how could I not when I'd just had the most beautiful day?

There's a wall on the outside of the Bountiful temple that runs with the sidewalk. From the right angle it looks as though the wall is solid, leaving you with no way to make a full circle around the temple unless you jumped another wall and used the manicured grass.

Taking a few steps forward, however, the wall opens up revealing a staircase to the other side of the building.

It's a matter of perspective.

I once sat on the west side of the temple pondering after a solitary baptism session, and decided to make a full circle around the temple on my way back to my car. I made it as far as the first picture, grunted in dismay that the sidewalk led nowhere, and headed frustrated back the way I'd come.

It wasn't until later, perhaps as I circled the temple in my car, that I noticed there was in fact a staircase; I just couldn't see it.

I wonder how often we glance down the path and see no benefit before us, so we stop walking altogether, unaware that should we take even a few steps the way will become clear and we can go where we desire to go without backtracking.

We discussed in institute today the chapters (1 Nephi 11-14ish. But for sure 11) in which it is revealed to Nephi the meaning of his father's dream regarding the Tree of Life. The teacher ended the class with a look at all the types of people found in association to the Iron Rod: those who will not touch it, those who loosely grasp it, those who cling to it and don't move, those who hold it but move the opposite direction of the tree, and those who grip it and move forward.

It's not enough to hold the rod. You have to move.

Faith can't take you anywhere, the Lord can't take you anywhere unless you pick up your feet and walk. Today was the most beautiful day because at some point I decided I would keep walking until I could see the beauty. And it wasn't long until I found it.

And the longer I walked, the more beautiful it became.

Monday, September 9, 2013

-another untitled-

I wasn't sure what I was looking at anymore. And hours later wasn't sure how my overactive imagination would insist I felt in the moment. Because as it happened, right then with my eyes blinking slowly at a night growing deeper, I was distant and safe; reserved and aloof. Unattached and uncaring.

And then tomorrow came.

And in the light of today all the truths were gone, replaced by the ache of what I can't have; what I don't have. What I won't have. What I've spent months understanding isn't coming down that road, but another I've yet to cross. Remembering taxes my emotions into believing a reality I knew at dusk wasn't so.

And yet I sit wishing, knowing then I was unfeeling, that life could continue its course underneath like water under the bridge, and I could stay stagnant observing all the Hundred Acre Woods creatures floating by on their backs and in sauce pans, knowing I'd come out of this unscathed and alright.

But doubt, and a series of rehashed thoughts, have me spinning in the current with the owl.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Living keeps taking the breath out of me.
I hold hands with my accomplishments
And smile at the breeze that cuts my hair,
Lingering over the idea of tomorrow.


It felt empty. And I wondered why we do this
When our hearts and heads are past these places
But we keep physically in now.
I wasn't searching, wasn't striving,
Wasn't fighting to win
The battle I've accepted I've lost.

Vain repetition,
With the illusion of contempt
And a voice
That suddenly remembered


"What are you doing?"

A question for the ages. A novellic framework for the life I trudge through. What are you doing?

I couldn't tell you, my head buried in books, my heart swaddled in t-shirts, my body limp in bed.

Looking, I guess. I suppose that's a thought; looking for something without this. It's occurred to me how narrow the scope my existence has come to take up. Perhaps that's the circle I've created in time that's led me to fear there's nothing but familiarity from here, and a sort of discontent turning of events.


I remember better than you. You have to remember it's because I memorized it all. I had so much childish hope, so much doe-eyed optimism that I had to remember. And memories fade hard.

Forgive me if I sound like I still care. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but when it's there I find I lack.

A defense mechanism, you said. A correct choice of words, for hearts break too hard and too fast. We've allotted our course; let's continue the march and maybe find our own way to right.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

1 Nephi 3:7

I'm taking a Book of Mormon Institute class this semester on campus that spans the beginning of the Book of Mormon to midway through Alma, if memory serves. We had a sub today, and having the creative licensing of a sub, he took the girl's devotional and made it the majority of the lesson. Ironically the verse that covered her devotional had been the majority of our lesson on Tuesday. So we covered the same ground two days in a row.

And I needed to hear it.

Nephi wrote his account some 30 years after the events took place. Both teachers kept stressing this point throughout the two different lessons, asking how the account would be different if Nephi didn't have that lens of hindsight to peer through. In the first verse of 1 Nephi 1, he says "having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days..." We were repeatedly asked how he could say those things together; afflictions and being "highly favored of the Lord." Would that have been acknowledged without the hindsight?

I've, in a way, become obsessed with the hindsight lately. I've often made practice of looking back at moments I didn't understand, seeing the merit behind the struggle. I'm having one such moment right as I type and...

I'm amazed, again and indefinitely, at the glory of God. I had a moment today in which, as far as I'm concerned, I acted not of myself but of the Lord's will for me. It was selfless and of really no benefit to myself, but my desire to act was overbearing. And now, my role completed, I feel at peace.

And I forget these moments. I forget the beauty in hearing that nudge from the spiritual realm that swims through our air, constantly bumping against us that we're often too preoccupied to feel. I forget the strength, courage, might that comes from acting on those impulses, following that guide in as small a manner as it could be, from talking to that person or elaborating in that text message to avoid confusion. I forget tender mercies.

I forget the thousands of pinpricks in my daily life that aren't "coincidence" or "nature" or "fate" or "happenstance" or "astrology," but truth and God-given blessings. I love not worrying; I love remembering these things and that I don't need to fret about all of it. I need to focus on doing my best in this moment, in following Him in word and deed, and good things are coming to me in due course of time.

And today I remembered I can be someone's good thing. I take part in the lives I cross.

I'm helping a friend with a play reading this week, and we discussed the script after our rehearsal Tuesday night, and someone mentioned the abnormal cast size, and how it's necessary to have those characters to move the plot, but to produce it would be cumbersome.

We star in our own shows, we're the protagonist of our plays, but we also moonlight as minor characters in the productions of others, moving their plot along, furthering their story. God has written an entire world's worth of stories, the most intricate novel of all time, the most elaborate play in the universe. And I get to be in it. Whether it's my story or another's, I get to cross the stage.

I need to remember to take the blocking from my Director when He gives it.
"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered." -Guildenstern, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead; Tom Stoppard