Hello!!!! Oh my goodness it has been so very long since I have posted on this blog! But here I am! A year later, finally posting an update! If you're planning on reading this whole post right now, get comfy and maybe get some hot chocolate or herbal tea, you might be here for a while haha. So a little summary of the past year and a half: I came back from Ecuador July of 2015 and lived with family friends in Kaysville, my parents were in an Earthquake in Ecuador in April and they got back this past August (Eventually i'll get to posting experiences, stories and lessons from both these times). Exciting! We are now all three living together for my last year in high school and it has been very nice to be all together. After I graduate I am headed to Romania for five months to work in an orphanage before my mission and I am more excited than I can express.
You may be wondering why I felt inspired to start blogging again, and I guess that's because... even though I am no longer living in Ecuador and no longer having tons of missionary experiences everyday, I am still learning a ton and I'm still being tested. Living with another family for a year taught me a ton, having my parents away from me, starting over again in a new school, then having your parents be in an earthquake etc. all taught me something. So many things have happened over this year and a half and I have to share some of the lessons I have had. Sooo here ya go!
While in Ecuador I had begun to be on this spiritual high, I was so close to Heavenly Father and while not everything was perfect, I felt so happy. My testimony had grown so strong and I read the scriptures every day, I prayed every night and day; things were good, not perfect, but good. Coming back to Utah, I brought that joy with me, making friends came easier to me than it ever had at school, and while living with other people was hard I learned really important things like: communicate! and talk things out instead of staying silent or nothing will get solved! The silent treatment does NOT work (crazy idea right?). I learned that sometimes, the people you live with will have different ways of doing things than you do, different ideas, different opinions and for heavens sake, they will have different personalities! But that does NOT mean that they are wrong, and it does not mean you are wrong, it just means you're different, plain and simple. AND THAT'S OKAY. I learned that even though you don't want to do somethings sometimes, even though you don't always love someones else's ideas, you've just got to make it work and find middle ground. Always say you're sorry when you're wrong, do what you can to make it right, and then let it go. My friend's mom, also provided me with one of the best examples of what it is like to be selfless. She always did and still does things for other people all the time, she'll drop whatever she's doing to be of service whether it's making food for someone or visiting or talking or helping with someone's kids or laundry. She's there. And she made me want to be a better person, I thought I understood service and giving... and maybe to some extent I did, but after I lived with her for a year, I realized I had only scratched the surface. Living with other people means to learn things you didn't know before, to learn from each other, help each other and grow together. No one is perfect, but together we can improve even more greatly than if we tried to do it alone.
I'm sure that any of you that have read my blog before remember the quote, " There's no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone." Well, for so long I have been living outside of my comfort zone and I've gotten so used to being "uncomfortable" and growing that now that my parents are back and I'm with them, it has been so hard. I would be lying if I said it's been easy for all of us to be back home. Once again, I am here in this comfort zone that is my parents and our old house and this old life we've always lived in this house of ours... and I can't say that I feel the same happiness. After my parents came back and we moved back into our house, I slowly started getting back in to old habits I had before the mission, I started not to say my prayers as much and not to read my scriptures as much and now here I am 3 or 4 months later and hardly doing those important things at all. Life has started to feel grey once again and I've started to hit what the play writer Micheal McClain called a " Faith Crisis". For the past three and a half years, my life has been structure and growth and this spiritual high. I've felt better than I ever have, but now, here I am, once again struggling with myself. And why? I keep asking God why? Why is it so hard for me to keep reading the scriptures and to keep praying and going to the temple - all the things I KNOW from experience will make me happy. WHY? I think that's the word I've said the most this past month is "Why"? Why when I've spent four and a half years of my life getting closer to God is it so hard now? Why am I struggling to find the motivation and drive to do things? Why am I hurting and feeling alone and feeling sad, when I know you're there? WHY? Eventually, because of this spiritual decline, I've started to experience other declines in my life - where I have always been a school nerd and always been punctual about getting places on time and turning assignments in, lately I've been going to classes late and turning in assignments in late or not at all. My motivation to do anything has been spiraling down and it hurts. It hurts to feel like I'm losing the structure and happiness I worked so long to gain. And on top of all this emotional crap I've been feeling my family has been going through some really tough things and I've lost a couple friends who I loved and still love. Why? Why, God, if I've been doing so good and doing everything you asked me to, why is it so hard?
So why am I telling you all of this? Am I trying to be a Debbie Downer? Absolutely not. Am I denouncing my faith in God? No way Joseeee! Have I given up on this gospel? Never. I am telling you this because, Hi! I'm a human! And what a coincidence, so are you! And maybe you're going through the same thing and need someone to lean on, need some spec of hope. Maybe you've been praying for a sign, and I'm here to say, "HERE IS YOUR SIGN!" Because, while yes I have been going through some terrible things and some days don't want to get up out of bed, THERE IS A PURPOSE FOR IT ALL AND GOD IS AWARE OF ME AND YOU. At the beginning of this week (and anyone who goes to school with me will know... because I suck at hiding when I'm sad) I had once again reluctantly woken up and lugged myself out of bed and when I looked in the mirror that dreary Monday morning I asked, no one in particular, "why?" And then I just started to cry... because.. heck, why not? I hadn't really told my mom how I was feeling but as soon as she saw me crying I just spilled it. I can clearly remember her giving me a hug and then calling after me as I scampered out to the car, "We'll figure out a way to work things out." and I just huffed and mumbled "No we wont." and drove to school. The whole day I was silent and cried under the brim of my hat. How were we going to "work things out?" what could possibly make it better? The problem was me. Myself. I felt no motivation and drive and I felt colorless. How were we going to change me? Well... while I was feeling this way I was telling God in my head, "I bet you don't even care. You love so and so more than you love me and you give so and so everything they want. Why can't you just give me a little motivation to even get out of bed in the morning?" My head was just spinning with all these why questions and I was so sick of it.
But over the course of the day and the course of the week, even though I was sad, mad and plain upset, Heavenly Father was giving me all sorts of tender mercies and evidences that he was aware of me. In my seminary class that day, the teacher talked about exactly what I needed to hear. He talked about being spiritually lost and how the savior always wants us to come back and always has mercy on us. He talked about the story of the prodigal son and talked about the savior's mercy. I had all sorts of people showing me love and support and hugging me and texting me when Satan had been telling me that nobody cared. When my mom was in the temple on Wednesday she kept having this one chapter of scripture come to her mind and she didn't know why (hm.. wonder why.) but she told me which one and it talked about exactly what I needed! I mean talk about awesome. I went to Time Out For Women this weekend and the FLIPPING FIRST SPEAKER, Michael McClain, spoke about his "Faith Crisis" and feeling distant from Heavenly Father and how he came back. Um, say what? The very first speaker talked about the exact same problem I was having? Yeah, you bet he did. One of the stories he told, he said his father before he had died had given an Easter talk and for 12 of the 15 minutes he spoke he talked about God's greatness and how he was the most powerful being in the universe. He said that he was a little embarrassed that he was giving an Easter talk and not mentioning the atonement or the savior but that as his father's talk came to a close his father talked about why when Jesus Christ was on the cross had God withdrawn his spirit from him. And his father said something to the effect of, " Perhaps, because God was all powerful, he withdrew his spirit from his son because he wanted to show the world that he had faith in him. That he the most powerful being in the universe believed in his son and believed his son could fulfill this task." He talked about that it was so fitting because in order for us to be able to trust Jesus Christ's atonement and trust that he knew how we felt and put all our faith in him, wouldn't the most powerful God of all creations need to be able to put all his faith in him too? Michael McClain went on to say that what if it was the same for us? Perhaps when we are going through a hard trial, perhaps when we are finding it difficult to stay true or feel like God is there, maybe it is because he is trying to tell us that he has faith in us and that we can do it, that he trusts us and that we can handle it. How incredible is that? How incredible is it to think that God gives us hard things because HE, the most powerful being in all the universe, believes in US and believes that we are strong enough to handle it and rise above it. Pretty flattering right? I mean talk about THE best compliment you could ever receive.
So the first talk in Time Out For Women was the talk I needed to hear and then on Saturday night, Elder Nelsen of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, gave a fireside to all of the priests and laurels of my school. He had four kids come up and ask questions that they thought, we as a big group would want answers to. The very last question, was the question I had been asking for so long, "Why when I have been doing everything right is it so hard to stay strong? How do I stay firm?" He had given pretty good sized answers to the other three but he gave a significantly long answer to this question and after he was done he said something like, "wow, sorry I wasn't planning on saying that much but it kept coming". EVERY WORD HE SAID SPOKE TO MY QUESTIONS OF "WHY?". COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT! And then tonight I got to go hear Al Carraway speak here in Bountiful and she said exactly what I needed to hear too! I do not think that those things were coincidences in any way. After this weekend I feel this desire to try like I haven't for so long and this desire to work and grow and it's what I needed. Now I'm not saying I'm completely better and like my problems were solved in one week, because they weren't. I'm still stuck in this pickle, but Heavenly Father has shown me that he is aware of me, that he knows what I'm going through, that he loves me and that there is a purpose. Most of all he has shown me that he trusts me, and that most of all is the reason I now want to try again. I have the tools I need to get myself out of this rut I am in, and Heavenly Father has shown me what they are. Maybe it will take time, it definitely wont be easy but Heavenly Father has shown me it is possible. Even Mother Teresa in these letters she wrote, talked about how she felt like God had forsaken her and forgotten her and she felt alone and sad and she talked about how she had started that convent in Calcutta to maybe come back into God's graces. MOTHER TERESA! ONE OF THE MOST SPIRITUAL AND REVERED PEOPLE IN OUR HISTORY WENT THROUGH THE SAME THING. I only know this because Michael McClain talked about it in his talk, and wouldn't you know - another tender mercy, because he could never have known Mother Teresa is my idol, my greatest role model and I have her quotes all over my wall. Even the people we think are perfect are having trials of their own, they are human too and have struggles just like we do. Heavenly Father trusted Christ, so he let him go through hard things, he trusted Mother Teresa and HE TRUSTS US. If you are going through something hard, you should feel flattered, because Heavenly Father trusted you so much and had so much faith in you, that he believed you could handle this trial at this time. He believes in you even when you don't believe in yourself. But if the God of all creations believes and trusts in you, shouldn't you believe and trust in you too?
I just want to end this post by testifying that I know, I KNOW, that God, our Heavenly Father lives and cares about us and that his son Jesus Christ died for us so that we wouldn't have to be tied down by our mistakes and sins. I KNOW that there is a purpose: a purpose to life, a purpose to God's timing and a purpose to suffering. I know that if we just hang on, there is light and life at the end of the tunnel and we will be stronger when we come to it. Don't give up. It's so easy to give up and not try, but what do we benefit from it? Nothing. We don't come out of giving up being or feeling any stronger. Only holding on to hope and Faith will bring us through. And always remember, even if you don't believe in God, he believes in you. He believes in you even when you don't believe in you and he will always love you and be there for you, even if you choose not to see it or even if you feel like he's not. I hope you all know, I have gone through some terrible crap in my life, but I have also gotten through it and if you need someone to be there for you, if you need someone to remind you how loved you are and to remind you of God's love and to remind you that you can get through it too, I will. I love you all so much!!!! Stay strong!!!! "Hard times will always be there, but so will Christ, and with him we can conquer and overcome the world." - Al Carraway Go read D&C 121 ;)