Thursday, April 27, 2006

A peak into the past

Wow! What a great meeting!! I don't know where I would even begin, although in the car on the way home I didn't seem to have a problem. It's probably a good thing that my mindless blabbering isn't all recorded. We opened with our Stake President inviting us to leave our problems and worries at our feet, while we attended our seperate leadership meetings. It was remarkable. Talk about opening our minds and being enlightened. I'm certain it will help with my new calling.

As I got to thinking about our youth, and as the Bishop and I discussed the troubles with our ward youth in particular, it got me thinking back 15 years ago....(fuzzy dream clouds and mystical music)

...I had just turned 18 (or would be turning in a few short days). When you hear the term "troubled teen", you could probably picture me and you wouldn't be too far off. I was the poster child for birth control, and probably the reason my mother should be bald by now. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I lived for the moment, and only THAT moment. I didn't care about tomorrow or the next day- heck! I barely cared about today. I sought the approval of people I didn't even know, and who didn't even care about me. I wanted attention in the worst way, and got it- in the worst way. Life was just about existing, not about living. I felt I had no begining, and couldn't care less about the end; sometimes I figured the sooner the end, the better. Do most teens feel like that? I don't know, but I sure did. It had nothing to do with what I was taught. My Mom certainly instilled morals and values in me, but they just didn't seem to stick.

Then, the opportunity came to be a nanny in New Jersey. Why not? I figured. It would get me out of my small town blahs, and into the great big, wild, wonderful world. Emphasis on wild. Then came the day I left.

As I borded the plane, and casually entered the world of "on your own", I sat down and looked around me. Everywhere, people were seated, actually DOING something with their lives. And, here I was. So I decided. The thought came to me as clear as any thought ever has. 'You can be whoever you want to be. No one knows you there. No one knows who you were, or what you did. You have a clean slate. This is a once in a lifetime chance.' I remember those lines exactly, and will until the day I die. On that plane ride, I decided who I really wanted to become. I made a mental plan, starting with the longest goal I could think of. I wanted Heavenly Father to be proud of me. I wanted my Mom to be proud of me. Most of all, I wanted to be proud of me. Then, I started to break things down- I wanted to be married for eternity. I wanted it all- the family, the husband, the temple marriage that would ensure we would live together not only in this life, but the next one. I had studied tons of religions during my "rebellious" days, and although I would have never admitted it to my Mom or my Bishop, I always knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was true. I always say that I know it is, because at one time, I doubted it was. By doubting, I had to delve deeper, to search with more meaning, to open up my mind and heart, and to decide. You can't just assume with religion. Who wants eternity based on assumption? So, I decided that I would be the most faithful Latter-Day Saint I could be. I stopped swearing completely (and for those of you who might have known me before, you would have thought that I didn't know any other vocabulary), and focused on making my life WORTH something. To live to BECOME something. To SERVE without thought of gain, and to DEDICATE without thought of recognition. And today? Well, I am proud of me, and I would hope that my family is proud of me as well. I know that Heavenly Father is proud of me, because he has blessed me far beyond my ability to comprehend it all.

What a powerful gift I was given. I probably don't think about it as often as I should, or give it enough credit. But, I wanted to share this with those of you I love most. It was far from easy to pull myself out of the muck I was figuratively covered with. It took months of work, and years of repentance. But completely worth it. I hesitate to think where my life would be without that plane ride. I know it wouldn't be here with all of you. We talked about how our youth struggle with their testimonies. I, too, struggled. But like that chick that must struggle to hatch from the egg, it will build their spiritual strength. My testimony has grown each day that the sun has risen again, whether I could see it or not. There was a time in my life that I didn't understand why I was given this path, these hardships, this much stuff to struggle with. I wrote a poem, properly entitled "Feeling Sorry For Myself".

When I open my eyes and all I want to do is close them again,
When I wake to a day that holds nothing but struggles and pain,
When I long for the peace that I felt so very long ago,
I stop and I wonder where have all my prayers gone?

It seems as though life has forgotten me here by the wayside,
It seems as though good fortune has lost its way here,
It seems that when things can only get better, they don’t,
And I wonder where is the God I once knew?

As a child I believed that the world would always protect me,
As a wife I believed that my husband would always be there,
As a mother I knew that my children forever could trust me,
But now I wonder, If I even know who I am.

They say that the scriptures always will lead and direct us,
They say that the prophets will guide us to comfort and peace,
They say that He knows and He suffers beside us,
But where can I find Him when nothing inside me feels real.

I’ve searched for Him here by my bedside at nighttime,
I’ve searched for His comfort in hospital rooms,
I’ve searched for His healing power in my children,
But struggle to find the power I thought I knew.

Does He feel me struggling each day to get up?
Does He hear my cries out in pain?
Does He know how cruel I think this life is?
Does He care that one of His children longs to be with Him again?

I never did finish the end, although it's good and depressing just the way it is. Sometimes I feel bad that I wrote such a good poem about such a pathetic subject. I still read it every once in a while to remind me where I once was, and where I never want to be again. I figure God is kind of like an anti-biotic. Stay with me here. A lot of people take it really well at the beginning, but as things start to get better, they figure they really don't need it any more, and start to slack off. Sometimes, nothing happens, and things just go along. But what happens more often, is that the pain and infection are even worse. Okay. So not the best scenerio, but I figure people go to God when they are at their worst, and He comforts them. Well, they figure that things just got better on their own, and God had nothing to do with it, so they slack off. Then things get even worse than before. What's my point? Good question. I think it's that Heavenly Father is not only there for our problems, He is there for our triumphs. And for goodness sakes, a little "Thank-You" to Him every once in a while (daily, hourly perhaps?) wouldn't kill you.

I didn't get to my crumpled superhero tonight, but I'll really try to tomorrow.

Wow, do I ramble on.

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