21 May 2014

Content to Wander

What do you want to be when you grow up?

From my earliest memories, this question held one definitive answer for me.  A wife and a mother.  I was born with compassion, intuition, and an innate ability to nurture.  I had no doubt that I would be married  in my early 20s and raising a brood of fun-loving, creative, civilized, artistic, well-educated children for the majority of my life.  As you know, that's not at all what happened.

Instead of meeting the love of my life when I was five, growing up next door to each other, marrying when he returned from his mission, having 10 children and living happily ever after, I find myself single and pursuing a very different course through life.  Sometimes I think I'm only dreaming; like I'll awaken any moment and find I'm only 13 years old with my whole life ahead of me.  Or I'll roll over in bed and find that ever elusive love of my life lying there beside me, our crazy kids running in to pounce and kiss us awake.

But every morning I wake to the same solitary situation.  Until recently I thought that because my life doesn't look anything like I planned I must have taken a wrong turn, messed things up somehow somewhere along the way.  Maybe I should have gone to a different college; USU instead of SLCC, the U of U instead of Weber, skipped SUU altogether...or put more determination and heart into staying despite everything.  Maybe I should have been more courageous, figured out a different dream or goal, researched careers better, chosen a different major, different employment, different everything.

But, as I've submerged myself in nostalgia over the last couple of weeks, retracing the steps that brought me to where I am, I don't see "detour" or "do not enter" or "wrong way" road signs.  I have made some mistakes, but the major decisions were guided and correct.  For all I know the mistakes were part of the plan too.

On Sunday, while making small talk with a girl in my ward, the question, "what do you do?" came up, as it often does. My response, "I work at the CH Museum." Somewhat intrigued Stephanie then asked the usual follow-up, "what do you do there?" Brightly I say, "I work in the store."  Slightly crestfallen, but doing her best to cover, "Is that where you see yourself always working?"  Or something like that; I can't remember her exact words.  I haven't had that response before.  It caught me but I paused for only a moment.  "I don't really know.  I'll stay until it feels right to leave."  Then I explained about my initial ambition and my inability to predict my path or decide my progression more than a step at a time.  This feels right, nothing else does, so this is what I do.  I was prepared for her to scoff at the way I live my life, but again she surprised me by saying, "I wish I had that kind of faith."  What?  Faith?  I've just been wandering around, most of the time feeling lost and generally disappointed in my inability to climb the socially enforced ladders.

This conversation gave me a new perspective, the perspective I've been struggling for years to find.

I am where I need to be for now and when this is no longer the right place, the next place will become apparent.  All the schools, jobs, living situations, wards at church, etc. have been where I needed to be.  The friends, coworkers, teachers, wardies, and many of the acquaintances I've known and interacted with have been who I needed to know and interact with.  And the timing of each has always been specific.  My prayers are being answered.

I have been wandering, but those wanderings have not been as aimless as they seem.  Maybe someday I'll settle into a career, or finally have that family of my dreams.  But until then, I am content to wander.

I guess this explains why all of my favorite hymns have a common theme: faith to follow and trust in the Lord.

Lead, Kindly Light
Be Still, My Soul
How Firm a Foundation
I Need Thee Every Hour
Nearer, My God, To Thee
Master, the Tempest is Raging
I Know That My Redeemer Lives
I Stand All Amazed
How Great Thou Art

18 May 2014

forgiving...part 2

Today has been an interesting day. Waking, as I usually do, wishing only to burrow in and drift off again. But the squawking bird in the tree outside my window made further sleep impossible. So I prayed, as I do most mornings, "please help me" and crawled over and off the bed. In the shower, Primary songs filled my head. I got ready, went to church, sat through a committee meeting then into the chapel. Instead of finding an empty bench, I sat next to a girl I've talked to two or three times. Her name is Stephanie but I always want to call her Heather. Whatever, not important. We chatted until her friend, then my friends arrived. The meeting commenced as usual. The first talk was given by a man I became loosely acquainted with about 11 years ago. I love when he speaks because music is his life and passion. He talked about the great power music has to invite the Holy Ghost and encourage personal revelation. As he bore testimony, the Spirit wrapped around me and I felt the love of my Heavenly Father and the truthfulness of the gospel.

About a month ago as I drove to work, my insides were all tight and angry and bitter. When I got to work I paused in my car and had a little chat with God. I'm tired of being all tied up in angry bitter knots. Something's gotta change and I need your help.  I reorganized the priorities in my head and decided I need to go to the temple once a week, really study the scriptures every day instead of just passively listening or glancing over a few verses before bed, and I need to consciously keep Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at the forefront of my thoughts. And...I need to forgive. I've been working on forgiveness for decades, it seems, and I just couldn't quite internalize the concept. I thought I had forgiven everyone, but my anger said otherwise. So I prayed and went to the temple, even when I didn't feel like going. And at the temple, I added certain names to the list of people for patrons to pray for.

As you know from the previous post, a certain long-ago friend was pretty constantly on my mind over the last few weeks, so his name was top in my prayers. I found the forgiveness and I found the beginnings of a peace for which I've been searching most of my life. But it still wasn't quite enough.

Today, as I sat, surrounded by the Spirit, listening to the roommate of that long-ago friend speak about the incredible influence of music, I made a decision to write a note and ask said roommate to deliver it. I don't think we've ever actually said two words to each other, but I decided that if it was meant to be, the opportunity would present itself. After the meeting, as I walked into the lobby (half expecting the long-ago friend to be there, by the way I've been feeling) I spotted instead his other roommate, who is a friendly of mine. So I talked with him for a moment and gave him the note to pass on.

I don't know what the purpose is, if it's for me to express my peace and well wishes, or if it's somehow for him. I don't know. I may never know. But it felt like the right thing to do.

I've never experienced forgiveness in quite this way before. When people described it as a weight lifted, I couldn't fathom ever feeling that light...but I do. And I feel love. Where all the bitterness and hurt and fear and anger have been festering for so long, now all I feel is love and a hope that his life is good and happy.

Crazy feeling! Great feeling! Unbelievable, and yet true feeling! I hope this feeling sticks around.  I'm really not the type to hold a grudge. This was an exception that I think is more about taking time to work through some major layered challenges and less about anything it seemed to be about. I'm stronger, better, and more stable than I've ever been, and this is proof.

It's about time! That's all I can say.

17 May 2014


Dear friend,

The details are hazy now, it's been a couple weeks.  I don't remember if it was a line in a song or a poem, a scene in a movie, a drive through an intersection, or maybe it wasn't anything specific.  All I know is that you've been almost constantly on my mind for over a week...maybe two.  Usually, when my thoughts are so entirely infused with another person, I send a text or some sort of message and ask if we can get together or chat.  Part of me has been searching for you in every face that passes by because it used to be that when I felt the way I do, you appeared out of nowhere in a matter of hours.  But you haven't even invaded my dreams.  I thought about sending a letter or email or postcard or something, but I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear from me...and Bestest Friend said I shouldn't contact you.  My judgement was always blurred where you were concerned, so I'm going with her on this one.  But writing in a notebook words I'll never send to you isn't writing you away as it should.  So maybe if I put the words here, send them into the void in which I used to write you away, maybe that will be enough.

I wish we could go back in time...10 years ago this month, next month, July.  I wish I could make a different decision.  I didn't know how influential that decision would be. 
One moment, one action, one middle of the night...I lost a dear friend and ten years of my life.  I miss that friend, a lot sometimes.  I wish we could go for a drive or a walk and just talk for a while.  But I wrote you away five years ago and he'd been gone five years before that.  Sometimes I wish time erased history so we could just delete the last 10 years and pick up a moment before, make different decisions and continue on in the alternate universe where we were always only friends. 

But then, maybe that universe wouldn't have lasted much longer either. 

Somehow, what happened between us was part of our learning process...at least part of mine, I don't have a clue how it affected you...if it affected you.  I have learned volumes about myself, about other people, about friendship, about relationships, about life, and about God.  I have learned about hate, fear, loss, sorrow, guilt, shame...but also hope, faith, love, repentance, and forgiveness. 

I finally feel forgiveness.  I forgive you. I forgive God.  I forgive myself.  And I feel forgiven.

The last communication you received directly from me called you a villain.  Our relationship destroyed so much of who I was.  I thought it was maliciousness on your part, but I don't think that anymore.  I don't know your motives.  I don't know if you know your motives.  I thought I was motivated by love; that may be somewhat true, but too much need and desperation were mixed in too.  I was full of holes before you came along and I tried to fill them with you.  But as you filled some, you created others.  The thing I'm finally realizing is that the me I was needed to be torn apart so I could become the me I want to be.  Why that job was yours, I may never know.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry things ended the way they did.  I'm sorry I wasn't stronger, more aware of what we were doing to each other sooner.  I'm sorry I let things go too far, too long, too deep.  I'm sorry I wasn't a better friend to you, and that I needed more friendship than you could give.
Thank you for trying, because I think you did.  Thank you for pulling me apart, exposing my weakness, and going away when I couldn't handle anymore. 

Maybe someday we'll find each other in another alternate universe and we can go for a walk or a drive and talk about everything...or nothing...sometimes I miss just being with you.  I'd like to think you sometimes miss me too...but I doubt you've even thought of me in the last five years.  That's okay.  If, by chance, you do think of me, stumble into my void and read this, just know...it's okay, we're okay. At least on my end.