Saturday, February 28, 2015

This Is Why I Stay

It’s been one of those weeks. Nothing really seemed to go right. I’ve been working through some matters of the heart. I’m falling behind on my classes and it’s stressing me out. Motivation to do anything is pretty low. And I’ve been missing my brother especially the last few days. I may or may not have binge-watched Gilmore Girls for a straight six hours the other day. Whatever. No regrets.

I feel really alone all the time lately. It usually hits late at night and suddenly, I just really need someone to hold me. But of course, that’s when no one is available. So I’m often left with just my thoughts. And food. Both are good. But it’s difficult and often painful. I think it’s healthy that I’m working through my emotions and I know it’s necessary, but that doesn't make it any easier. Sometimes, I think I need to get up and do something and be productive. See people, laugh, be happy. But it hurts too much to try. And it hurts to be alone and not do anything. Everything hurts.

Yet somehow, in this last month that has been so difficult, I have somehow been given countless blessings. I received two unexpected (but very much needed) messages from individuals expressing their love and concern for me. They both have lost siblings of their own and wanted to reach out and assure me I’m not alone. What are the odds? Blessings come when you need them the most!

I was able to go home for Sean’s birthday weekend and spend time with my family, and Laura’s family. We had a lot of people over on Valentine’s Day to celebrate my dear brother’s life together, and they all reached out a hand of support and expressed their love to me and mine. I got to see my sweet Laura (Sean's fiance), who is so amazingly strong and recovering very well. I’m so beyond proud of her and her ability to take this trial and grow from it. I am thankful for family, and those so close they are practically family as well.

I was able to spend time with a couple dear friends of mine that I haven’t seen in awhile. We talked into the wee hours of the morning about wonderful, important things. Among those things was Sean. I needed that support and outlet to express myself. As I spoke with them, I was even able to come to some realizations and understandings that I hadn't yet reached on my own. I am thankful for wonderful friends.

I was able to talk to my parents for a couple hours a few days ago. I told them a little bit about the things I have come to understand this month and how important they are to my growth and happiness. They told me how proud they are and they can see me maturing and becoming the woman I’m meant to be. I am so thankful for a loving mother and father.

I was able to make a new friend, and talk to her for a good long time about our families and love lives and goals and desires. I learned there’s one more person in the world who can relate to me on some level. I gained a relationship where I can be real and open with another human being. I am thankful for favorable circumstances and new opportunities.

I went up to Rexburg this last weekend to meet Aubrey (Laura’s old roommate) for the first time. She’s been a tremendous support to me these last couple months and I am so grateful to have finally spent some time with her. I met up with some good friends for the first time in awhile, and visited Sean’s old ward and met his bishopric, his roommates, and a couple of his friends. All of them were so nice and considerate. I could see how much they loved my brother. Receiving hugs and warm embraces from those who were in Sean’s life during his final days was a wonderful experience I’m glad I was able to have. I am thankful for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and for trials that can bring perfect strangers together.

And best of all. I was able to share my testimony with someone who needed me. A testimony I didn't even know I had. One I needed to hear just as much as she did. I was able to be there for someone else. I was able to lend the support someone needed. I was able to be selfless and serve my fellow man and God. I am so thankful for the gospel and for the healing power of love.

I’ve learned a lot this month. More than I thought I would. I feel as though, lately, I grow substantially every day. I don’t want to think of my brother dying as a blessing, because it’s not. But it has forced me to think about a great many things I wouldn't have considered or pondered on otherwise. It’s pushed me to finally do everything I’ve been saying I was going to do for years. It’s made me re-evaluate and reconsider life from an eternal perspective I’ve never had before.

I’m finally understanding the difference between needs and wants. I never did much for myself in high school. I was, in a lot of ways, a pushover. Many of my choices were made for other people. So when I came to college, I was determined to do what I wanted to do. Follow my desires and wishes, no matter the cost. But it caused me to ignore a lot of blessings I could have experienced. I’m learning now that doing what I NEED is so much more rewarding in the end. And it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice happiness. In fact, I’ve noticed I feel much more at peace when I strive for what I know I need instead of giving into the natural man.

I want to have all my questions answered. I want to be and feel loved by someone special. I want everything to just come easy because it’s all far too hard. But I understand that, right now, what I need is more important than that. I NEED God. I’ve learned to be okay with this fact. I have to be okay with not knowing the why’s to everything and being a little confused, because God is bigger than it all.

I struggle every day, I promise. A lot of things in the church hurt my head and my heart; I can’t even stand it sometimes. That’s okay. Some days, it’s necessary to take a breather, take a step back, re-think things. But when I do, I always end up realizing that this is where I need to be. I don’t know why, but I just know that much is true.

I also don’t know where else I would go, so I try and make the most of the home I have. “Don’t abandon something just because it’s broken. Fix it.” Often, that just means fixing myself, and doing my part to contribute to the improvement of the church as a whole. I speak my mind and I never back down. I voice my opinions and questions, because it’s healthy and I have the right to do so. And when I don’t have all the answers, I pray for peace and clarity. Peace and clarity. Peace and clarity over and over. I cannot tell you how much that has helped. I just need to have faith that eventually, things will work out the way that is best. Maybe not in this life, but someday.

My testimony comes and goes. I can’t honestly say that I KNOW God exists and the gospel is true. But I will say: I have faith it is. I don’t have proof. I constantly wonder if He’s real or not, and it scares me to think he might not be, especially since that would mean I'll never see my brother again. But I can’t let that hold me down. I won’t.

I embrace and accept the doubts and the questions, and I choose to live with faith despite it all. Because at least I know that even if I’m wrong, I lived with hope. I lived with the belief in happiness to come. Without that, I don’t think I could keep going. I would have no reason to live. I need God to be real. I need families to be eternal. I need second chances. I need the Atonement. Oh lordy, I need the Atonement so much it hurts. And since that is what I NEED, that is what I hold on to. That is what I know will give me peace.

Yes, it’s harder. Needs are always harder than wants. That’s why it’s called the natural man. Wants are natural. Needs are not. Being human is the hardest thing I have ever done. (Really, though.) But it’s all I’ve got, so I’m gonna make the most of it until my time comes.

Pray more. Love more. Read more. Laugh more. Do more. Be More. Ask yourself, “What do I NEED today?” Then pray for guidance. Pray to know the answer. It’s hard at first. But it gets easier. I don’t have all the answers. The church certainly doesn't either. No one on this planet does. Only God does, assuming He’s there. You have to trust Him, and just as important: you have to trust yourself. That alone will make a world of difference. And when you learn to do that, you might discover something amazing like I did.

You might finally understand the reason why you stay.