When I was 10 my parents moved us out of the city to a home where crickets chirped louder than your thoughts, and where I could see more stars on a clear summer night than I’d ever seen in my whole life COMBINED!!
I loved it.
I’ve always been fascinated by stars. Especially when, on the aforesaid clear summer nights, they simply took my breath away. There was many a game of ‘jump the ball’ (our own can-less neighborhood version of ‘kick the can’) where I would just stop in my tracks and sit out round after round in favor of feeling the curve of our hill at my back and just looking, almost falling, into the majesty of the Southern sky. Sometimes I felt like this was a way of disconnecting from the hectic world (or, at the moment, a chaotic mess of kids running, screaming, laughing, etc.) and instead connecting with God. From seeing the beauty and majesty of the stars alone, I never had any doubt that He was there. It always brought me such peace, and made me feel at one with the earth. Sometimes I would even imagine I could see the curve of the atmosphere, like I was at the bottom of a tiny snow globe and the stars were the glitter falling slowly.
Yep. I was definitely a daydreamer.
It was such a joyful experience, though, to be a daydreamer in my youth. And not just while enjoying nature. I devoured literature, loved a good cry after a sad movie (WITH a happy ending, mind you!), and had my head up in the clouds more often than not.
I just loved thinking. And I just loved stories.
I think that’s a part of human nature – to love stories. Why else would we spend so much of our time watching, hearing, writing, reading, imagining stories and retelling them over and over again? Stories are wonderful. They can help us escape harsh realities, find peace in our own trials, appreciate our blessings, and create new solutions to old problems. Stories connect us to the essence of our humanity. They inspire us.
But they can harm us, too.
Because we relate so well to stories, we often sort our own lives into a story of our own. But are our stories really truth? And if we are living our stories, are we living truth?
I wasn’t. For a long time. And I can remember exactly the moment when it went wrong.
When was hospitalized in Las Vegas, my (AWESOME) companion and I were alone in the hospital for hours. And then days. But sometime while I was there, hooked up to IVs after weeks of not being able to eat, sleep, or even breathe without pain, I received a phone call that made my going home a reality. Up to this point, I had such faith and hope that I was called to be in Vegas, and that Heavenly Father needed me there, that I had never really even considered it to be a possibility that I would go home. But that phone call with my dad finally grounded me in reality.
At least, what I thought was reality.
Of course, the reality – and truth – was that I needed to go home. It was rather obvious that the doctor I had been seeing (and basically paying to write prescription after poisonous prescription without regard for allergic reaction or chemical composition – a grand total of 19 in the 3 months I had in Vegas!) had no clue how to actually help me, and that I needed medical attention urgently. Y’know. From a real doctor.
But from that moment of hanging up the phone with hopeful and tearful parents, I started to tell myself a story.
This story included me somehow not having enough faith. It included me not being able to do the work the Lord had for me, and my physical limitations somehow making me unworthy to be what I had wanted to be my whole life (though strangely, even to this point, it wasn’t the POTS).
This story also included how I would never be able to make my parents proud, how I had failed, how I would never succeed. It included the feeling that somehow I deserved pain, that I deserved to be sick. That I certainly didn’t deserve to be happy.
It was only fed by well-meaning encouragements to return to a mission that was certainly out of reach by this point. My Story began to take on a life of its own, as my soul marinated in my failings and imperfections.
The Story I was telling myself was that my flaws outweighed any good I could have ever done, in Vegas or otherwise.
The adversary was working full-time to make sure I believed that Story. It was truly a recipe for disaster, fed by my pain and inability to understand.
That Story turned into me believing that my parents, my family, didn’t love me.
That Story led me to a marriage temple without the support of my parents (who have lovingly and amazingly refrained from saying “I told you so”). It led me to a place where I tolerated an environment in which my true self, my integrity and virtue and hope, wasn’t welcome.
And then came Sadie.
I have not seen, nor will ever see until I lay eyes on my Redeemer and His Father, any being or soul so perfect. So absolutely pure.
Why would God bless me to even be in the same room as such a spirit, let alone allow me to be her mother, now and forever, if I was irredeemable?
He would not.
Not for me, not for anyone. Because no one is irredeemable. No one upon this earth is beyond the reach of His love, unless they actively choose to be.
From those life-altering three days in the hospital onward, something changed. My Story slowly but surely un-wrote itself. It unraveled bit by bit until I finally struck the chord of truth. And I found it. The truth behind all of the Story. That sometimes, we can’t push steadfastly on through the brick wall God places before us, having ‘faith’ that if we just try hard enough, we’ll get what we want. Sometimes, we have to step back and prayerfully look for the door He has already opened before us, maybe somewhere unexpected, unglamorous.
Sometimes, we have to find our TRUTH, not our Story.
Looking back at my mission journals, I realize that I used to know my truth. It brought me peace, happiness, joy, and the ability to write every day in a ‘gratitude journal’ even if the ONLY things I could truly say I was grateful for were these:
I am alive.
I have a body.
How could I have forgotten my truth? The same way we all do, at different point in our lives. We get trampled by the temptation to be cool or fit in. We get overwhelmed with the desire to be seen as fun, smart, perfect.
We cannot be perfect. It is impossible. HOWEVER! We should not fear, because as long as we are trying, and coming closer and closer our Savior every single day? Our perfection process is happening in the HERE and NOW.
He has paid the price for our truth. Can we accept it? Can we accept ourselves?
To live honestly, to live our truth, we have to learn to accept our flaws as what makes us HUMAN, and realize that those things are what makes us susceptible to the power of the Atonement. How beautiful is that?
However, we also have to accept our beauty, our power, our strength.
He has truly blessed us with so much.
So.. my truth? I have been blessed beyond comprehension. I have a family who loves me wholeheartedly, craziness and all. I have a Father in Heaven who loves me more than I know. I have a Savior who has paid the price for me to have this opportunity to live, to make mistakes, to succeed, and to fail. I have eyes that see, ears that hear, and a darn cute nose. I love with my whole soul, and always see the good in others. I have a gift of positivity and an increased capacity to have charity and to feel joy. I stay up too late, I frequently sing off-key, and I fall to my knees in a heaping mess at the end of more days than not, but I always know in Whom I trust. Virtue and integrity is important to me, but above all things, I will always try to make a decision that will help another person feel loved, even if it means I run out of energy to do the things I had planned for myself.
The truth is that the Creator of our beautiful universe, our earth, our Sun, our moon and stars, believes that I am important. That I have a purpose in His intricate plan. That I am needed, and that you are too.
I am amazing. I am flawed. I am strong. I have great weakness. I care, trust, and probably eat too much, but I am free. Because I am living my truth.
Are you living yours?
“Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest”