Talking to you tonight got me to thinking. Thinking about where I was when I was your age. I know you might not think so, but lately, as you’ve gotten older, I forget that you really are only 21. You just seem so grown up these days. But like I said, talking to you tonight got me to thinking about time. Thinking about the eight years that separate where you are, from where I am, and what happened in between.
Lets just say nothing happened the way I saw it in my head. When I was 21.
And I know that maybe this isn’t what you want to hear tonight. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear back then. And maybe it won’t be what you want to hear tomorrow, or the day after that. But maybe in a week, or a month, when your heart has quieted just a bit, you’ll be in a place where you’ll see that this is more than me, your big sister saying, “well, when I was your age.” Because it is. It’s so much more than that.
But in order to get to the “more than that,” I have to say…
When I was your age …
I lived in the Foxwood Apartments on the west side of University. I was a junior at BYU. And I liked a boy. I don’t think I ever told you about him. His name was Troy and he had a really cute bum. It makes me smile to remember that. Whenever Katie and I saw him from behind, we would sing (truth be told, we would actually rap) that line from the Salt-N-Pepa song, “you’re packed, and you’re stacked, ‘specially in the back. Brothuh, wanna thank your mothuh for a butt like that” (to ourselves of course). Ha ha. I really did love that bum. But I digress.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. I lived at Foxwood, was finishing my junior year, and I liked a boy. We were good friends and we hung out, but at the end of the year, he decided he liked one of my friends, and just like that my little heart was crushed. Looking back, I wonder why it hurt so much. It was just a silly crush. But that’s the beauty of time I suppose. It offers perspective. Regardless, at that time, it did hurt. And it hurt bad. And that’s ok. Don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s ok that it hurts. And it’s ok that you need to cry. I cried. I cried a whole heaping lot. Ultimately, I think I cried not because of what it was, but because of what it represented. Which was me, once again, not winning the boy. Not being married. Not getting what I’d always seen myself getting by the time I was 21.
After a few more tears and a long, hot shower, I drove up to the temple to read my scriptures. I soon came to a verse that I can honestly say, though cliché in every way, changed my life. But it’s true. It was in Mosiah 24 where the people of Alma are weighed down with heavy burdens and they are pouring out their hearts to God that He’ll deliver them. And the Lord comes to them and says:
Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs … and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
Kayc, this isn’t my point, but I must, like the people of Alma, stand as a witness that the Lord God does visit His people in their afflictions. I know you know that. But it’s easy to forget. He visited me that night and on many more occasions since then. I can’t count the times he has eased the burden and given me strength to carry it. And I know He will do the same for you.
After reading that scripture I was at peace. It wasn’t dramatic. It wasn’t a surging rush of calm. It was just quiet. And I knew it was ok. It still hurt (bad). But it was ok. And then I bowed my head. And prayed the prayer I’d not yet had the courage to say. “Am I supposed to go on a mission?”
My life changed dramatically that night, when I finally bent my will to His. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about that prayer on the hill. It’s good to remember.
Serving that mission was a jumping off point to an amazing life. It provided a foundation for building block upon building block of experiences and opportunities. But before there could be a foundation, there had to be a place to put it. An open space. A space that was dug and created by the humility that came from not getting what I thought I wanted.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying I think you should serve a mission. Only you know that. I just want you to know, that I know, that sometimes the present hurts. And that sometimes the future seems dark. But if you can just hold on one more minute, read one more verse, say one more prayer, I know, the path will lighten. And I know that the road, the one He leads you down, will be filled with more joy and happiness than if you’d gotten what you wanted.
No, my life isn’t everything I want it to be yet. Even since my mission, I’ve had mashed-up, broken hearts. I’ve told the Lord time and time again what I want to have happen, only to be given something different. I’ve asked Him, “Why? Why me?” And I’ve cried some more too. Yes, I’m lonely sometimes. I used to think that I wouldn’t wish my current situation on anyone, but I don’t think that way anymore. Because in my current situation? …
I’m learning patience. I’m learning faith. I’m learning hope. I’m learning who He is and where He is and just how much I really need Him. He and I … we’re getting closer every day because, at the end of the day, He’s all I have. And when it’s all said and done, when I finally get what I want most, I’m certain there will never be another wife or mother who loves being a wife and mother more than me. Because I had to wait for it. Because I know what it’s like to be without it.
And in the meantime, I learn. And allow myself to be led to glorious things–things I never could have done and places I never could have gone, had I been given what I wanted when I wanted it.
And because of that, this is what I know … that sometimes, before the joy, there’s perhaps a bit of sorrow. And often before the blessing, there’s sometimes a bit of emptiness. It’s like the tide. Before it rolls in, it must roll out. And the sun–before it rises, it has to set. But, my sweet sister, the light always comes. It always comes. And that’s what I’m holding out for.