I’ve done a lot of thinking lately. I’ve done a lot of worrying and a lot of wondering. I’ve questioned my questions and I’ve questioned my answers. I’ve questioned my path and I find after all of that thinking I keep on living and doing the same things day after day.
I’ve realized that I’m not always happy and I complain more than I should. I’ve realized that I put a lot of my problems on to other people, when in reality I’m sure part of the blame is my fault. I’ve realized that people just don’t want to hear it any more. I don’t want to hear it any more.
I’ve had a lot of eye opening experiences this week. I feel like I was working on being more positive a few months ago, when more pressing matters came into my life and I fell into my same blaming cycle. I thought that my friends liked to hear all of the crazy stories I would tell. It turns out that while crazy stories are interesting, people actually like to hear happy normal stories as well. I’ve found that it’s hard to find those happy stories, when nothing in my life has changed in a few years.
On Monday I saw a post on Facebook, and while I’d seen it before, it had a much greater impact on me this time. I realized that my prayers had been lacking. I was so caught up in all of my worries, that I was neglecting to be grateful or really pray at all for that matter. I had just become so overwhelmed that I figured maybe it was safer to say my half-heart-ed prayers as I fell asleep.
At work on Tuesday someone shared a story told by Elder Robert D Hales retold by Elder Christoffereson, “[Elder Hales] had a sister from France who was assigned to the mission, and she had a real challenge with English. And she progressed to a certain level but couldn’t seem to get much further and asked for a blessing from him. He gave her a blessing, and she made some headway and then plateaued again at a certain level and came back for another blessing. So he said he put his hands on her head and nothing came. No impression. He lifted his hands back and thought a moment and then it came to him: ‘If she will express gratitude for what she has already received, I have more to give her.’”
I had heard that story before, but it meant a lot more to me this time. I realized that I hadn’t been grateful. I’d said “thank you” a few times, but I was so focused on my worries, that I was finding it hard to find the right words to express myself. I came home and watched the Face2Face with Elder Holland on LDS.org. I was hoping to find some answers, but instead just enjoyed listening to what he had to say.
Towards the end my phone rang. My roommate from 8 years ago was calling me. We don’t talk very often, so I was surprised and worried something was wrong. I paused the broadcast and she proceeded to tell me a random fact about one of our other roommates…from 8 years ago. I had no idea what she was talking about or why she had called me. We started talking and we have had a lot of similar questions and problems. She has a similar background to me, and is one of the few people who at that moment and time could really relate to what I was saying. She told me about a BYU devotional that she had recently read called Zoram and I: Getting Our Stories Straight given by David B. Paxman. It totally changed my way of thinking. There is a part from it that I’d like to share:
Zoram has to make a quick decision. To save himself from harm, he agrees. Not only that, he “did take courage” from Nephi’s words. Zoram promised “he would go down into the wilderness” and “made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.” After this oath, Nephi says, “Our fears did cease concerning him” (1 Nephi 4:35, 37).
Remember that at this point Nephi can’t tell Zoram where they are going for one simple reason: he doesn’t know.
Will Zoram understand that he is the beneficiary of an extraordinary opportunity? Will he believe and be free even though he is being constrained to do so? Will he stay true to his oath, even though it was made under duress? Or will he bristle at being physically assaulted and forced to make a decision in unfair circumstances? Imagine the stories Zoram could tell his children and that later generations could tell each other.
Zoram could say:
At first I thought I was caught in a trap, but in the longer view, my presence was planned and prepared for. When Ishmael and his family arrived, I was the extra male needed to marry a daughter of Ishmael. Out of all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, I was given a chance to live with a prophet’s family, marry as an equal, and inherit the promised land along with them and on equal terms, even though my status in Jerusalem society would probably never have afforded me the opportunity to associate with them. I witnessed miracles as God brought us from Jerusalem to a promised land. More to the point, I learned about the true God and my place before Him. We have been extraordinarily blessed. What I could see as a problem was actually the circumstance the Lord used to bless me and my posterity.
Or he could tell himself and his children:
I went along because I had to, but the truth is they kidnapped me and hijacked my life. I had to leave behind a good job and my beloved family. I was in line to move up socially and even become a scribe. I never saw my mother again. I was forced to make a promise against my will, and I’ll never know what I gave up. Not only that, my trust was abused. Nephi led me away knowing that I thought he was Laban. Because he led me on in error, he was a liar, and that’s not what prophets do. I have no further obligation to him or his offspring. He said we would be free like them, but I’ve always felt different.”
On Wednesday I motivated myself to go to institute. I’ve been having a really hard time doing that lately. I’ve started to feel like I’ve been to every institute class offered in the last 8 years. I was starting to feel like maybe it was time for me to “graduate” from institute. However, I decided it wasn’t about me going alone again, or finding a cute boy there, or making new friends, and decided to go to be social and maybe learn something new. However I ended up going to a completely boring class and sat by myself while surrounded by couples and people who had shown up with their friends. I felt alone and insecure.
About halfway through the class I wanted to leave, but didn’t want to be rude. So instead I thought back to the story I had heard the day before and finally decided it was time for me to change my mind set. I started in on all of the things I was grateful for, because if the above picture/Facebook post was true, I’d better start the long list of things I’d like to still have tomorrow.
I thought, “Heavenly Father I’m grateful for this comfortable chair, my cute coat, my comfy shoes, my health, this beautiful building, my pink nail polish, toilets, my car, heaters, sweaters, all of my clothes, my friends, my family, institute, the weather, springtime, all of my senses, my job, etc…”
I still didn’t want to be there, so I stood up and left. I ended up going to a different institute that had some friends from my ward in it, and ended up making new friends that I hung out with all night long.
When I got home I started wondering if these new friends had shown up because I’d made the choice to be grateful for what I already had. I think that’s exactly what happened.
I went to lunch with an old friend this morning and interestingly enough got this fortune.
I started out this blog with the Kelly Clarckson video “Because of You.” I even titled my blog after it. When that sang came out I could 100% relate. I was a 14 year old girl trying to deal with the exact same situation and emotions.
I’d like to end this blog with one of her newer songs called “Piece by Piece.” I love how hopeful this song is. It shows her growth and willingness to change how she feels. It shows how time in fact heals all wounds. The more experience we have the easier it is to look at things with a more understanding perspective. We are more capable of having gratitude for the hard things we’ve gone through, because it helps us appreciate the future. If we’re trying to look toward the future and live in the present, I think it’s easier to forgive the past.
I’m grateful. I’m trying to be more grateful. It’s something I constantly have to remind myself. I don’t know if that’s always been the case, but I find I’m a much happier person when I’m searching for the good, instead of rehashing the bad.
As President Monson has said, “Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”