The last few months have been a journey for me; a journey of retrospection and change. I had a really good friend facilitate a few small group conversations and I’m a better person for participating in them. I found that I’m not alone in the things I worry about and struggle with. I’m always surprised how very much not alone I am in my thinking.
Lately I’ve been telling others that I feel like I’ve hit a plateau in many aspects of my life. I don’t know if that is an accurate description, but that’s kind of what it feels like. I was embarrassed to admit that to anyone and didn’t for a while. I’ve gotten to that awkward stage where it feels like a lot of other people have moved on with their life, and that I missed the boat.
As I started opening up about this quarter life crises I was going through, I had a very positive response. I thought that this was a bad thing. We aren’t supposed to feel unsettled or down. I’m not supposed to feel a little lost and confused. It seems like everyone else has their lives planned out, and if you are completely lost just pretend like you know where you are going until you end up somewhere.
It’s amazing how many people around us are struggling and we have no idea because we can’t see past our own problems. I stumbled across a quote last week and it states it better than I can.
"How much larger your life would be if [you] could become smaller in it. . . . You would begin to be interested in [others]. You would break out of this tiny . . . theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers." [G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1959), pp. 20–21]
So how do we remedy the dark days? By following what this quote says. God has a pretty great way of letting us feel sad and then finding ways to turn our frowns into smiles. Last Sunday I had a conversation with a girl in my ward, and we decided that we were letting the little things slide. Instead of doing homework, being with people, cleaning our rooms, we’d turn on Netflix and be unproductive. We decided that we wouldn’t turn on the TV until we got our necessary items done first, and then we’d check in with each other every few days to see how we were doing.
I thought it might be hard, and it was maybe the first two days, but I filled my time with other things. It didn’t change everything about my life, but it made me fill up my time in a different way. I decided to just go cold turkey and didn’t watch any shows that week. I started to reread a book series that I've been trying to find time to read, and found that I was happier not being pulled into the drama of whatever TV series I was watching.
I came home one day feeling very discouraged about things. I had what felt like a million little things weighing down my mind and heart. Something had happened in my personal life and I was having a hard time dealing with it. I broke down in tears. I had prayed a few days earlier for the Lord to show me who I really was. I prayed not in an “I want to know that I’m your daughter” kind of way, but in an “I need to see myself as I am and how I can be, because I’m blinded by those things ‘which so easily beset me.’” (2 Nephi 4:18)
I was sitting on my bed facing my back window so I could see the setting sun. The Lord answered my prayer and let me know a few things that I could work on. I was thinking of all the new things about myself that I had not previously been aware of. I was sad, and I let myself be sad. I felt so stupid that I hadn’t seen it before. I felt peace and assurance as I waded through the unknown. After a minute I looked up and thought, “Well, now I know what I need to work on and at least I’m facing the sun.” I felt the rays of the waning sun and looked at the clock. I realized that I had a friend coming over that I’d promised I’d help with some homework. The time for worrying and thinking about me was over, and I was glad I had an opportunity to get busy and serve someone else. I took a deep breath and decided to make some dinner before anyone came over.
By the time my friend came, there was no trace that I’d been crying. We worked on homework and then I went to institute. I invited my friend to come with me. We had an incredible lesson on personal revelation. After it was over we went to dinner. As we were talking he opened up and told me that he hadn’t felt divine guidance in his life for a very long time. Ever since he’d come home from his mission he’d felt lost and out of place. We talked about it for a long time. Once again I realized that my problems and questions were small, and as I helped my friend talk about his problems, I found answers to things that I’d wondered about.
The next day I came across a quote that is one of my new favorites.
It seems like when days are mundane and get hard, if we fight to see the light, it will come crashing in! That’s what happened for me. It felt dark for a little while, but now the light is streaming in with more power and beauty than before. While driving in the car this week I had this new song come on the radio! If you’ve read this blog at all you’ll know that I’m a fan of Casting Crowns, but this is a new song and it’s amazing! It’s called “Oh My Soul.”
I’m going to end this blog with one more song that I’ve been listening to this week by Ben Rector. He had a new album come out recently. I’ve been a fan of his music for the last few years. He has a song called “30,000 Feet.” I really like the chorus.
“I've walked into harder times, I've walked out the other side
It seems in like you end up getting what you need”
It seems in like you end up getting what you need”
I truly believe that we do get what we need. Sometimes it’s harder to see that or know that, but I can tell you that if you just hold on it will come. Sometimes it’s a longer wait and feels like it would be easier to give up and walk a different way. Never give up! Never Surrender! We can do this!