I attended a conference for the BYU Women in Business club and the keynote speaker said that "when you seek for validation from the world, it will never be enough."
The girls who bullied me between 5th and 8th grade told me horrible things about myself. The friend group that ditched me in 9th grade made me feel so incredibly insignificant. Yet again, in 10th grade, another group of people decided I wasn't worth their time. And last year, the person who I thought was incapable of hurting me, broke my heart.
All the while I was receiving praise and popularity for my hard work and success. I was the president of four clubs, a member of two more, on student council, a sterling scholar, the top of the class, a speaker at graduation, and the recipient of a full tuition scholarship to the most competitive school in the state.
The world has had such conflicting messages for me. In many ways, I have been rejected over and over again. When I've tried so hard to be kind and patient and friendly, people have stepped all over me. When I tried to fit in, I couldn't find a place. At the same time, the world has applauded my many successes. I've spent my whole life working as hard as possible to reach where I am. I don't think that anything has been handed to me. But still, what the world thinks of me is not enough, and it never will be.
Sometimes, I'm not even sure that I know what I think of myself.
I know what God thinks: He loves me, unconditionally and individually. He thinks I'm wonderful, regardless of the good and bad things the world has had to say about me. He thinks I'm beautiful and smart and kind. I am so important to Him. I know my Savior loves me. He "interposed his precious blood" to save me. He experienced the things that I've gone through so that he could succor me. I know my parents love me. My sisters and brother-in-law love me too. My grandparents, also, have been great, loving supports to me. I've found some truly wonderful friends here at BYU that genuinely care about me too.
I know those things, but it's harder to translate that into what I think and feel.
Here, an aftertaste of
the city’s breath, as mornings
yawn and bare this street
like teeth. Here, airplanes leaving
Heathrow scare this house
to trembling; these rooms protect
their space with outstretched walls,
and wait. And evenings fall
like discs in a jukebox, playing
a song called Here, night after night.
Wish you were. Your postcards
land in my hall like meteorites.
I really shouldn't be as embarrassed about what happened, BUT I super am. I'm not desperate. I'm just bold. And awkward and weird. But beautiful too. Or else it wouldn't have happened, right? I'm not used to that kind of attention. I don't even know. This isn't making sense.
In other news, Sister Dalton came to BYU today! She's my hero. I have so much love in my heart for her! She said some truly wonderful things. I took about two pages of notes, and I can't wait until I can get a copy of her devotional. She reaffirmed my decision to serve a mission.
There's someone I've been trying to help for the longest time. I've cried, prayed, fasted, everything. I've tried talking to them, sharing scriptures, sharing spiritual experiences. My heart has been literally broken over this person.
And yesterday I received the call that everything I've put into this effort was all worth it.
I feel to praise and glory God--"I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things."
He took my imperfect work and turned it into something beautiful. I "have been made an instrument in the hands of God to bring about this great work...Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever."
I know that this person is "encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been an instrument in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work...I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
"And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul...Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began."
"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go...and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. I have never felt this more fervently than I do now. And I felt it stronger today than I did yesterday. And yesterday more so than the day before. Every day I learn more about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and every day I become more and more converted.
I have a testimony of missionary work. Any work that leads people to the temple is of absolute and eternal significance. I have a testimony of prayer, fasting, and fast offerings. When we show the Lord that His work is important to us, then He will bless us with success.
"Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever."
Sorry for three posts right in a row, but I have A LOT to say tonight.
In my home ward last week, it was announced that Elder Gene R. Cook, former seventy, would be teaching a two hour combined adult and youth lesson on scripture study. I looked at my mom, and we high-fived. I spent the next two hours fan-girling over all of the wonderful things he said. He shared 7 different ways to immediately invite the spirit.
2. Read the scriptures
4. Use the hymns
5. Express love and gratitude to God and man
6. Share spiritual experiences
7. If needed, seek a priesthood blessing
Yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed about something. I played a MoTab song and immediately felt so much better. These methods work. They're simple, but it is by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass.
Honestly, my parents have done everything for me. Here's some evidence that my parents are fantastic people that you all should have the opportunity to meet:
They both have graduate degrees
Both work and are extremely dedicated to their careers
They read often
We held daily family scripture study
Daily family prayers
Family Home Evening every Monday
Regularly ate dinner together
My parents still go on dates once or twice a month
They go to the temple at least once a month, usually more
There are pictures of Christ and the temple all over my home
They are always available to talk
My dad tweets and instagrams
There you have it, an inexhaustive list as to why my parents rock.
If it seems like I post a lot about the Gospel, it's because I do. It really has consumed all of my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Today, three out of five of my teachers bore their testimony in class, only one of them actually being my religion professor. I'm four days into the new semester and I've already felt an outpouring of the Spirit. I feel so blessed to be at BYU for that reason. I post about the Gospel often because I feel like I need to. I've been blessed with a tremendous amount of knowledge, and I desire to share it with others.
Here's what I've been thinking about lately:
Do you know what the most wonderful feeling is? Being carried by the Savior. Being taken into his arms and comforted.
When you're at the end of your rope, and you literally cannot make it another day, Christ will carry you.
And looking back, he's been here all along, allowing me to experience the pain and growth that will help me understand joy and love.
He let my sorrow linger so that he could spend more time with me--so that I would be more attentive to his presence.
To be able to recognize this truth before the pain is completely removed is the greatest blessing. To know that my experiences are refining me for God's work is a privilege.
In the Preach My Gospel book, it says, "More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children." The Gospel has brought me more joy than anything else. I can truly testify that one can only find lasting or real happiness through the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I look forward to being able to serve a mission, where 100% of my time will be dedicated toward teaching God's children.
AND I have about a month and a half until I can turn in my mission papers <3
If my happiness was a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably at about a 6 or 7. This is so much better than a 1, which is where I felt the majority of last semester. I'm very content with being content.
Content seems to be a deeper emotion than most people give it credit for. It involves a realistic recognition of my whole situation. It's me finally coming to terms with myself. I'm at peace. It's not expected that I'll be ridiculously happy with what has happened, so why was I setting myself up for failure?
Content is good. It feels comfortable, manageable, and very light.
Yesterday and today I walked around campus smiling. It feels good to be Sarah again. I talked with a lot of people, and got a lot of work done. I'm the same girl I was in high school: efficient, confident, and pulled together. Except this time, I actually feel pulled together. I feel more mature, and whole lot more mellowed by experience, but I feel like Sarah again.
I also feel overwhelming love for my roommates, my friends, my ward, my family, my Savior, and my Father. I also feel overwhelmingly loved by the same people.
And so right now, I'm not exactly giddy or happy or ecstatic, but I am content, and content is okay.
Last semester, my Book of Mormon teacher taught about the different types of trials that we face. The tests that God intends for us to experience she named "tutorials." We are taught things--about ourselves and about the good nature of God. We are taught about the opposition between despair and happiness. I couldn't have put it any better than this:
"Surely it is better to find the goodness of God and the grace of Christ, even at the price of despair, than to risk living our lives in a moral or material complacency that has never felt any need for faith or forgiveness, and need for redemption or relief."
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
These trials are tutorials, where God will try to teach us something. As the student, we have the responsibility to learn. This often means that we must humble ourselves and accept God's plan. We must be submissive, meek, and willing to change. Which leads to the next quote:
"The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change."
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Many people refer to this life as a time to be tested. I believe it's more than that. In Alma 42:10, it describes the natural man and then says that "this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state." What is it that we're preparing for? Celestial glory. The opportunity to be with God and like God. The power of eternal progression. The things that we learn here will prepare us to live there, in the presence of God.
Cool. We understand all this stuff. Now what? 2 Nephi (especially chapter 2) talks a lot about the ability to act and be not acted upon; the ability to let our behaviors rule over our thoughts and feelings. 2 Nephi 10:23 explains this: "Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."
To learn is a choice. To submit to God's will is a choice. To change is a choice. To prepare is a choice. To act is a choice. And ultimately, happiness is a choice.
In 2012, I had three major goals: I wanted to be healthier, have a good self image, and work on being a better influence in the lives of others. I remember thinking that 2012 would be my year. I'd graduate, move out, and go to college. But in March, everything changed. My best friend was taken to the ER, and when he was finally out of the hospital, he was different. He had lost passion for a lot of the things in his life, including me. I was heartbroken. Between March and August, I went through multiple anxiety attacks. I desperately needed something that I could control. I ultimately lost twenty pounds and a lot of my self respect. In August I ended the relationship with my friend and I feel like I've almost fully moved on.
I remember feeling very confused at the start of the semester. My whole life plan had been frustrated. Everything that I had been counting on crashed and burned. I started to question my major and even choosing BYU. Dating seemed very weird to me. I'm too young to be married and all of the guys my age are leaving on missions. I worried about making friends and being able to handle the stress and depression.
I started praying praying praying. Going to the temple more often. Reading and studying the scriptures. I found safety and peace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the only thing that made sense anymore. I learned that God had a better plan for me in mind, and even though I wasn't sure what it was yet, I knew it would bring me happiness.
In October, it was announced that sisters could begin missionary service at age 19. I had never originally planned on serving a mission. I sort of hoped that I'd be married at age 21. However, this announcement gave me the answer that I had been searching for.
Finally, I had a direction. This doesn't mean that the end of the year was without trial. From what I've heard from other girls, the adversary has been working so hard against every young woman with the desire to serve a mission. We are a powerful force of nature, and he is doing everything he can to stop us. Fortunately, I was blessed to find the most wonderful, caring, and compassionate friends. They have helped me in so many ways.
I started out the year feeling on top of the world, ready for any challenge. I was humbled by the trials I experienced. Yet I still end the year 2012 feeling as if I came out on top. Life is hard, but it is also beautiful and magical and instructive and perfectly what it is supposed to be. I wouldn't have wanted 2012 to be any other way. The God I worship has a tremendous plan for my life, and every day He reveals more of it to me. For what more could I ask?
Oh, and about those three goals...I'm at a healthy weight for my build and height. I feel prettier now than I ever have before. And not because my outside has changed, but my inside has. As for being a better influence in the lives of others...that's not my place to decide ;)
I don't have my new goals fully decided yet so... Happy New Year and much love to all of you! <3 :)