Okay this one might be a TEENY bit sappy so just skip it if you don't wanna hear my soft side. I know, I know...amazing that I have one, right? I just wanted to document some thoughts I've been having lately before I forget and what better a place to do that than HERE. Alrighty...
So we were driving yesterday for 17 hours and that sure does give you plenty of thinking time. We passed a car with a sticker on it that read "young life". Holy mother of memories...did they start flowing in or WHAT. I started to think back to the time in my life when I really didn't know who I was. Okay I take that back. I knew who I was but it wasn't me because up until a certain point in your life, you're basically just a carbon copy of your parents thoughts, ideas and feelings...right? So I was my mom and dad...but I wasn't. I was trying to find ME. I had been raised in the LDS church all my life so that felt right but I didn't know if it WAS right. I continued to go to church every Sunday and Wednesday because I liked being there, but that didn't stop me from also going to other religious gatherings. I visited lots of churches with friends and fell upon Young Life. If you don't know what this is, it's like a youth gathering of Baptist (?? is it? or non-denominational??) kids and "youth leaders" who have fun, sing songs against an acoustic guitar and love and hug and pray. I went A LOT but not because I felt good there. More because it was cool and everyone else in HS was going. I always felt a little weird there though, like something wasn't JUST right. Don't get me wrong, the message there was always spiritual, it was NOT by all means, a bad place to be. It was great for youth. I just felt like it wasn't WHOLE. Something was missing. Not sure at the time what it was.
Along with my searching out, I wore a silver crucifix necklace. Why? I don't really know. Because other people were too, maybe? For those of you who don't know, members of the LDS church do not wear crucifixes, we don't have crosses hanging in our homes and we don't have them in our churches either. I think it's best to focus on the actual sacrifice Christ made for us in the Garden of Gethsemane rather than his death because let's be honest...THAT is where he sacrificed.
I remember church members would ask me why I wore that cross and I didn't really have an answer for them. I was a rebel and I was gonna do whatever was COOL and whatever was different...so there.
I went through a LOT of experiences in a very short 2 year span. I witnessed a lot of things that most people on earth will never in their lives witness. I tried more things, experimented with more things and played with fire because I COULD. I did it because it was fun at the time...but deep inside, I wanted to find ME. I wanted to know who I was and what made me happy and during those two years I STILL didn't find it. I would never again do the things I did during that time over again. I wouldn't suggest ANYONE live a life like that...BUT, that being said, I would NEVER take it back because it made me who I am. Without those experiences and lessons learned, I might still be looking for myself today.
I DID finally find myself at the end of those two years. Amazingly it was right in front of me the whole time. I came back to the church a different person. I came back without a testimony, without a knowledge of the gospel of Christ, and without faith in almost anything but a belief in God and Jesus Christ. I was raw and this made me a good candidate to REALLY search and study to see if this IS me. I grew up "believing" this, but was it really true or was it just what was comfortable to me because my parents raised me that way?
It didn't take long at all before I had enough of a testimony to help me realize that this IS me. I KNOW everything the church teaches to be true. I know that without my time away, I wouldn't be able to see it as clearly as I did at that point. My testimony and knowledge of the truth of this gospel of Jesus Christ has done nothing but GROW since then...just a couple months over 10 years ago. I know so much, I'm SO lucky to know SO MUCH truth. I'm so lucky to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and to represent it every single day of my life.
Driving those 17 hours and looking back at all my sleeping babies made me worry about their future. I know at this point, they know all that I know. They live through me and Austin. I wondered if when they reach the point of knowing the truth on their own and finding themselves, if they'll be able to stay strong and listen to the spirit. I wondered if Austin and I are doing enough to show them that we support them in every decision they make now and or will make in the future. Are we being good enough examples? I worry so much that they won't have a strong enough foundation to be able to KNOW to turn to prayer for help and questions and answers. Will Austin and I be strong enough to let them go and find truth on their own? I think about my own parents and the pain they had to go through to support me as I left to make my own choices. As hard as that was for them, I'm grateful that they allowed me to experience new things like Young Life, wearing a cross if I wanted to, and much much more. I wonder how different my life would be now if they buckled down and didn't allow me my freedom. I doubt I would have the testimony I have now.
Hopefully Austin and I will have the strength to allow our children to grow and learn on their own. All I can do is continue to teach them what I know is true, to LIVE what I know is true, to be an example to them through my actions and PRAY constantly for strength and guidance.
It was a nice drive here to AR. Nicer than most long drives I've had recently. I felt good after my reflections and thoughts. I felt inspired and motivated to be the best ME that I can be for everyone. I felt grateful for my life, experiences, the gospel, my parents, Austin and the kids and so much more that I've been blessed with in my life. I looked at the trees lining the road and thought about how wonderful it is to be HERE on earth in these last days. I felt HONORED that I have been chosen to be a mother during these hard time. I smiled to myself. Then Austin turned on the radio and a song from the Toadies was playing on the OLDIES station...and I felt like poo poo all over again.
(ps...sorry for the lack in my writing skills, I'm just trying to get it all out. I'm no where NEAR as wonderful of a writer as Janea who can express her feeling so beautifully through words...maybe one day??)