Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Right Perspective - October 4, 2009

Just when I think that my life is getting organized, the stress hits. Life is crazy, but Conference has helped me see a better perspective... and I don't think I'm drowning anymore.

Last week at Savior of the World practice the director asked the men to grow beards and long hair. I pulled the “I work at the MTC” card and they asked me to ask my supervisors for permission. The only problem with that procedure is that people are really willing to make exceptions for me – so when I asked my boss, she suggested that we ask the director of the MTC. He gave me permission... which essentially meant that now I get to (have to, have the opportunity to... depending on your point of view!) be an employee of the MTC with a beard. Since having a beard is an obvious deviation from the missionary clean-cut standard, they've asked me to come to work without a white shirt or name tag. I feel incredibly awkward at work now... and I try to avoid being around missionaries and other employees as much as possible.

I took the GMAT on Friday. I had studied a total of 10 hours – 3 hours for three days two weeks ago and an hour on Thursday night. I took the day off work so that I didn't have any major stressors beforehand... The math section was intense, but I felt like I had found the answer to most of the questions. The verbal section was a bit trickier, but I finished the test feeling happy about my performance. I got a 770, which fulfilled my goal of getting at least a 760. A 770 is competitive at most schools. I'm grateful that I take tests well!

Grandma entered the hospital on Thursday. She has had atrial fibrillation, which means that her atria (heart chambers) were not operating in harmony. The problem had escalated to the point that her heart wasn't pumping enough oxygen to her brain – affecting her motor skills and ability to speak. After wrestling with doctors who each had different ideas, we finally had her heart restarted (Cardioversion) and put into rhythm, which will hopefully address most of the problems. She is still doing really badly – not really willing to open her eyes, talk, or eat unless she's forced to. Hopefully she'll decide to get some life and wake up sometime soon. I spent all of Saturday in the hospital with her and consequently missed Conference.
It was Saturday that I realized that recently I've been stressed out of my mind. My application for Stanford which takes every waking non-Sunday hour, dating, Church callings, teaching physics, work, Grandma sick and then in the hospital, trying to find an illustrator for my book, growing a beard for Savior of the World... on Saturday I just felt completely overwhelmed and almost fainted in the hospital. It probably didn't help that I was watching the ultrasound machine as the attendant was looking for the right spot to put in a PIC line in Grandma's arm... but I only barely made it outside, vision blurred, for a short run to raise my blood pressure. As I came back in, my dad called me with some advice for my business school application. He attended Harvard, and he realizes how different of a perspective I have compared to the business world. He made some cogent suggestions on how to word work experiences, choose essay topics, and the like to ensure that I was communicating on a level that the admissions committee would understand. But even though I was aware of the accuracy of his statements, I felt so completely overwhelmed (add to the list four hours of conference that I missed since I was in the hospital) that I wondered if it was worth the effort to even try.

I went home from the hospital around 5 to prepare for the Priesthood session of General Conference and prayed for help. Help for Grandma, help in knowing what to do, help in doing it once I knew. Among those I asked whether I should follow my dad's advice.

I arrived to Conference at the Marriott Center... and smiled for the first time in a week. The first talk, of all topics in the world, was on the importance of taking advice from your dad, especially if you are a returned missionary making life decisions like choosing your educational pathway. The Lord is usually very clear in His answers to me, but I laugh when I hear Him speaking to me at General Conference.
As time has progressed through the rest of the Conference, I haven't gotten any closer to finishing the projects that loom over my head... but my perspective has changed. I know what I need to do (at least right now) to do my part in accomplishing God's work. I know that He is at my side, and that He will help me to accomplish His will as long as I am striving to follow His promptings. And while life will still continue to be hard (which means that I will be spending every waking hour from 4 tomorrow morning until Wednesday at 5:00 at work, at the hospital, or working on my application), I feel positive – that I'll be able to do my best... and I know that, no matter what happens, the Lord will take my best and mold me into something better.

When life overwhelms you, sometimes all you need is a bit of perspective – the understanding that God is with you and beside you every step of the way. Turn to Him for guidance, for comfort, and for help in applying the principles most important in your own life. Then go share it with the world.

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