Monday, November 2, 2009

An Ensemble Role in Life

This week has been good. My beard is finally getting long enough that it doesn't always make me want to rip my face off, there is a light at the end of the tunnel (or project) at work, and practices for Savior of the World are continuing in earnest. We start performing in two and a half weeks!

Looking back over the past few months, I had family reunions and vacations, the Pirates of Penzance with the movie on top of it, then Grandma got sick, I got another calling, and there was the chaos surrounding my sister getting cancer and reading research studies on rats and novel non-invasive cancer treatments, a new school year (even though I'm not attending school as a student), I started studying for the GMAT and applied to Stanford, then Grandma got really sick, then there was General Conference, Grandma's funeral, and two Stake Conferences. I've realized that each of those commitments was big enough that I've had no free time since the beginning of the summer! I didn't have to worry about planning out my day – I had already planned it by making massive commitments. Now, I'm to a point where every hour of every day isn't taken up by something massive and urgent, and I feel... much less useful. I've been struggling a bit to figure out what I need to be doing with the extra time in my life. I have two jobs and a major volunteering project, and my Sundays are booked with meetings. But I still have a few hours here and there – and without a pressing project I find them simply disappearing... gone without a trace. And that is completely not the way I want to live my life. So the question at the front of my mind has been, “what next?”

In the back of my mind I'm also wondering what direction to go if Stanford doesn't end up being the right option. I've only applied to one school so far... and even though Stanford has a much higher acceptance rate than the program I applied to last year, it's still pretty low. Add to that the fact that I don't know what will happen at work once our big project is finished (and the budget from which I'm being paid runs out) and I don't know how long I'll be living here... and I'm definitely walking in the dark. But that's ok. I know that the Lord will take care of me. And if He reveals what will happen tomorrow, today, I'll be that much happier. If not, then I'll wait for tomorrow.

At Savior of the World on Friday and in the temple on Saturday I received the answer to my question. I realized that life is somewhat like our production. In Savior of the World, every actor is cast as a member of the ensemble, and, with only a few exceptions, every cast member appears on the colonnade as an angel in heaven, watching events unfold. Some cast members are just part of the ensemble; others play temporary roles on stage, then put back on their angel robe and go back to their places on the colonnade. Though individual actors are each integral to a certain part, they aren't really center stage for long. In life, each of us is cast in an ensemble role. We are expected to do all the same things... and, then, if the Lord finds a need, He will ask us to move mountains (one of my jobs) or to be special witnesses of Him. How willing am I to accept an “ensemble role” in life – am I willing to simply do as He asks without being a major actor – without being someone horribly important or visible from the outside world?

When I was little, I thought that God would have to have some awesome work for me to accomplish in building the kingdom. He had given me so many talents, gifts, and blessings – seemingly more than anyone else I had ever met – so there must be something incredible that He wanted me to do. But, as I've watched the Lord in His work, and seen how and why He calls His children to help Him, I've realized that callings in life (both in and out of the Church) have very little to do with innate talents or gifts. There are incredible singers and actors in the ensemble of Savior of the World – and there are professional teachers who don't teach Sunday School. And, in both cases, that's ok. Because the Lord isn't focused on placing people where they fit best – He is focused on helping His children have experiences that will help them come unto Christ.

And so my calling in life may be to change the world. Maybe I'll stand center stage like I did during Pirates of Penzance... and leave a legacy for generations. Or my calling may be to simply be a good father, husband, son, brother, and missionary – play an ensemble role and support those around me. Either way, I can build the kingdom of God and be happy by doing the little things – exercising, praying, studying the scriptures, magnifying my callings, serving others... and those are the things that should be consuming my time when nothing else is happening.

Sometimes it can be easy to look at our lives and wonder if we are going in the right direction – if we are really making a difference or fulfilling our personal purpose in life. In reality, it doesn't take much to fulfill our purpose in life each day. If we will pray, study the scriptures, take time to attend the temple, and keep the commandments, the Lord will help us to make the right decisions to keep us on the path. And He will help us to accomplish our purpose... and to feel peace no matter where we are on the road to eternity. I know that God loves us, and that doing the little things will enable us to do whatever the Lord asks of us – whether seemingly great or small.

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