Monday, December 7, 2009

For Thy Good

This was supposed to be the last week that Stanford sent out interview invitations. If you don't get an interview, you won't be accepted. I was never invited to interview. I'm okay with that. I mean, the Lord prompted me to apply to Stanford – not necessarily to attend – and the application process itself revealed things I hadn't known about myself. If I think about it, I have dualistic thoughts. On one hand, it's easy to think that I just wasn't good enough – perhaps something in my application was critically flawed. And then I think back on many of the other experiences I've had – times when I wanted something and it didn't happen. In every case, the Lord knew my needs and loved me enough to make sure that I went in the right direction – even if it meant closing (and barring) doors. No matter the intermediary causes, the end result of my life is in the Lord's hands.

I wish I could see far into the future – to see my pathway and the struggles in my life – and the ultimate deliverance from each of them. I'm still totally lost as to my end vocation in life – and perhaps even more lost than I thought before possible. I guess being lost is one of my gifts – being willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads me, even if I have no clue where we are going. Someday I'll understand.

While my professional goals became more vague this last week, at least one of my other goals became more clear. It began when I saw BYU's performance of Children of Eden this week – a musical by the writer who also wrote Wicked. It was well done; the actors were good; the singing was good... but when I compared it to Savior of the World (which was inevitable) it was completely lacking in anything worthwhile. Children of Eden is fun; Savior of the World is sublime. Savior of the World leaves the actors and the audience in tears – waiting for the return of the Savior; Children of Eden left me with a pit in my stomach and gratitude for the message of the gospel. And, in the contrast, the Lord answered my prayer. I had asked Him what He wanted me to do with performance in the future – whether I needed to throw myself into it wholeheartedly or to do something else. Having performed in Savior of the World... and seeing how deeply the Spirit can be integrated into a performance, I don't want to go back. Wednesday night, at Children of Eden, was one of the first times that not only did I not feel guilty at a performance, I didn't even want to be on stage... and so I've feel good (at least for now – the Lord often encourages me to change directions... but this is my current lifelong decision) auditioning for every Church production possible and not worrying about anything else. That means that my next audition will be for the core cast of the Nauvoo pageant. Auditions are mid-January, practices are at the end of June, and the pageant runs during the month of July. We'll see what happens.

I didn't take the time to give thanks last week for Thanksgiving, so I'll do it here. I'm grateful that the Lord is so intimately involved in my life. I'm grateful that He inspired me to be in Savior of the World, to work at the MTC, to teach part-time at a home school academy. I'm grateful for the ability to attend two completely different wards each Sunday, for my callings and friends in each ward, and for my leaders. I'm grateful for a loving, supportive family who expects the best from me... and I'm grateful for the Savior in my life – for missionary opportunities and time for reflection, for the snow and for the wind and the rain.

Here's a thought for each of you: Someday I am going to compile a book called “For Thy Good” - it will be a book based on the anonymous stories of people who have experienced the worst of life's trials in life... and how they ultimately learned to appreciate and give thanks to the Lord for the lessons He taught them through those trials – how they learned to see their trials, temptations, and everything else as blessings for their good.
Looking back on my own life, there are things so painful that I've never shared them with anyone. But the lessons I have learned from those experiences have made me who I am today... and though I wouldn't wish them on anyone, I am grateful that the Lord loved me enough to design them just for me. I know now that I needed the lessons that I learned. If I had had even a glimpse of the potential blessings in my pain, however, I think it would have helped me gain a better perspective – to have greater hope. 
Today I look around me and see people all around me with trials. My greatest desire is to share the perspective I have gained... and to help others share the blessings they have received. Just knowing that it is possible to overcome the hardest things in life – and to truly believe that they are blessings – is an incredible message of hope to anyone in pain. Think of the hardest things you have ever experienced. If you (even with pain) can honestly see blessings that have changed your life for the better – to the point that you are grateful for them – that's the kind of experience I want to share. How did you get to that point? I haven't started asking for stories, but I would love to hear your comments & thoughts.

As life progresses, each of us slowly come to realize our many purposes in life. Sometimes our visions seem to cloud as the Lord gives us new directions... and sometimes we are able to see incredible vistas where everything makes sense. Our trials, pains, and sorrows, as we turn to the Lord, can be changed into joy. I know that the Lord is with us; He wants us to be happy and He designed our lives so that we could learn to be happy. Go out and be missionaries!

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