Monday, May 10, 2010

Life is amazing. Sort of. Yeah.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Some days I wish I could paint a perfect picture of my life in this letter – recount only peaceful, happy moments, share unending optimism, and talk about how life is amazing. More often than not, though, I realize that my thoughts are spinning in a dozen directions as I write. And being truly honest requires more than just highlighting what went well in my life. This is one of those weeks – a week where, on the surface, everything seems to have gone according to plan. Our project deadline is only a few weeks away at the MTC, which means plenty of work; the class I teach is going well and my students love every moment of it; the rest of my life is panning out in the right direction. But, beneath the surface, everything is in turmoil. And sometimes I feel totally and helplessly lost.

Take my work at the MTC, for instance. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt my love for my work slowly wane. A year ago I was willing to do anything to work at the MTC and make a difference in the missionary education effort. I was a volunteer for months and happy to do what I could. And, even when work was rough or tedious, the Lord helped me to see relevance in the things I did and motivated me to do better. Now every time I think about the MTC I get the feeling that I need to find a new job. I’ve prayed for the ability to love my work, to see relevance in my assignments, and for patience and long-suffering. The only answer I’ve received of late is more of the same: an overwhelming desire to leave.

The feeling that I should leave isn’t the bad thing. The department wouldn’t really suffer from my absence and filling my spot would be pretty easy. And since the Lord prompted me to start working there, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go in a different direction until He gave the go-ahead. Knowing where to go is the problem. Not for lack of trying to find the right direction (at least, I don’t think so). I’ve been rejected from every graduate program to which I’ve applied and a handful of jobs that I thought might be in the right general area. And while my conversations with the Lord have been helpful, I seem to be taking a very long time to get the big picture. I mean, I’m 24, a university graduate with honors and credits in almost every discipline, I’ve tried out a dozen different professions that were once my “dream jobs”… and yet I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. So the feeling that I should find a new job, without knowing which way to go, leaves me with two options: feel completely lost and totally vulnerable, or rely on the Lord, put my trust in Him, and move forward with faith. There is only one right choice. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

Then take housing. I was living in Orem, working in Provo and Sandy. When we moved all our stuff into a storage unit, I thought it would just be simple enough to live out of my car. I could exercise & shower each morning on campus, eat at the MTC cafeteria (amazing food and really low prices), and spend my time with people instead of with an apartment. It would also give me another perspective on life, save money, and be a lot less stressful than having to move multiple more times. And when I took it to the Lord, I felt okay about it. I was actually excited to see what effect it would have. And it worked perfectly for a few days – I was back in an exercise routine and spent all my time during the day engaged in productive activities. It seemed perfect. Then circumstances changed and I’m living in West Jordan with family. And while being with family is amazing, the extra 45-minute commute immediately eliminated my morning exercise time. It also makes it hard to do things late in the evening, since I don’t want to be exhausted as I drive back… or not get enough sleep before going to work the next morning. I guess, again, I have two options: feel frustrated with the few options I seem to have been given, or rely on the Lord, put my trust in Him, and move forward with faith. Again, there’s only one right choice. And, while it will still be hard, just writing about it makes it seem easier to accomplish.

And, to be truthful, my life is actually pretty amazing. In the workplace, I’ve felt guided recently to look in the direction of helping people make better decisions, finding ways to improve processes, and identifying key ideas to champion in organizations. Ironically, it’s a mix between business consulting and motivational speaking – the first of which I thought would never be up my alley. But it feels like the right direction. At the moment I was struggling to figure out how to go about moving towards that goal, my parents offered, out of the blue, to make some contacts to get me started. Wow. Doors opening already. I should have guessed – the only way I’ve ever gotten a job was from a face-to-face conversation. Paper applications just don’t seem to work for me. And my housing crisis isn’t really a crisis – I love the opportunity to spend time with cousins and be a part of their lives… and I think that time is worth more than it is costing me right now.

Each of us faces major decisions each day. Sometimes it is easy to be optimistic, happy, and see the blessings that the Lord has given us; other times, it seems that the deck is stacked against us, willing us to fail or at least be miserable. But I have a testimony that, even when life seems rough and you feel lost, the Lord can be there at your side guiding you, leading you, inspiring you, and helping you to see His hand in all things. He loves you and wants you to be happy. In fact, He gave you every part of your life (even the awful parts) to enable you to learn to be happy – that’s one of the purposes in life. Look to Him, and you’ll realize that life is full of peaceful, happy moments amidst the turmoil of confusion. With the Spirit at your side, you can be eternally optimistic as you identify what the Lord is trying to teach you today. I invite you to identify the hardest thing you are facing – the most painful, difficult, awful, or heartrending… and ask the Lord sincerely to help you see His hand. I promise (from personal experience) that He will bless you with inspired wisdom and perspective. And you’ll see that life really is amazing. Go out and be missionaries!

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