Monday, July 5, 2010

Progressions in Life

When I was little, I tried to follow the ‘leave no trace’ camping motto of the Boy Scouts. But I mistakenly applied it to the wrong facet of life – social relationships. I was successful, bright, and inquisitive, but I thought that very few people wanted to be my friend. So my goal was to move into and out of people’s lives without leaving a trace. In most situations, leaving no trace wasn’t really possible. And even when it was possible, it wasn’t the right decision. There are countless things I wish I could change about that time. After years of struggling, the Lord helped me lift my sights and switched my relationships motto to reflect (interestingly) the other, newer Boy Scout camping motto – ‘leave each person (campsite) better than you found him.’ In the years since, that has been my goal. It drives everything I do, from choosing a career to writing this letter. And it translates directly into missionary work – helping others to come unto Christ and improve their choices in life. That’s my goal in life – to be a lifelong missionary. With that goal in mind, I thought I had all the pieces put together.

But there is still a piece missing. And this piece, I have just realized, is so important that my eternal progression depends on its successful implementation.

This is hard. I’m trying to articulate, and change, something that has been a part of my life for longer than I can remember, and I’m having trouble pinpointing exactly what it is and how to describe it. It’s the reason that I don’t like answering phones or calling people I haven’t met. It’s the feeling that sometimes makes my stomach drop as I knock on a stranger’s door or even when I push “Send” on this letter. And, at its core, it’s the motivation to not ask for help in my life when I need it even though others are willing and anxious to help me. It’s like trying to put myself on a pedestal – trying to help others solve their problems but never letting them help me solve mine. You can even see it in how I write this letter. I talk about a problem or experience that I’ve had, how I turned to the Lord to solve it, and what you can do to relate it to your life. And there is nothing wrong with that; turning to the Lord to resolve my problems and achieve my goals has taught me important lessons that shape how I view the world today. But the issue is still there. I write Ensign articles instead of letters. There isn’t really a compelling reason to write back, because there are no questions, no problems to solve, no asking for advice. I invite others to be a part of my life and then they find the only open spots are for spectators on the stands. Maybe it’s a form of pride, or an internalized belief that I should be able to handle my own life by myself. I think that sounds pretty accurate. Inside my head, I believe that if I can’t do it by myself, or accomplish it through prayer and fasting, then maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Other people just don’t factor into the equation. For whatever reason, I still hold to a piece of the ‘leave no trace’ mentality. I don’t believe others really want to be involved in the sticky affairs of my life; they have problems of their own and they don’t want or need to worry about mine. They can’t really help me, anyway and, even if they could, they would rather see me optimistic, happy, and shining on a pedestal, right?

Deep down, I know that is completely wrong. At least now I do. Other people do factor into the equation. People want to be involved in my life. Especially when I face sticky problems, they want to be more than just spectators on the stands. My greatest passion in life is mentoring others, helping them overcome problems, and enabling them to achieve their goals. My family and friends share that passion. And I can’t be truly successful in life, become my best self, or achieve my goals without the help of others.

And so here’s the commitment that I’m making… and another part of my heart that I’ll wear on my sleeve. Starting today, the pedestal is gone. Wow. That was hard. I think it will be hard to implement. To me, that means that my beliefs are changing. I no longer believe that I can be totally self-sufficient; instead, I realize that people are an essential part of my life. And, because of that, I need to involve them more in every aspect. My first change: I’ll add another part to this letter each week to make it more like a letter and less like an article – in addition to sharing something I’ve learned, I’ll ask for advice or help on something in my life. I could write about how I don’t want to impose on your life or give you more to worry about, but that would totally defeat the purpose. I need to trust you to make your own decisions. So here it is. The biggest issue I’m facing right now is trying to find a new job. I think I want to find one in the organizational consulting field – maybe working as a lower-level consultant – helping businesses and organizations become more effective and better meet their goals. I just finished updating my resume. The job could be anywhere; location isn’t an issue. Wow. This next part feels a whole lot harder than it should. Who do you know who could help me find a job in that field? Or what advice would you give me?

I think it’s interesting how the Lord guides us individually to do the hardest things for us personally. I started out as a total child hermit, desiring nothing else than to be completely alone without influencing others. I progressed to want to be a missionary – to reach out and change others’ lives and bring them closer to Christ. And, finally (though there is probably another step… and another… that I just don’t see yet), I realize that I need to involve others in my own life. It still terrifies me. But it’s happening. I’m changing and becoming a better person. It has definitely taken me long enough. Each of us has personal progressions in life when we are guided by the Lord. He invites us to change who we are so that we can come closer to Him. And, the most amazing part – He enables us to change. We can change our natures, become new people, and someday, along with the people around us, overcome each of the obstacles that we face. My invitation for you is to turn to the Lord and ask Him for the next step – the next progression in your own life. Turn to Him, and turn to the people around you, and you’ll be blessed. You’ll see your own life change. Go out and be missionaries!

1 comment:

    The Waterford School, a pre-K – 12 day school enrolling 1,000 students in suburban Salt Lake City, seeks a full time Lower Schools teacher for the 2010-2011 school year. Waterford offers a broad, college-preparatory liberal arts program that emphasizes the fine arts in conjunction with the traditional academic disciplines. The Lower Schools teacher would teach in a traditional home room setting with students leaving the home room for specialists in music, science, art and PE. The homeroom class is 22-24 students and there are three sections of each grade level. Waterford follows a September to June school calendar.
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