My 22nd birthday was 10 days ago.
Well, that didn't really work out the way I hoped.
Many people don't know the story of how I got to this point in my life. I hope that by telling it, I can reach out to some who are contemplating.
I was engaged last summer. That's probably well known by now, but I was. And I didn't see it at the time, but it wasn't going to work. I was blinded by love that probably wasn't going to last and already made the commitment to see it through; no matter what. I was pretty determined. I told everyone to get out of my way; I was meeting my goal to be married before I was 22. I was 21 and had a new life ahead of me. After things ended, I was embarrassed, but mostly very angry. I was angry at him, I was angry at my family, I was angry at me, and I was angry at Heavenly Father. How, after praying about being with someone and feeling very strongly it was right, could He do that to me? I felt like I was completely set up for failure. I felt betrayed. I felt forgotten. I was completely alone. I didn't talk to anyone. I loathed going to church, but I still went.
I hate to admit this, but I didn't pray for at the very least, a month. I was just so angry. I didn't know where to go or what to do. I really was lost. Should I go back to SVU? A place I gave up for my ex-future husband? Should I just ditch life and go out to Utah where he would be? Afraid of praying for any other kind of guidance, I just stayed home. And that was probably the best decision I could have made.
I slowly started picking myself back up; I told the YMCA preschool staff that I was interested,. and I didn't even have to apply. I eventually became an after-school counselor as well. Then I was called to be a Junior Primary teacher. I joked that my only friends were children. And it was true.
I also began to see a therapist. There is such a stigma about it, I was really embarrassed at first. But let me tell you, that stuff works. I could see a big difference in my life as I talked to her every couple weeks. I started picking myself up. The very first day I prayed after all of that, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of love. I finally started beginning to heal. I smiled more. I started enjoying church again. I read my scriptures daily. The pain was still there, and I had a few setbacks in fully trusting the Lord again as I was hesitant to move from where I was, but I felt such love from my Heavenly Father, my ward family, my bishop, my family, and my friends.
One of my best friends was on his mission at this time. I remember telling him how I was lonely but my kids made it a lot easier. I love my munchkins. My friends were all away at school and I literally did not have anyone to hang out with or be around. I remember it perfectly because he said, "Maybe working with all of those kids is preparing you for something bigger. Maybe you need to learn something from them". I remember thinking, "Yeah, okay. But what?"
That stayed on my mind for a while. I began to look for reasons why Heavenly Father had me surrounded by so many children every day. I was so surprised at what I found.
It's said that we should have a child-like faith. That things can be simple if we let them be. I testify that that is true. Working with these innocent little children at the Y (1 and 2 year olds) and watching them grow has been the most humbling experience I've ever had. They have such Christ-like attributes without even trying. They are so pure and so willing to learn. They play, eat, poop, and are just happy. Life is easy because they trust you to make it that way. They fall down and may get the smallest scratch on their leg, and they cry for you, trust you to pick them up, hug them, tell them everything is okay, and then they're on their way. Happy as can be. Another child takes their toy, and it's the worst thing in the world. They come crying to you, trust you to pick them up, hug them, tell them everything is okay, and then they're on their way. Happy as can be. And most of the time, if you tell them to do something, or to "come here", they'll do it. No questions asked. No hesitation. They come running to you with open arms. They know you love them and will do anything for them. They have faith in you, that you will protect them, and fix whatever is wrong.
I began to learn that this is how we should be with Heavenly Father. I can honestly say I had a change of heart. I remember praying so hard the day I finally got it, finally figured it out, and thanking Him for sending me such sweet angels to teach me these things.
My Primary class was different. I had the 4-5 year olds. I had to teach the gospel so simply and basic. It was hard at first, but I got the hang of it. I was setting the foundation for them. Telling them how much Christ loved them constantly and teaching about eternal families, repentance, etc. I would ask them questions and their answers were so simple, factual, and powerful. It would catch me off guard a lot of the time. Little did I know, teaching the gospel in this way, while learning about child-like faith, was only preparing me for the biggest decision of my life.
It was October 25th, and I had a very tiresome, stressful day. I went over to some good friends' house, the Vlaznys (Their family has been there for me since high school, basically. Stephanie and Nathan and their 4 kids). I was talking to Steph, just venting about a few things I needed to get off my chest. I had no idea what the heck I was doing with my life. I couldn't stay in Mooresville forever. I needed to get out somehow. Utah? Back to SVU? School just didn't seem like it was the right fit. She suggested Nathan giving me a blessing. In that blessing I was instructed to "prepare as if ( I ) were to go on a mission".
I flipped out.
A...what? Mission? Ooooh no. No no no no no! That is NOT part of the plan, dude. I seriously had no earthly clue where to even begin with this. I had so many questions immediately after that blessing. I sat back in my chair shocked. Steph looked a little bewildered. Nathan just had this grin on his face. I kind of attacked him with my questions. He said, "I was told specifically not to tell you to go or not. That's up to you." ....really? REALLY? How am I supposed to know this isn't going to blow up in my face like the last spiritual prompting over the summer to get MARRIED?!
Let's just say I was kind of a mess for about a week or so after that.
I contemplated it for a while. Like a month, guys. I studied it out. There was NO way I was going into this blindly. Everything I learned from those kids was put to the test. I did pray about it, but mostly that if I did do it that things wouldn't blow up in my face again. I already felt school wasn't right, so was this my answer? I talked to family and close friends about it. I wasn't sure what to do. Then, one day while I was meeting with my Bishop, for whatever reason, I said, "Well...there's no harm in at least getting started." So I began the process. And I felt so good about the little things I was doing, I kept going. I was scared, but I kept going with it.
And....well, here we are. 4 days before my call is supposed to be here. This has been quite the roller coaster, if you ask me. I am still kind of amazed and shocked that I'm actually doing this. Guys, THIS IS REAL LIFE. People ask me, "Are you so excited? Are you scared?" and I'm like, "Yes! And I'm terrified!" I'm not one to hide my emotions or thoughts. It's true. I am SCARED out of my mind. This is ALL new territory for me. I am truly walking each step in faith that things will work out. I mean, what do I have to lose? Absolutely nothing bad can come from this.
After having a somewhat-glimpse of what it would be like to be married, I have never felt more ready to actually BE married. I think back on things that I would do differently than in my previous relationship(s) and ponder on how I would raise a family and the values I would enforce and encourage. I look around me and I see so many happy couples. My best friend is getting married in 3 months. I see her and her fiance and I just think, "Man, how is it that I can't seem to get it right?". It still bothers me. Even now, 4 days before my mission call is supposed to be here. I know what I want. I want an eternal family. That is my ultimate goal. And a lot of the time it seems so far out of my reach. It hurts and it's hard. But you know, if I were to do anything to really prepare me for being a wife and a mother, this may be it.
I can't live in the what if's and why not's. I'm living in the now. I'm going on a mission. I'm studying like crazy, getting ready to do some serious shopping (yes, please.) and praying my heart out that I will love my mission, wherever it may be. I am sure I will. My biggest fear right now is being disappointed when I open that letter. I want to feel that that is where I'm supposed to be and the Lord knows best. I want to be excited and happy when I get it.
I guess we'll see.