Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lessons Learned and to be Learned

Several months ago I had mentally and emotionally reached a point where I had to accept and admit to myself that I was very unhappy. The move to Washington, DC, for the new job had not gone to plan. The friends and activities I thought I would have waiting for me here had not turned out as expected. My salary situation was complicated and considerably less than I had anticipated. I had nearly no social life. I was poor, broke, bored, and lonely.
Going to my mid-singles ward (congregation) every Sunday exacerbated my pain. Everyone else there seemed to have a network of friends, nice clothes and cars, and all the things I had hoped to have, but hadn't panned out.
I began to mentally check-out and withdraw from my ward. But I didn't turn away from the Church, Spirit, or gospel. I turned more to prayer than I had in a long time, in search of guidance. I had partially made the decision, completely based on my pained emotions, to leave the mid-singles ward and go to my nearby family congregation. I figured no one would notice my absence, since no one had noticed my presence.
I prayed more than once. I prayed for several days, if not weeks. And then one day I began to receive an answer and guidance in the way that I often receive answers to prayers. It began as a foreign thought in my mind. An idea that I knew didn't come from me. Just an idea that forced me to think and puzzle it out, and reconcile it with what I knew and felt.
I find that these moments often come to me when I'm driving and my mind is clear. When I used to drive from Roanoke to DC so often, I had many of these moments alone in my car. I miss them now.
It was a Thursday afternoon. I remember it clearly. I was in my car. And a thought came to me that I had to work out, ponder on, and eventually it led me to an answer.
What that thought was is not what's important. But it was the feeling I had at the end of it. I recognized the experience. I had had similar experiences in the past that had prepared me for major life changes. A little seed was planted in my heart that opened my mind to accepting a major change just around the bend. These have always been changes that I could not control, but would need to accept for my own happiness. (For instance, every time a bishop has been released in my ward, I knew it in this same way in advance.) I don't handle imposed change very well. I always need to come to the same conclusion that the change was needed and the solution was the best option. And sometimes I don't agree, or it takes me a long time to get there. And so these moments where I have felt the Holy Ghost prepare me in advance have been cherished and important to me.
And that Thursday afternoon I got the answers to my prayers- there was about to be a major change in my life, and I needed to be prepared to accept it.
And so I was.
In the following days I was "called" or asked to co-chair the mid-singles conference. After I prayed about it, I readily accepted the assignment. I knew it would be a tough road ahead, but I felt spiritually prepared.
But then I went home and cried for hours. I've planned conferences in the past and knew what I was getting myself into. I didn't cry about the workload though. I knew I could survive that. I cried because I have been there before. And I know that when you are in charge of planning a spiritual event for 400 people, Satan will do everything to ruin your life.
I wasn't wrong.
These last several months have been a true test. I've nearly stopped blogging altogether because I just don't want to share all of the difficulties I've been hit with. Of course, the hardest thing I've endured is losing my job. (My grandmother dying, my apartment getting condemned, and car troubles rank pretty high up there as well.)
But on the hard days, the really hard days, where my life is just not easy or rosy, it helps to stop and remember how clearly and perfectly I heard the answers to my prayers.
I know I am in the right place and the right time. I know I will survive this.
I know there are some who would like to believe that for every major effort and sacrifice we make, we are paid back in obvious blessings. For instance, put your heart and soul into planning a major conference, and you'll get your dream job.
I don't believe it's always so obvious. For me, my heart can accept that I've survived and received dozens of blessings these last few months, because I was willing to devote myself to the Lord's work. I haven't gone hungry. Miracles have paid my rent. Hearts have been softened and opened to offering me unexpected assistance.
There are less than 7 weeks left to the mid-singles conference. The workload is getting heavier by the day. I can rarely relax without my brain overflowing with the dozens and dozens of things we need to get done. This is about the point where most people would want to run and scream and never do this sort of thing again.
Trust me, I have those feelings- often! But then I'm reminded one more time that I know that I'm in the right place at the right time. I find the strength to make one more phone call and one more email. Because I can do this. WE can do this. (I'm not alone. I have a great co-chair and committee.)

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