December 29, 2014

Warning, warning. NOVEL BELOW. Look out! Let’s talk about something, people. I just returned home from an LDS mission to Minnesota. Half the time, it was un-livable cold but always, it was the straight-up best. I never wanted to leave.
(Look at that sunset. Um. Can you blame me?)
Spoiler alert, though: I did. And 18 months is nothing but a teaser when you fall so in love with a place. Shame on you, calendar. November came in May this year! (Insert mega-stank-face.)

Being home has been quite the transition. Your whole life is one way for two years, and then it’s not.
Some moments I’m so grateful and happy and peaceful, and others, I just feel unsettled and sad, out of place and anxious. Sometimes I’m ready to take on the world, and other times I panic because where in the world is my missionary planner, why didn’t I lesson-plan this morning and why are we having dinner past 5:55? WHY IS IT WEIRD THAT I WANT OUR CONVERSATION TO HAVE EXTENDED SILENCES AND INSPIRED QUESTIONS? Don’t you want your hand shaken and don’t you want me to ask you all the basics about your life? (Sound awkwardly familiar to anyone out there?) Still. There are a few things I know, this being the main thing: it’s all important to the growth Heavenly Father wants for me right now, and I’m happy to have a Savior who is right here with me, taking it all in and having experienced it first. That’s enough.

I had a pretty nice break-through last week. One of those moments where you feel like the heavens are open and there’s some SERIOUS ahhing in your ears. I was wearing my thinking cap real hard in my room after a really good day reuniting with friends I’d fare welled years ago. My heart was so happy. And I realized, this kind of transitory ache isn’t unfamiliar to me, you know? I’ve felt this before. I got out some of my scrapbooks and journals and just thought back on different stages of my little life. I realized, I ALWAYS feel like this at points. I think in this fleeting little mortality, we are supposed to. Maybe the trick is just learning to recognize and appreciate the changing season as it happens, instead of after. (Whoops. Working on it.) Maybe that’s where the joy comes in – in recognizing the purpose and the promise in the pain of something good coming to an end.

My junior year of high school is a good example. I had wonderful friends and great memories, and did my favorite show ever and when the year ended, I thought. Well, that’s it, you know? I’ll never love something like that ever again. (Such a drama queen, eh?) And then senior year came, and guess what? I adored it. Became even closer with my friends and made even better memories and did a play I loved EVEN more. And then it ended and we all went our separate ways to college and I felt all lost and unsettled again… And then I moved to China and loved those kids more than I ever thought humanly possible. And I came home and felt, AGAIN, like… well. That’s it. I’m never gonna hit that peak again. And then I went on my mission… and holy crap! You know the rest.

And it reminded me of the scripture in Alma 32:28, where Alma talks about what the words of Christ do to our hearts: “Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves, it must needs be that this is a good seed, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”
And I know that’s talking about the teachings of Christ and His word… but I thought about it in the perspective of the experiences God has planned for each of us. Just this life. If we allow the new experience to have place in our heart, and don’t push it away because of “our unbelief” that it won’t be as good as the past, or won’t meet our expectations for the future, love for that experience and those people will grow within us. We’ll love the here and now, and we’ll be able to feel that it’s from God. And it will enlarge our hearts and our souls even beyond what the last experience did, and we’ll see more of God’s plan. I really believe what it says in 2 Nephi 2:25. We are that we might have JOY. We really are.

God never sets us up to have the high point of our lives at 20, or 30, or 40. That’d be outrageous! Life doesn’t just embrace you at certain points. Life’s eager arms are always outstretched, if you can keep yourself open and aware. It’s continual. And each experience is sweet for different reasons. And each new rush of soul-stretching love prepares us to be stretched a little further for the next experience to fill us up and warm our hearts. That’s a great comfort to me, and I really know that it’s true. For me, and for you. If life is good right now, it’s deeply good. It will impact you and better you forever. And if right now it aches, there is beauty in that too, and always goodness around and ahead.
The opportunity to give my whole heart and focus to the Lord and be taught by the wonderful people in Minnesota will never fade. But there are new experiences looking to take root in my heart, and I need to get myself out of the way and allow life to plant them.
So here I am. I’m a returned missionary, awkward, adjusting, but open to joy.
(Insert Breakfast Club fist pump)

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Kailee December 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Welcome home! 🙂 I loved this post and this quote: "God never sets us up to have the high point of our lives at 20, or 30, or 40." I've never thought of it that way! Good luck adjusting, you'll get used to it after a while!

Tyson & Rachel February 12, 2015 at 5:29 am

HAI. I'm lurking. And I might be watching you. RIGHT NOW.


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