Saturday, August 23, 2014

Farewell to Provo

Once upon a time, I was a wee lass. Of course, I didn't think so at the time. I was (barely) 18 and thought I was an adult, ready to face the world. And in many ways I was. I came to Provo thinking I knew everything, but really knowing nothing, and this beautiful place has taught me so much.

It was here I had many firsts, met most of my best friends, went on adventures, received a mission call, and came home to after my mission. Provo taught me how to think, how to laugh, how to live. Provo taught me how to push through the hard times. Provo taught me so much about myself, more than I could ever imagine. Even when it's quirks and oddities drove me crazy, it was still home. It's more home than Idaho now, and I love my favorite places here and the mountains and most of all the people.

But I've known for a while that this would be the time for me to leave. It actually came later than I originally thought--God's funny like that. And, as I get ready to leave, I'm not really sad. I'm excited. Provo has been great, and it will always be a part of me, for better or for worse. But new adventures are calling: Salt Lake, both old and new friends, and many new and exciting things.

So . . . farewell, Provo. Don't worry. I'll back back to visit, and often. I won't be far. I'm just moving on.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Can Do Hard Things

I have always wanted to be courageous and daring, ever since I was a little girl.

I wanted to climb up trees and jump off swings--but usually ended up getting up only a few branches. I wrote essays about it in England--about wanting to be free from paralyzing fear and just run up mountains in my bare feet. I struggled with it on my mission and had a hard time finding the courage to talk to people on the street or run on icy roads--even though chances were they would reject me or I would fall flat on my face. And things haven't changed since I've been home. Fear of failure and heartbreak and rejection have been much of my song in dating, school, and applying to jobs.

In many ironic ways, fear is a safety blanket. You can hide behind it as an excuse to not put your heart or pride on the line. And I'm ashamed to admit that I do that with so much of my life. I go through phases where I make bold and frenzied attempts to prove myself: not only my academic/romantic worth, but my bravery and courage. But more often than not these end poorly, with me soon retreating back to my cowardly ways, vowing that it will be at least a few more months before I apply to jobs, open my heart, or submit another essay for publication. It doesn't matter that I know I'm qualified and worthy and rocking in every possible way. I'm almost positively going to be rejected, because that's just how my life often works, and so I pull back because I can't be rejected if I don't try.

In short, so often in life I am a coward.

But that is not always the case. In fact, some friends (who know me better than I know myself) often tell me of my courage and faith. I will admit that it is hard to believe them. But at the same time--I eventually always do keep pushing on, like a masochist who feeds of emotional pain, because I know that I won't be able to live with myself if I sit idly by, fearful, faithless, and unresponsive.

As I have gotten older, especially on and after my mission, I have learned that true courage comes from faith and hope. And if that, learning to rely on the Savior, is what courage is, perhaps I really am more courageous than I though. I don't have to be daring, or unafraid of hurt. But I can be vulnerable and open and faithful, because even when the hard things end badly (as, at least in my case, they do 98% of the time), there is hope for the future, for that 2%.  One of my favorite quotes is from Eliza R. Snow. I had it on the back of one of my planners on my mission. She said: “I will go forward. I will smile at the rage of the tempest, and ride fearlessly and triumphantly across the boisterous ocean of circumstance . . . and the ‘testimony of Jesus’ will light up a lamp that will guide my vision through the portals of immortality.” That is true courage. I may not always be smiling, but I will triumph over circumstance and somehow make my way across the dark void by the light of my Savior's love.

So although I still feel fear and I still have those moments where I want to hole up, perhaps Jessie and Christine and my other friends are right. Perhaps I am more courageous than I thought. And that courage pushes me to do hard things through the enabling power of the Atonement. It doesn't make it any easier, but it makes me stronger, more patient, and hopefully more like him. Because the Savior feels our pain, honors our sacrifice, and opens a new door for us--even if that door is so far in the future that we can't see it yet. He knows it's hard because He has been there. He is right there, getting the door slammed in the face with us, tears streaming down His face at our pain. And He will plead our case with the Father until the hopeful victory is reality. He will make sure that we succeed when the time is right.

All we have to do is have courage.