Friday, January 1, 2016

Magical World of New Years

I love the last few days of the year. I love all of the year in review posts on social media and video mashups of the top songs of the past 12 months. I love reflecting back on what has happened to me, how I have changed, who I have become. It is important to remember, in Helaman 5:6 (Book of Mormon) it says, "I desire that ye should remember..."

Therefore in the spirit of remembering I want to reflect back on 2015 as well as look forward to what is to come. 2015 was a year of big changes! A year ago I had been home from my mission for just a few months. I was getting ready to start my first semester of classes in my newly chosen major - math (I know, I'm crazy). I knew who my roommates would all be until graduation. My heart was filled with the righteous desire to do what I felt I was supposed to do as a returned missionary - get married. I felt that I was ready and I was waiting. I had huge hopes for the coming year.

Just when I felt like I had life pretty well figured out, my Father in Heaven (as He always does) decided to reminded me once again that He is in charge and that I need to increase my trust in Him and His timing. NOTHING that I had planned for the year happened.

A few weeks into the semester I started hating school, something I had never experienced. I was confused because I had felt incredibly strongly that I needed to study math. I had prayed and fasted and received my answer, but suddenly it felt wrong. It was a struggle, it was painful and confusing. But I decided to drop most of my classes and sign up for some intro to Elementary Education classes - something I told myself I would never do. This led to me applying and getting into the Elementary Education program. And I still don't know why, but I continue to move forward.

As the semester went home I also experienced some health problems that I never had before. I lost some valuable relationships with people who meant a lot to me. I also had to adjust to the changing relationships of my very best friends getting married - something that they hadn't planned on. I am ashamed to say how long it took me to be okay with this, how hard it is to not feel like you are steps behind your friends on the staircase of life. And that they now have a new person with whom to walk up that staircase with. However, through this all I have come to learn more about myself. I have a new confidence and excitement about who I am and where I am going as an individual, a daughter of God. And I know that I am not ready to make that next step on the staircase, and I am okay with it.

This year was also full of changes in the world. Some of these changes caused me to question things that I had always thought to be true. I felt my testimony shaken harder then ever before.It's not that I questioned my testimony as a whole, but I learned exactly what it means that faith is fluid, it is either growing or shrinking, depending on what your actions are. I came to realize that I needed to do more to make sure that my faith was in the right thing - Jesus Christ and His Gospel  - not in the structure of the Church, people in the Church, or even in the Church itself. And this distinction has made all the difference.

In the midst of these struggles in understanding my testimony I was given one of the hardest gifts of this year, the opportunity to serve as the Relief Society President. I'm not saying this as an accomplishment, in fact, I honestly don't like telling people. But it is one of the reasons why I know that my Father in Heaven knows me. He knew that I needed to be pushed into opportunities to forget myself and go to work. And the fact that he trusted me, even when I felt at my lowest, was a tender mercy of just how much He loves me. Getting to serve these amazing girls in my ward and feeling an overwhelming amount of love for each of them, even though I barely know them, helped me to see just a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father loves His children.

This year has been hard. I might say the hardest year of my life, there were a lot of steep drop offs on this roller coaster, but I have come to know that you just keep holding on, it will come back up. Mixed in with all of the trials, have been too many blessings to count.

I am grateful for what I have learned. I know that these trials are not yet over. But I have a renewed confidence that if you "trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6). He is directing my path, He has the perfect plan. So for 2016, my plan is to simply say "I'll go where you want me to go, I'll say what you want me to say, and I'll be what you want me to be" (Hymn #270). And because of this I know that "...whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world..." (Ether 12:4).

I believe in God. Therefore I have hope in a better world to come. So here's to remembering the lessons learned in the past, while looking forward to 2016 with a brightness of hope.

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