“I [Didnt] Know What to Do”

Last night as I was driving to meet a friend for dinner, I had an “oh wow” moment.

I was crossing over the James River and I looked over at the sun setting over the river and on all the downtown buildings and all I could think was “wow, I never imagined my life would be like this”.

I’ve had these moments before; just every once in a while, when for a moment everything seems to be just how it should.

One year ago (next month) I drove into this beautiful city of Lynchburg, VA. The rain was pouring down like I had never witnessed in my life and I just kept asking myself if I had made the right decision to come here. But the next morning, the sun came up and everything dried out and I knew that this was going to be an adventure worth having.

My life has changed quite a bit over the last 11 months. Some very big changes have occurred while others have been small and maybe not noticeable to others. A few weeks ago I was going through some of my things in order to begin consolidating so I can move out of my apartment. As I was doing this I found one of my journals. For a few years I was very consistent in writing, but over the past couple of years I have written very seldom. I figured I should go ahead and write about what I have been doing over the past year so I have it to look back on. I decided to read the last entry I had written, which was dated June 18, 2016. This is what some of it said:

I have been really struggling the past few weeks. I don’t know what to do. I know the things I believe are true regarding the gospel but I also know the feelings that I have in other areas of my life. I don’t understand how to feel or what to think and even though those feelings are only a small part of who I am, they are controlling my thoughts. I need God’s help but I don’t feel like I deserve it. It is said that we are not given more than we can bear, but it certainly doesn’t feel like this is something I can bear forever

Holy cow. The person I was one year ago feels like a total stranger to me. I still have struggles and doubts and there are forever going to be days when I don’t know if things are going to be okay. But wow, how things have changed. And for the better! I am now able to wake up everyday and feel good about who I am. I feel so much more balance, and peace and love in my life as I have learned to be honest with myself and with those around me.

But it wasn’t like moving to Lynchburg was the magic key to make everything better. This ability to stand proudly as a person has come from all of the people and places I have encountered along the way. It has come from allowing myself to take risks and to focus on how I can live this life instead of just get through it. I could probably have written a post similar to this every time I have moved or made a change in my life. And I think that is why I am okay with life changing so often. It’s true that a part of my heart is left in each place that I lived. There are parts in Nevada with my family and parts in Utah with my some of my best friends. There are even some parts in the little town of Rexburg, ID and now I prepare to leave some parts behind here in Lynchburg as my life continues to move forward to new things. But even though I have left so many pieces behind, my heart has grown and changed and, hopefully, become better.

I am grateful to no longer be in a state of “I don’t think this is something I can bear forever” but instead be in awe of what I am doing and where I am and what is coming next. ¬†We live in a good world with good people and I am grateful to have woken up this morning to spend another day in it. I promise that things get better.

 

 

 

Stop Dragging Fred

There is a story about a man who returns home from a day of golfing. His wife asks how the day went and he responds that it went well, except that Fred passed out on the second hole. The man’s wife looked scared and asked “oh my goodness! Is Fred OK?”. “Yes he’s fine”, replied the husband, “but it was such a bother. Every hole it was hit the ball, drag Fred. Hit the ball, drag Fred”.

So often we are unwilling to let go of our expectations. We drag them around with us even though it makes the situation harder than it has to be. We have expectations for almost everything in our lives; how our jobs will be, how our holiday meals will turn out, how our date with the cute guy from math class will go, how our spring break vacation will go, and a million other things. Yet for me, I find myself creating expectations most often for my friends, and for how our friendships will be.

For a variety of reasons, I have a hard time letting relationships, especially friendships, go. I want to be a good friend, a great friend, and I want to be able to be that forever. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, but it’s definitely something that has come to my attention in recent years. The golden rule says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But I have a hard time drawing the line at where I continue to be a friend regardless of the other person’s willingness to also be a friend. A real friendship requires two people, but shouldn’t I still be kind and be good even if it isn’t reciprocated?

I’m most surely not the prime example of how to show love to others. My sarcastic nature can often come off to people as a bit mean if they don’t know me. But I do try to show love to those in my life through the ways I know how. I don’t always know what words to say to help someone through something, but I can always listen. I will drive however far away in order to be with someone when they need it. I will give up extra study time, or a soccer game, or anything of that nature, because a person to be loved is often more important than anything else I could be doing. As I began to try harder over the last couple of years to express my love for my friends in both word and deed, I often became frustrated when those same things weren’t reciprocated. My expectations of how they should act were based on what I was willing to do for them, and if they didn’t show love for me in the same ways, it was as if they didn’t show it at all.

One day I came across a quote that changed my perspective on this very topic that I was struggling with. The unknown author said “Just because somebody doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have”. Holy cow. How often was I limiting the love I could have been receiving simply because I was unwilling to accept the type of love they were trying to give me? When I returned to Utah for the months of August and September, I felt that I got the most out of the friendships that I had there. I saw different friends on a consistent basis, was being invited to attend more events, and I felt loved. Learning to let people love me however they choose to do so is hard, but dragging around my expectations of how they should love me is even harder. Maybe our bestfriends are only our bestfriends for a time, and maybe that hilarious guy from my intramurals team won’t want to be my friend, and maybe I will lose other friends. But maybe that’s OK.

It is important to be brave, to be kind, and to love. But it is also important to stop dragging Fred. He can show up in our lives in many different ways. As we let go, our arms will be rested, our eyes will be opened, and the beauty of what life really is will be so exhilarating. My favorite poet, Tyler Knott Gregson wrote:

We are half people and we will stay half people until we stop wishing for wishes that have already been granted.

And I would add, perhaps we will stay half people until we learn to live our lives for what they truly are.