“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.





Rain or Shine

It didn’t snow this week! For the first time in the two months that I have been in Rexburg, we had sunshine for more than one day during the week. In fact, we had sunshine almost every single day! People were wearing T-shirts, going to the park, and enjoying the sunshine. Even though the highs were only in the upper 30’s, it feels like a beautiful spring day when all you have been experiencing are gloomy, 15 degree days for the majority of the time. I believe that the things around us are often a reflection of the things that happen within us.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that because it’s been gloomy for the past two months that my life has been horrible for the past two months. But it does mean that just like the weather, my life has times of gloom and times of sunshine. It also means that the God who created the earth, with all of its seasons and different weather patterns, also created me. And because of that knowledge, I can also be sure that God is aware of me. Sometimes this awareness seems so distant or, for the moment, gone. In fact, I have at certain times felt that God had forever abandoned me. But in those gloomy time, the sunshine always came back.

One of my favorite types of weather is rain. I love the way it makes the earth smell,the fact that it doesn’t stick around forever like snow, and the way that it makes everything clean again. I have seen rain when I have been happy, and sad, and elated, and angry. But I have specifically seen rain on almost every occasion in the last year when I have felt overwhelmingly sad. Now, maybe this is just a coincidence. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe God is saying “Shannon, I know you are sad. But I am here. I haven’t left you, and I never will.” Just like the rain always clears and the sun eventually comes out, those times of tremendous sadness and grief have consistently been replaced with joy and with peace.  I can promise that God is saying this to each and everyone one of us. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). This means that He loves everyone equally, and doesn’t see one person as greater than the next. If this wasn’t true why would I, a college student in a small town with a lowly job and no high calling in life, be given the aid of a God who had created all the earth? That doesn’t make sense. God knows ME, He loves ME, and He watches out for ME. And He does the same for every single person.

“If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong” (Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p.46). I don’t know how to live a life without gloomy days. And I don’t know how to make the best of those gloomy days. But I do know that they end. That sunshine comes. And that things will always work out.