Sunday, September 27, 2015

Abrahamic sacrifices and my totally BYUI engagement

I've decided that to help with consistency of my posts that I might try out some kind of spiritual thought posting on Sundays. Stay tuned to see if I can figure this blog out!

This post is special because one year ago today I went on my first date with my now-fiancé Ben Godfrey. Here's a little spiritual tribute to that. But my story with Ben is one of trials, faith, and great sacrifice. It built my testimony sky-high and it is my hope that even just one person who reads this will find comfort and strength through the Spirit.

Last September, I was a mess. I did an okay job of hiding it, of course, but I was in shambles. High school ended, all my friends were leaving, and I was dealing with four years of anxiety buildup. When I met Ben Godfrey, it was my second day of Sierra College. I went over to the institute because I thought there would be class. Brother Paul Watkins took me under his wing and gave me a grand tour of the place, but not until he took a picture of me with his phone. This blonde guy with glasses and a blue plaid shirt (Bendini's trademark) was there, discussing how you can't charge your phone all the way because that worsens the battery. Thank goodness I can only remember such weird specific details of people and never things like, oh, their name. He ended up in my Book of Mormon class. I was taking Prozac out the wazoo and felt awful surrounded by such strong spirits in that class. Little did I know that one of them was admiring my hair and my "head shape".

Every day, I'd bolt out of class. I was overwhelmed with SSRI side-affects and the depression and worsened anxiety they caused in me. One day, however, I felt this urge to hang out in the hallway and see what would happen. Completely contrary to what I wanted to do. But I did it anyway, and after saying "Hi" and going to the bathroom, Mr. Genius realized that it was his chance to ask me out on a date: "So, uh, there's this movie, The Maze Runner."
"Yeah, looks good!"
And then, the frightening question:
"Yeah! So I was going to maybe see it this weekend... would you want to come with me?"
"Sure, sounds like fun."
Apparently, he then proceeded to run into the lounge and high-five everyone and give this other guy an empowering speech on how he should just go ask women out (this guy then went out to the hallway and chatted me up, which drove Benjamin mad!).

Time passed, and we dated, and then we became a thing, and I eventually gave up the experimental drugs, and then he got into BYUI. I was devastated, and he was anxious too, because he didn't think I could be the one to marry but he didn't want to give me up. We went long distance for three hard anxiety-ridden months. Seriously, long distance is the actual worst.

Spring break came. I got out of jury duty and my plans to come up and visit him and my best friend were coming to fruition. We drove overnight the day I found out about jury duty, and it was midnight in Elko when I got the text: "Sweetie, we need to talk." My stomach dropped. I fitfully slept in the car the rest of the day to Rexburg where I endured the hardest day of my life: April Fool's Day 2k15.

Thinking about that day still hurts. It was the day I lost my best friend. Ben was at work all morning, and I was a zombie running errands with Danielle, crying frequently, not eating, sick to my stomach. He got off work, and when I saw him, we embraced so tightly and so sadly. He took me around campus and we cried and it was absolutely hard and miserable. I had to give up my best friend. I'm marrying him now; do you understand what he meant to me then? What I meant to him?

I still tear up when I picture my last goodbye, shutting the door.

The thing about life is that God calls us to make great sacrifices for the sole purpose of qualifying us for incredible blessings. Many are familiar with Abraham and Sarah from mid-Genesis. Abraham and Sarah were promised early on (back in the Abram and Sarai days) that they would have children to outnumber the stars of the sky and sands of the sea. 70 years of infertility, of questions and faith, and they had nothing. No children at all, though they desired a family so much. Finally, in the Lord's time, they were given a son. They named him Isaac, from the word which means "to laugh/rejoice".
Then came the fateful day that the Lord tried Abraham and asked him to give his only son in sacrifice. How hard that day must have been. The heartache of Abraham as he took days' travel to the appointed place on Moriah. Consider the faith he had in the Lord as he bound his son and raised the knife, being so believing that he knew if Isaac died that the Lord could make him live again. Consider the faith Isaac had in submitting to his father. In accepting his role as the sacrifice, in embracing the knowledge that the Lord only asks us to do hard things (hard is really truly an understatement in this case) because it is how He blesses us best.

Ben and I had to learn a lot in breaking things off. I had to learn how to be Isaac. I had to learn to have perfect faith that things would be made best. I had to learn how to pray intently and walk without seeing and trust in the Lord to take me where He knows I can go.

I cried every day in April. Every day. And I cried a lot in May. I had lost such an integral part of me. I had lost the one thing that mattered so much to me. What could I do to ease my sorrow? How many times I plead with the Lord to deliver me, to uplift me, to support me, to raise me, to lead me through the darkest valley of my life. How long, O Lord, would I have to suffer?
I knew what to do. I had been taught it since I was a child. I had been taught it when I had Ben before. And I knew it was true. I turned to my scriptures, I turned to my God, I went to the temple because I had been promised great things and comfort. Though it did not come quickly, it entered into my life quietly, and I grew so much more than I had ever grown in my life.

And yet, I never got him out of my mind. I thought about him daily, hourly. It took a long time to quit bothering him. He called me on May 15. We texted once or twice. But boy, did my soul ache for his company. I prayed often for the Lord's will to be done, but that if my will was okay, that He would see it through.

He did. June 30th, before I left to hike Half Dome, I called Ben. He answered. He was about to leave, so he didn't have much time, but he promised to call me back. He did.

A month of rebuilding went by. I was super stressed thanks to my 8-week integral calculus course. He supported me, but I was intent on taking things slow. We were testing the water. But we really couldn't stay away. We talked more and more. My prayers were answered. I was unsure and afraid but I knew if I kept doing what I needed to that Heavenly Father would bring me nowhere but where I needed to be. August 3rd, and we were publicly back together. Right where we left off.

The thing is, this was still all long-distance. We hadn't seen each other since January 1st, not counting the unfortunate day in between. He made plans to come out and see me. August 31st, I hid in his car, surprising him best I could with all the junk he had in the back, and we picked up as though nothing ever happened.

Something did happen. He broke up with me. And I will thank Heavenly Father forever for that experience. I would never choose to relive it. I know there are greater trials ahead. But I will have my best friend, someone that Heavenly Father put in my life to bless me and strengthen me and grow with me.

So yes, Ben and I are engaged after three weeks together in person. But we know it's right. We know that we love each other, that we always have, and that Heavenly Father wants us to marry each other. The thing about Mormons is that we get engaged "too fast" because we have no reasons to wait. We know that if you ask God the right thing, He'll answer. We know He will tell us when we are on the wrong path. He is waiting for opportunities to bless us and help us out. We just have to have faith.

Sometimes, those opportunities come in the worst of circumstances and the greatest of sacrifices. But He will utilize them to teach us beautiful and incredible things. He did that for me. He helped me and Ben to know that we love each other and that He is looking out for us and supporting us in all things. I'm engaged. But I am also happy, blessed, and in no way fearful for my future with Ben when it comes to the big things. I have a testimony of sacrifice, trials, and blessings. I have a testimony of the perfect love of perfect Heavenly Parents and a perfect Savior. And this is how I have known and always will know I will be okay in the end.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

education in the world but not of the world

By the time this is posted, I will be mostly through my second week at BYU-Idaho. I have barely begun and barely slept and yet I have already come to notice awesome new things about life for me out here in Rexburg. It totally is what you make of it.

My ability to receive spiritual promptings and insights has been heightened. The campus invites a clear mind and open heart. My roommate mentioned last week how you can find bad things just by simply looking for them, but there is still an overwhelming abundance of good. Coming from Californian junior college, I see the difference so well and I have greater gratitude for it.

Questions I've had for months have been answered. I have seen, even if for the first time, answers I was given long ago. I have received new ones. New questions, new answers, old questions, old and new answers, I just feel so much more attuned to the Spirit. Things that I always imagined would be frightening and full of anxiety are way more easily approached with peace.

I have my tough math and physics classes every day instead of my usual twice a week, but it is far better suited to my needs because each class is only an hour long. There is no oversaturation; people, like sponges, can usually only learn so much at one time until they can't absorb anything at all. Of course, this means I have plenty of homework (15 units of math, science, humanities, Old Testament, and biblical Hebrew) and I spend 8 or 9 hours on campus most of the week, but it's worth it.

The Rexburg temple looks so huge on the hill. It looks huge up close. But every morning that I hike to my first class, just as I get to the building, I see Moroni on the point of the temple over the top of the Ricks building. When I get a ride, we drive almost right up to it. It's a perfect daily reminder.

I feel so much more passionate about my learning. Reading the Old Testament is powerful. Math 215 for the first month is review from integral calculus, and I had such a solid foundation with high school physics that all the basic stuff in my class is making me motion-sick (ha!), but I know once I start learning the scary stuff I will find the drive to get it done. I'll be able to get study buddies despite my tough schedule. I have been greatly blessed by an eternal Father and wonderful earthly parents. I feel the love of all those around me. I am right where I need to be.

I'm also blogging while music is playing and a party is going on right outside of my window. College life.

Last of all, in classrooms full of 95% men, I've never felt prettier.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

obligatory post

It's been a couple Thursdays, and since this is a personal blog, I guess I can insert some brief personal stuff.

I'm currently typing from my new apartment in Rexburg. I start classes on Monday. It's been a heck of a week.

I just want to mention a couple points. I owe such gratitude to my Father in Heaven. I had a wonderful week with a wonderful someone last week, and I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend my last week at home. And on the way here, I got to spend some time with my parents, stopping by Salt Lake City. We toured the conference center, where in a short month, General Conference will be held and the Spirit will be felt and we will get to hear the words we need to from the General Authorities of the Lord's restored church. The words will be inspired and will touch an open heart easily. The spirit felt in that building was strong. There is art everywhere, and each piece I looked at was a witness of the truth of the gospel.

In particular, there was a series of oil paintings featuring women in the scriptures. I love women in the scriptures. Besides a couple outliers, the few women that are mentioned are so incredibly faithful and devoted to God. They change the world. They inspire me, from Eve to Sarah to Mary to Abish. All the art there is original, and I saw a couple of my favorite paintings of biblical women. I'd write more about the subject if my head didn't hurt and it wasn't 11:20 PM.

I have felt such peace throughout the last week, when I should normally be crazy and off the walls and sad and nervous and anxious, etc, etc, etc. I know it is an answer to prayers I have given to feel peace.

I'll make sure to write a real nice post in a couple weeks. Until then, wish me luck.