Monday, September 16, 2013

YOU Can Do Hard Things!

Not long ago, I spent 2 weeks in Canada on a Brigham Young University-Idaho Performance Tour. As part of our itinerary we were invited to 2 evening firesides and 1 morning devotional for the youth. The director of my dance team, on the drive to the location where we were holding the morning devotional told me he felt inspired to ask me to share my testimony about doing hard things. I didn't write it down but I remember key points and that is what I want to share with you.

I began by asking the youth, by raise of hand, who had hiked a mountain. I then asked who thought that they had hiked the highest mountain out of the group. They called out the heights of various mountains they had hiked and then I proceeded to tell them about my hike up Mt. Elbert in Colorado.

I explained to them that as a dancer and an athlete I felt physically prepared, and I was determined to finish. I also told them that I had several friends with me and I made those friends promise me that they wouldn't let me give up: I would summit. 

I described the hike. 

We started out with about 15 in our company. Halfway up the mountain several stopped and decided they had had enough; we didn't get much farther up the mountain when more decided they were through. 

Then there were 5 of us.
I told the youth how I would take a few steps and be out of breath, I told them I felt that I was physically limited because of my asthma, but that I had support. 
I had friends, loved ones, helping me each step of the way.
I expressed my frustration because I couldn't breathe and a friend was singing Miley Cyrus "It's the Climb"! 


And then I said, "I made it to the summit that day" and paused. 

We all felt the spirit. 

Continuing, (and this is where I want you to pay attention), I shared with them something a dear friend told me. He said, "'I think I can" becomes "I knew I could" as we work hard and never give up.Adversity is unavoidable, but the way that we face our adversity determines the outcome of our experiences." 

I shared my experiences of deciding to go to college with the youth and testified that I knew the reason I was supposed to attend BYU-I was because those youth needed me, at that moment to remind them that they can do hard things, just as I am reminding you that you can do hard things

As I began to conclude I shared this quote, "Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others. Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increase compassion and understanding for others. (Joseph B. Wirthlin, Come What May, and Love It). 

I tied everything together with Christ. Just like my friends on the mountain, Jesus Christ is my friend in every other need. He strengthens me, and He sends others to strengthen me. I concluded with the thought from Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." and suggested that this scripture could be read in two ways "I can do all things which strengthen me, through the aid of Christ" and "I can do all things because Christ is who strengthens me." I personally think that both are correct.

To those of you who may be struggling. Do not get discouraged. You have your family, me, your friends, and the Hosts of Heaven on your team. 
One of my favorite quotes comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints April 2013 Session of General Conference. It reads, "Trials may come, and we may not understand everything that happens to us or around us. But if we humbly, quietly trust in the Lord, He will give us strength and guidance in every challenge we face. When our only desire is to please Him, we will be blessed with a deep inner peace."
--Bruce D. Porter

You got this!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Day I Decided to Serve

February 8th, 2009. That was the day I decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
I was 15 years old.  
Anytime I told someone I was planning on a mission I was answered with as many variations of "Oh, you won't make it on a mission, you're too pretty, surely you'll get married first," as you can think of. 
I stopped telling people. 
I accepted that those people were right. 
And then I started to believe lies.
I started to believe that maybe I was too pretty.
I started to believe that I would get married.
I started to believe that the Lord didn't need me. 
And then I saw my friends getting married.
And then I saw every relationship I tried to be in fall apart.
And then I watched as the guys I dated turned around and married the next girl they met.
I started to believe that if I wasn't married before it was time to serve a mission, I wasn't pretty.
I started to believe that if I wasn't married before it was time to serve a mission, I wasn't smart.
I started to believe that if I wasn't married before it was time to serve a mission, I wasn't good enough.
Lie after lie.
Lies corrupting my self-worth, and I believed them all. 
Then they stopped.

I remember it like it was yesterday. October 2nd, 2012. It was Tuesday. At the time I was 19, I was a junior at Brigham Young University-Idaho and there was a guy I really wanted to date. He was non-committal. 

I felt frustrated, lost, confused, unsure.

I didn't know what was happening to me. I just wanted to know if things would get better. I wanted to know what I could do to make things better.
I prayed.
I asked a question.
I knew sisters couldn't serve until age 21 but I felt like I needed to ask.
I asked if I was supposed to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I found my answer in The Book of Mormon.
And now, O my son[daughter], ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son [daughter], go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen." (Alma 42: 31)

2 years? I knew that I could do it. I would graduate with my Bachelors degree 2 weeks before my 21st birthday. I could wait that long to serve. I knew I could and I knew I would because I knew that I was supposed to serve. 

It was 4 days later when Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced that the age requirements for young men and young women, desiring and worthy to serve was now 18 for men and 19 for women. The feeling was overwhelming. Again, I could not deny that I was supposed to serve. 

I began the process of preparing my papers. I finished my portion in less than 2 days. And then it was time for me to call the doctor's office for a physical, and the dentist's office for an exam. Because I was at school, I looked up the doctor and dentist I usually visit when I am away from home but I could not call them. I tried. I would pick up the phone and dial the number. I could not physically make myself press send. The hesitation concerned me because I had been so sure about my answer. 
So, I prayed.
I asked a question. I asked if I was supposed to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
I didn't get an answer. There was no "yes," there was no "no," just silence. 
So, I prayed. 
I asked the question again. Over and over. 

Finally, almost exactly 4 years after I decided to serve, on February 24th, 2013, I received an answer. In my journal it reads, "I have been rescued, it is time to find someone to rescue... Don't question what the Lord has told you." That was the day I acted to serve. 

In 21 days, I will leave my family for 18 months. 
In 21 days, I will serve my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mesa, Arizona. 
I will serve knowing that I am beautiful.
I will serve knowing that the Lord needs me.
I will serve knowing that one day I will get married, and my husband will adore me.
I will serve knowing that I am smart.
I will serve knowing that I am good enough.
I will serve knowing that I have family and friends who support me.
I will serve knowing that I have self-worth. 
I will serve knowing that I have, and believe in, truth.

I will serve so that others can find the joy that I have. The joy which only comes through relying on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.