Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Curious Shift

I may have written on here before about my feelings towards my hometown: I felt strangely rebellious after leaving, and felt that my environment had limited me in my progression as a person. I felt like the people who had surrounded me for years, only pretending to care about me, had built me into a box of expectations - that I was the shy, mildly smart, awkward person who was good at this and not good at that. A year ago (and even more recently than that), I still felt like leaving for college had liberated me and placed me into an environment where I could flower and achieve things that I couldn't have at home.

Today, I realized that all those bitter feelings had shifted and changed.

Today I taught the Sunday School class for the 13 year-olds, and the topic was "The Worth of Souls." As I thought about the lesson ahead of time, I thought about where I was at that age, and what lessons I needed to hear. In class we covered our identity as children of God, how Christ gave His life for us, how strengths and weaknesses make us unique and interdependent, how to affirm the worth of others, and how our worth is not conditional upon worthiness (that even when we make mistakes, we are still worth a lot because we are God's children). I bore testimony from my personal experiences that as I developed my talents, developed a stronger testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and cared about other people, I was able to develop a better sense of healthy self-esteem. Those really have been, I think, the strongest factors that made the biggest difference in how I viewed myself.

After I got home from church, I started looking through a box of old stuff that I needed to organize. Near the top I found a letter from my mom, dated 2 December 2001. This letter came across to me now, a decade later, as my mother's heartfelt attempt to reach out to her struggling daughter. All I can really remember of myself (of my state of being, not just specific memories) from that era was that I was self-centered, dramatic, temperamental, confused and just having the usual adolescent struggles. In the letter, my mom tried to be very logical. She set out truths that I needed to internalize, that she loves me and that discouragement comes from Satan, gave me warnings of things I need to work on, and affirmed the things that I was doing right. It was really interesting to get that window into my adolescent self, and even more interesting to get that window into my mom from 10 years ago. It reminded me of how far I've come, and inclines me to look forward towards my future experiences as a mother (it's another testament to me of something I've heard a couple times lately, that parenthood is hard, and it isn't something you can or ought to do on your own - it's you, your spouse, the Lord, and hopefully other people who are available to help). Being a mom isn't something that's just going to happen to me, it's something that will "change" and "make" me.

After reading through the letter and doing a little soul-searching, I realized that the bitterness I'd held against my past is gone. I enjoyed seeing again some of the people at church who have been a part of my life in various ways, and didn't harbor suspicions or doubts as to how they really think about me. My life has happened the way it's happened, and that's ok. I am where I am now, and I'm going in a good direction. I'm going to keep moving forward and living life to the the fullest - loving, laughing and trusting, because when my trust is in God, I needn't fear anything. I can move forward with confidence and not look back :)

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