Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reflections from Ether

I've always felt like I scraped by in life.  Lucky here.  Lucky there.  Barely made it.  Almost didn't make it.  Man am I lucky!

And on and on.

Every day seems like a harrowing skin-of-my-teeth day where I barely make it under the line yet again to go hold on by my fingernails tomorrow and hope I make it.

Too many close calls to count.  Many of them in the navy.  I remember failing an inspection and knowing that I did - I forgot to clip my sea-bag for the inspection and the navy takes those seriously.  One point wrong is enough to fail.  I know I failed and I knew I did, and when I realized it, I prayed.   I came back to find I had passed and there was my sea-bag, clipped shut per regulations.

In basic I had a rack all to myself so the top rack was empty.  Well, I was on the rifle drill team which has a different schedule (and a lot more freedom) than the rest of the sailors in boot camp, and that schedule allowed me maybe 5-10 minutes to grab a nap before we headed out.  But you cant sleep on the floor - get your uniform dirty, can't sleep on your bed, won't pass inspection, can't sleep standing up - you'll be in other people's way and that's saved for inspections anyways - sleeping standing up.  Can't sleep sitting down, the benches were being used by others.  Well, I have this empty top rack.....lucky me.  More providence.  It had a pillow and everything but was a bare mattress.  I climbed up without messing my rack and laid down in my foul weather gear waiting to go.  The door busted open to the barracks.

ATTENTION ON DECK!  GET ON LINE!

Sailors ran left and right to the front of their racks, I dropped off the top of mine before I got seen by the instructors and stood at attention in front of my locker.

Except....I left my pillow on the top rack which I was responsible for, crumpled.

As I stood there thinking of my good fortune, the sailor across from me, his eyes got the size of dinner plates and I realized what happened.  He saw my pillow was out of order and they were coming to my rack and I was standing in a way I couldn't move or do anything about it.  A messed pillow was going to result in running heaven knows how far and then standing with a lead filled rifle over my head for the rest of the day running until I puked and working that rifle into every pose and calisthenics position possible while the instructors screamed at us.  Sometimes they just liked you to hold it over your head and then make you run in place and then leave you. Or make you hold it out in front of you till your arms failed and then punish you more for failure.

More prayers.

The instructors saw that nobody occupied the top rack so they focused on the bottom rack where I slept and......missed that my top rack wasn't inspection ready.

Somehow, yet again, I survived.

And the list goes on. And on.  And on.

Fast Forward.

As a missionary, I knew who I was and why I  was there.   I knew it. My cities were mine by divine destiny and there were and are none whose authority is higher in that area and I knew it.  I felt pretty fearless.  Took a bit of that military cockiness and drive and put it to work in the mission field and it was an amazing time. 

A time like no other.  When I knew who I was, why I was there, where I was going, what needed to be done and that God would sustain me and that I was on his mission and I would not fail.   And we shook hell.

It was amazing and breathtaking all in the same moment.  Never had a time like it before or since.

Until today.

I have struggled so long with school and so many other issues now, some of which you may have read recently in my blog.

It has been hell.  The valley of sorrow and tribulation is long, dark, deep and even dangerous. And I have been there for a long time.

This morning as I read Ether 1, I admired the Brother of Jared's faith when it was remarked at the scattering of the people - maybe we'll be led someplace better!  Who knows?  Go ask!

As I pondered my earlier ending to my entry over "A dark and stormy night" - the spirit told me it was going to be okay.  And it was.

Between my patriarchal blessing and other blessings I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to and have been told I am on the Lord's errand and will succeed.....

Suddenly it dawned on me: and if I fail, maybe I will be led someplace better!  Like the Brother of Jared.

Suddenly, in the midst of potential failure I saw hope.  And suddenly in that hope I saw that even when I have failed, the Lord has been leading me, and when I haven't failed, I've been upheld.....maybe like the Brother of Jared, been led better places?

My career to bring the gospel to mental health....isn't just on the Lord's errand.

My entire life....is on the Lord's errand.  I wasn't sent here to fail.  But to follow him and succeed.

I know we say that, we've been told that so many times, but I've thought myself most of my life so unworthy that I kind of felt like I was always hoping he would show up in the moments I needed him....hoping to scrape by.  Living in constant fear of failure when I piled it on and saved nothing for the trip back and risked it all on success.

Today I realized I could go forth in the psychology field with boldness and know that I am meant to be here.  Today I really pulled out the stops and really worked my education with a few schizophrenic patients and went total medical model and biopsychosocial on some schizophrenic models.

I've been told, humbly, in priesthood blessings that I would surpass my instructors in their abilities soon despite their educations.  And why not?  I have the holy ghost and I know the purpose and secrets of life and eternity.  Without those, the psychology field is at best 1/4 of a science.

I have the whole thing.

It has been hell lately, but the refiner's fire has finally exposed something that I didn't know was there and always wanted: I feel peace and security where I have felt despair and doubt.

I know why I am here.  I no longer worry about not fitting in.  I no longer worry that I am "a peculiar people."  I gave them what-for today for insinuating that I need to spend my time as a married man outside of class with single female classmates while they drink.  I told them today I don't give a damn what society says or what their morals are, that is inappropriate and none of their business and they need to focus on the actual curriculum instead of inventing other ways and measurements to snag me up and trip me while calling themselves supervisors.

My warning unspoken is this as they were unjust with what they judged: with what judgement they judge they will be judged.

Today I felt a power I haven't felt since the mission field: the power of conviction.  A testimony.

I'm where I belong and I know God is with me.  I know I live in a world where many don't know God, can't see God, don't understand God, and whether they know it or not, fight against God.  Good intentions alone will not win the war or save your soul.   And by their fruits ye shall know them, and I know they were being dishonest with all they have troubled me with lately.

Regardless, I know I was sent to succeed and I have God's promise.  Whether others believe it or not is their affair and probably none of their concern as they have their own lives to live, but for now: I finally feel like I get to live mine and do something other than just survive and hope.

Today I began to live.  Perhaps I should be grateful for my tribulations which brought me to this point, all things have a purpose but for now?  I know that I am supposed to be here.

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