This semester I got engaged to a wonderful man. It has completely changed my life. Our wedding is coming up in a couple weeks now, and as my engagement is about to come to a close I've thought about this unique period of time in my life. There are a lot of reasons why I do and do not like being engaged. So let's start with the great things.
1. Someone Is There For You
I can't explain how great it is to have someone who you can always count on and turn to, no matter what. You get a sense of this with family and friends, but not in the same capacity. Since being engaged, I've really come to appreciate the benefit of knowing that there is a man who I love, who I know loves me unconditionally, and who is always willing to support and comfort me. It's indescribable. I am starting to understand why people describe their spouses as completing them, as their better half. With Josh in my life, I feel whole. I feel like there was something missing in my life before now, and now it's being filled. Call me young and hopelessly in love, but he really does complete me. I am so happy to know that he will always be there for me, and that I will be able to do the same for him.
2. It's a Time to Learn to Communicate
Personally, I've never been a very good communicator. It's in my nature to avoid conflict at all costs, so that usually means that if I have an issue with something, I won't bring it up and I'll just keep how I feel to myself. Also, I'm a huge people pleaser, so I tend to just want to go along with what everyone else says. Often I agree with them, but sometimes I don't. So for much of my life, I haven't practiced open communication. But I know that it's extremely important in relationships and especially in marriage; so many relationships struggle because of communication breakdowns. And being engaged brings two different people with different communication styles together. So I've had to really start learning how to express myself and speak openly and honestly, always with love. On the flipside, I have also been practicing listening without being offended. I tend to take criticism kind of hard, but I am learning to just take counsel and suggestions for what they are. And when all communications are treated with love, even if someone is upset or frustrated, it's a lot easier to work things out. I haven't had major issues or anything to deal with, but I feel like this time has been crucial for me to start learning how to always be open and honest, which in the long run only makes our relationship stronger.
3. Transitioning From Single- to Married-Life
The engagement is a period of time when you transition from your old single life to a new married life. Change is hard for many people, and I'm definitely one of those that has a really hard time with change. Even good change. So for me, being engaged is a good time to start getting used to certain aspects of marriage - focusing on another person instead of always just doing what you want, sharing responsibilities and finances, etc. It would be hard to just go immediately from singlehood to marriage. So being engaged lets you learn how to take care of each other and work together, so that when you're actually married and living together and everything, it's not as difficult a transition.
Now, not everything about being engaged is great. Sometimes it sucks. So here's some things that I hate about being engaged.
1. Stress of Planning
There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into getting married. It's one thing after another. And with a short engagement, you have to really stay on top of everything. It gets stressful, especially when you're a working student. Suddenly you're trying to coordinate not just your own busy schedules, but those of your families. You want to try to find the best fit for you that will work well for as many other people as possible. And then there's just the simple (or not so simple) preparation of it all - engagement pictures, getting rings, getting a dress, getting a tux, figuring out things like the cake, flowers, etc, etc. I try to have fun with some of it, knowing that I'll only have this chance once in my life, but sometimes it gets overwhelming or things don't go right and you have to adjust your plans. It can cause a lot of stress.
2. Saying Goodnight
I am at the point where saying good night to each other is just dumb. It's not that I can't go on without him until I see him again the next morning or anything dramatic like that, but sometimes I really want to just be able to cuddle together or let him hold me as we fall asleep together. I'm not talking in a sexual way. But we're so close to being married and that's something that I'm really looking forward to doing, just falling asleep in each other's arms. And it's starting to annoy me that one of us has to go home, and any tenderness and closeness we are sharing each night has to come to an end.
3. Sexual Tension
And my last point, sexual tension. Let's all be honest here. People have a sexual drive. We want it. We crave it. Josh and I have both promised to keep ourselves sexually clean until marriage, at which point we will be able to share that beautiful, sacred experience with only each other. And I would not change that for anything. But that doesn't mean it's not hard to wait. Knowing that we're going to be married, it's sometimes hard to hold back in the level of love and affection that we share with each other. And to put it bluntly, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes the feelings are really strong. It can be hard to discipline ourselves. But I know that it will be worth it.
All in all, I'm so happy to be engaged to Josh. I don't always like the actual engagement, but I'm grateful for the experiences that I'm having and there's no one that I'd rather be with.
As I recently made an entry about, there were some important lessons I learned from serving as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a sister missionary, I served for a period of 18 months, and since I've been home for another 18 months I have recently been reflecting on the things I've learned since I've been home. (Okay, it hasn't been exactly 18 months, it's been more like 20 or so, but who says I need to be technically accurate?) Here are some of the most important lessons I've learned.
1. Be a Little Selfish
When you are serving as a missionary, you are taught and conditioned to be selfless, constantly look for ways to serve, and to focus completely on others. This is all really important and I'm not discouraging that, but when you go home and transition into "normal" life, you have to learn to be a little selfish. I'm not trying to say that everything is all about you and that you shouldn't care about anybody else. But after your mission, you're in the time of your life where you have to learn to really take care of you. You have to figure out what to do with your life and choose what paths to take that will impact your life for years down the road. It's the time to build on what you've learned from your mission, and apply it to your life now. Things aren't easy when you get home, and taking care of yourself is really important. And the more you take care of yourself the better you prepare yourself for being a spouse and a parent, ultimately.
...If nothing else, make sure to treat yourself to ice cream once in a while. :)
2. Go Back to the Basics
After serving a mission and getting back into the routine (or lack of routine) of life, things get in the way. Real life happens and sometimes you lose sight of things that are really important for a while, whether it's not studying the scriptures, forgetting to say prayers, or whatever it might be. Let's just be honest. Real life happens. You can't be 100% diligent about everything all the time. And God doesn't expect you to be. He only expects you to try your best. And I found that time and time again, when I was having a hard time or not making spiritual things more of a priority in my life, I was led to go back to the basics. Faith. Repentance. Prayer. Obedience. Listening to the Spirit. The basic building blocks of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whenever I build up a strong foundation of faith, then everything else builds off of that and I'm more capable of handling the challenges of life.
3. There Are Many Ways to Live the Gospel
I started to realize this on my mission, and it has continued to become apparent since I've been home - there are so many different ways for people to live the same gospel. Even in one religion, people will think and act differently. I'm attending college at BYU, where Mormons are plenty and just about everyone has the same belief in Christ. That's one of the things I love about being here, is that I'm surrounded by people who generally have the same standards and same faith as I do. And yet they can still be so different from each other - they have different opinions, different political views, different ideas on how things should be done at work or at home, etc. I've come to realize that everyone is just trying to live and contribute in the best way that they know how to do, and even if that's something different from what I think is best, it's okay. If girls want to wear pants to church, it doesn't matter to me. Faith is a personal thing, and we're all just trying to do our best.
4. Love Yourself
As my mission came to a close and I was returning home, I had this image in my mind of exactly the type of person I wanted to be. Which was a lot different than what I was like before my mission. And guess what? That didn't happen. I fell short. I fell back into my old habits, my old way of life. And I hated myself for it. I served a mission, my testimony grew and strengthened so much, so why was I making the same old mistakes? I had a real hard time with this for a year or so after my mission. There were moments when things seemed right and good, but for the most part, the year after my mission was really hard. And I had to learn how to love myself. What I've realized is that it doesn't matter how many times you falter. God still loves you as His precious child. Jesus Christ atoned for all of our hurts and mistakes. Of course we're going to fall short. That's never going to change, not in this life. That's the point. We have weakness so that we must learn to rely on the Savior. He has forgiven me if I will just come to Him, so if I think that I'm not good enough for His help, isn't that kind of turning my back on all that He went through? He loved me enough to suffer and die for me. ME. Faults and all. My Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me for who I am, and that is good enough for me.
As many of you know, I served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 18 months in the Boise, Idaho area. With the recent change in age requirement for missionaries, I know a lot of people - especially future sister missionaries - who are preparing for their own full-time missions. I am thrilled to see an increased enthusiasm for missionary work! As so many people around me have been preparing for missionary service, I have been asked what are some of the most important pieces of advice I have for new missionaries. As I have reflected on my own experiences, these are the most important lessons I have learned from my mission. Remember that although this post is directed toward future missionaries, the principles remain the same and you can apply them to your own life, whatever part of life you may be in.
1. Love Everyone
First off, you have to learn to love people. Really, genuinely love them. As a missionary you focus a lot on teaching people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and sometimes you can get caught up in going through the motions. Just moving from one lesson to the next, as if you're checking boxes. Unless you take the time to get to know them on a personal and spiritual level. But people don't really care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Not only does it help bring success and deep satisfaction to the work that you do every day, but when you really love someone - especially those who are difficult to love - then you are discovering how to be truly Christlike.
2. Dedicate Yourself
Secondly, you have to let go of everything else and dedicate yourself to the Lord. When I went to Idaho knowing that I would be gone for 18 months, I thought that was all the sacrifice I needed to give. I was giving up my old, familiar life for a year and half, with very little contact with anyone or anything I knew and loved - wasn't that enough? It was during my mission that I realized that the Lord was asking me for something more. My heart. Doctrine and Covenants teaches us to serve God with our "heart, might, mind, and strength". Of course I loved God, and I was certainly giving up a lot and working hard every day to try to bring people closer to God, but my heart wasn't always in it. I still clung to my own thoughts and desires and often longed for all the things that I missed. To give God your heart, you have to learn to let go of everything you left behind. It's difficult, but when you are solely focused on the service that you are giving, then the Lord can really take control and use you for His intended purposes.
3. Don't Compare Yourself With Others
This might be the most important lesson to me personally. It's a natural human tendency to look at those around you, but being a natural introvert with anxiety, many aspects of being a missionary were extremely hard for me. Way out of my comfort zone. And I would look around at other missionaries who loved the work and were naturally out-going, and wonder why I couldn't be like them. If I loved the Lord, shouldn't I love being in His service? Shouldn't missionary work come as easily to me as it seemed to come to so many others? And I would get feeling like I was doing something wrong, or that I wasn't good enough. That my mission, my service, my trials, and my sacrifice, that none of it was good enough. Additionally, there were many times on my mission when I knew I could've been doing better than I was. My mission wasn't perfect by any means - there were times that I could've been more obedient or that I could have done something better than I gave the effort for. But sometimes I just didn't. The thing I had to learn for myself was that I WAS enough. My struggles and trials were different from those around me. My sacrifices were a lot for me personally, and that was all the Lord was asking for. He didn't want me to give in all the same ways as one missionary or another. My mission, exactly how it was, was enough for Him. My mission, mistakes included, were acceptable to the Lord, and He was pleased with my work and my sacrifice. Why? Because He knows me personally, and He loves me.
4. Have Fun
Missions are hard. No matter who you are, you will struggle. There are all kinds of reasons why your mission will be hard for you. You will face rejection, illness, difficult companions, homesickness, etc., etc. And the Lord intends it to be this way in part to help you grow as you face adversity. But your mission should also be FUN. God doesn't want you to suffer and be miserable for a year and a half or two years. He wants you to love it too. Yeah, sometimes it's going to suck. But sometimes it should be a blast! Don't get so caught up in trying to work so hard every second of every day that you don't ever let yourself unwind or have fun while you're hard at work. If your mission isn't fun, you're not doing it right. ☺
I realize it's been a while since I've posted anything here, and I figure now is a great time with the turn of the new year. I've decided to take a look back on 2012 and share some highlights from the year (in no particular order):
- Going to Six Flags with Chanelle to see iLuminate
- Getting awesome roommates for the Fall semester
- Hooking up with my amazing boyfriend
- Allen High School's football team winning the state championship
- BYU winning the Poinsettia Bowl
- Going to the beach in San Diego
- Watching the sunset and fireworks with an old companion
On Friday, Mom and Dad came up to Provo for the weekend. They came (with Trevin) to the football game versus Hawaii, which, by the way, we STOMPED them. It was a really great game after the couple sad ones that we've had. And Mom and Dad of course spoiled Trevin and I while they were here. :) On Sunday we picked up my cousin Brianna and went to Tom and Carisa's place for church and dinner. Bridger's birthday was coming up, so we had his birthday dinner, which was (as usual) absolutely delicious. :) I love hanging out with family!
We took a few pictures during the weekend, but right now this is the only one that I have, from when we were at Tom and Carisa's:
(We have some attractive genes in this family. :)
The following Monday was also and awesome day for me because I went to an Owl City concert. It. Was. So. Awesome. He was on tour for his newest CD, The Midsummer Station.
I went with a couple of people that I met up with through a club on campus, and the three of us drove up to Salt Lake for the concert. I had never been to a concert before, and I really love Owl City, so I couldn't pass up this opportunity. And it was so worth it. Even if I day pay too much for a T-shirt at the concert on top of the ticket fees. :) I just had so much fun that night. Pure joy and awesomeness. Pictures and videos hardly do that actual experience any justice, but here's a couple of pics from the night:
(Me and the guy we were with - the girl with us gradually got pushed up toward the front throughout the concert.)
(I feel like this picture makes him look like a giant.)
Having Mother's Day yesterday, I couldn't help but think about how important mothers are. And how easily their role is brushed aside in society. I can't speak from experience, but motherhood is a hugely demanding job to take on, and it's all day every day. No weekends off, nothing. Every day is spent in quiet, selfless sacrifice. Of course moms have other things they would like to do if they had the time, but they make the needs of others a priority over their own. I'm amazing by the amount of dedication that takes.
We are shaped largely by the way we are raised. How much more important is it, then, to have a strong force of mothers in the world, as opposed to women filling other occupations? Don't get me wrong, I admire and respect women in the workplace, and I aspire to have a career of my own someday, but I recognize that the need for strong mothers is great. They shape the rising generation, and generations to come.
Some voices in the world might say that motherhood isn't admirable, but I submit that the opposite is true. Motherhood is the most admirable thing any woman can do, and that kind of influence can be found whether you're raising your own children, adopting, you're an aunt, a church leader, or in any other motherly role. I love my mom, and I can only hope to be like her when I am a mom someday.