Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who Am I Becoming?

I'm speaking to the young women in our church (ward) tomorrow night. I've been excited about it for weeks. So much to say. So much to share. There are things I want to reassure them about, things I want to warn them against, things I wish I had known at that critical crux between childhood and adulthood that is the tumultuous teenage years. In some ways, I'm speaking to the girl I was twenty years ago--wanting to go back and firm up her faith in herself, bolster her confidence and tell her to smile in pictures, for pete's sake! I don't know what I was looking so glum about every time a photo was snapped in my teenage years, but please girly, look like unbridled joy wasn't the furthest thing from your mind. Or your face.

Sitting at the guest book table at my cousin Andrea's wedding. I remember that night was fun so I can only assume that my lack of cheerful countenance had something to do with the fact that I despised having my photo taken as I was convinced I was truly the Goodyear blimp and the size of a house. Oh, honey!

In some ways, I still feel firmly entrenched in my teenage years (how about you?). I still wish I was thinner, I have bad hair days, I can't wait until I grow up, and I'm sure fame and fortune are just around the corner.

I think mostly I want to reassure the girls tomorrow night about the decision-making years they have ahead of them. "Don't worry! You will make it," and "This too shall pass," and "Don't give up."

But I feel like a fraud trying to say those things. Mostly because I'm still working to believe them myself. Mostly because I don't want to rosy up the picture so much that I forget to warn them about the bumps and bruises that await them or the rough ride that some of them will endure. Mostly because it is often so easy to say in public what it is so hard to live in private.

And this week the private life just isn't living up to expectations. (Okay, seriously, how often does that happen?) Instead of walking into this talk cool as a cucumber, I will come off a rather harrowing week of finals at school, interviewing and replacing half my student staff at work, and a house that has needed a deep clean for nigh on three weeks now. Also, the fact that I've consumed more chocolate in the past week than I consumed in all of 2009 together puts me on the fast track for either a nervous breakdown or a break into a zen-like nirvana.

What I think I most want to say tomorrow is "Don't fear failure." It is the stuff and messiness of life that forces us to bend, pushes us to grow, and opens our eyes not only to our limitations but also to new possibilities. It is in responding to failure that you will build the successes in your life.

Don't let it sink you, don't let it mire down your hope, your faith or your relationship with God. It is often the easiest thing in the world to abandon Him in the midst of our pain. The harder road is to stay close to Him through the bad times. That is the path that takes greater courage and greater resiliency.

And that is the path the will bring you the joy and peace that "surpasseth all understanding."

And even teach you to smile.


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