Since I've been here, I've already seen so much. The first Sunday I was here, The Patient One's mother took me and some of our visiting friends to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I had never been to the Conference Center before, or seen Music and the Spoken Word, and it was nothing short of breath-taking. My eyes lit up the second I saw the organ. That little graphic on the front of the hymn books does NOT do it justice, let me tell you. I'm STILL fuming at my cell phone for being dead because I couldn't take pictures.
My first church meeting in Utah was rather odd, for reasons I can't quite articulate. Probably because I was the youngest person in Relief Society AND Sunday School, and I'm not used to having those meetings come first OR being completely silent in them either. And while I learned much from the lessons that I tried to take with me, I don't think anything they could have said would have prepared me for what I realized was coming the second I saw The Patient One again.
Have you ever wanted to tell someone something so badly that the thought of not saying it brings you to tears? Have you ever had the bizarre experience of having absolutely no idea what it is you want to say, only that you need to say it? You try not to bring it up because you've already made attempts to express the inexpressable, and you can't imagine what else you could possibly say. And meanwhile, you honestly feel like you're losing it. The littlest things force you to excuse yourself to hide in a bathroom, or a closet, or even in food storage just so you can regain your composure... little things like the smell of his cologne, the sound of his voice from across the house, the way he hugs his little sister for no apparent reason, or how peaceful he looks when he closes his eyes to pray. And then of course there's missing him when he's sitting right next to you.
So I did what any well-trained Young Woman would do. I prayed and read my scriptures to find some semblance of guidance for how to approach The Patient One about what has been left unsaid between us. Surely there's SOMETHING in the owner's manual about this kind of thing.
I pulled out my quad, plopped it open to a random place and started reading. Isaiah 27. Shivers ran down my spine. 27 is a HUGE number in my life. My confirmation date, the date of dorm check in, The Patient One's birthday, my favorite hymn, my favorite psalm, my favorite Shakespearean sonnet, and now the latest piece of guidance to my troubled mind. (I don't consider myself superstitious, but I know when to shut up and listen.)
1 In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.I read these verses through tears because I wanted so desperately to believe that they are true. I wanted to believe that The Patient One, the most important person in my life, will receive the answers and guidance he needs and deserves... an affirmation that Heavenly Father has not foresaken him, or abandoned any of the promises He made with him. I wanted reassurance that Satan would not go unpunished for what he has done to my dearest friend. I wanted guidance to know that encouraging him to seek answers in the Church wouldn't result only in more heartache for the both of us.
2 In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.
3 I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
4 Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.
5 Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.
So I took these verses for the promises they held, and I put them in my heart. I had something to hold onto as I prepared to re-approach a subject with The Patient One that has continued to weigh heavily on my mind as a task given by Heavenly Father that I was unable to meet: getting him to speak about his secret struggle to his Bishop.
So with the help of his sister, we spoke to him about our concerns for him. He took it all in silently, staring ahead blankly without saying much at all. Only when we begged him to speak did he finally utter anything at all. He finally confessed that he felt no urgency to speak to the Bishop. He said that if these feelings are from God, there's nothing the Church can do anyway; and if they're from Satan, God has been content to allow it all to happen anyway, so what difference does it make?
With all of the seriousness and sincerity I could muster, I told him--without even thinking--that wasn't true and pleaded with him not to let Satan lie to him like that. I reminded him that I knew what it felt like to hate God for abandoning me to parents that have done horrible things to me... to want answers, justification for what I faced, and not to receive it until years later. But I testified to him that I knew God had sustained me through all of what I had faced, and He never forgot or abandoned me.
"God will never forget the promises that He makes to any of us," I said, "that's why I'm here right now."
As soon as I finished, I knew two things; the first being the truth of my words, the second being the fact that they weren't mine to claim.
And in his usual fashion, The Patient One said nothing.
I've experienced things in my life that have made me so angry I've wanted to hurt other people, and I've experienced sadness so complete I've wanted to hurt myself just to make it end--but the feelings I had in that moment surpassed both of them to become something I may never understand. I was instantly so drained, I couldn't hold myself up anymore. My forehead rested against his shoulder for several minutes before I could lift it again.
After all this time and everything we've shared, even when I'm sitting right next to him BEGGING him to speak to me, he still holds me and the entire world at a distance.
His sister said some things about his going to see the Bishop, but I didn't hear most of it... only the silence roaring in my ears of all the things he wasn't saying.
Eventually he sighed and said it was time for us to go to bed, but I would have none of it. Not until I was sure we were getting through this time. I asked him to pray with us.
He resisted at first, and he and I went back and forth briefly about who was more tired and therefore shouldn't have to say the prayer. Then I told him, "I'm not getting into a pissing contest with you about this, now say the dang prayer." I wasn't proud of that, but I knew he needed to do this, and I would have stood on the table and screamed "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN," if it would have accomplished something.
And naturally he was somewhat grudging in the beginning. I don't remember most of what he said because it was very late, but I remember the tone of his voice. It started out hard and rigid, but eventually it softened, and by the time he finished I heard peace in his voice. I thanked God from the core of my soul for even this small blessing because there was so much more I wish I could have given him, but I knew this was only the beginning.
I hugged them both goodnight, lingered at the bottom of the stairs, then finally went upstairs to the guest room where I said more prayers, then finally collapsed into sleep.
Soon after that experience, we took the bus together from his house to the BYU campus--the first time I had ever seen it for myself. We left at about 6:30 am, and for a while it was really easy to be around him because we were so preoccupied with figuring out where we were supposed to go. While we were waiting for one of the other buses, we actually got to watch the sun rise. I tried not to find any romance in it, but that was pretty futile. By the time we hit I-15, I had given up on trying to hold my ground and slumped my head onto his shoulder. He seemed completely oblivious, but I know him better than that.
After getting off at the Wilk, we basically wandered around until we finally figured out where I was supposed to go for my job interview--after which, I was hired on the spot. I picked up my student ID card and tried to finish the paperwork for my employment, but wasn't able to. We headed over to the library to look up an address for a credit union that I needed. Then we went and had lunch, and I had to fight with him for several minutes to eat the other half of the pizza that I didn't want because I knew he was hungy, only to have him say it would have been better hot. *FACEPALM*
It was all very rushed, which made being alone with him much easier.
Unfortunately, it didn't last. On the bus ride home--which took a very long time--we listened to his iPod. Big mistake on my part. I'm a firm believer that you can learn a lot about someone by the books on their shelves and the music on their MP3 player. In his case, it remains true. It got to the point where I began to weep silently next to him. I know for a fact that he didn't notice.
So when we came to an intersection and he said it would be quicker for us to walk the rest of the way, I took the chance to throw my energy into movement and to put my mind on other things. It took a few minutes for me to recollect myself, but we had plenty of time. It turned out to be a 4 mile walk in the desert heat at the hottest point of the day. Fortunately we had plenty of water. Never listen to someone about a walking distance if he has ever done Cross Country. They have no concept of distance anymore.
He seemed to understand that I was very frustrated, so perhaps it was a mistake on my part to break the awkward silence by admitting that I wanted a gun. He asked if I was really that irritated with him. I said I wasn't mad at him, and he probably didn't believe me.
We made it home safely, and by then we were talking freely to each other again. There were so many things I felt like I wanted to say, but I had no idea what they even were, so I talked about everything else. That's how conversations tend to go with him because he's so content to live in his own little world, and only comes into contact with this one for things outside of himself.
Which is what makes what happened next such a miracle to me.
After praying and reading my scriptures many, many times as I sought guidance from the Spirit that I could understand, I repeatedly came across the commandment to fast. So I did. I started a 24 hour fast and kept to it strictly. I had no desire to eat, only to find answers for the questions that were burning inside of me all the time. How do I get him to go and see the Bishop like You commanded me? Is there hope for his future? What can I do? What should I say? And in that state of holiest hunger, I've more answers given to me in a way I have never experienced before, and never imagined could happen. But I was still afraid to press the issue more with the Patient One. I prayed for intervention.
And it happened in Sacrament Meeting.
His bishop dedicated the entire meeting to the youth. He had them speak about their many experiences from different camps and activities in which they had participated over the summer. Then he took the stand and praised them all endlessly--their strength to endure well in the gospel, to hold to their standards despite great temptation, and for the optimism they bring to everything they do. He marvelled at their courage for facing issues in these days that he, like President Monson, can scarcely imagine and he hopes they will always come to him with any problem they ever have.
It took every ounce of my self control NOT to jump off of the pew, grab his face, and scream, "SEE?! Now will you go?"
But he got the hint. He started inching over to the bishop's office after the meeting, but never made it to see him. But the fact that he is FINALLY willing makes my heart swell with joy and testifies to me that Heavenly Father hears our prayers, cares about our fasts, and fulfills the promises He makes to His children.
Funny how He only tries to teach us what we should already know anyway, huh?