Thursday, February 28, 2013

Paradox on Being an Allen Wrench

So, catching up! Obedience and love are the only things you need to know to serve a successful mission. And if you need help learning how to love people, you are going to be one stressed out missionary.

Moving on.

I wish my long hiatus was the indication of a long vacation, but that certainly is not the case. Essentially, I am preparing to get married, adjusting to life in the US, and accepting that I am not longer a missionary. I am at the three month mark of life off the mission, thanks for noticing. And I really wish I could say that what I did on my mission prepared me for this kind of shock and emotional/spiritual disorientation.

But it didn't. So I spend most of my time basically feeling like this guy, and bumping into things because... well, life was different on the other side of Cuba.

Readjusting to the language has been the hardest thing. It has been a lot like trying to produce something recognizable with a blender. I tried to go through life making wonderful blends of Brazilian brilliance with English excellence, but it all came out as just an unpleasant goop. The more I tried to cling to both, the less effective I was at either one. I used to think I was rather eloquent in public speaking, especially in terms of expressing myself on gospel principles and scriptural insights. But now I can barely put a cohesive sentence together without stammering, grasping for words, and having no idea what to say or how to present myself. In a 24 hour period, I went from feeling totally confident and at peace with myself and my life to being continually disoriented--and it has been that way ever since. A solid three months of Gehenna.

As I sit here reflecting on my experience, I'm thinking a lot about what I read in my scriptures today. I was reading about Elijah in 1 and 2 Kings, and my heart ached. Everything in me craves to be like him. He was was and firm, totally obedient and fearless as he followed the counsels of God. Even if it meant asking a widow for her last meal and bringing her son back to life. Even if it meant taking on rulers of darkness, their apostate priests, and all of society who have followed their wicked example. Even if it meant shaming their gods and calling down fire from heaven.

Even if it means making his farewell exit on a flying chariot. On fire!

And here I sit on my couch, in my pajamas, thinking What an extraordinary life he lives! And what did I do today? I made dinner, watched The Big Bang Theory, and did some genealogy. I am such a waste of carbon and intelligence! Why is there such a pronounced lack of fire in my life? Why am I so BORING?

(Not the most eloquent explanation of why I mean, but we talked about this. This is the best I can do.)

This is why much of what takes place in the typical experience as a member of the Church doesn't make sense to me. I don't struggle with feeling insecure in my place as a woman, or alienated by other members as a convert, or struggle with some sort of doctrinal question that threatens my testimony.

My biggest problem has always been wondering how to live up to what I know my potential actually is. God didn't send me to earth at this time, after six thousand years of waiting, for me to sit on a couch watching television! I see prophets in the scriptures out saving the world, and the Son of God Himself doing even more than that, and I just feel so small and ordinary by comparison. Yeah, I get that we're all instruments in God's hands--but there is a far cry between an allen wrench and a blow torch!

What are these things even FOR?

And then, as has been my miracle for the past 6 years of this journey I've been on, God steps in and reminds me of something I forgot. From Elijah, no less, in 1 Kings 19:


9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

Elijah, on his own, was nothing. And if he doubted it, Moses would be more than capable of reminding him. The only reason that Elijah was able to do and say such powerful, remarkable things is because he was led by God. He had the Holy Ghost as a guide in His life, the "still, small voice." In any moment where Elijah did anything remarkable, it was always because of God's power. Without that, he was an allen wrench--just like the rest of us.

The truth is, the same guiding voice that spoke to Elijah has not been silenced. He is not too busy talking to someone else. His is not "pursuing," or "in a journey," or "sleepeth, and must be awakened." (See 1 Kings 18: 27) That voice is the voice of God Himself, and He never leaves us alone. We may not always understand or accept easily the plans He has for our lives. We may be fearful because His timing is pushing us to the brink of our trust. But He has not brought us as far as He has in our lives to leave us alone now. He will see us through to better places when we are faithful.

I bear my witness that God lives, and it is only through the redemption of His Son, Jesus Christ, that we can be saved. I so testify in that sacred name, even Jesus Christ. Amen.