Sunday, December 7, 2014

A different point of view

Going into this next week I have a lot of stuff on my mind. I know in my last post I preached on staying in the now and living in the moment. But I am in no way an expert on it.

There is an analogy that my brilliant and wonderful mission president once said that has stuck with me, he talked about how life is like driving in a car and you always want to look forward out the windshield, and glance out the back using the rear view mirror. And it is only just a glance because of you are constantly looking at what's behind you, it is nearly impossible to drive forward. So I did that on my mission, glancing at the past but working hard and always moving forward on my mission.

Now, again, I don't want to speak for every missionary here, but I'm almost positive every missionary looked ahead to the time they could be welcomed home by their families... I know I did, the kind of thoughts I'd have was, What people would say. What I would do after getting home. The things I would say in my homecoming talk, the experiences and stories I could share. The welcoming home of your family and seeing everyone, especially the airport scene and seeing everyone again there. Those were all things I would look forward to that would help me to keep going on hard days.

As a missionary I would glance ahead like that and think of excitement and happiness! I would look forward to the person I was becoming. I would wonder in awe at the changes that would make me better. I would wonder what kind of better me I would be like when I would get off the plane to run into my families arms when I would get home. Then I would look back at how far I had already come (glancing in the rear view mirror). And I would look forward to what I had planned next in my planner for that day and go to work. And that was just a thought process of mine every once in a while, sort of to boost me up and keep me going.

Yeah but not for me.
It's a cool analogy, but one thing my mission president never explained was what happens when the road you are viewing through your windshield suddenly grows a tree in the middle of the road, and you slam into it and your windshield is shattered and your rear view mirror is twisted and bent and the clear road with exciting things ahead is gone. Because a giant tree decided to shoot up in the middle of the road and you hit it!

That's how I feel. Getting sent home was like smashing into a tree in the middle of the road. It wasn't like I hit a traffic jam and had to wait things out and maneuver some obstacles. No. I smashed into a giant tree.

There goes the happy reunion with the family. The changed self I hoped to be, yeah I changed... But not the way I thought I would. And the road was supposed to be 18 months! Not 11! I hardly had an airport kinda scenery that you imagine with a returned missionary. I told my parents I wanted just them and my siblings, nobody else. I hate that I walked off the plane feeling a sense of incompleteness and regret. Sure I was glad to see my family, but it was totally like a tree shot up in front of my car, inexplicable and painfully unfair. The stories I could have shared in my homecoming talk. The things me I could have been! It was all gone. I felt like my windshield was shattered. Just like my life's plans.

So up until that point I had tried to duct tape my "car" back together. And my shattered windshield I tried to glue back (that didn't work). And I tried to just say, well, this is as good as it's going to get. And I tried to drive it on the freeway with some duct tape and glue. Yeah, it just made things worse...

I have just recently realized that I need to treat my body as if it is a broken down car. I can't look ahead through a cracked windshield, and forget about looking back, the mirror is so bent that it is hanging on by a wire.

Ok so analogy aside, I have come to see that I have been asking the wrong questions. During the mission I asked "Why?", but I learned very quickly that just makes things worse and you never really get an answer anyways. So i came home, got diagnosed with Lyme Disease, realized it was taking away huge parts of my life, and so I started asking "When?" And "How long until?" Basically just trying to look ahead with a cracked windshield and not seeing anything but still driving anyways trying to hang with the bright shiny Cameros and BMW's. I was being impatient.

I also, on top of the impatience, was using my "Broken Crayons still color analogy". I said, well if I'm here what am I supposed to do here? What can I, this smooshed crayon butt, do to add something to the coloring book of life? What more can I do in this armpit of a situation? I thought I needed to get back into school for some reason. But that wasn't it because I had to defer from being so sick and now I'm unsure of when I can go back to BYU Idaho. This added to my impatience and had me asking "How long until I'm well enough to go back?" Or "How long until I can function normally again?"

Then another thought process of mine was, maybe I'm home to meet some guy and get married. Yup, that was one of my thoughts, I was desperate for an explanation. But it has become apparent that I went on more dates in high school than I have since I have been home... And I can count my high school dates on one hand!

So now, in the back of my mind I think, I came home for nothing. Just a diagnosis. I really can't color, or add to the coloring book of life. If I would have finished my mission I would be coming home December 10th... That's this week. I have scrambled to try and figure out a reason for being home. An explanation, anything! But it is looking like my crayon is not only the broken butt end... But the useless white one that nobody uses because the coloring book is all white pages, and nobody has use for a white one there.

And that has been my thought process, these whole, almost 6 months of being home. Seeing full time RMs being real Finishers, and me feeling useless and impatient. Wanting to know what more I could do in the situation. As well as questioning how long I would be this way.

Then it was suggested to me that I am on one of the most important "journeys" of my life right now. It was suggested to me that I am in this situation to learn the process of caring for my mortal body. And that gave me purpose, and much to think about. If that is my "reason" for being home, other than just a diagnosis of Lyme Disease, than that is huge! If I am sick and infested with Spirochette in my brain, and Herxing every month or so, because I need to learn to take care of my mortal body... Then that changes my whole thought process!

No longer am I asking "why me?" Or "when is this going to end?" But I'm asking, "how can I better care for myself?" "What more do I need to learn in this situation to better care for myself?" Or, "how can I tape my broken crayon back together so that it can color again?"

I'm still trying to figure all that out, and process it all at the same time. Meanwhile these questions have me doing things that I never thought I'd do in my wildest dreams! Not only have I kept up a blog almost weekly for 2 months now, but I have taken up hot yoga, (something that I have made fun of in the past) to help detox as well as help with my anxiety. I am seeing a therapist which I am sometimes still embarrassed to admit. I am trying so many different things now, just so I can figure out how to take care of this gift that my Heavenly Father has given me.

And though I still feel like I am not a for real finisher on my mission. I am going to have to learn to let that go, on my own time, and in my own way. But for now I can try and focus on figuring out what more I can do to help myself. And it is amazing how when you change how you look at something a whole new doorway is opened up, and a new journey begins, with an even better reason to keep going and learn to color once again.

-The Lyme Warrior