Sunday, August 7, 2016

Coming Home From a Mission: The Morning God Woke Me Up

I've mostly always liked me. Pretty much, anyway. Especially once I moved to college, my confidence started to build and I began to appreciate my strengths and even some of my weaknesses. I'd always known God loves me. It hadn't ever been hard to see or understand. I went on a mission because He asked me to even though it was the hardest thing I'd ever done and I felt pretty great about that. On my mission, I messed up all the time, but I knew it was ok because I was doing my best to serve the Lord. I loved Him and wanted Him to know it and I knew He was making everything right. Knowing I was a child of God, knowing my potential, and accepting that I had a Savior who would seal the deal- things were pretty great and when it was time to go home, I had plans to apply everything I'd learned and be perfect at them all for the rest of my life. Missionaries have a pretty thick rose-colored lens ;)

When I got home from my mission, though, things started to get a little bit hazy. I'd spent so long in such a spiritually saturated lifestyle that being thrown back into the world, with adult stresses and new responsibilities and new distractions, that also happened to be all about me instead of all about helping others, was really unfamiliar and I got lost. I didn't realize it was happening exactly, I felt a little shell-shocked, but I figured it was just because I was in the middle of a big transition and expected I'd adjust out of my stereotypical 'awkward return missionary' phase pretty quickly.

I didn't.

I moved to Provo to work for the spring/summer and things only got worse. I still couldn't really pinpoint why, though, so I started to get really annoyed. Why can I not feel the spirit? Why am I not happy like I usually am? Why do I feel like I miss me? Why do I not love reading the Book of Mormon anymore? Why do I feel so far removed from Heavenly Father when I just got done spending SO much time with Him?
After a couple of weeks, it started to sink in that because I didn't feel as close to the spirit, I was also feeling guilty for not being perfect. Guilty for not reading my scriptures enough or for 'reading' them instead of 'studying' them. Guilty for saying a 20 second prayer before bed because I was too tired for more. Guilty for being afraid to open my mouth when someone looked like they were having a hard time. Guilty for not being committed enough to my calling, for not making the time to keep up with all of the people I love, for not being to church 10 minutes early and for not staying after to socialize. Guilty for doing or not doing so many of the things that missionary me had promised myself I would never slip up on again. It was frustrating and uncomfortable and completely unproductive.

So instead of remembering what I'd taught so many people on my mission- that we have a Savior who suffered and died to conquer our imperfection with His love- I chose the opposite. I gave up and gave myself permission to not feel bad about it anymore. I stopped reading my scriptures. I stopped praying. I left church after Sacrament Meeting. And I didn't care. I figured it wouldn't matter. "Everyone gets to this point eventually. This is just where I figure out what I really believe", I thought. But what I didn't realize was that, while I was dinking around, 'figuring out' what I already knew, things were changing in ways that I never would've thought they would. Or would've wanted them to...

I started to get more cynical and apathetic. When something difficult happened, I chose anger because it was easier than feeling sad. I stopped crying. I was confused about everything. People weren't as happy to be around me anymore. I didn't get as many opportunities to help my family or friends with their struggles because I was always talking about mine. And more than anything, I didn't understand how Kelli Eddington, the person I'd, for the most part, always been so proud to be, could have gotten to this point. I was embarrassed and lonely and unhappy.

Ok, pause for a second. When I moved into my Provo singles ward, I was called to be on the service committee. I wasn't thrilled at the idea of getting a calling considering my situation- I felt sort of hypocritical pretending everything was ok when it wasn't, especially with the added pressure of magnifying a calling. People would be counting on me and I wasn't sure I'd be able to follow through. We decided to go to a care facility nearby to spend time with the residents there for our first activity and, remember this was cynical, grumpy me, so mostly I was just kind of ready to get it over with. The morning came, I tried hard to be positive, spend the hour there and get on with the day. We got there and they were playing Bingo. "I can sit and play Bingo. No big deal."

BUT GUESS WHAT. IT CHANGED MY LIFE, PEOPLE. How crazy does that sound? Not the Bingo part (although, I DID win a few rounds...). The part where we talked and laughed with so many amazing people, who we never would've met otherwise and I felt Heavenly Father's love for the first time in a long time. I felt like me again :D (Not even gradually either, it was like BAM. Kelli's back.) I watched the residents' faces light up, felt my own do the same, and all of a sudden, I remembered what I'd known all along. The joy comes when you accept His love and let it reflect through you. I was sitting around waiting for spiritual experiences and picking flowers apart, saying "He loves me, He loves me not" when I already knew that He does. I just needed to stand up and do something about it. Anything, really. It's just that, Jesus showed His love for us in His miraculous way, while also reflecting Heavenly Father's love for us. It only makes sense that when we do the same thing for everyone else, we'll be so filled up with His love for us, our love for Him, our love for everyone else, and our love for ourselves that we just won't be able to hardly stand it. Love begets love begets love begets love. Ugh, that's so cool.

Also, guess what comes with feeling His love? Perspective. NOT feeling guilt for being imperfect. Desire to read His word. Desire to talk with Him about how you feel about your life and where He can help you take it. More confidence in your ability to do hard things, including looking outside yourself even when you're afraid, or too busy, or not in the mood. More trust that He can and will do anything for you. More trust that He can and will turn you into gold and make you shine.

I hope you know, this was MY experience. I know it's not the same for everyone. Well, for ANYONE actually, we're all so unique. I hope it was clear that all of these pressures I described were put on me by me and no one else. I hope everyone knows how much my mission changed my life for the better. So much so, in fact, that I'm sure that's why Satan tried to so hard to push me around when I got home.
But I also hope that by sharing my experience, you start to look at yourself with new eyes. With His eyes. Satan likes to be sneaky and he's pretty good at it, too. But falling into his trap doesn't make you a bad person. It just means you're a normal human person, which is definitely something to be proud of. Heavenly Father doesn't send just anyone down here to be one of those, ya know. Just the ones who tell Him they're ready to learn how to be more than that.

So hi, I'm Kelli Eddington. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior. I know they love me. I'm happy. I'm so happy. :) And I'm so excited for a life directed by Them. I'm going to make lots of mistakes. It's going to be hard sometimes. But this depth of peace that I feel is here for good because no matter what happens, I know how the story ends. Jesus wins, and since I'm on His side, I do too :)

Good morniiiiiiiiiing!!!!!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Just to Clear the Air...

Just because you clam up at a party where you don't know anyone doesn't mean you're socially awkward.

Saying that you like cake doesn't make you a glutton.

Being an introvert doesn't mean you have no friends. And if it does, it doesn't mean you don't like it that way.

Being an extrovert doesn't mean you don't still need a little TLC every once in a while.

Not knowing what you want to do with your life doesn't mean you have no ambition.

Not liking to do the things that happen to be popular at the time doesn't make you lame.

Not liking to read doesn't make you dumb.

Being a really obedient follower doesn't mean you can't also be a really great leader.

Just because you have a particularly obvious talent doesn't mean that's your only talent.

Just because you're not the best in the world at anything doesn't mean you're not good at anything.

Having to go shopping for new clothes because yours are getting a little tight doesn't mean you're fat.

Being a generally happy person doesn't mean you can't have hard days.

Having faith and trust in the Lord doesn't mean you can't ever be afraid. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Jesus and Jammies

Disclaimer: This post isn't really a very good example of, "This is how you should pray!" or "This is how you should show your faith!" This is mostly just a, "This is how I tried to do those things when I wasn't at my best even though I know better" because nobody's perfect and we all have our spiritual lulls.

I woke up this morning and was about to get in the shower, when the shower curtain rod fell down. When that's happened to me before, it's been pretty easy to get it back up, but today I was having the hardest time and was getting super frustrated: "Oh my goodness, I don't have time for this", so I knelt down in the tub, in my jammies, and prayed. 

What I expected to be a quick, "Can You please just do this so I'm not late for work?" somehow turned into, "I've been struggling a little bit in my spiritual life lately and this is my chance to show my faith so it'll grow. I KNOW that You can do this and I feel like You will. Could you please?" and I swear I heard, "Finallllly." I'm not really sure why a curtain rod was the moment, but it was.

So I got up from my knees, reached my arm up, and it worked perfectly. It just latched right into place like it did it by itself. I was in awe. Not shock, because I'd hoped it would. But in complete awe of His power and love and concern and care for me. Over something so small! But huge to me. Because I feel like it's been so long since I've seen such an obvious manifestation from Him and I was craving it. It's been my fault. I haven't allowed myself to 'see' Him because I've been distracted by other things, but rather than saying, 'that's too bad', He said, "I can see that you want this, even though you're struggling to want it badly enough. But you do want it and you're trying so here you go" and He showed Himself to me. And it opened my eyes to what I should be doing. Not what I should be doing, what I WANT to be doing. And what I'm missing. Because my life is the happiest when He's the center of it and He hasn't been, but I want Him to be. So I resolved to read my scriptures first today, to enjoy more quiet time, to Jacob 2:17, to listen to primary songs and hymns and learn them by heart, to actually hear people today. It's been working!

The Lord is SO aware. Sometimes we don't find out in obvious ways, but all we have to do is open our hearts and we'll see it. Sometimes He has to pry them open a little because we're failing big time, but when we finally get there, we'll feel it because that's how the Spirit works and He loves us. 

Anyway, Heavenly Father is the BEST. I'm so grateful for His patience and love and care. I'm grateful for dumb curtain rods, and soap-sudsie jammy knees, and quiet, profound mornings.