Thursday, October 27, 2016

Twenty Years Have Gone So Fast

Yesterday, as I was getting out of my large Bison van (it's not really a Bison, we just named it Bison), I was struck my the magnitude that is my life and I wondered, not for the first time, how amazing it is that time rushes so quickly to us when it's behind us.

I mean, I'm in Kansas. I like, live here, and stuff. Wha?? How did that happen? Yesterday, I was living in Pennsylvania. And the day before that, wasn't I in San Francisco? What about Provo... I lived so many years in Utah...

20 years ago, as a high school senior (in Idaho), I couldn't tell you where in the world I was going to be living in 20 years because I hadn't even decided where I was going to college the very next year. 20 years ago, this month, I was dating a guy that would eventually dump me at the Sadie Hawkins dance (I'm not bitter, I promise; I think it's a hilarious story, now), I was hyped up on intense senior-itis, I was enjoying my AP classes and working at a dental office, and I was mostly worried about how the marching band was performing (I was the drum major).

October 1996
I did have some goals. I knew I wanted to go to college. I wanted to serve a mission for my church. I wanted to marry in the temple and be a mother. I honestly had no other ambition for a career, although I convinced myself I would be a concert pianist and perform in Carnegie Hall. My goals were not detailed and very, very few. Mostly, I just wanted to keep my testimony of the gospel. I saw so many friends lose theirs. I didn't want that to be me.

So, time happened. Decisions were made. And here I am, 20 years later, still reeling from the awesomeness of it all.

And what of those goals from my 17 year old self? I did go to college. I went to BYU and managed to graduate with a 3.4 (or 3.5?) GPA. I did not serve a mission for my church --I married in the temple, at age 19, instead. I became a mother. I am not a concert pianist, but I've been a piano teacher. I have not played in Carnegie Hall, although I've gone to a piano concert in Carnegie Hall to watch a concert pianist! That's pretty good, in my book.

But most importantly, I have an even stronger testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I truly, truly cherish that.

And, I have traveled the world.

Stonehenge, Jan 2009
Big Ben, London, Jan 2009
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, CA coast 2008
Kauai sunset, June 2011
Grand Canyon 2015

Statue of Liberty, 2016
Great Wall of China 2010
Niagara Falls July 2014
St. John, US Virgin Islands April 2014

I have lived all over the United States.
I have developed two chronic illnesses.
I have had 7 amazing kids.

I am still married to that good, good man who found my 19 year old self to be irresistible.

January 16, 1999
October 2016 with our oldest and youngest
I think not having a specific goal (like world domination or starting my own company or discovering Atlantis) worked out in my favor, to be honest. I kept myself wide open, in a way.

I was thinking about when we lived near San Francisco. We honestly believed we were there for good. That was it! California was home. We only ended up living there for a year. After we left Provo (for the second time) and moved to Philadelphia, we felt, this is it! Philly it is. We'll be here forever. We lasted 2 1/2 years. Now we are in Manhattan (Kansas, people. Not NYC, in case you were confused!). We feel that this is it! We'll be here forever. But will we? Maybe. Maybe, not. We will just have to wait and see what God has in store for us.

And maybe that's the biggest clue right there. Every time I've made a move forward in life, it's been with prayer and faith in my hands. Where to go to college (BYU), who to marry (Brandon), how many kids to have (guess it's 7), where to live (Provo, Concord, Provo, Thornton, Manhattan), and all the other big decisions we make (buy a house or rent, go on vacation here or there, put the kids in this school or this program, etc), it's been done with the guidance of God. Do we always get it right? Maybe, maybe not. But we're certainly trying, and we certainly feel we've done what He wants for us.

So, if you see it that way (and I know some may not), I think being wide open has been the right thing for me (for us). Because we've been so open to moving, changing jobs, having more children, and traveling to new places, Brandon and I have been so incredibly blessed. I can't even begin to tell you about all the inspiring and wonderful people I've come to know and love. I have been exposed to many different cultures and religions, communities and ethnicities. I have seen poverty and wealth. I have rubbed shoulders with people from all over the world and I'm better for it. The only downside to moving and traveling is that I have to leave people and places that I love. It's been hard. But I'm finding that it's made me embrace the new a bit quicker. It means I've learned to love faster.

20 years. I kind of laugh, now, at that 17 year old version of myself. Not in a bad way --for how could I know, at 17, what would transpire? How do any of us truly know what will come our way? Maybe, dear reader, if we just allow ourselves to be open to whatever it is that God wants for us (for whatever He knows we need), we may find things won't be the way we expected or wanted. Maybe we'll find that they're better.

You know, if I could tell myself, at 17, anything, I think I'd just say: "It's gonna be just fine. The most important thing in the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember that, keep that close, and everything will be okay, I promise." Because honestly, dear reader, I know this is true. Life isn't easy (it's not supposed to be), but Christ is everything. He is everything. Ask my kids: "What does your mother say is the most important thing in the whole world?" And they'll answer you: "The gospel of Jesus Christ." I can't tell my 17 year old self that, but I sure can tell my own kids.

I just hope they remember it over the next 20 years.

What were your goals 20 years ago? How has your life turned out differently or the same? What would you tell yourself at 17?


JennaK said...

Oh I wish I had your faith. I feel like my life has been a huge failure and do not look forward to what the future has in store. It's been a long time since I felt that hope and excitement for the future.

Cheryl said...

Two things:
1. Your life has not been a failure. Look around you and write down all the things that are good. Not amazing, not perfect, just good. I know you already have 7 of those that love you.
2. Faith is something you can develop. Hope and excitement are things you can increase. If it wasn't for my chronic depression, I don't think I would have ever learned how to choose hope. I have to choose it every day and I'm still in awe at the reality that it is actually a choice! It's not easy, but it is possible to be hopeful every day.

P.S. Love you. <3

Camille said...

I love, love, love this post!!!! I needed it so much. Thank you! Life can be so hard, and so cruel at times, but there really is so much to be grateful for at the same time, huh? Because of some very hard trials in my life, I ended up with debilitating depression and insomnia last year that lasted for MONTHS!!! It was so, so hard. Thank you for saying that you can be grateful for your depression. I am working hard at trying to see the positive from mine, too.

Your last paragraph was my favorite though, and it was definitely the reminder I needed to share my own testimony over and over again with my children. This whole post has me all inspired for a FHE lesson for next week. Thank you!

Camille said...

p.s. I combined my comment and was referring to this post, and the thankful post. Just in case you were confused by my comment ;)