Monday, February 25, 2013

Three Years Ago

Idaho Falls Temple - February 2013
About three years ago, I went through the Idaho Falls temple for my endowment, in preparation for my mission. About a week ago, I had the opportunity to do an endowment session there for the first time since. It was kind of an interesting experience for me to realize that and look back on the past three years.

Three years ago, February 2010, I was waiting for my mission call. Because of my autism, my call got delayed… and delayed… and delayed. Garrett will attest to the fact that I didn’t handle that waiting period very well. Looking back, I recognize that that was my first real recollection of experiencing depression. After receiving my mission call, I assumed that was the end of it. I had my call and all would be well. Fast-forward about six months to September 2010 and I was home from my mission.
Getting off the plane - September 2010
 Being a 19-year-old RM was one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with. Harder than waiting for my mission call. Harder than dealing with the stress I put on myself after telling Elder Call about my SSA (speaking of which… I need to do a post on that). Finally, the next summer, after much stress and anxiety, which I attributed to having to wait again, I was permitted to go on a trial mission.

Coming home from Calgary three months after I started was one of the hardest things I’ve done… it was harder than the first time, I’d say. In my opinion, the lack of confidence and self-esteem I felt was manifest in my schoolwork. Some of the simplest assignments seemed to test my abilities and try my patience. In my mind, it was a miracle that I managed a B average that semester. In that time, I started medication to help with my depression and anxiety, but even so it wasn’t until part way through the summer that I seemed to find something that worked. And honestly I think part of what worked was being able to go back to Toronto, visit the people I’d served there, and find closure, knowing I had made a difference in three months there.

With Fuman, one of my converts - July 2012

Even after feeling that closure, I think I still felt down about my position of being an “early RM”. Until something unexpected happened… literally a day after I posted about what it means to be an RM… that was when I was reading in Voice(s) of Hope for the first time. It was then, in the first few lines, that I felt the prompting to start all of this. Two months later, after much prayer and seeking revelation, I did start writing about my SSA. In the time since, I have been blessed to have had miracle SSA Missionary experiences with Steve, Alex, and several others. Just yesterday in fact a girl from one of my old wards (let’s call her Libby) told me about her SSA.

Still, at the same time I’m working to find balance, understanding, and healing for myself. I try to do my best to look forward toward better things, but at the same time I still carry scars of my past. During all of that, I am struggling to find the right balance between expressing love and being firm in my beliefs. All the time, I still have episodes of shame and hurt around all of what has happened in the past three years.

I guess here’s the bottom line (and it’s something I’m still trying to internalize, even as I share it): Jesus Christ the Savior is why any of this matters. He helped me find closure with what happened in Toronto and He helped me find a new way to do missionary work. As I always say, it is through Him and His Atonement that it gets better.

Idaho Falls Temple - April 2010

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