today was the first time in over a month that i went for a run.
the past few weeks have been quite difficult for me. as much as i thought i had already gotten through the "awkward returned-missionary adjustment phase" of my life way back in january-march (as i returned from brazil in late january of this year), i feel like i've been thrust into my second phase (is that a thing?) of awkward returned-missionary adjustment.
it's hard. going from being a full-time missionary for 18 months and living in a foreign country, to living at home where most of your expenses are paid for by your wonderful parents (seriously you guys are awesome!) and where you seem to be living in an eternal summer for 8 months, to jumping right back into more social-ness/dating/schoolwork/responsibilities/freedom than you've experienced in over 2 years.
so, it's been a little rough. it's definitely a process. i've been out here for about two months now, and feel like i've finally had some kind of a breakthrough. it's been the result of lots of prayers, lots of tears (usually during said prayers), and lots of learning to be honest with myself and not be embarrassed to ask for help or admit that life isn't what i expected it would be.
but the fact is, that life's actually better than i thought it would be. it's just different. and life's like that. we may think sometimes that we have it all figured out, that we know exactly what will make us really truly happy, when God really has another plan for us in store. and it's different. so we might reject that at first. and again. and again. and try to do things your own way instead of learning to trust in His plan for you ((guilty)).
but eventually, you get it. (or at least you start to get it.) and you recognize that life isn't about being better than anyone else and that it's really about working towards earning the "most improved award" in your process to make it back to heaven. it's about taking the talents, abilities, and other things you've been blessed with and using them to really make something of yourself - - and then some. it's just like running (for the very reason i got into running in the first place): it's all about competing against YOURSELF for that personal record. sure, usually in a race you're running alongside other people, too. and sure, there are plenty of people vying for first or second place. and there's nothing wrong with that. but the fact is that in running races, just like in life, there are always going to be people slower than us, faster than us, and right around the same pace as us. and maybe sometimes we end up at the very back of the pack (or the very front!). but the fact is that while we're all running at the same time, in the same race, what we're all really looking for in the end is both the same (generally) but different (specifically): to beat our own personal best time. to improve individually.
i think that's one of the reasons i love autumn the most (#favoriteseasonbyfar). the leaves are constantly changing - and all at totally different rates. each tree changes it's leaves at different times from the other trees, and each of the leaves on any one tree change at different times. and guess what? we all think it's beautiful that the tree is so many different colors all at once; that it's not all the same.
on my run this morning, i realized that that's probably how Heavenly Father sees each and every single one of us: each of us is like a tree that is constantly changing. we might make changes in our lives at different times, and may even feel like we're late bloomers or not able to keep up with the people/trees around us. but the fact is that, even in the mess of changes, we are beautiful to Him. our differences are what make us beautiful and unique. just like how all the leaves changing at different times are what make these beautiful explosions of color on the trees that we all love to see. there's nothing wrong with taking a little bit longer to work through our individual changes and personal growth. there is a time and a season for all things, and, just like all the trees will eventually turn and all their leaves will eventually fall, so we, too, will keep on changing and working through things throughout our lives: all in our own personal and individual time frames.
and then it will be time for a new season.
so, i was really excited to finally get out this morning for a run after going so long without it. however, i had only run about .2 miles when, totally and completely out of nowhere, i twisted my ankle and fell down, and ate it, hard. my knees hurt. my palms hurt. i was frustrated and could feel tears coming on and the thought literally came to mind "okay, you fell down. you failed. time to turn around and go back home." but then i realized - maybe i was going too fast. maybe i was distracted. maybe i was pushing myself a little too much. but that doesn't mean i have to give up now. i can do this. i can work through and overcome this. so i got back up, turned off my music, and just started to continue forward, walking. after another .2 miles i started to jog again. and by the end of my 1-mile run, i was actually running again, just like i was in the beginning.
the fact is that today i finally realized that surprise surprise, life isn't easy. we are going to stumble and fall, we are going to have moments of failure and despair. but that doesn't mean it's an excuse to stay down on the ground and weep and wallow and give up. the trials we face are blessings in disguise, and we will never (ever ever ever ever) be given more than we can handle. one of my favorite scriptures of all time (that got me through so many hard times on my mission) is 1 nephi 3:7: "and it came to pass that i, nephi, said unto my father: i will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for i know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."
so, life's what you make of it. it's all up to us. scraped knees, self-doubt, it's all part of the plan. opposition is a necessary part of growth. it may be frustrating, but just think of it this way:
if we were never weak, could we ever truly become strong?
we can overcome it all. i know it. i am so grateful for the power of prayer and the power to overcome. with God, i know it: all things really are possible. and that is a definite #fact. (: