I am being refined without choice, by choice.

To dig straight into it this last month or so have probably been the hardest this entire year. I haven’t had anything to write about because I’ve been busy in my mind and unable to articulate it. I’ve tried to make sense of it and I’m coming to an understanding that it’s all really boiled down to discouragement more than anything. I’ve had the most challenging and rewarding year of my life thus far. I’ve become closer to the person I’d like to be than I have ever been and for the first time I know I am not regressing. Everything is working, I am doing the right things. I am doing what I need to do and I am being what I want to be. But apathy has kicked in. Things I’ve loved have become mundane or routine-like and I’m trying to differentiate between the life I had two months ago to the life I have now.

First up I’m in the final however many weeks until I leave to serve a mission. There is nothing I want to do with my time more than this. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than to see the light shine through a person’s eyes when they understand the joys of living a Christ-centered life as I have discovered myself. This is true. Nothing makes my soul happier. I have witnessed this for myself, first hand, and I have witnessed this in the eyes of others, first hand. I remember the specific day I went to the mirror of my apartment and saw myself properly. I looked into my eyes for the first real time. I looked so different. And I liked who I saw. I have seen the change in people’s eyes when they are no longer in darkness. It is a real thing and it is the most beautiful thing you will ever see on Earth.

Being called to the land of my heritage makes me feel a deep sense of responsibility. More than anything. I just want to learn everything and know everything and be everything I can be because this means something to me. It means something to my family. It means something to God. I literally have been given every tool I need to succeed as far as being an effective missionary goes. It’s not a competition obviously, but I expect so much more of myself than others. I’ve been given more than others. So I find myself giving myself tasks and objectives and lists and must-do’s, all achievable might I add, but it becomes like a heightened sense of failure if I don’t tick every box. I find people often saying, “Well don’t be too hard on yourself,” or “Relax a little.” In all honesty, and with my appreciation and the knowledge these people have good intentions, I disagree. Only because I know how relaxed and consciously lacking in usefulness I have been for a number of years. I guess it’s almost like I’m trying to make up for the person I was.

I’m coming to terms with how much I can give myself before I leave and how much I can handle -but still stay sane, enlightened, and still let myself feel that deep sense of responsibility but also know my purpose. I want to be converted, every day. I want to come closer every day. I guess I tend to write when I’ve reached some kind of tangible conclusion or know I am in the process of coming to it. That’s really it.

As members of our faith there are two General Conference sessions held each year in which messages from the Prophet, Apostles and leaders direct us by means of revelation as to how our faith can be strengthened and how to better live a Christ-centered life. A few things really stood out to me that helped my current mindset in which I’ll lightly address. (I can’t give specific references because I’m terrible at location or names of speakers -just working off memory alone)

The first thing that really stood out to me is to ‘get an education to bless the lives of others’. I never understood the need or the appeal in tertiary education- anything sufficiently serious, that is, until now. In this last year, I have dedicated my time to the study of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and can honestly say I have learnt far more than I have ever been able to learn in my life. I never knew what study was until now (and even now, I probably don’t know what it is.) Prior, since I finished high school I have studied nothing but the arts from almost every angle, media/ performance based. Obviously there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t expect to go anywhere as an actor without being qualified or marketable or talented. I can’t say art or performance are not serious. The most serious times I’ve had in my life have been in front of a camera or in the audition room or studying a person’s mannerisms or purpose or relating my life to theirs or just feeling in general. That’s really what it is, honestly. Acting is the study of living. Artistic minds are, and cannot be without, intelligence. So in order to bless the lives of others I need to somehow incorporate a higher level of education after my mission. I still want to write, I want to write things that are real and not on some little dainty blog site either. I want what my mind has to offer to mean something, and to change something. The possibilities make me really excited (now that I know how to study, ha). The sky’s no limit.

It’s been written in scripture that ‘faith without works is dead being alone.’ Which I wholeheartedly agree with. Anything quotable makes it easier to remember, so when the phrase was switched in one of the talks it actually made me think a lot as to why I’ve been feeling this way lately. It was said, works without faith is dead. It seems so simplistic but it really affected me. I’ve been doing all these works mundanely, routinely, ramming all this knowledge into my brain but forgetting the beauty or reason as to why having this knowledge is good or why it should make me feel good. It’s like I’ve been applying my faith without having barely any. My energy had been so focused on tasks that the beauty I’d found in having faith in good things coming to pass had almost been forgotten. Made me realize, again, as I always do- temperance. I’m going to be working on temperance for the rest of my life and throughout the eternities. Moderation, prudence, temperance.

And the final thing I remember (which I just thought was really sweet) was the idea that ‘You don’t marry perfection, you marry potential.’ As life goes and each person we meet or perhaps have only platonic friendships with- to remember we are not forming relationships with perfect people but we are forming relationships with work-in-progresses. The way to be prepared for a lasting friendship and relationship (in whatever form) is most genuinely living a life based wholly on the teachings of Jesus Christ. For myself, the most attractive quality I can see in a person is the desire to serve Him. And nothing will bring you greater happiness than doing so, I promise you this.

In conclusion to these probably less specific and direct thoughts than usual is the following I wrote in bed (probably at 4am) a few nights ago. I want to write and narrate a screenplay but mainly my brain’s all kookey when I’m half asleep. Keep yourself alive and keep on keeping on -how long can rolling waters remain impure x

“I don’t think I’ve ever just straight up seen two dimensional beauty. I feel like there’s some form of criteria that needs to be met in the split second before I decide something is beautiful. Beauty as I understand it has everything to do with intelligence, something left to the imagination, something pure. Anything denoting the existence of Deity. Everything with a soul. When you let your eyes see what you desire to feel everything manifests beauty. Everything matters. Beauty is without reservation. Existence is glory.”

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