Since I last wrote, I have started college at the magnificent Brigham Young University.
Everything good they say about here is more than true. It's a beautiful campus, and in this campus you can choose to have a beautiful life.
It took me until a couple weeks into school to realize that principle though The key is to choose.
From the very moment we got there, reality sunk in. Essentially because everyone was special, nobody was. Every one had a musical talent, was the top scholar in their school, completely involved and completely loved. And suddenly everything that had made us different before made us exactly the same.
Realizations like these left doubting thoughts in mind. You know the ones. the "You're not good enough"s and the "See, you're not special"s and the "You really thought you could do this?" lies and thoughts from the devil that overwhelm and cover you in a heavy blanket of doubt and despair.
I found myself surprised by these degrading thoughts. I mean, c'mon! I was at BYU for goodness sake, and so shouldn't Jesus be in the lobby of the JKB or under the lamp post by Freshmen Hill or waiting for me outside my BOM class with his arms open wide, saying "Everything is going to be okay!" Saying, "You are important, you are loved, you are special." Well I found out later He had been, I just hadn't been looking.
I am going to be completely honest here. I didn't think college was going to be that hard for me. I thought it would be a breeze, hard for everyone else but fore some reason, I was exempt. Frankly I was wrong. My Book of Mormon professor announced the first day that we would be reading the entire first half of the Book of Mormon in two weeks. If we weren't able to do this, than a substantial part of the grade would be lost. We were to monitor ourselves, reading 20 pages a day, and then report at the end of two weeks if we were able to accomplish the task. Though it was something as great as the Book of Mormon,this seemed to be another thing to overwhelm me and add to my ever-present "to-do's" in college. I began the task with a reluctant heart.
I'm sorry to say I didn't appreciate this assignment until 2nd Nephi (the second book in the Book of Mormon). It was near the end of a particularly mentally and physically exhausting day when I sat down to read 2nd Nephi 10.
It was when I read vs 23 that my entire college perspective would change, "Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves-- to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."
I don't think any scripture has hit my heart so hard before, "Remember," the Lord told me, "You are free to choose." I'm almost done with the first half of the Book of Mormon, and this time through has strengthened my heart forever.
So my call to you is to remember to choose. And to have the courage to cheer up your hearts especially when it seems like you can't. Even when the darkest day overwhelms you and you feel deserted. Have to courage to choose the way of everlasting life.
I have one other point to make.
My Book of Mormon professor, who I'm really starting to appreciate had us share experiences of when we have been mocked because of our beliefs. One of the girls shared the classic accusation of the church that we "blindly obey." With full vigor my Book of Mormon professor proclaimed, "Isn't that interesting. They do not understand. We do not follow because we are blind. We follow because we SEE If there is anything that I learned from my first weeks of BYU, it is that I follow because I see.
I now see the Savior waiting outside the WILK. I see Him in my home ward, and in my FHE group. I see him next to the girl that sits alone in the Cannon, beckoning me to come join them. I see Him everywhere. I follow and obey Him because I see.
I echo my words with the prophet Ammon, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but i will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things... for which we will praise his name forever." (Alma 26:12; BOM)
"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you , I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." (Alma 26:16, BOM)
This Church is true, and God loves us.
I know it.