30 January 2012

However Hard and Long the Road

It isn't often that I write publicly about something relating to my more personal trials, particularly when they are trials of faith. Mostly I find that that type of writing is best saved for journaling and not nearly as conducive to the healthy dose of snark and cheek I like to include in my public writing. (Does mentioning "snark and cheek" in and of itself count? I don't think so.)

But I'm standing on the edge of something that is making me nervous, and I'll never sleep tonight until I write. And since I so rarely share my feelings of faith - I figure now is as good a time as any to start.

From when I was very small, I was told - like many Latter-Day Saints before me, that going to the temple was an important goal. The temple is a very sacred place for members of my church. We believe that temples - there are more than 100 around the world - are the physical representation of God's home on earth. It is where we make covenants with God to live a righteous life and learn more about Him. It is where families are sealed together so that they can be families not just on this earth, but after death as well. It is where we perform sacred ordinances for those who have died so that they too can receive the blessings of covenants. It is a place of prayer and worship and service.

Because of the sacred nature of temples, members are not allowed to enter without first declaring their worthiness before local clergy members. What's more, there are age requirements. Youth can enter at 12 to do baptisms for the dead, but not to make their own covenants or do other work. The rest of the temple is reserved for older members.

As a child, I assumed that I would go to the temple before a mission (at 21) or when I was married (before I graduated from college like everyone else, obviously.) Well, 21 came and went. A mission didn't feel right for me. I watched boys go through at 19 in preparation for their own missions and swallowed a little bit of my frustration, but figured I wouldn't have to wait long.

But 21 came and went, followed by 22. . . 23. . . my fridge was littered with an assortment of wedding invitations that rotated in and out as (what feels like) all of my friends married and I remained home on the weekends more or less content with a me-date of reading and movies. It got harder to be denied a chance to go to the temple, something that I could do, at least, because I was worthy, not because I was waiting on the agency of someone else.

Girls aren't typically recommended to go through the entire temple until they are married, go on a mission or reach the ripe old age of 25 (which honestly, to me, always felt like a subtle euphemism from the church as a woman past hope of ever getting married, so they may as well be sent through.)

Not that this stopped me from asking my leaders to consider anyway. I'm stubborn like that, I suppose. I have always been active in my church. I have lived away from my immediate family for nearly a decade and have remained active on my own in all of that time. I believe that my church is true and good and has blessed my life. I honor the covenants I have made and strive my best to lead the life the Lord would have me lead. But each time I approached a leader I was told without much conversation at all that they wouldn't consider it until I was 25. No conversation about why, or time to think about my worthiness - just a no. So I have a hard time swallowing the pill of watching the circumstances of everyone else be a good enough reason for temple attendance, while my lack of circumstances but great desire has not been sufficient. It has hurt. Greatly.

I do feel a little guilty hurting, actually. You hear so many triumphant stories of starving families in third world countries selling everything they own to go to the temple just once in their lives while I, who know I will eventually get to go at little/no financial inconvenience hundreds of times in my life am only asked to wait until I'm "old". And I know that a good dose of my frustration is that part of my personality speaking that absolutely despises being left behind, particularly when it feels unjust. I also feel that feminist part of my soul just annoyed at the sheer number of immature boys who go through the temple simply because they are going on missions, and spend their whole life just expecting it to happen, so it does. (And then I feel guilty about that too, because missionaries do great things and ought to be blessed in that way no matter their age.) ((And then there are the 18-19 year old girls marrying the boys and that gets my gander up even more. But I digress.))

That quarter-century mark is just around the corner for me. I made my appeal again. This time I was (finally) put through to speak with the Stake President. He gave me about 600 pages of reading to do. Somehow in the middle of working what is essentially two full time jobs and assistant directing the school musical and, you know, trying to keep my sanity, I found time to read it all in about three weeks. This Sunday I will have the chance to speak with the Stake President again to determine my fate.

I'm nervous.

Nervous about getting my hopes up too high after years of disappointment. I'm scared to even hope. Hope is equivalent to joy and I don't dare even let myself think about flying on the wings of anticipation this time because the thud is unthinkable. Honestly, I'm actually praying mostly for the Lord to tell me if it is the wrong choice in advance so that I can have my privacy as I try to move on, instead of having to face someone else with that grief. I know that I am too strong and stubborn to let a "no" break my testimony of the church, but I'm terrified of what will happen if he asks me to wait longer after all the work I have done to prepare and all the prayers I've offered begging for answers, because deep down I know that it isn't my choice to make, or the Stake President's choice - it's His.

In the middle of all this I am hoping either way for a bit of understanding. I don't understand why it has been this way. I don't know why these blessings seem to come as easily as putting socks on in the morning for some people and feel like wandering in the desert with the Children of Israel for me. But with every last fingernail of faith I can find I am clinging to the belief that someday this will all make sense to me, and that I'll have the courage to accept whatever solution is reached on Sunday.

In the mean time: I'm watching this.

20 January 2012

Fill in the Blank

I'm starting a new writing assignment next week with my English classes. I've taught the project before which is wonderful - it means a little more security in knowing what I'm doing each day in class. The project is a research paper where they will research words. To get them excited, I wanted to get them playing around with language so that it didn't sound quite so boring. I found a worksheet I was given by another teacher a few years ago that she had used in her junior high classes in a project similar to this one. The paper involves sentences with blanks in them. Students are instructed to find the best word they can to fill in the blank - the most descriptive word is preferable.

Of course, I made the mistake of not reading over the page before I handed it out to my older students, who can sniff a euphemism from a mile away.

It started off normally enough. . .

"When his parachute failed to open, John (precipitated) to earth." (Like Voldemort at the end of the last Harry Potter movie?)

"Mary (flailed) over the cat which was in the middle of the hallway."

But then I started reading the sentences with the blanks and seeing that things just were not going to go anywhere good when you get sentences with awkwardly placed blanks such as. . .

"The class (molested) the teacher onto the bus." (Whoops.)

"The reporters (licked) the celebrity until she gave them a statement."

"The hunters (slapped) their prey until they could get a clear shot."

"The servant (fondled) the lady of the house; she seemed like a goddess to him."

They all left begging for more worksheets like this one. I left thinking that I would make sure to read over papers I used for junior high students a little more carefully before I used them on high school students again. Oh man.

10 January 2012

Do What I Know

I have recently decided that I am too talented for my own good.

(I'm mostly being sarcastic.)

((But seriously, though.))

Talented, I suppose, isn't quite the right word for the mess I've found myself in. Interested in far too many things and not trusting enough of other people to do the job the right way (re: my way) is probably a bit closer to the truth, at least some of the time. As a result, I've found myself teaching a full schedule in school (I have one official hour off a week. Most teachers have one of those a day.) I am assistant-director for the school musical. I am helping to set up a new "honors" program for my school and am responsible for looking after the academic requirements/support for said program. I was recently given a calling in church in which I was told by my supervisor "the last person who had this calling was so relieved to be released so that she can spend more time with her family. We're all so excited that you're single so you will have time to help us more!"

Oh, and did I mention that I am co-owner of a company that writes and grades curriculum for home-schooling families? And that I have two shows I intend to audition for before the school year is over? And that I am currently making my way through several books in the hopes of going to the temple this year (finally)?

(Oh, and that I want to keep my sanity?)

So yes. My life is legitimately busy.

Though, of course, I really shouldn't complain at all because a good number of the things listed above are things I volunteered for in the first place.

You'd think that in the middle of all that scheduling madness I wouldn't have time to think about goal setting or adding any more to what I'm already doing, but I did think about it. I thought about setting goals on getting more sleep, for example. On reading a book I want to read but don't have to teach once a month. But I know that putting myself on some kind of schedule for these things will just add stress instead of take it away, so instead I am doing what this woman suggests and am going to put my focus on doing what I know.

For instance, I know that when I make time for the Lord in my life, I find time I need for everything else.

I know that when I am stressed and I make a to-do list and a calendar, then the stress is more manageable and I function better than when I stew in my stress pot.

I know that I'm on the Lord's timing and shouldn't waste (too much) of my time stressing over things I can't control.

I know that I feel better when my day is filled with fruits and veggies and (probably too much) bread.

I know that things are hard for me right now, but that I can do hard things.

I know that no amount of grading and planning for and obsessing about my job will cover for time not spent with people. (Especially adult-like ones after a day of teenagers.)

I know lots of things. And this year (since it is the end of the world and all), I intend to dedicate myself to doing what I know.