A Year Ago Today…

My triumphant return to the states–July 28th, 2011.

July 28th, 2011– an insignificant day for most, probably, and yet it will forever stick out in my mind as the day I got home from my mission in the Philippines.  A year has passed since that date, and yet I still often find myself thinking about my time in that little country across the world.

Everyone told me that the time right after the mission would be one of the most difficult periods of my life.  They were wrong… it has been the most difficult period of my life, not just one of them.  All right, I’m kidding.  1998 and 2001 were certainly much worse than the year since my mission, but that’s a topic for a completely different post.  Anyway, the point is that life after the mission has been quite the adjustment.

Coming back from the mission was somewhat comparable to going through some strange time warp… or so I would imagine, considering I’ve never actually gone through a time warp, but I digress.  What I mean is that it felt like I had never left–almost as if those two years had never happened.  And yet… so much had changed.  It’s amazing how much can happen in the space of two years.  There were so many changes I stopped even trying to keep track– marriages, babies, deaths in the family…  Domino’s started making good pizza, the I-phone came into existence, and dance music took over the radio…  friends changing, the release of Inception, the end of Lost… people killing, people dying; children hurting, hear them crying.  OK, now I’m just quoting The Black-Eyed Peas’ inspirational medley “Where Is the Love,” but you get my point.

Me almost a year after my mission ended… just ignore the 3D glasses, please.

I, like other newly returned missionaries, had trouble adjusting to regular life; going back to school was, without a doubt, the hardest part.  It felt like I was completely new to BYU, even though I had studied there for two semesters prior to my mission.  Most of my friends from before the mission had moved on, either literally or figuratively.   Eventually I gave up on trying to bring them back and realized it was time for me to move on too.

Time healed the festering wounds caused by the trauma of my homecoming.  (That previous statement was highly over-dramatic and slightly disturbing, but just go with it).  Slowly but surely, like a complicated puzzle, the pieces of my life have fallen into place.  I grew more comfortable with my surroundings, and when it was time for me to leave BYU and come back home for the summer, I found myself wishing I could stay.

Speaking of changes, here’s a wedding I attended last month!

And everything continues to change… because, as they say, such is life.  My major has changed, I’m moving to a different apartment complex in August, and so many people are getting married that I’ve stopped even trying to keep track.  I used to be afraid of change, and in some ways I still am, but I have come to realize that life just wouldn’t be life if it didn’t change.  My mission was all about change, and because of that, I’m afraid I have become somewhat addicted to it.

So that’s that.  Life will continue to change, and there’s no stopping it.  Get over it!  Not exactly wise words, but it helps get my point across.

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Warning: Construction Zone Ahead

A couple of weekends ago, I took a road trip to Albuquerque to attend a friend’s wedding.  I noticed that the I-40, the highway that leads from Arizona to Albuquerque, was somewhat of a construction war zone.  It seemed like every five seconds I drove by a sign that warned of oncoming construction sites.  All of this work was supposedly being done as part of a highway improvement project.

In the journey of life, we are all faced with obstacles.  Sometimes these obstacles come in the form of personal setbacks;  others arrive in the form of hardships.  Each of us faces different trials, but in almost all cases, these trials serve as personal construction zones.  We, like that construction-prone highway, might be torn down temporarily, but we will ultimately end up rebuilt and renewed, better than ever.

One of the most difficult aspects of life is that idea that you can’t do something.  You feel like maybe somebody else could achieve a certain goal, or perform a certain task, but you can’t because you’re different.  You have weaknesses.  Luckily, as I said before, that is an idea–just an idea, nothing more.    This recently released video has made me reconsider the “impossibilities” of life.

If a man who has no legs can reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, surely we can overcome our petty weaknesses that hold us back.

The fact is, to be frank, that life is going to suck if you don’t make the best with what you’ve got.  We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control how we react to the circumstances we are given.

What I’m trying to say is that, though life has its less-than-stellar moments, we have to keep pushing forward because there is always a reward waiting just around the corner.  And those rewards will be made all the better by the trials that are given to us.  After all, we have to experience the bad to appreciate the good.