Turning 30

Ready or not!

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year, but as I sit and write this I feel nothing but love and gratitude for all that I have. Looking back on my messy twenties I’m filled with joy. My second decade is a blur of transitions and transformations mixed in with lots of fun adventures. I’m not done learning but I can honestly say that I am happy, and THAT is an amazing feeling.

In my twenties I was mostly concerned with myself and how others perceived me. I went to school, made lifelong friends, traveled, got married, got divorced, stumbled, cried, laughed, worked, and I found Christ. I had my heart broken a few times and found myself on the giving end of that as well. My twenties may have been lacking in a few areas, but they were never lacking love. I always felt loved by my little community of family and friends who taught me so much about life. I really do feel like the the luckiest woman alive to have had that.

I’d like to think that I’ve learned a few things over the last decade, so in the spirit of turning over a new leaf, I thought I’d share a few words of advice.

Here goes!

1. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. I can’t count how many times I found myself in situations that didn’t feel right but was too insecure to do anything about it. Don’t fight that feeling. Go with it and don’t apologize to anyone for nurturing what is comfortable to YOU.

2. Resist the urge to fight over text. If you’re not sure about the tone of the text, just pick up the freaking phone and call. I guarantee you that if there ever was a problem, it will fix itself by talking on the phone or in person.img_8595

3. Give people the benefit of the doubt. This one is hard at times, but you never know what other people are going through and you’ll never regret being too kind.

4. Serve others. Find opportunities within your community that allow you to be completetly selfless. It’s rarely convenient to serve others, but it is so important and will stretch your heart.

5. Eat ALL the food!

6. Forgive yourself. Why is this so hard to do? You are not responsible for anyone but yourself and as long as you are making every effort to be a better person, you are doing it right. We have all made mistakes and unintentionally hurt those we love. Sometimes the best thing to do is forgive ourselves and try our best not to make those mistakes again. Ya live, ya learn.

7. Don’t be afraid to share your light with others. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. We could all use more light in our lives.

8. Listen. Listen. Listen.

9. Pray. I encourage you to try it, even if you are not religious. Prayer is incredibly calming and humbling. It gives you the opportunity to think about all that you have and tunes your heart to be aware of others that may be in need. It’s my favorite way to start the day.

10. Try to enjoy the chaos. If you are like me, this is hard to do. At some point we all need to forfeit control and roll with whatever life throws our way. If you can learn to enjoy change, you’ll be alright.

Life is not picture perfect but it doesn’t have to be in order to reap the rewards that come from overcoming adversity, facing change with an open heart, and letting go of empty expectations. There are people that have come and gone in my life and there are people that have come and stayed. There are some that I have known my whole life and some who have made a brief appearance. No matter what category you fall into, I want you to know that I love you. You have shaped me and I’m thankful for you. Thank you for loving me and for teaching me how to be better.

This life of mine is so good and I have never been more excited for the possibilities that lie ahead. Here’s to my messy thirties and the people that occupy my heart during these years!

I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

I want to give a HUGE shout-out to all the wonderful missionaries in the world that are working hard. It’s not easy going door-to-door and sharing something that you love just to be turned away time and time again. It req
uires deep conviction and faith in the bigger picture to willingly adhere to a daily routine of blunt rejection. These missionaries are so kind and full of love and I admire their brave and resilient spirits in a world that can oftentimes pull us down. They deserve our respect regardless of our beliefs because what they are doing is very hard. So the next time you see a pair of missionaries riding down the street in their Sunday’s best and goofy helmets, don’t be afraid to shoot them a wave and a friendly smile. They’ll be thankful for the gesture.

I thought I’d share some fun facts about missionaries for those who are not familiar with how this whole thing works.

Last year there were 85,150 missionaries out in the field. When all is said and done they spend roughly $10,000 to go on a mission and pay for the entire thing themselves. The average amount of time a missionary is gone is 24 months, and yes, women serve missions too! It’s important to know that the choice to go on a mission is personal and is not forced on anyone.

Those that are not of the LDS faith wonder why anyone might willingly give up 2 years of their life to be away from family and friends. I would say that the only reason you do something like this is if you have felt the love of Christ in your own life and believe in the divine work that has been reserved for our time. Entertain the idea of being called to serve in another state or country where your only job seven days a week is to talk to people…. about Christ. You’d have to believe it, because that would be an impossible act to keep up if you didn’t.

I think that many people are baffled because it just doesn’t make much sense to them. It didn’t really make sense to me before joining this faith. But I have now had the priviledge of witnessing the changes that occur during this process and it is truly remarkable. In many ways it reminds me of the growth that happens for those that join the military, though more spiritually demanding than physically, these individuals come back much different than when they left. These missions not only teach these individuals how to grow independently but they also instill a work ethic that is rock solid. Being away from everything and everyone that they know and love requires them to dig deep and rely solely on Christ. It gives them the opportunity to build the most important relationship they will ever have in their lives. They are stretched and pushed in a supportive setting and come back with a newfound respect for their families and are better prepared for a partnership and the challenges that life will throw at them.

 I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

I keep thinking about this quote from Elder Holland. Sometimes I feel as though I want to shout it from the depths of my soul! I want people to know of the truth that the gospel reveals. Sometimes we get so caught up in the mistakes of our fellow men that we are quick to forget the first great truth that we have: God loves us with all of His heart, mind, might, and strength. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Messy, flawed and skeptical you. I want to shout it like these missionaries do, but most times I hold myself back for fear of rejection. I guess if I saw someone shouting about Jesus I would steer clear. Ok, so no shouting. But even sharing scares me. Jesus himself was rejected in the flesh, so why do I care if I am? I know that I will be rejected as well. Am I willing to proclaim the truth about Him regardless of what happens to me?

Brothers and Sisters, I beg you to bear your testimony as often as you can without murmer. He asks us to do so.

There are several reasons for bearing testimony. One is that when you declare the truth, it will bring an echo, a memory, even if it is an unconscious memory to the investigator, that they have heard this truth before—and of course they have. A missionary’s testimony invokes a great legacy of testimony dating back to the councils in heaven before this world was. There, in an earlier place, these same people heard this same plan outlined and heard there the role that Jesus Christ would play in their salvation.

We signed up for this. We sat with Jesus and He told us that it would be very hard to choose Him and that we would have to endure much pain and adversity in this world. You know what we said? Individually, we agreed to carry that burden. We said, “put me in, coach!” We fought hard for the chance to have bodies and for our families. We fought hard to have the chance to be with our families not only in this life, but after as well. We must continue to stand with Him as it gets harder to do so and the world we live in gets darker and angrier. We were told that this would happen, and it is no coincidence that you and I were saved for this leg of the race when the stakes are really high and the world around us is self distructing. We have resilient souls, you and I.

I’m thankful for all the men and women missionaries that I have met on this journey. I’m thankful for their willingness to go where the Lord needs them to go. Each one has touched my life in a special way and I am forever grateful for their sincere desire to love me and teach me. Keep on keepin’ on and let your light shine, my friends.

During this season of my life I want it to be known that I will go where He asks me to go, and I am confident that the outcome will be better than anything I can imagine.

xoxo

Rachelle

Are You Willing to Wrestle?

We all have questions when it comes to faith, that’s the nature of the beast. My faith is very solid, but I’m not naive to the fact that it’s still growing and needs to be nurtured daily. And every single day I ask myself the same question:

Rachelle, are you willing to wrestle?

Wrestle for goodness. Wrestle to better understand those who are of my faith AND those who are not. Wrestle for my freedom to practice religion. Wrestle in the face of intolerance. Wrestle for truth, for light, and for love.

“Why do we need such resilient faith? Because difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested. The Apostle Paul warned that in the latter days, those who diligently follow the Lord “shall suffer persecution. That very persecution can either crush you into silent weakness or motivate you to be more exemplary and courageous in your daily lives.”
-Russell M. Nelson

I choose to engage in the battle because it is important and because people are hurting. As long as people are hurting, I will open my mouth and speak. I have found something that brings true healing and it would be ludicrous to keep it to myself.

Let’s talk about this idea of wrestling with doubt. Do you ever feel like there are one or two principles that totally trip you up in your quest for faith? You can’t get your head around something so you stay away altogether. Maybe it’s one specific belief under the larger umbrella of religion. I’ve felt that before and I’ve learned that doubt, if unchecked, can be a slippery slope to nowhere good. Let me be clear, questions are always good, but only if you really care and are looking for a genuine discussion. If you don’t care, don’t bother. I never understand why people engage in conversations that they care nothing about. Offering half-hearted solutions to a conversation that you care nothing about is not helpful for anyone.

It’s hard right? Everyone has an opinion about e v e r y t h i n g and the world is so loud. We are being pushed & pulled in a million different directions. The thing is, none of these people really know you and your potential. Only you and God can have deep and meaningful conversations when it comes to these matters of the heart. Sometimes the noise around us is so loud that we forget to listen to that still, small voice, the voice that prompts us to help others, to love our neighbors, and to be the best version of ourselves. You know, the stuff that really makes us feel good? It’s not random that those things make us feel good. We are all innately good, but it’s my belief that as we get older it can be harder to channel that part of ourselves. Most of the time we don’t even know that we are drifting away from it because it happens over a long period of time, inch by inch. We get sucked up in all the commotion around us that we lose sight of what really matters.

There have always been and will always be very charismatic men and women who can launch what sound like examined arguments against the Father and the Son. But most doubters will never give you the full story because they don’t know the full story, and have no desire to know. If you want answers and additional knowledge, trust that our creator will reveal those things to you if you earnestly seek the answers. I can testify of this truth in my own life, and there are millions out there that can as well. After you’ve lived long enough without the gospel, you are able to recognize and FEEL the difference between coincidence and spiritual encounters and promptings. We all have a spirit that is unique to us, and if we don’t feed it we will not be able to get acquainted with it. We will not be able to identify when our spirit is revealing truth and guiding us. That mother’s intuition that you get when something isn’t quite right is your spirit telling you what’s up. The awful pit in your stomach you get when you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, that is your spirit telling you to MOVE it.

There are so many sensitive topics that require time and diligent study. But it takes plain old hard work, because even God can’t make us grow.

“None of us are entitled to revelation without effort on our part. Answers from God don’t just magically appear. If we want to grow spiritually, the Lord expects us to ask questions and seek answers. “If thou shalt ask,” He promised, “thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge….” How much clearer can it be? The Lord loves inspired questions asked in faith because they lead to knowledge, to revelation, and to greater faith.”-Sheri Dew

Go ahead and wave that flag of doubt, I won’t stop you, nor will I tell you that you are wrong. I’m not in the business of telling anyone how to live. But if you truly want to heal your soul, don’t be afraid to join the wrestle.

Not Interested

Before I started this blogging adventure I made a promise to myself that I would be as transparent as possible and talk about real issues and real struggles no matter how difficult it may be. The word that has stuck with me all week while writing is humility.  

Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.

Ezra T. Benson

Why is it that some of us completely shut down when religion is mentioned? I used to be one of those people. I’ve been considering this a lot lately and have realized that for most, it’s not a purposeful reaction. The media and our self-serving culture does a great job depicting religion as a creepy and outdated practice. There are people that regularly pluck verses out of context to prove a point that demeans the scriptures, and if you are a bystander who isn’t familiar with the FULL account of the verse, you may agree that it makes no sense or has no place in our modern world. We have everything we need at the touch of our fingertips, so we must no longer have a need for God. I can’t speak for everyone, but I suppose people shut down because they are either scared of finding truth and are not interested in disrupting their lives with a bunch of rules, or perhaps a few really eccentric religious groups or people have polluted their perspective. In my case, both examples illustrate why I had no interest in jumping in to investigate for myself.

I truly believe that most people are good and want to do good. Most of us are looking for ways to positively contribute to society and help others. Maybe you did not grow up in an environment conducive to learning about the gospel and you don’t ever think twice about it. Maybe you did, and somewhere along the way you lost it. Maybe you have doubts; or maybe you think it’s just not for you. I’ve talked to those in every situation and what I hear over and over again is that people just want to feel loved and are searching for truth and happiness. And what I know for sure now is that lasting happiness can only be obtained through Christ. Although the world we live in tries to tell us otherwise, it really is that simple. You do not need to be thinner, have a bigger house or make more money, because none of these things last. There is a plan to all this madness. Those thou shalt’s and thou shalt not’s are there to keep us safe, not to take away our fun and make our lives miserable. Just as parents give their children guidelines to follow for their safety, so does our Heavenly Father. And just as children don’t always understand why at the time of instruction, neither will we.

Cue humility.

This is the hardest part because we often think that we know what is best for us, but we are not giving God any credit if we make the conclusion that we can run our lives better than He can. We may never know what He has in store for us if we are too proud to let that goodness into our lives.

The first time I met the missionaries I was sure there was nothing they could say to me to make me change my mind. What I knew about the church seemed really bizare to me, but what I now know is that I only had bits and pieces of what google told me. In no way was I actually educated about the history of the church. In fact, I was not well educated on any sacred scriptures. I had met a handful of Mormons in my life and while most were kind and loving, a few bad experiences ruined it all for me. In retrosprect, I recognize that this is a totally ridiculous way to assess an entire community. My decision to read the Book of Mormon came once I realized that I could not truly make a decision unless I read it. I had to let go of my pride and really dig deep if I wanted to get some answers. This is what I would call the grit phase. If you need more proof to be a believer, you have to genuinely open your heart and give it a shot. This relationship, like any, is a two-way road and YOU are required to put forth some effort.

Oftentimes it takes a terrible accident or unexpected set-back such as illness, addiction, or the death of a loved one, to hand over the reins. Desperate for answers and no longer in charge of the situation we become humbled to ask for help in a last-ditch effort for comfort and understanding. Jesus, who has always been our last option, suddenly becomes our first. The truth is that every one of us will experience pains and afflictions of every kind in this life, but Jesus should never be an afterthought. If we make the choice to recognize that we are imperfect and need help before tragedy hits, we will be gifted with a better undersanding and more peace. And most importantly, if you have made time to build a relationship with our Savior, He will guide you through the tough stuff.

It is worth it.  I will say it over and over again. It is worth it.

For those who are confused and unsure, keep going. Ask questions and get your grit on. Don’t let doubt hold you back and don’t be so hard on yourself. We are all doing our best here. Life is messy but it is also profoundly beautiful. A friend once told me to find the joy in the difficult transitions of life. At the time I thought this was an insensitive piece of advice, but I now treasure those words. I can now recognize that when I am going through something particularly tough, there is usually a lesson to be learned. Doesn’t mean that I have to like the refining process, but I can try and find the joy in knowing that I am growing. That’s something.

 

 

 

Coming Out Mormon

 

At some point in your life you learn to stop caring so much about what everyone else thinks. You figure out that the people who really love you will be there for you regardless of what happens. It doesn’t matter what kind of baggage you sport, they will continue to love you and support you even if they disagree with you. These are the people you need to keep around. This is the kind of village you hold a tight grip on.  We are ALL different and we need to be able to honestly & lovingly have difficult discussions.  We have to try harder to understand one another and love deeper if we are ever going to make it through this life in one piece.

I AM A MORMON.  This is my story.

me

The thought of sharing my journey openly makes me sick to my stomach. There is so much room for criticism and misunderstanding. So before I dive in, I just want to say that I love you. Whoever you are and whatever you believe. I also want to say that I’m not sharing this for your approval, I’m sharing because when I was going through one of the biggest transitions in my life I couldn’t find any stories that were exactly like mine.  I wanted to be able to talk to someone out there that had been through this and could tell me that it was going to be ok. I wanted to be assured that I wouldn’t lose family members and friends for doing something that makes me happy. There is no step-by-step guide or manual for how to talk to people about God without looking like a freak. And honestly, had someone told me five years ago that this would be my life right now, I would have laughed and kept on walking. But here I am. I’m writing and telling you where I have been and where I am going in hopes of finding that person who feels alone and unsure.

I think it’s important to mention that I don’t have all the answers and I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. This is my very real journey and I’m figuring it out as I go. So while I welcome questions and honest discussion, I do not welcome hate or intolerance of any kind. The truth is that I have experienced a spiritual awakening and I am happy. Really happy. I love the gospel and I love Jesus. WHOMP there it is.

My conversion did not take place overnight. There were no split decisions, only deep discussions, a year of non-stop studying and much prayer. I was terrified to tell people about my conversion and it took me a while to recognize why. I lived 29 years of my life without religion and I am very aware of how I felt about it during these years of my life.  It’s too easy to make snap judgements about a person based on their religion, race, sexual orientation, education etc. We have all done it, whether we want to admit it or not. Here’s the issue with snap judgements- they only keep us further from people and invite more room for misunderstanding. We think we already know everything there is to know about someone and it can stop us from digging deeper. I urge you to dig deeper.  We aren’t going to like every single person we cross paths with, but we should give them a chance to teach us about something that is important to them. We should give them a chance to show us their goodness. Voluntarily lending yourself to criticism is not easy, but I am so thankful to those who have allowed themselves to be vulnerable and share their experiences. They have helped me and many others find our voice.

With all the hate & violence happening in the world right now I feel pressed to express some thoughts. Before I really studied the gospel I had a hard time grasping this idea that a loving Heavenly Father would allow so much pain and hurt into the world. Why do bad things happen to good people? But the truth is, God does not force us to choose Him. He sent us here with our agency to choose for ourselves. He loves us so much that He will never force you or me to follow Him. Unfortunately, this means there will always be people who choose to inflict pain and hurt into the world we live in. With choice comes the good AND the bad. What I know is that this mortal life is not always fair. We all have trials to overcome and sometimes we are dealt a less than desirable hand. But our trials make us humble. They teach us how to help others in need and they are necessary for our spiritual growth. Try not to assume that the couple sitting next to you in church or the happy facebook family has it all together, I assure you they don’t. Don’t compare your trials to other people’s. What may be easy for you could feel impossible to someone else. Comparison is a deadly game to play and it only divides us further. Let’s assume that every person we meet has a story and challenges of their own that they are dealing with. Let’s give them our love and patience, because more than likely they need it.

Choose to love.  Choose to send awesome vibes into the universe.  Choose to see the good in people.

Do I have any idea what is next for me? Nope! I’m not really sure any of us do. We may have specific desires & dreams, but we never really know what’s coming around the bend. My hope is to use this platform to spread more love and joy and to hopefully inspire a few people along the way. I’m so happy you’re joining me. ❤️

Rachelle