Growing up I always believed that people are where they are because they chose to be there. Despite external circumstances like being sick or another’s influences, we are where are today because we have chosen to be there.
This belief was a slap in my face when I was sick in high school. I didn’t choose to get sick but it happened. The only choice I had was where I was going with what I had. I could have stayed home more and made excuses but I chose to go back to school and play softball, even if coach had to hold my oxygen tank when we were warming up.
No matter the circumstances in our lives, ultimately we chose where we are and who we are. As a first time mom, full time student with a part time job, church callings, and friends this became harder and harder to face. I have found myself exhausted, beaten down, discouraged, and doubtful. I looked around at my friends and colleagues who complained about not having enough time to study when they had no job, no family, and no commitments. It was frustrating. I started to compare my life to theirs and judge them not because I thought I was better than them for all things I was juggling and still making it work but because admittedly I wanted that life, the “easy” life.
I got my first C in my academic career this semester and I was devastated. Getting a C on a test in my nursing program meant that if I didn’t get all A’s and B’s on the following exams I would flunk out. A “C” in nursing school is anything less than an 83 and you have to uphold a higher GPA to stay in the program. On top of that I had scholarships that were the only reason I was going to a university that I had to live up to. I was barely getting 4 hours of sleep a day and I was cranky and beaten down. I wanted to quit. I hadn’t seen my friends in months, the laundry was taking over the bedroom, I hadn’t gotten dressed for the day yet and I still didn’t fit into all my jeans.
I sat at home feeding Gordon in the rocking chair, it had been almost two hours and the little turd still wasn’t done eating. He messes around and falls asleep half way through eating and then is still hungry when he wakes up. I was so stressed out. As I sat there thinking of all the better things I could be doing with my nursing books staring my down beneath the pile of dishes and laundry Gordon looked up at me and just laughed. I looked down and laughed too and then asked him “What are you laughing at?” He laughed again and shook his head and cooed a soft, sweet noise at me and I started to cry.
Travis and I didn’t plan on having a kid in school but when it happened we told ourselves we could do it. People did it all the time right? Lately I felt like I was not one of those people anymore but as Gordon laughed at my pity party and misguided perspective, through my tears I realized that I had it all, and I was exactly where I wanted to be.
I was so blessed. No I can’t and will never be able to do it all. My house will get cluttered and a little dirty every day, I won’t be getting 7-8 hours of sleep anymore, my grades won’t be perfect and my hair won’t always look great. BUT. I have a healthy, happy baby, a husband who loves me and loves the Lord, I have a house, a job, and I get to go to school and get an education. I have great neighbors and a great community who supports me. I have an amazing family ward and food in my fridge. I have everything I wanted in life. Though I am not a nurse yet my long term goals have always consisted of becoming a nurse and having a family. This is where I wanted to be and I was complaining that I was there. I had been focusing on the sacrifices I was making instead of what I was sacrificing for.
Heavenly Father had blessed me with everything I wanted and needed. Looking at my life at this point it was nothing significant, or so I thought. We struggled to read scriptures anymore due to our lack of sleep and school schedules, but we tried. We attempted family home evening every Monday even if it was just to talk to one another for a little while. We served our neighbors even if we really didn’t have time or should rather be studying. We forgave easily and we put one another first. We loved our baby even though it would be so much easier to let him sit in a poopy diaper for another hour. The things that matter most in life and that make you the happiest are never going to come easily. They are based on your willingness to give up the mundane things of life for a day to day struggle in accomplishing a far greater purpose, a far greater joy. I realized there could never be a greater authentication of my dignity, my worth, my privileges, and my promises than by being a mom and by working to accomplish my goals.
By sacrificing a little of what our natural man craved we have become far happier than I could have imagined even if it wasn’t perfect we were trying our best. Ezra Taft Benson once said, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls and pour out peace.” When we didn’t think we were accomplishing much we were in fact becoming what we wanted to be and what Heavenly Father wanted us to be, simply because we chose every day to give a little more and to make choices that would lead us to where we wanted to be. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but when you are in those moments of pure joy and happiness, when you get an A on your next test with 3 hours of sleep the night before, or when your little one looks at you with the eyes of heaven and smiles; you know you are where you want to be.
I know for myself how the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings of our Father in heaven can transform lives from the seemingly ordinary and dreary to the extraordinary and sublime. If you do not know this for yourself or wonder why it might seem to work better for some than others or wonder what the difference is between those who experience hearts full of redeeming love and those who seem like something is always lacking, stop and evaluate. You may already be where you want to be and just not realize it or you may be where you are because you are not willing to sacrifice a little bit of life for a better one. The truth of life is hard but you make it what you want it to be. Be grateful for the sacrifice. It makes life so much sweeter. If there was no struggle or no sacrifice we would have “…no joy, [knowing] no misery; doing no good, [knowing] no sin.” (2 Nephi 2:23).