. . .the road that made all the difference. . .

8:35 PM

in the last month i've been thinking about endurance and giving up. i think that in each of our lives their comes a point when we have to decide what our commitment is to our Heavenly Father and his Gospel. we have to decide if we are really going to endure, no matter what comes our way, or if we will flake out at the first moment.
i attribute my "moment" of deciding to the eighteen months i spent as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. i'm not saying that i wasn't a committed, devoted member of The Church before my mission, but i'm not sure if i could have endured as well the trials i've faced this year without the experiences that led me to realize that i was not giving up on the Gospel, or on God!

about a month ago i was having a particularly hard day. i sat on the phone at 11 pm, crying my heart out to my mom, with an almost empty box of tissues in front of me. "why," i sobbed, "when i have done everything God has asked of me, is this trial happening? this is so unfair! i just don't think i can keep going."  i went to bed feeling pretty angry, because my life was not fair. but when i woke up the next morning i realized that giving up was not an option. in fact, i don't even really know what "giving up" would look like. it was that morning, through a mind groggy from a sleepless night, that i looked at the world through puffy eyes and realized that i was and always will be 100% committed to the Gospel. even if life seemed so unfair, hard and confusing, there was no going back.
when i was little my dad told me a story of a man who came to Joseph Smith and told him that he left the church, he would never persecute and speak out again the church, but he would go back to being neutral. Joseph told him, that once you have made a covenant with God, there can be no going back to neutral. because once you know- you know. once you have committed- you can't go back to being who you were before you were committed. either you keep going- you "press forward with a perfect brightness of hope"- or you turn against God and his Gospel.

on my mission i learned valuable lessons about endurance. i learned about working hard, all day, every day, no matter if it was blazing hot, pouring horizontal rain, or 30 degrees below zero (Celcius). it wasn't an option to stay in our apartment. i learned about exact obedient. before my mission i honestly questioned if exact obedience was even possible. but i quickly learned that it was. i learned about the Atonement and what it feels like to repent and be forgiven. i learned about the importance of following your priesthood leader. i learned about charity and helping those around you to change and endure. i read the stories of the Book of Mormon and the Bible that exhibit the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was like i was there. i could feel the joy of the Nephites when Christ appeared to them and blessed them. i felt the power and majesty of the restoration of the Priesthood. i learned about sacrificing for the Gospel. and i learned what it means to be fully consecrated to the Gospel. i saw examples of people who would leave their families to come teaching with us, or who would take in new investigators like they had always been best friends, or who would throw a birthday party for a girl in the branch because her mom was in rehab.

and i like to think that a little of what i learned, experienced, saw and felt became a part of who i am.
the moment that i decided to be a fully committed, 100% obedient missionary, i chose, also, to be that kind of disciple of Christ. not just to be outwardly committed for 18 months and then go back to my former life, but to change as much as God wanted me to. and then to continue to change each day and each week. because despite my mission being a pivotal time in which i chose to follow Christ forever, i know that if i do not do the small daily things [prayer, scripture study, service, fasting, church attendance, repentance, temple worship] i can quickly become lazy, apathetic and lax. 
and i want to be committed. forever.

John 6:67-69
"Then said Jesus to the Twelve, Will ye also go away?
"Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.
"And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

i hope to always respond with the same conviction as Peter. and then show through my life, like he did, my commitment to Christ.

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