[This was written by a dear friend of mine shortly before his mission. His thoughts and words are strong and really made me think. I hope you enjoy it :)]
This is going to be a long note so friends if you choose to read this I would recommend food and beverages to help get you through it.
In the past year and a half I have made many great leaps in the scheme of things to get me to where I am today; being about to leave on a mission. Not so long ago I was a very very different person. Some of you may know this, some maybe not so much. My story is something of a black to white switch with some color thrown in the pile. This is my story.
I didn't graduate High School with the rest of my class. I got some bad information from a couselor that was overturned just a few short weeks before graduation, thus I didn't graduate. I had a good group of friends in high school, many of them didn't talk to me again after we all got out. I had a girlfriend who decided to dump me because her mom told her to. (just a note to the reader: I do currently regret having a girlfriend in high school) Needless to say my life coming out of high school was not anywhere near happy from my point of view. I found myself friendless, jobless, carless, and happyless.
During this dark dark period of my life I did gain some positive. Though I wasn't on good terms with most of my family, wanting to move out but not having the means to do so, I managaed to grow closer to my wonderful mother. She was always there to teach me or help me with feeling better. It was during this time that I gained much of my culinary skill. It was the winter of 2009 that I managed to get a job repairing the mistakes of others in a book. The first graphic designer to work on it had left on a mission but had done a great deal of work on it. The second one had more or less created many mistakes and taken advantage of the author a great deal of times. The author was very good about informing me of this every few days or so, which consequently started to drive me crazy and not wanting to work as much. (amazing how negative work environments can do that) It was then my Mom taught me something that has become a pillar in my life. Her words "Be a Duck". Obviously it doesn't make sense to the casual viewer and might even give rise to a chuckle. However to me, being deeply metaphorical, it clicked rather quickly. She explained that ducks float on top of the water, the water being like the problems of the world, or in this case my client. While if i remained in my current state as a human I would have to struggle through all those problems and if left there for too long could possibly even drown in them. As I found the "duck" concept comical and helpful at the same time I tried it.
The "duck" concept taught me my life's first great lesson, which is one in Patience. I learned to be patient and calm about pretty much everything. I could drive without road rage at people who left their high beams on to rage attacks on my eyes, I was punched in the face at a churchball game and blacked out when I hit the ground, and had no problem with my attacker, I had finally learned a life skill that would serve me well in the world. However I was still unhappy, still in the dark pit that was my life, which leads me to the next wonderful thing that came into my life. Ultimate Frisbee. Now for those of you who know me well, know that I love this sport with a passion. I had been invited to come and play before by one of the few friends that did talk to me after high school. It was when somebody else invited me to come play that I finally gave in and came. The best way to describe it would be "instant addiction", it was a sport that let me run and I wasn't good at it the first time around. I started playing 3 times a week with this team that was planning on playing in the Utah Summer Games. I got my little sister Darci to help me practice so I could get good enough that they might let me play with them. We played every night. I got better fast and was allowed to play on the "A" team because of my hard effort and good defense that i developed. Ultimate Frisbee gave me the next 2 things that I needed to get out of my dark hole. Hard Work and the influence of good friends.
At this point I started to balance on the edge of a knife so to speak. It was going to be one way or the other. So I did the one thing I had been taught to do all my life. I prayed. It wasn't a normal prayer, or even the right format that I had been taught to use. I simply told my Heavenly Father that I didn't know if the gospel was for me or not, and that I had found Ultimate Frisbee and that it made me happy. I had friends, laughter, exercise, and happiness for that short time that I got to play. I told him that I was going to test the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints out, and if it made me as happy as Ultimate Frisbee had then I would get my life in order and start doing everything that I needed to do. So I started going to all the church activities and meetings with the right frame of mind, wanting to learn and grow from them. I did, slowly at first but I grew. Then something happened. I was at a large activity playing Ultimate as it was, and I made a new friend. A girl I had never met before in my life, but for some reason she was undeniably beautiful to me and I couldn't figure out why. Not so long after I learned why she was so beautiful. It wasn't because she was physically attractive, but rather spiritually attractive. She shone with the Light of Christ, and because of that she was always happy. I wanted it, and I wanted it really bad.
So now I had my sign. The Gospel is what I needed to always be happy. I became fast friends with this wonderful girl, and though I have yet to admit it, I was enchanted by her. We had many deep gospel centered conversations, usually about the things I was learning on my own, and then the fourth pillar was lodged into place. She asked me to go with her to an institute "date dance".
taking a small sidebar here. there are really 2 ways to gain courage. 1 is from utilizing courage itself, or in other words being brave. 2 is from utter and complete humiliation when you didn't use that courage. obviously you can tell which one this was.
I accepted, and then later to rectify my lack of courage I asked her on a normal date. If you haven't figured it out by now the fourth pillar was Courage. I began to fear new things less and less. Every time that I was brave and tried something new I kept coming back with a happy ending. From this courage grew Self-Confidence, which is my Fifth Pillar. Self-Confidence came with Self Worth and I began to see a few more changes I needed to make in my life. I began to make the changes so that I could become who I wanted to be. They happened slowly, as some changes are harder to make than others. I used the Atonement which Christ made available to us all to make the harder changes. I was finally turning into who I wanted to be.
It was around this time that I found myself having a desire to serve a mission. So I started to work towards it, albeit secretly so I could surprise my parents. I began talking to the Bishop about it, and started to make a push in the right direction with that. My dad was called to be on the High Council at the YSA 1st Stake so I figured there would have to be a point at which he knew where I was going. After passing both interviews for recieving the Melchezidek Priesthood I knew I couldn't keep him in the dark anymore, as he was in the High Council that had to vote yes or no on it going all the way through. (I did enjoy the look on his face when he finally found out) *big smile moment for me*
After that there isn't much left to say about me growing to be who I am today. I have learned little bits and pieces which have helped me grow a little bit more every day. The Scriptures being the best source for me.
That was my story of how I came to be the person many of you now know me to be.
The moral to it all is this: If you want to be happy, not the momentary happiness you may find in drugs or alcohol, or any other thing for that matter. Find out who you want to be, what kind of mark you want to leave on the world and the lives of others. Find yourself in the company of those whom you most want to be like. Do what it is you want to do.
In the past my motto has changed around, lately it has been "Live, Laugh, Love"
Now I have a new motto. "Don't look back to what once was, but look forward to what can be"
My Friends, My Family and everybody else, this is just a simple story about my conversion to the Gospel and how I changed my life around. How I became happier than I have ever been, and continue to strive to become happier still. I know that every step you take towards happiness it will seem like you have the world fighting you every step of the way. But take courage, be confident in who you are and who you want to become. Forgive others without a second thought, it takes a lifetime to make a friend, but only seconds to make an enemy. Be kind, be servicable and patient. Life is much easier when you have patience and are willing to find the silver lining in every dark cloud.
I thank you all for the great influence you have had in my life, and if you ever need a friend I am here.
With most sincere Love and Appreciation
P.S. thank you to all the wonderful ladies who accepted my asking them on a date.