This is a rather long entry. I apologize in advance if you were looking for a quick, funread. But I really wanted to share because I think it really does help to show how things sometimes happen for a reason, one we may not be aware of until later.
Yesterday was game two for BYU and winning it meant they would proceed to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1981. Too bad the game was set to start at 4:45 PM and would probably go until at least 7 PM because we also had a wedding reception that was to begin at 6 PM. However, in the Mormon world, wedding receptions are unlike those outside of the Mormon world and though they may begin "on time," the food is usually buffet style, the seats are unassigned and rarely is there a set program so showing up "on time" is not always necessary. So like any good wife (and after being encouraged by a friend who commented I would let my spouse watch game 2 instead of the wedding, it's THAT important) I decided I would not mind going alone because I knew there was going to be a photobooth AND cake (and I love wedding cake more than any other type of cake!). However, Andy said we could just show up a bit later - and I agreed.
Boy, am I glad I agreed because we watched history in the making! BYU wiped the floor dry with Gonzaga, and though they were the unfavored team, they blew everyone away with 32 points ahead of Gonzaga, giving them a place in the Sweet Sixteen next Thursday (same day as a birth class so I may also be going alone to that...). Andy was a wreck. I've never seen anyone more nervous. He couldn't sit still, he was on the floor, up and pacing about, on the couch, off the couch, up and running around high-fiving others watching the game with us, on his knees on the floor, then all over again. We proudly wore our "You Can't Handle the Jimmer" t-shirts made by my sister-in-law (which we will not wash until BYU is out of the tourney and yes, it's already stained because we had smoothies during the game) and enjoyed every moment of the game. Andy excited and don't hate the slippers, they are comfortable and manly.
When the game finished, we quickly left for the wedding and it turns out, our timing was impeccable! No buffet lines and right in time to sit and eat when the program (they did have one with speeches, dancing and cake cutting) began and we were able to see the beautiful bride and happy couple glowing with happiness. The gym was transformed into a breathtaking tent with a chandelier in the middle, white lights draped against the tenting, purple mood lighting that looked like floating color swirls, tea lights (battery operated and Church handbook approved), gorgeous red and purple flowers arrangements both tall and short, a royal red tablecloth on every table and brown Chiavari chairs... so I spent a long time taking it all in as we ate. We also didn't have to wait long to grab dessert which was an assortment of Porto's including cheesecake, red velvet, chocolate cake, fruit tart, and a scrumptious soft and airy angel cake with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and whipped cream (I think I had 3 slices of this one) and yes, of course we tried all of them - who could resist otherwise?! We saw many of our friends from the old singles ward as well as the new family ward and pretty soon, I learned many of the men there had the game taped and were planning to watch it when they got home - so they of course demanded that we not share the outcome. In this moment, Andy realized - my wife is the best ever and told me so, because he not only got to watch the game, but still got to come to the wedding reception and enjoy the meal, dessert, people and photobooth.
Well, sometimes we speak too soon and in Andy's case, he did.
We returned home after the wedding so I could finish preparing for a short talk I was asked to give this morning at Church. I had been asked to speak (on Wednesday) about my conversion and the blessings that came from it, but the challenge was to keep it to 5 minutes. I had put something together, changed it, gotten some advice on how to improve it, changed it, and prayed for the Spirit to help guide me but continued changing it. Ugh! The problem with a conversion story in five minutes is that you have to figure out what part is important enough to share.
My conversion story is so long, has so many moving pieces, and really the desire to learn more and begin asking questions and checking out Mormon.org didn't just happen over night. On top of that, the turmoil and confusion I felt from having a good life but wanting more is really hard to put explicitly into words. How do I describe exactly how it felt? It's not as if everyday I was confused and wondered if there was more to life than what I had, but it was a general theme. On the other hand, it's not as if I was entirely all smiles all the time, I was like so many single mid 20's woman - fine but not fine. And because I was not alone, it did not seem a big deal. All of my friends were equally confused about life, the path, the purpose, the timelines we had set for ourselves and what society seemed to imply to us. Independence, professional success, personal relationships, marriage, kids, but also not forgetting balancing those other things that were important - looking good, having fun, going out, giving back, etc. Yet, at the end of the day - we all agreed that our most important relationship was with ourselves and we would even quote Carrie from the infamous Sex and the City, "But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous." She sort of had it right - because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are those people, but sure, my husband may also qualify - but that doesn't mean I don't still encounter the need to change and improve constantly.
I struggled. I hesitated. I got nervous. I got frustrated. I wondered why I kept getting asked to speak. What could I add that was useful? What could I say that would invite the Spirit? I felt unworthy. I felt unprepared. And for about thirty minutes, as my sweet husband sat ready to time me as I practiced what I had ready, I could not, for the life of me, start my talk. I tried soooo hard, but it was as if stage fright had taken over me, and I was paralyzed with fear. I asked Andy if I could skip Church if I was sick. I asked Andy if he could just take my place and do my talk instead. I started coming up with irrational ways of how I could get out of the situation I was in. I started thinking of the crock pot dish I was going to make for lunch with friends the next day and wondering how I would have time to do it all! I cracked. Under pressure. I choked. Under immense pressure.
And my poor husband, who had just said I was the best wife ever about 4 hours earlier, was lost as to how he could help me. I prayed silently for help, and still nothing. And then, I had an epiphany for how I should begin my talk and 40 minutes later, after drafting it and practicing it, realized, it was still too long. Frustration. I had to cut stuff out and I had to figure out what was important enough to say. Disappointment. At this point, my poor husband, exhausted and confused about how to help, had fallen asleep on the couch with his hand still on the timer so I woke him up and told him to go to sleep. This was not something he could help me with and I appreciated his efforts. I was up against something greater than me but I was determined to get it done. We prayed together and I continued working on the talk for the next hour.
That next hour was amazing. After all the dismay and discouragement was evicted from our home, and the Spirit arrived to guide me. I practiced the talk about three times with an online timer (I didn't know how to use Andy's timer even though he taught me), and then decided it was time to go to sleep. I would wake up in 6 hours to prepare the food for the crock pot lunch recipe, and though Andy had offered, it was a new recipe and I wanted to try making it, all on my own (type A coming out?). I knew if I was humble, I would ask Andy for help, but he was probably more tired from his full day of furniture building and baby room assembly, so I put his happiness ahead of mine, and didn't feel any desire to do otherwise (sometimes we just have to do that for our other half, right?).
The Church meeting this morning was awesome. The Spirit was so strong, testifying to everyone of the truthfulness of everything said. There was a theme of Temples, so many testimonies, and my favorite was from someone in the Temple Presidency who spoke about a rich Italian man visiting from Italy who had his driver pull up to the Temple. He walked in, asking if he could go in and pray but since he didn't have a Temple recommend, they had to refuse him. He then asked what we did inside the Temple and was told about the ordinances such as baptisms and sealings that we did for the dead. He then asked if this meant his family who had passed away could hear of Jesus Christ and be not be in purgatory. When told yes, that was precisely it, he started crying. They took him to the Mission Office, gave him some pamphlets in Italian, and I sure hope he has started investigating the Church back in Italy. If God existed, why would he not give all his children the opportunity to return to Him? I know my non believing friends will say that's just your Church making something up to seal the gap, but the fact of the matter is - your Church has a gap and mine doesn't, but I also did go and pray about it, and received an answer that baptisms for the dead are truly to give the dead who have not heard, a chance.
Lunch was also great! I made a spicy buffalo chicken sandwich with my crock pot (Sunday lunches and dinners should ALWAYS be crock pot friendly) and it was A+!
Sometimes things do happen for a reason. We are given challenges that we can overcome but in the moment, it never feels that way! Every opportunity we have is unique to us, and angels are truly sent from Heaven to help us during our time of need. I know watching the BYU game was not that big of a deal to many, but I know how important it was for Andy and I'm glad I was supportive during his time of need because later on that night, I was the one in need of support. I will always strive to be the best wife ever, because in those moments when I am the worst wife ever, it will offset and mitigate my awfulness. I hope I will always remember that.
I truly believe the adversary knows us too well and will try to destroy us by attacking our weaknesses. I could not comprehend my struggles on Saturday night, I only know it felt easier to give in and give up but boy, am I glad I didn't! Take that adversary! It was tough - having a breakdown is always tough - even a childish one, but we all go through it. We're not alone and we can overcome with just a sprinkle of optimism, a spoonful of faith, and a cup full of prayer. I hope last night doesn't repeat itself for a while, I'm not sure if I'll have the energy to defeat my own insecurities again.
I know we all say it - but I have to say it too. I have the best husband ever!!