Terrible Beauty

I’ve never, in over two and a half years of being home from my service as a missionary in the Baltimore, Maryland mission, posted about my time there. Today is the day.

Exactly four years ago, on April 6, 2016,  I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. I remember that day like it happened five minutes ago: I was more excited than I can ever remember being. So excited that when my family dropped me off I grabbed my bags and was gone without even one glance behind me.

Placing the tag on my chest…never in my life have I felt more complete. I was a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I was a representative of The Lord Jesus Christ who I loved! Who I wanted nothing more than to please.

The day was filled with rushes. So many rushes I didn’t have time to process anything that had happened, I just barrelled through the day, and several days after, like a steam engine with no breaks.

Then, late one night when I thought all my companions were asleep, it hit me.

“What have I done?”

Coming on a mission, at that moment, seemed like the worst decision I had ever made in my life: and it wasn’t the first time I felt like that.

Two weeks previous I had been given a blessing and duty by a leader in our church. I had been “set apart” from the world to do the work of The Lord. I remember driving home with my parents and thinking to myself in the back seat that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.

My mom asked me how I felt and I wanted to cry out to her,

Go back. Hurry! I’ve made a mistake. We need to go back so he can undo this all. This is wrong. I have never made a more terrible choice.

If you know much about my life story you’ll know we didn’t turn back. I went and served The Lord faithfully for 18 months and it was absolutely the best decision I had ever made in my life, but I didn’t know it was in the beginning.

Less than a month ago a big ole hunk of a man took me on a walk I knew would end with a proposal. We walked up to the Rexburg, Idaho temple and he sat us down on a bench right in front of that gorgeous building.

He didn’t even have to say anything –  although he did and I’m grateful he did because while he talked I tried to talk myself out of running for the hills – before I started to panic.

Why I panic in the middle of some of the best moments life has to offer confounds me. It really throws a wrench in my good memories.

First, I was flabbergasted with myself. I had known he was going to propose for months and I had known I would say yes! Why now was I re-evaluating my relationship decisions I had confirmed with myself and with God over and over again ever since I met this wonderful, unendingly patient man?

Second, this was the worst decision I could ever make. I knew it! I knew I was about to screw up not only my life but his! He was going to marry a crazy person and I had to give him the chance to get out!

I wanted to cover his mouth to get him to stop saying all the wonderful, beautiful things he was saying and whisper,

Let’s go back. Hurry! We’re making a mistake. We need to go back and just undo this all. This is wrong. You will never make a more terrible choice.

If you know much about my life story you’ll know we didn’t turn back. I said yes (more squeaked it than anything) and we’re happily (or not so happily because we’re impatient people?) engaged to be married. And I don’t think we’re making the biggest mistakes of our lives.

So why? Why the terrible feeling before what was and what I hope will be beautiful and wonderful decisions? Why, before the two most monumental milestones in my life did I feel like running as fast as I could in the opposite direction? And why did I still say yes?

I have no idea.

All I know is beauty is terrible. There is a price to pay for love. A sacrifice that must be made for all of life’s most spectacular moments to be enjoyed.

Just yesterday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, over 16 million people, gathered virtually for a two-day, 10-hour conference where we hear modern-day, authorized Apostles and Prophets of God dictate the messages God would have us hear.

We all pondered Palm Sunday and Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as we shouted together, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and The Lamb!”

I pondered the words Elder Gerrit W. Gong, an Apostle of The Lord, quoted our beloved Prophet Russell M. Nelson (Handel’s Messiah: Debtor’s Prisonsaying,

Our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to pay a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

He paid a terrible price for a beautiful reward – me and you. Even He, the Greatest of us all, said: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)

Did Christ ever think He was making the biggest mistake in His life by suffering so greatly? I doubt it. But do you think just maybe Christ felt the way I felt right before I served a mission? Right before I said yes to an eternity with the most patient and enduring man I’ve ever met? Absolutely, because He has felt me and He has felt you. 

And He has felt beauty and beauty has a terrible price. We begin paying the price for it when we make the decision to do something beautiful, and we pay the price all the while; yet, all the while we reap the rewards because of Him. 

Because of Him we can overcome fear with faith and leap into the unknown with the calm assurance of The Spirit that whispers, 

This is the best decision you could ever make. 

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