Sunday, December 12

There is Peace in Christ

My cousin's farewell was today. It brought back some memories of my own mission years ago.

I thought I was hot stuff as a missionary. I knew all the scripture masteries and felt I could easily teach about gospel subjects. I learned Italian faster than anyone else in my MTC group and was fluent enough to teach a lesson on the plane flying out.


I was clueless.

I had little to no social awareness. I didn't understand interpersonal relationships, and I'm sure I dragged my companions through the pits of despair. I tried. But building a relationship with someone who forgets everything you talked about just two days prior is tough.

It's like building a sand castle with someone. You can make something beautiful, something meaningful, but it's also ephemeral and fleeting. I have to look in my copy of Preach My Gospel to remember the names of my companions, and find photos of them to remember their faces. And with the exception of a few moments, my memories of them are completely gone.

Realizing now that episodic and autobiographical memory issues are common in autism makes it easier for me and the people around me now.

But during my mission I didn't have that perspective.

And yet somehow it still worked out.

God still accomplished His work. Even through me - a broken, messed up, bipolar, autistic guy who, if I had been diagnosed beforehand, probably wouldn't have been allowed to even serve.

And that's the point.

God doesn't ask me to be perfect. He doesn't ask me to be ok. He doesn't ask me to be able to connect with everyone emotionally or be an amazing friend to everyone I meet. 

He just asks me to do my best, even if that is far less than the ideal I wish for. And that best is perfect. I am a part of His plan, meant to grow in the place I'm planted. The growth I experience, the messes I make - they're all part of the plan for me and the people around me.

There is peace in Christ. God knows me, He knows my needs, He knows the people around me, and life and all its circumstances is designed to help all of us come as close to Him as we can be.

Thursday, December 2


There's a feeling that sometimes calls out to me. It's like a current that's cutting through my mind. And when it hits, it makes the world around me almost disappear, and I find myself unable to look away. It's like a pressure pressing down on my heart and lungs and soul, like a hidden fire that wants to be set free. Yet it's also like a calmness - like an ocean wave that's heavy, dark, and deep - and I know that if I fall inside I'll never get out. Or maybe I'm already in it.

It's a feeling that brings an odd clarity of mind, like the moment before depression's going to hit. It gives me a chance to my laundry when I had no desire at all, or it gives me space to go work out when I had no plan to. Or tells me to stop and write when there was no reason to write at all.

It's a feeling of loss as if my soul has been carved out. As if I'm missing something that was part of me once before. It brings a sense of urgency - that I'm supposed to be *doing* something. That I should *be* somewhere. That I should be writing, or working, or moving, or doing something more. 

It's a feeling of loss. A feeling of wishing, for that something to return. As if I just were immersed in a storyline and got ripped out, but worse. A feeling that makes me feel alone in a massive world. It's a feeling that, once it settles in, is on the verge of hopelessness... as I realize the pain has only started to begin.

I call it longing. Yearning. It's a feeling beyond the hold of my ability to disconnect. In most cases I can separate what seems like logic and emotion. I can process feelings separately when the time is right. 

But with longing, somehow, nothing else exists.

There is no other feeling. There is no other thought. It's as if my life and history stop for just a moment and they're gone, and I'm alone with longing, unable to tell exactly what is wrong or if it's even wrong at all.

In the years that I've felt longing, I've fought a war within my heart. I've tried to drown it or to bury it, or tear it apart. I've tried to figure out what it is telling me, to follow if it's asking me to move or do or be or try something new.

And I don't think it is.

I've tried connection with others. I've tried falling in love. I've tried indulgence in the worst way I knew how. I've tried reading, writing, service, temple worship, prayer, exercise, supplements, or healthy eating. But everything I tried, whether good or bad or in between, did nothing to staunch the feeling. Sometimes they could cover it up. Sometimes they could pull my mind away. Sometimes they could even bring me peace. But deep down inside, in the core of my soul and being, it is always there. Always waiting. Always existing, never changing, unwilling to move no matter what I do or think or try.

I don't really think I understand longing. But I'm most inclined to think that maybe longing is just a feeling that comes from ripping my soul away from heaven. A side effect of both being alive... and glimpsing or imagining, somehow, the fulfillment that comes from Heaven. Maybe since my mind's so broken I can feel it every now and then - a desire in my soul to go home. It would make sense if that's the case. Though the thought that there could be a feeling that transcends mortality - like pain or longing of the soul - makes the science part of me cringe a bit inside, that could be used to partially explain why it seems to override the presence of other feelings or thoughts. Maybe?

Maybe it's something different. But like I said, I've tried a hundred thousand things. And while love, connection, success, growth, learning, and service all bring me peace, they don't really interact with longing. 

Or at least what I call longing.