Month 6 of my mission has recently come to an end. The rose colored glasses have been long abandoned on the shelf next to my dwindling energy and once naive understanding of what it means to be a Mormon Missionary.
Much like the clever scene from 500 Days of Summer, with expectation and reality taking on two very different stories, my mission seemed to take on a similar tragedy.
I have felt the burden of loneliness, despair, doubt and at time depression with far spread out moments of love and Oprah worthy “ahha moments.” Over all I have spent much of my mission feeling like a blind man trying to drive. I had the fancy GPS with the British voice guiding me to the upcoming turns but I had no way to see beyond the darkness to the things in front of me.
I felt abandoned by God. That sense of betrayal made it seem impossible to see beyond the fog of my own existence to assist others. There I was, supposed to be the spiritual guidance for those searching for light, all the while I felt I had no place to turn.
My first 2 months were spent in prayer, agonizing, weeping prayer.
Month 3 lead to a state of apathy and withdrawal
Month 4 I took on a corpse-like countenance losing my hope of being a genuine and real human.
Not all moments were spent as dramatically as described prior, in fact there have been many joyful and serendipitous moments on my mission as shown in my previous post. However, spiritually I felt I had run out of substance.
I knew the answers, the scripture references and the PMG explanation of how to come close to God, but in application I felt a disconnect, or in other words a void.
I was faced with the daunting question of:
Where do I turn when the formula no longer is working?
I can only be a hypocrite for so long before the cognitive dissonance reaches too high for me to stand. Unlike a miraculous story I wish to tell, my epiphany moments were gradual and are due to various people, experiences and much late night bathtub soul searching.
I have come to the realization that since I placed the missionary name tag on my chest I took Siostra in place of Katie; I too had given God a new persona. He lost the title of Father and was now “God.” A distant, great and powerful being deserving more respect than some good ol’ Pappa love.
There I was, Miss Unorthodox, strong-willed, and quite often the wild child among “spiritually mature missionaries,” trying to play the role of what I thought to be a “spiritual person.”
It turns out, outward spirituality is more of a cultural display than an actual indicator of a closeness to God. So, the ongoing process began of breaking down my walls with God and reconstructing my understanding of who God really is and what it actually means to be a spiritual person.
Disillusionment, heartache, and confusion played a significant role in my renewal process with God. Along with it came a new found sense of honesty, of accepting myself and my plentiful weaknesses and a kind of peace that I find difficult to put into words.
I know now, regardless of my choices, past, present or future, nothing will make God love me more or less. He is my father, not some distant divine being who’s interest in us mundane humans is predicated through our good works and approval of looking the part of a spiritually adequate person. There is no way to earn his love. He is my Daddy. I just forgot who he was because I lost him in the “Thees and the Thous.”
I think back to the moments with my earth father. He used to trace a “T” shape on my forehead to calm me to sleep. He would beg me to watch Black&White war movies with him when I was too busy being a stuck up teenager. My dad loves me. He loved me through my years of sneaking out, my nose ring rebellion and “leave me alone” mentality.
Nothing I did changed his love for me. So it is with God, but in an even greater, perfect love.Sure, I know, I know.. I always post about God’s love.. but what does it really mean in application?? What does it mean to us when we are in despair, when we are filled with doubts, when we feel we do not fit the mold? What do we do when we only hear silence when we get down to pray, and when the very world around us seems to host only the most dreary of circumstances?
We hold to that at times distant concept of faith.
As my friend Jacob once told me, ” faith [cannot] be a vague collection of predispositions and feel-goodery, it is an act of bravery… It is by its very nature not knowing, and yet waiting on and reaching out to a God who leaves but a a shadow of the divine to grasp onto. It is this faith, and endurance in which our faith, and we ourselves are perfected.”
I have accepted that I may not always feel God’s love for me, or at least I may not always have the strength to search for it at every passing moment (though it is always there). However, I put my faith in the knowledge that I am his daughter. He loves me. regardless of my stubborn heart and always questioning mind he sees the potential in me that I often doubt I have. Nothing I do, good or bad, will change that…. Period.
But. I am trying to let my faith in his unconditional love be the driving force to do good. Not out of fear of “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” obligation strung to my shiny missionary tag or the “Becky has a profile picture of her volunteering at a nursing home and my Instagram page is lacking…” mentality. Just the sheer desire of showing my love back, and partly for the hope of saving God more years of my teenage rebellion that my poor father dealt with so gracefully.