Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Can Do Hard Things, Right?

I've debated on writing about this for sometime now. It's something that I've struggled with for several years and I don't like the answers I'm getting. And I'll be honest, I've been frustrated. And I don't want it to sound like I'm complaining or even really questioning anything, including my leaders, but has been very difficult for me. The issue really has come down to the Lord's Timing. Sometimes, I just don't get it.

Several years ago, I felt that I was ready and prepared to go through the Temple and receive my endowments. I talked to my mom and she agreed and so I went to my Bishop to talk to him.

Now let me take a moment and clarify something, I love my Bishop and I think that he is an inspired leader. I am not questioning that at all. Ok, with that said, I'll move on.

So I talked to the Bishop and he asked how old I was and I responded with 23. We talked about the Temple and what it means and the significance and such. At the end of the conversation, he said that he wanted to take sometime and think about it and that I should come back in a couple of months. Confident that I was feeling like I should go, I thought, what's a few more months? No problem.

Several months went by. I started my full time job at the law firm, and I was called into the Relief Society Presidency. All things that showed that I was settled and mature and able to handle things. I went back into see the Bishop and see what he thought about me going through the Temple. He said that he had talked to several other girls that were in very similar situations in my ward and that he thought that we all should wait until we're 25.

I was bummed to say the least. I kept an open mind and thought that maybe there was a reason I should wait (getting married?! Yeah, no) and so I would be patient for the next year and a half. I could wait that long right?

A few months before I turned 25, I went again to see my Bishop about going to the Temple. He said that he wanted to think about it and that I should come back in a few months. I said okay and tried to patiently wait. It was getting really hard now. I felt very strongly about going and really wanted to.

A few weeks before my birthday I went back in and the Bishop said that he looked at the handbook, talked to the Stake President, and had decided that 25 wasn't quite mid-twenties, as the handbook recommends. He recommended that I come back in a year. My heart broke, but I tried to take it in stride. I could wait another year. Right? Of course I could. I had a recommend to do baptisms so I could continue to do those. Everytime I met with the Bishop, he always emphesized that I'm not missing out on any blessings and I'm not in trouble for anything. That was reassuring, but it was still hard.

Last November I started asking again. My Bishop was so patient with me. I must have been really annoying to keep pestering him about this. But he listened patiently and said that he'll talk to the Stake President. The answer finally came back that the policy was now that single girls needed to wait till they were 30 in our stake. Even though that's not what the handbook says.

Suffice it to say, I had a really hard time accepting this. I felt mature enough, I had prayed and fasted about this and felt that it was right.

In January of this year I went back to the Bishop, I was going to turn 27 soon and I felt really strongly that this was the year. I talked to the Bishop and he said that he wanted me to be able to go. He said that there was a stake meeting in February that he wanted to bring it up and so he asked that I hang on just a little longer. I said okay. 

In mid-February I found out that Cait and Nick were going to get sealed in April. I really, really wanted to be able to be there and go with them. It would have been perfect because all of our family would have been here for it and we could have all gone together. I had been preparing myself to be able to go for the last few years and so I felt ready. The timing, I thought, was perfect.

All my family had kept asking why I hadn't gone yet. Even some thought that I had done something wrong to keep me from going. It was really hard for me to listen to their harsh judgments. It had even been suggested that I move away long enough to be able to go through the temple and then move back. My friends that knew I was trying to go encouraged me to keep after it and keep asking. I knew someone that was high up in the stake organization and I was recommended to go to the Stake President directly. I didn't feel that I should; I didn't want to go behind the Bishop's back. I knew that I needed to sustain my leaders, even when I don't necessarily agree with the answer. I don't mean to sound like I'm bitter or angry about this, because I'm not, but it was really, really hard.

I went back to the Bishop and explained that my sister and her husband were being sealed and that the timing would be perfect because all my family was coming in town for it. I felt sure that I was finally going to get the green light.

He said that he was all for it, but that when he had talked to the Stake President, the Stake President wanted to run it past our area General Authority who was in town for a meeting the next week.

At the Mid-March I finally got a chance to talk to the Bishop about it. He said that he had asked, but no decision had filtered down. A couple of weeks later I asked again. Still no word. At that point, it was only about a week and a half away from the sealing and I realized that it wasn't going to happen. I'm pretty sure my heart broke.

During this time I had a friend that was trying to go as well. We both had been asking the Bishop during the same time periods and both had been getting told no.  Again, I couldn't understand why I had been getting what seemed to be contradictory answers. After another month, my friend and I heard back from the Bishop. The direction he got was that we should wait.

Then my friend got a call a couple of days later and was called in to see the Bishop. He said that he felt very strongly that she should go. I was so excited for her! Really, I was. I knew it was something that she had worked towards for a very long time and she was so happy. She was going to be able to go with her younger sister. I won't say I was jealous, because I truly wasn't--but it did make me a little sad. Her sister was the same age as me and single, and her Bishop and Stake President agreed that she could go. It was hard to accept that I was getting told no, even though there was no reason, that I know of, that I couldn't go.

After my friend go the okay, I met with the Bishop again. I told him that I didn't understand why I couldn't go. I make the right decisions. I'm mature enough. My life is steady. And I have a very strong testimony. I didn't understand why I had to wait till I was 30. 30 isn't a magic age. It's not like anything is going to change between now and then. I didn't understand why this had to be so hard. I didn't understand why I felt a yes answer and he wasn't getting that answer.

Bishop was kind and patient with me as I cried in his office. I told him that I understand if it's a no answer, I just need to know that it's not just because of the age that I can't go. I needed to know that the timing wasn't right for me individually, not because I hadn't reached a magic age. I told him it felt like this was too hard and that I shouldn't have to work so hard to be able to go. I told him that when things were right for me, that they just seem to work out without any hiccups or stumbling blocks.   

He gently told me that I was right, it shouldn't be so much work. There was nothing wrong with my standing in the Church and that it just wasn't time yet. He again reassured me that I wasn't missing out on the blessings of the temple. And basically, that I needed to relax and wait until I was 30.

I'll be honest, I'm still not very comfortable with this answer. I still feel that I should go. I still want to cry when I think that I was told no again, and that it'll be several years before I can go. I almost want to say that it doesn't seem fair.

But I know that the Lord's timing is perfect and some day I'll know why I needed to wait. And I do know that when the time comes that I will be able to go, I'll appreciate it so much more because I've had to wait for so long. 

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