Dancing in the Rain

There were a few things that finally pushed me over the edge. The edge between completely lost and confused, and finding the footing that I’d been looking for in life. Let me tell you, the words hot mess and I are old, and well acquainted friends. We know each other better than anyone. I’m guaranteed to say or do something stupid at any given moment in time. I 100% laugh too loud, smile too much, and probably have embarrassed basically everyone I know. I talk incessantly. I joke defensively. Everyone is my friend. And I like those things about me.

I took a break, again, from the writing that I love love love to do, because I was not in a good place. I moved so many times, I dealt with a lot of not good things and situations, I meet some of the best people of my life, and, most important above all else, I learned so so much about myself and the world and how I want those things to work together.

First off, HOLY BANANAS I LOVE MY FRIENDS. I have no idea how the heck I could’ve survived such a rollercoaster of a ride without so many good and sweet and incredible people by my side. This wild ride isn’t over yet, but I can finally breathe enough to not be in survival mode. I never knew life could be this good. I had no idea, honestly. I had fantasies about exactly how great life could be in the future when I was no longer being thrown about, but I was SO off. Life is amazing.

The funny thing about it all is I still have all of the problems I had before, except that now I feel fully in charge. Not because I can guarantee the outcomes of things, but because I can guarantee the outcome of me. I am happy. I was always good at doing that–being happy–but I am fighting a fight to feel a deeper happiness than I have before. And it’s working. Spiritually I’m struggling a little bit, but I know that God knows where I’m at and what we need to work on. And we’ll get there, one day at a time.

I’m overwhelmed. I can’t exactly express the journey that I’ve been on, but I know it was a 180 trip. I went from feeling like the absolute end of the world was here, to feeling on top of the world. And I can’t take credit for a minute of that success. God had his hand in everything. He gifted me so much love through so many wonderful people. I am humbled. I am grateful. I am hopeful. Hopeful that this isn’t the end of my story, or even just the middle, but the very beginning of the life I wanted but couldn’t have as a child. A life of peace. Joy. Love. Unbridled happiness. Potential. Potential for even more. And knowledge. So much knowledge that what I can’t learn today, I can learn tomorrow, and that my small accomplishes are not for nothing.

My favorite lesson as of right now, is that I can be big and loud and so me, and I will still be loved.

There really and truly is happiness. Somehow in every bit of life, I’ve been able to find it. But sometimes, you get aa big break, and it just rains right on you. And you soak it all in because, finally, you don’t feel like you have to watch the sky and pray with all your might for just one drop to fall on you. It’s raining, and I love dancing in the rain.

~Annie

Important isn’t Always Important

It’s been a good long while since I last wrote out my thoughts and what is going on in my mind. Maybe that’s because life got wilder than I intended it to. Things have twisted and turned so far out of my own personal imagination that I still haven’t wrapped my head around it. It’s almost like a dream is playing out before my eyes, a dream I don’t quite understand.

There’s a saying that things get better, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that happiness wins in the end. I’m not sure I had enough imagination when it came to my future. I guess I figured I’d always just be barely surviving. I learned to be happy like that, somehow, and I finally became comfortable. Then, God asked me to make a change. I listened, and suddenly the comfort was gone. I was lost and confused and unsure of what was going on. How on earth could I get through such an unfamiliar path as this? And then, I did. And the journey started all over again.

Life never ends up the way we imagine it, no matter how negative, positive, or passive we are. We, as humans, have a perfect track record of never getting it right. And that’s more than okay. Because we get so many wonderful, beautiful, and mind blowing surprises along the way. We learn to laugh, and let go, and truly be ourselves. We live for the moment, we rejoice in the future, and we honor the lessons of the past.

What is “important” to us changes, but what is important never changes. Some days, all I want is to be noticed, other days all I want is to be noticed by the right people, and other days I just want to be able to love myself. No matter what at this exact moment is our goal, our core- our spirit- remains the same. We know there is a part of ourselves where our deepest fears and desires reside, and our true selves -the very essentials that make us exactly who we are- are really what we are living for. We cannot afford to get distracted by our ephemeral needs and wants and sacrifice who we are at our core.

I have been distracted many times by those kinds of needs. They feel so urgent, so loud, and so utterly in control of our future happiness that they scream for center stage. I think life is all about benching those loudmouths. We need to decide which important things we will let direct our lives. It’s certainly not an easy task, but it is the one that we’ve been given.

I’m grateful that life isn’t going “my way”, and I’m grateful that God knows full well what is really important to me. He reads my heart so often, and blesses me with tender mercies more often than I even notice. He is an amazing Father, support, and cheerleader, and it fills me with joy knowing that all of my brothers and sisters around the world have the privilege of feeling this same love in their own lives.

Annie

True Beauty

This might not be the most amazing picture you ever see in your feed, but to me, it is a miracle! Today, for the first time in my whole life, I feel beautiful.

Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. I had my first full-blown panic attack in months, in the middle of church no less. I was embarrassed, and ashamed. I was at my lowest, and the darkness seemed to swallow me up. I didn’t know if I could ever be happy again, and I didn’t know if I could ever find my place in the world.

It was so difficult to relapse like that. I’ve been working so hard for so many years to overcome everything, and it felt like I’d just been pushed back to square one. It was devastating.

But all of those feelings of hurt and pain –as intense as they were– were fleeting and brief. At My Darkest Hour, I was not alone. As my soul was weighted with all the pain that I’ve ever felt in my life that I had yet to overcome, I cried out to God. Kneeling in the bathroom stall, I leaned against the wall and repeated over and over “God please hear me, please help me. I can’t heal myself, but I know you can.” It was the longest hour of my life. But I know God heard me. This was what he had wanted, all along. He had been waiting so patiently for me to let him in my heart, in a way I have not been able to in years. And now, his love engulfs me.

God hears us. I know he’s been with me from the beginning, my trusted friend and confidant. How it must have absolutely broken his heart to listen to my cry every night and not be able to take away my pain because I wouldn’t let him, how my Savior must have agonized over the sacrifices he’d made for me that I wouldn’t accept.

The Savior’s atonement is not just for sinners. He can help us carry any burden, and I know without a doubt he has lifted mine. He has placed people into my life to help me, and I’ve struggled very much to let them in. And through it all, they still loved me. I will forever be grateful to my Savior, and I am ELATED to feel beautiful

~Annie

Joy

God is SO in charge of our lives. If he told me when I was younger that I would be where I am, I don’t know that I would’ve believed such a dream. Not a single part of my life is how I had imagined. The trials I face wear me down in ways I never thought possible, but the way I rise above them and pick myself up is astonishing. The friends I’ve gained, the things I’ve learned, the way my goals and dreams have shifted and changed, it all leaves me amazed.

Every night before I fall asleep, I have to remind myself that everything is real. It really is this hard and confusing and glorious. I really am surrounded by marvelous children of God whom I love and adore, and who love me back. This really is the life I get to live. What a gift I’ve been given!

I’ve fallen in love with so many aspects of life, I’ve learned so much about embracing the crazy and rolling with it. My path is not straight on, but a winding road of unexpected twists and turns that both surprise and delight me. What an absolute joy to have such amazing experiences, to learn beyond what I once knew.

Each new chapter, each new place, each new person- leaves me breathless. I can never predict or pinpoint the amount of joy and pain each will bring to me, or how I will stretch beyond my comprehension. But if I must live in this crazy, upsidedown world, I have concluded, then I must live!

Love, Annie

Alleluia!

This past week has been amazing. I’ve done so many thing that stretched me as a person, and faced many fears. There are lots of things I never thought I’d be able to accomplish, and yet here I am. I’ve at last and finally started the process of facing and recovering from my PTSD, which has all but taken over my life for the past two years. I have had such a difficult time admitting just how much it has affected me, and pridefully, it embarrasses me. I have had to unlearn the art of lying about the extent of my problems, something I am still not good at.

It’s been a painful struggle, and finding my value and worth in the midst of such a trail been has been soul-stretching, to say the least. But throughout it all, I have found the comfort of God. He lead me to the highlight of my life this weekend, when I was blessed to receive my endowments. This is a day I will forever cherish. I felt both prepared, and yet so unprepared.

I had challenged myself to attend the temple every day until then in order to better understand the promptings of the spirit that I might feel. I didn’t want to miss a single thing on my big day. I knew this was a huge step for me, and that God was very proud. What I didn’t know is that that challenge was what would keep me sane. As it always is when making wonderful, righteous decisions, the adversary tries extra hard to hurt us beforehand, as well as after. My personal struggles that I had already been failing at increased beyond everything I thought I could bear.

The temple became my refuge. I needed it so badly every day that I put everything I had into getting there. I barely had the health to walk there, but I knew I had to. While this sounds extreme and crazy, and looking back I honestly don’t understand half of what went on, this was an amazing testimony builder to me. I learned so personally to lean wholly and completely on God. I let go of all of the little things I’d been using to cope before, and God was all I had left.

Sometimes, it’s honestly hard to put everything aside and look to God. Sometimes, I’d rather do anything but, because I’m ashamed, angry, confused, or lost. Sometimes even when I’m happy and content. But I know without a doubt that he makes everything possible. I may not always like who I am without his help, but I sure like the me I’m becoming with his loving guidance.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how incredibly in love with life I am. God has turned my storms into something beautiful. After this Friday, I have no more desire to sin. Obviously, though, I’m human and I still do thoughtless, dumb, and clumsy things, but my malice is gone. Maybe not forever, but I’m going to enjoy every minute it is. Love is the answer. God is love. We live in a beautiful and amazing world surrounded by brothers and sisters with so many unique and precious gifts, and we are showered daily in blessings of every kind. I am so grateful to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and to my God and king. With all my heart I wish to shout, “Alleluia!”

Love, Annie

Remembering Who’s Steering

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Today reading my scriptures was tough. It was not something I wanted to do at all. I reluctantly put away all of my musical distractions a few minutes ago, though, and learned something powerful. God is amazing. In Doctrine and Covenants 49:5, God sent Christ into the world for the Redemption of the world. Then it says he received them to be saved. He wants a relationship with us so he can save us, not for his own personal benefit or happiness, but for ours.

It’s wild to me that of the beauty and intricacy in the world could have been created just for us, that someone could love us all so much to provide us selflessly with more than we could ever earn or deserve of our own volition. The only we reason we are entitled to God’s blessing is because of the divinity that he has placed within us, yet another gift. It absolutely blows my mind.

Delving further into my studies, in Doctrine and Covenants 76:25 this is where I really got hit hard. It talks about Satan’s rebellion in heaven against Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. There is a cross-reference to Moses 4:1-3, it says in verse two that Heavenly Father chose Christ from the beginning and it was not Satan’s right to stand up and proclaim that he would be the savior.

Even though there was a council in heaven, we were still children and we weren’t given full power over everything. Just like right now on Earth, we didn’t know everything and we needed to trust in Heavenly Father. Likewise, we did not vote on who we wanted to save us. What choice we did make, what is whether or not we would trust in God’s judgement, or rebel and try to follow our own plan. It wasn’t about whose idea was smarter or better, and it wasn’t between Christ’s plan and Satan’s plan, it was between being valiant and obedient and having trust in God, and being full of pride and believing that you know better. It was less about who performed the ordinances and made the sacrifice, and more about having faith in God.

This applies so perfectly to life on Earth. So often we have a plan that we want to follow, and God has a plan that he wants us to follow. We can choose to follow our own plan, or we can choose to have faith in Heavenly Father and follow his plan. Only one of these will bring us happiness, and only one of these will bring favor to us in the sight of God.

It’s not about the what, it’s about the why. Why won’t we follow God? Why won’t we trust him? Why are we so prideful that we think that we know more than an omnipotent omniscient God? Why do we have such little faith that even after all the Miracles we’ve seen and all the blessings you experienced, every time we’re asked to make a sacrifice to face a trial, we hold back? Why do we stop and ask what am I getting? How big is the sacrifice? How long before I’ll get my blessings? When can I prove to the world that I’m still smart, cool, and acceptable? God’s plan has never and will never be convenient, or popular.

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Reading my scriptures today was not convenient. I didn’t have a great attitude, and mostly I just wanted to reach my time limit and move on to something else. It wasn’t until I swallowed my pride and made something of my efforts that I realized how much the uninteresting scriptures I was studying really had to offer. And then? Time flew and I felt like I learned something important. It’s really easy to push God aside. Church isn’t convenient, repentance isn’t convenient. Going out of our way to serve and love, is sometimes exactly what we don’t want to do, and it takes everything we have to not push God away. It’s hard. It’s the furthest thing from easy. But we don’t want to do what’s easy! We want to be happy.

And we can do that by following God’s plan of happiness.

Love, Annie

More Than Our Trials

Today was definitely interesting. Last night when I thought all was well, I got hit with a bill I never expected and that’s way out of my ability to pay. I ended a great day crying and I kind of wanted to give up. I couldn’t attend my classes this morning because of fainting issues, and I ended up being late to a very important rehearsal. I’m struggling a lot in my classes with being able to sing with confidence on my own and it’s stressing me out. High notes make me crazy shy and I tend to hold them in and make everything sound awful. It’s so frustrating because it’s a really bad habit and impulse that I don’t really know how to control. It’s self-sabotage that I just can’t seem to turn off. It really sucks, especially because I’m in a trio and they’re counting on me to deliver.

I was seriously going to just go cry about my failure in a dark corner somewhere on campus when I felt like I really needed to get lunch in the MC, which has started to become a regular feeling. Randomly, I ran into three people that used to be in the same ward as me. I had no idea that any of them were here, and it was super exciting. I guess it was a reminder to me that Heavenly Father knows what he’s doing, that I have the people in my life that I do for a reason, and wallowing in misery never changes anything for the better.

Positive thinking can be a really irritating concept, honestly. How in the heck am I supposed to deal with life and be positive?? And yet, somehow we’re figuring it out. I feel so lacking when it comes to a lot of things, and Heavenly Father constantly proves me wrong, whether I admit it or not. I’m grateful that he has enough confidence in me to push me so much, but I sure wish he’d calm down a little more with the whole trusting thing.

My struggle with singing hasn’t yet ended, but on a good note, Monday I performed the best I ever have in my life. Now I suppose everyone will be expecting that level of performance always (ugh, why me? 😣), but I don’t think my success was really for anyone else but me. Heavenly Father loves and encourages us, and I have never felt so encouraged before. For the first time in about a decade, I could actually picture an opera career for real. More often than not, it feels like a vain yet impossible hope, and that my talents are all in my head. So many people have so much faith in me, though, and I pray I won’t let them down.

What in the world is this jumble of trials and joys supposed to mean to you? God has a plan, and it’s happening whether we choose to be aware of it or not. We can work with or against the Lord, but we cannot stop, slow, or change his plan. I hope one day to be like Nephi when he said,

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

I’m grateful for the many beautiful blessings, but even today in the midst of everything, I am grateful for my trials. I’m grateful for the knowledge that I have of my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ’s love for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity I have in this life to learn and grow, and to know that I am more than my mistakes.