Monday, January 26, 2015

The Awkward Parable of the Library

January 18, 2015

For the next few weeks until I finish my mission I'm going to count how many people ask me if I'm "trunky".
There's a simple answer to that question - "NO!"

The past seventeen months have not been what I wanted at all. I wanted to go to a new country, learn a new language. I wanted to baptize a million people and get really skinny because I rode a bike all over Vietnam. I wanted to take some cool pictures that I could put on Facebook when I got home that would impress everyone. I wanted to write cute letters to all of my friends that had stickers and smelled like my perfume. I wanted to be the "mission legend" that can contact anyone out on the streets. I wanted a lot of things. A whole lot of selfish things that don't matter.

I didn't really get anything that I wanted, but I gained so many blessings from Heavenly Father. And I wouldn't trade any of them for the world. 

Does reading my emails seem like I've been sad through my whole mission? Well, I won't tell you that the past year and a half has been all smiles and hugs. It's been tough! I've spent so much time feeling like the Lord is turning my world upside down. I know that each trial brought a blessing though.

I imagine it like this: My life was similar to a large library full of books. Not just an ordinary library either. This library was massive. The shelves were each carefully carved from fine wood. There were large windows that had comfortable chairs set right in front of them so I could read with the natural sunlight coming in. And conveniently in the corner there was a bean bag chair I could take cat naps in. 

The books were awesome too! Each book was based on experiences I've had, things I've studied, examples I've learned from, my personal interests, and many other things that make me who I am. The library was completely full of books from the ceiling to the floor. The library even included one of those cool ladders that slides around the walls!

Each time I had a spiritual experience, or learned something new from the scriptures was like buying a new book. The only problem is that the shelves were full and I had no space to place any of my new books. 

What was I to do? It will be too cluttered if I just make stacks on the floor. Doing that I would never be able to enjoy the library. Maybe I could download the ebook and put it on my iPhone? I don't like doing that though because I'm afraid they'll accidentally be deleted. Could I just ask my friend to read the book and give me a summary once they're finished? What good would that do me though. How could I add books to the library when it was already full?

I decided that to make room for the new books, I had to get rid of a lot of the old ones. You know, those books that just sit around and collect dust? The ones you buy because everyone else is reading them, or because they have a nice cover that would look pretty on the shelf. I had lots of books like that.

It required a heavy dose of courage, but I decided to just throw all of them away. Every single one of them! Even the ones that had cost a lot of money and the ones that had been passed down from family. I just threw them all into a dumpster. Taking each book off of the shelf I could look at it and immediately remember what it was about. I could remember how I got the book. I could easily recall how fun and exciting it was to read through the pages. And I could clearly remember how accomplished I felt as I finished each story. It was sad to toss each book off the shelf, but I had to do it to make room for the new books. Besides, all the old books would never even be read again. I already knew the story, why would I read it again when there are so many other new books I can read?

The trials of my mission have been like standing in this large, empty library. I looked around at empty shelves feeling sad that I didn't have anything. The room just didn't seem as beautiful without all of those colorful books lining the shelves. But I also looked around with so much hope knowing that I could start over and fill the shelves again.

I didn't want to part with my old books. Those books represent my habits, my opinions, my personality, my strengths, my flaws, and all the things that make me Emily. I knew I didn't need them though. Who I was was not who the Lord wants me to be. If I had been satisfied with all of those books, I would never reach my potential. 

Like the library that once seemed great, but then became nothing, I had once thought I was good enough, but realized that I needed to start all over again. 

I've thrown away all of my books. And the only way that that has been possible is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm happy to say that my library is filling up again. Each day as I work, I buy a new book. And each day as I repent, I toss out a book that didn't have any meaning. 

I'm still trying to get things figured out. Sometimes I am sad. That's normal. Sometimes I feel on top of the world. Of course, I'm a missionary!

I didn't get what I wanted from my mission, but I'm trying to accept what the Lord wants me to receive. 

The gospel is exactly what you and I need! Never let it go. 

With love, 
Sister Egelund

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