This weekend my dad's documentary premiered at the LDS film festival. It was an absolutely wonderful experience. The director did an amazing job. It was beautiful. It was humbling. It was inspiring. I didn't realize I was nervous at all until we were sitting there... it got dark... and I saw my dad's name come across the screen. I might have started shaking a little bit... They interviewed me a year and a half ago. I have no idea what I said. I was nervous about how my family was going to be portrayed. My family is far from glitzy or glamorous. But it was wonderful. The director portrayed my mom as the total rockstar! It was amazing.
*This is going to be one of those personal blogs that I should probably be embarrassed to post, but when other people write posts that are real like this, I love that person more for it so hopefully someone out there can get something out of this post.
I want to talk about the wonderful epiphany I had about something I have been struggling with for some time now. It was portrayed so well in my dad's documentary. I've spent a lot of time struggling with the concept of "blessings". What is a blessing. How do we get blessings. Why does it seem some are blessed so much. While others are so repeatedly beat down.
When we hear someone talk about blessing there is a list of things they are typically grateful for. They typically talk about a wonderful job, a wonderful family, a healthy body, a wonderful husband, wonderful kids... often times I think when we hear others list off the things they are grateful for, we either nod agreeing grateful for the same blessings or although we might not admit it, question, "What do I need to do to be righteous enough to get those blessings?" Clearly consciously we recognize how ridiculous it is to ask that question.... but at least there are a lot of times I find myself asking it.
A while ago I tried to make a deal with God that I was going to do everything in my power to be "righteous" enough to have something finally go the way I wanted. The worst possible thing that could have happened happened. I actually thought it was going to come true. I thought finally I was going to be "blessed." I can't even describe the high I felt. The love I felt. I say it was the worst possible thing that could have happened because the low that hit when my "blessing" failed was awful. I won't go into the nasty details but it was awful.
Now logically I recognized how irrational it was to be mad at God. If we got mad at God every time a "blessing" we wanted didn't happen our lives would be spent full of anger. So I told myself I wasn't mad at God. (Definitely one of my fooling myself moments) Rather than be mad at God I decided I didn't want to believe in God anymore. I told myself I didn't want to believe in God anymore because that way there was no one to be mad at when I didn't get a "blessing" that I wanted. If no one was controlling the universe it's okay for horrible things to happen. It was shocking how freeing it was to tell myself I didn't believe in God. All the guilt I felt about not living the perfect life God demands of us was lift off my shoulders. I could live my life how ever I wanted. (For the record, my outward actions did not change at all.... all of this was just in my head. So no I didn't run out and break commandments because remember I was foolin' myself... which I cognitively knew.) It was very freeing... I felt great! Probably the best I have felt in a really long time. I walked around with a smile on my face because all of my worries didn't matter anymore. No longer were other people's blessings actually blessings for being righteous.... they were just lucky. It was great until... something happened and I wanted to be able to hope. The first time it hit me that I wanted to hope was when my little brother was driving home really really late in an unfamiliar area. So bad I wanted to pray that he would make it home safe. But then I remembered that I didn't believe in a God so I couldn't pray. I had no way to hope that the universe could be on my side. But he did make it home just fine so I shrugged my shoulders and went about my life. I lived like this for months. But with time I started to realize that a life without hope is a pretty depressing life. Although I tried to fight it for months, the bottom line of why I have always wanted to believe in a God is I want hope.
So I concluded I had to come up with a way to be able to believe in God but not be bitter towards Him when I didn't get the "blessings" I wanted. A few weeks ago in church (remember even though I didn't "believe in God" I still lived my life like I did) I heard a saying, "God is more concerned with your character than your comfort." This completely changed my perspective on "blessings". Sure God may give us some blessings in our life to make our life more comfortable but really the true blessings in our lives are the things that make us grow. We don't grow from being comfortable, we grow from being challenged. This concept hit me the hardest when at the end of my dad's documentary he said, "When I look back at my life I think I will look at the tragic loss of my wife and daughter as the biggest blessing God ever gave me."
I want to believe in a God because I want to believe that the blessings I am receiving in my life are the hard things. I want to believe it is the things that make me weak, the things that make me question, the things that make me humble are the things that give me character. I want to believe because that it is the only thing that can give us comfort in this brutal world. Because someday I want to be able to look back at my life and through seeing the growth, through seeing the strength, through seeing the improvement of my character I am so grateful that God blessed me so much.