A good friend asked me the following question: "Noah, you've been out for a year now--how do you feel this year of service has changed you?"
As I started pondering this question, I sat down and started penning my list.
Ways in which I have changed:
*I can walk a lot longer
*I can walk really fast now
*I can do without food for a lot longer an it doesn't bother me
*I can keep going even when I'm exhausted
*I can fast without problems
*I'm a lot leaner (I'm really skinny, don't know how)
*I drink a lot more water
*I'm cleaner and more organized
*I can communicate better
*I can listen better (one of the biggies, listening is a superpower in my mind)
*I can think a lot better
*I pray a lot longer and a lot more
*I know my Savior more than I ever have and have a personal relationship with Him that generally entails my messing up an Him helping me out!
*I absolutely LOVE the scriptures and I learn so much every time I open them with sincere desire.
*I have been taught personally by the Holy Ghost and can recognize His influence in my life, daily.
*I have matured
*I am not so bothered by the small stuff
*I love more freely and often
*I forgive more
*I accept my mistakes and try to change more often
*I don't get as defensive as I used to
*I'm a lot more calm than I used to be
*I've learned how to take control of a situation, and how to let go of it.
*I'm better with people and have made life long friends
*I CAN SPEAK SPANISH, if not that well
*I keep my apartment clean and my room organized (sometimes) with my bed made
*I can wash my clothes by hand
*I can speak for a really really long time given very short notice
*I can feel the Spirit and receive recognizable answers to my prayer often
*Sometimes, by listening well and thinking hard, I can understand peole really well, to the point that it almost seems that I see in their heads.
*I can analyze a lot better and really get the meaning out of something
*I know that when I want something, I will give my all to obtain t;
*I will never give up on this Gospel even though it feels that I am so behind and that I will never make it because I know that He never gives up on me, and I'm almighty stubborn.
The list I just gave helped me realize some things. When I came on the mission it was with the hope that I could change and be something more. Reading and thinking on that list, I realize that I have changed quite a bit, which is, interestingly enough, an answer to a very serious and troubling question that I have been brooding over. A couple weeks ago I asked the Lord to give me whatever He knows that I need to help me change more and become more like how He wants me to be. At the time I was feeling pretty good about things, but over the past few days, that has changed. I feel like I have been taken back to square one, and have been depressed at the thought that after all this time, I am no better than when I started, that I haven't changed. I tend to be very hard on myself. I find it exquisitely painful to accept my mistakes and faults, and truthfully, I tend to not accept them, and instead resent myself for my weaknesses. Although that I know I am human, I get so very frustrated with my seemingly slow progress and wonder when I`ll finally be a good person. It doesn't seem to matter what I do, it never seems enough.
This all happened in about a month, I went from feeling great about myself to being sick of myself. But then I remember that I asked for it, and in truth, I know that there is a reason and that the Lord is teaching me. I never expected the refiners fire to be a comfortable or easy process, but, know it or don`t, it still hurts. I believe that what matters is how we respond to it. I find myself on my knees much more often, I wake up in the morning wondering how I got into bed and when I fell asleep because the last thing I remember doing was begging for help on my knees. I finally have a desire to offer up a Nephi-like prayer where I know that the Lord will answer me if I'm annoying enough (just kidding). The point is, the progress is there, just look for it; you aren't as awful as you might think. And just keep moving forward. As I told my greenie, the best thing that you can learn is to have a personal relationship with God, so go pray.
Elder Noah M. Toney
|A past member of la familia poas!|