I heard this song on FM 100 on a Sunday while driving to or from something and it inspired me to write this blog post.
I had been looking, it’s true
I just didn’t know I was looking for You
You introduced me to me,
By showing me glimpses of who I could be
Yes, I found You then I found me
Let’s stay together, always
You bring out the best in me
I know I’ll never be lost again,
Now that I found You
I found You
I found You then I found me
– I Found Me by Hilary Weeks
In the MTC I decided to pick a scripture to be a constant theme and reminder throughout my whole mission. The one I chose was Matthew 10:39:
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Looking back now I kind of find this to be ironic because I feel like I definitely lost my life, but not in the way the scripture suggests and not in the way I planned to.
People tend to throw out the “Sunday school answers” when you’re going through a trial/difficult time in life. Are you praying? Are you reading your scriptures? Are you going to church? Are you serving others and forgetting about yourself? Are you exercising your faith? Are you really trying? I was a missionary. I prayed more times a day than I can count. I read my scriptures every morning for hours and then shared them with others throughout the day. I went to at least 6 hours of church every week, sometimes more. I left my family, friends, schooling, job, home, comfort zone, ways to communicate (besides E-mail once a week and letters), etc. so that I could share a message with God’s children – I think that counts as service and forgetting myself? I had enough faith to leave everything I just mentioned to go live with people I’d never met, in a place I’d never been. I felt like I was trying: I’d get up and go to bed on time, I’d knock on door after door trying to find someone who’d listen, I dedicated time and energy to learning a new language, I quickly learned how to do everything (including ride a bike) in a skirt. And yet… I suffered.
Yes, I was being the best version of myself and living the best life when the worst trial I’ve ever gone through hit me. I know I’m not the only one who’s had that happen. And I’ve been guilty of asking why, why when I was a representative of Jesus Christ did this happen to me? I’ll let Elder Holland answer that one, cause he’s only an Apostle…
“Every one of us, in one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail – spiritually speaking. We will face things we do not want to face for reasons that may not have been our fault. Indeed, we may face difficult circumstances for reasons that were absolutely right and proper, reasons that came because we were trying to keep the commandments of the Lord. But when we promise to follow the Savior, to walk in His footsteps and be His disciples, we are promising to go where that divine path leads us. And the path of salvation has always led one way or another through Gethsemane.”
– Jeffrey R. Holland
And there it is. I needed to go through Gethsemane. I needed to spend time in Liberty Jail. Why? Because I needed to lose myself to find myself. As good as I like to think the old Ally was, the Hermana Harris who was serving in McAllen, Texas, she wasn’t good enough. She needed more understanding, more humility, more submission, more patience, more love, more faith.
Again, looking back I am grateful this experience happened while I was a missionary. I was forced to get the help I didn’t know I needed. Heavenly Father placed me with companions and a mission president who would care for me and make sure I got better. I know it would have taken a lot longer to diagnose my illness if I had been anywhere else, which also means it would have taken longer to get better and start healing. I was actually one of the lucky ones. And trust me, I never thought that was something I would say.
Life can be funny. I think Heavenly Father and I are going to have a good laugh about my choice in mission scripture one day. And that is one day I really look forward to.