Today, I am grateful experience.

The LDS church has a book of scripture called Doctrine & Covenants.  We believe in modern-day revelation to prophets, just like the patterns established in God’s ancient church.  This particular book of scripture is a collection of the revelations given to Joseph Smith as well as a few other prophets.  In Section 122, verse 7, it says:

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

I have had an experienced life.  Some would call that a curse.  I am, after all, only twenty-five.  Much of what has happened in those short years is wonderful, and at least an equal amount is terrible.  I believe I have been blessed with this full life.  And yet, I understand those who would call it a curse.  There were certainly days and years when–in the midst of that very real hell the scripture talked about–I would have categorized it as such.

But now I feel differently.  I know myself far more intimately than most people my age.  I know my moods, my passions, my needs, my physical manifestations that correlate to mental inconsistencies, my indicators, and more.  I know why I act, and I do so with all kinds of self-evaluation so that I never get out of control the way I was as a teen*.  I would not know myself half so well as I do if I were to have had a so-called “normal” amount of experiences.  These experiences, however heart-breaking they were at the time, were future building.  I know myself.  I know who I can be.  I have seen it in flashes and glimpses as my best moments.  There are moments in every human life when we shine.  Most people, in my experience, tend to see those moments as pinnacles in their lives, the rare moments when they know they are the best they can be, complete.  I see them differently.  I see them as windows into a bright future.  Or, perhaps, puzzle pieces.  Eventually, when all the shining moments are had, I will have the complete picture of who I can be.  Either way, each window and each puzzle piece gives me one more chance to catch the light a little bit more.

I am grateful for my experience.  It teaches me to hope.  I know what it is like to live in the midst of the “jaws of hell” and survive.  When the next bad experience comes, I can do it again.  Because, with all  my experiences, externally good and bad and internally good and bad, I have come to know me.  My experiences have allowed me to learn and grow and become better.  They have been for my good.  They have built me up and will continue to do so until the day when all of them will combine into the person I can be.

And believe me when I say: I will shine.

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*Mental disease is not mind over matter.  I would never say that.  However, when monitored carefully by the subject and doctors, it is far easier to head off at the pass when it is spiraling out of control.

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