My Turning Point Promise:
It's memorial Day- which marks me being in Utah for 3 years exactly! And what a story that was! It was one of the more difficult things I've done in my life- but probably the biggest turning point in my life. This was where I broke down & made a decision that has led me to where I am now doing the things I’m doing.
Most of you have read before that moving to Utah is not something I wanted to do; I wanted to go on a mission. When I asked Heavenly Father about that, I knew my answer was going to be Yes! Because that is a righteous, good thing to ask for- Why be denied a good thing, right? Well, my answer was not yes, it was move to Utah. I was in denial. My answer came as a repetitive thought- a thought that I figured if I ignored long enough it would go away. It didn't. Weeks even and I tried to ignore the thought, but what it came down to was: I just found out that God is real. Not only that but He in reality speaks to us; answers prayers. And who would I be if I said, 'Hey God…you're wrong" So I decided to follow through and move. And that was really difficult, because no matter how many times I asked-begged-and pleaded to know why I needed to move, Heavenly Father would not give me that answer. What great comfort that would have brought to me to at least know why! When my family found out they were so confused, and concerned, hurt and worried! 'Al, why are you leaving us? Why are you moving all the way across the country to a place you had never been where you don't know a single person, why? This church IS tearing our family a part!" And what was I supposed to say? "Hey, God told me to…" They wouldn't have understood that! And how heartbreaking it was to leave them when they felt that way. How hard it was to leave all my family when they were so hurt- confused- worried- and for me to still beg for an answer from Heavenly Father and not get one. I was leaving behind my family. Three family members to which I would never see again because of death. I was leaving behind the only way of living that I knew of. And it wasn't like a mission or school where you have the idea where you could maybe end up back home- I was going, and I was to stay. So I fit my life into a 2 Door Alero Oldsmobile, which wasn't much at all haha especially since I’m taking along my 70 lb dog, Lucas. And it was interesting to see the few things that I did end up taking with me- but even more interesting to see most of my tangible life on the side of the road for the garbage man to pick up. I was so scared & upset I couldn't even turn my key to start my car- I cried all the way to the Pennsylvania border. I drove 12 hours to Chicago & stopped to eat & rest. I remember looking outside my hotel window and realizing I didn't recognize a single thing. It was then, when I stopped to take a break that I was absolutely- completely and physically consumed with all of this fear. All of this anxiety. Doubt. Temptation. Temptation to give up. To turn around & quit. And loneliness. Oh man, I had Never, ever felt more alone that strong & that powerful before in my whole entire life. I felt completely alone & abandoned. I fell to my knees and I found myself just screaming at Heavenly Father, yelling, “I can’t do this! I can’t, I’m not this strong- you have the wrong person.”
How badly I wanted to turn back where things made sense, where I was comfortable. How badly I wanted to at least know why I needed to move to make this a little bit easier- how badly I wanted Him to answer that question and He didn't With how difficult it was to leave & the adversary just filling me with more & more doubts. Did I even need to move? Did I really even hear that right? Just yelling at Him, “Are you even listening still? Do you even care? ARE YOU EVEN THERE STILL?” I cannot properly write all of the emotions and thoughts I was having. But I was consumed. I felt broken & inadequate. Confused. It got to the point where I physically exhausted myself to where I couldn't even yell anymore. I couldn't even speak to Heavenly Father because I was so drained. And it was then that I finally allowed myself to Listen. Listen to Him. To His spirit. The spirit always speaks to us, but always comes back to us & if we are actually listening- or perhaps we’re so set on listening for what we want to hear- and not openly & faithfully listening to His counsel. It was then- an hour later- laying on the floor of a hotel room- in downtown Chicago- by myself did I finally listen. Receive. I pictured Christ. I pictured Him standing right in front of me. And He smiled-at me. It was then that all of those emotions & thoughts completely disappeared. In that exact moment I knew – completely & confidently knew- that what I was doing, He was happy with. That no matter how hard it was, no matter how much I didn't understand I knew He was happy. That it was right. So I made a promise to myself. It’s a promise I meant very literally at the time- but it is a promise I try and keep spiritually every day. To Keep Going. Keep going always. No matter what. To not stop. To not even take a break. Because the moment you stop- the moment you take a break, even a short one- that is when fear- and doubt- and anxiety- and temptation start to creep in. I knew that if I took a break again I would end up in a direction Heavenly Father does not want me to go in. At the time it was probably back home to NY- but I think you know where I’m going with that. So I said- ‘Ok, I’m going. I’m going and I'm not stopping.’ And I didn't I drove from Chicago all the way to Pleasant Grove, Utah, without taking a break. I didn't even stop to eat- that’s how much I didn't stop. I couldn't I drove just over 22 hours straight and it was the most uncomfortable drive you could ever imagine. Because I am driving in the hottest weather- with my car absolutely packed- and my driver side window won’t roll down- and AC is broken- annnnnnd my Cruise control is broken- and I have a 70 lb dog breathing on my face!
But I made it! And for all of you who have read my ‘TattooedMormon’ post on what happened my very first day of getting here- you will know that those hard times did not go away. In fact- those hard times got even harder. Consistently harder. This wasn't the last time I felt alone. This wasn't the last time I felt confused or found myself yelling at Heavenly Father saying my strength has just run thin and I can’t do this. I've been in Utah for 3 years and I have gone through things 10x harder than this. Yeah hard times will be there- that won’t change. Hard times will consistently be there. But so will Christ. And with Him are we able to overcome & conquer. With Him are we able to Keep Going always. To keep going through absolutely everything. Every struggle. Every trial. Every feeling of fear. Feeling of doubt. Despair. Loneliness. Every temptation. Every time- everyday do I recommit myself to that promise I made in Chicago. Recommitting to Keep Going. Recommitting to my Father in Heaven. Recommitting to His will. Every day having to recommit to His ways. To trust. To move forward always with Faith. And how grateful I am! How profoundly grateful I am to that. Not once has things gone the way that I had in mind. And that can be really difficult at times- especially in prayer- especially when you think it is a righteous, good thing you’re asking for. You have those fleeting thoughts of, ‘Are you even listening. Do you even care? Are you even there?’
But how grateful I am that I chose to keep going- how grateful I am they did not go the way I had in mind. Because they have been profoundly better than what I ever could have imagined on my own! When I think back the past few years since moving here I am beyond humbled & just completely shocked and blown away with the direction my life has gone in. The things I've done and seen have left me speechless. The things I have accomplished still surprise me. The people I have met. The courage I have seen & stories I have heard. The opportunities that have arose. I cannot explain how guilty I would have felt if I didn't allow myself to let Heavenly Father guide me. I cannot even imagine for a moment what my life would be like if I didn't trust Him. If I quit. If I turned back. If I took a break. I know I wouldn't be a sliver of what I am now if I did.
Don’t you stop. Don’t you dare give up. Not even for a moment. Even through the worst of times you can feel Him. Do not stop yourself. Help is always there. Comfort is always there. Christ is always there. Not ever will He leave. Not once. Not even for a second. Turn to Him. Trust. Listen. Keep going always. And receive the best ever created for you. You can do this. And it will be greater than you ever could have imagined for yourself. And you will look back and be blown away and left speechless with the direction your life has gone in.
2 Nephi 24:27 ‘And His hand IS stretched out- And who shall turn it back?’
Alma 56:46 ‘Behold, Our God IS with us- and he will not suffer that we should Fall- Then let us Go Forth!’
Watch this video interview if you haven't yet with Seth Adam Smith on Finding Faith & continuing during those hard times
Fun Update: August 22nd, 2013 I will be sealed to my fiance, best friend & biggest support Ben Carraway- how grateful I am for his example & strength in my life! Few months I wont be Fox anymore! Watch a video of how we met HERE. And read my favorite posts on overcoming- He wrote a super honest & genuine post on overcoming fear of repentance- and mission. Read HERE.