Monday, September 22, 2014

One Writer's Legacy Part 3

Moment 2: A Question of Faith

My rational brain told me that I was on this earth for a reason. I didn’t know what that reason was and I wanted an answer. The world offered, and still does, so many answers to the question why. But I wanted more than just someone’s subjective opinion. I wanted a true answer, an eternal answer, something I could rely on for the rest of my life.
My first year of college was great. I loved my classes, my new friends, and my independence. I knew UC Irvine was where I was supposed to be, but I sensed that something was missing. There was an answer circling around me, hovering over my head like a bird. I could hear the faint beating of its wing, and see a flash of color out of the corner of my eye. Unfortunately, whenever I turned to look, it disappeared. The answer was waiting for me, but I hadn’t asked the question yet. And truthfully, I wasn’t even sure how.
By the end of my first year of college I realized I wasn’t going to find the answers I was looking for, or the question, within the walls of a university. I have a very high respect for higher learning and education; I wouldn’t be pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree if I didn’t; I wouldn’t be a teacher if I didn’t. I truly believe that there are vast amounts of valuable information available to those willing to sit through a formal education. Still, despite my youth, I knew the answer I was looking for was, in one way or another, different from the answers typically offered by institutions of higher education. Hints of it floated through the literature I was soaking in with each class, through universal themes and dynamic characters who grew with each new conflict, but the clear and straightforward answer I needed was still hidden in the ether.
With the start of college I had entered the realm of my adult life. I was the one who had to make sure I got up in time for class, even the ones that started at 8 am. I was the one who had to make sure I completed my homework and was ready for my exams. I had to be responsible for myself in a way that was new and exciting. I no longer had to sat at the child’s table for family gatherings, and I no longer had to do what my parents said just because they told me to. But with adult life and with those adult responsibilities came thoughts and questions that I had never had before.
On some level I was asking myself what the purpose of my life was going to be. I knew and trusted in my decision to study English, but I still wondered what I would do with that degree, and what I would do with myself after it was completed. When I finally did ask myself that elusive question, I realized that it wasn’t a matter of what I was going to do with my life, but what I was supposed to do with my life.
I don’t remember exactly how I spent the first summer, but by the time the fall quarter arrived again I had an idea about where I needed to go. Growing up, I had gotten a taste of something deeper, and I was interested in learning more. All throughout my childhood, my grandmother had been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church. She would take me and my sister to church with her and read scriptures with us. She even started a tradition of giving every grandchild a full set of scriptures on their eighth birthday, the age of accountability according to Latter Day Saint Doctrine.
My sister and I were not baptized at eight like many of our cousins had been. Our parents wanted us to choose which church to belong to. They respected the faith of my grandmother and other family members, but they thought that my sister and I should decide what we wanted to believe when we were older. I had attended a variety of church activities, but it wasn’t until I became a young adult that I began to seriously reflect on the teachings of the church.
When my first year of college ended, I found myself turning inward to search for a better understanding of why I was here. Naturally, I thought about religion. While not a member of the Latter Day Saint faith, most of my experience with religion was connected to that church. I could remember feeling hints about that elusive “something” with each activity or family prayer. I probably would have found my way to the church eventually, but the process was sped up for two reasons. The first was my twin sister, Stephanie, and the second was a coworker at a new job.
Thanks to the influence of an aunt, my sister decided to join the church. Stephanie was baptized some time in the summer or early fall of our sophomore year of college. When I attended her baptism, I began to feel that she had found part of the answer to the questions I had been asking myself.
Then, shortly after Stephanie’s baptism, I started a job as a hostess at Mimi’s Restaurant. On the first day I met a young woman who was a member of the church and who attended the local branch for UCI students. I can’t even remember her name anymore, it was so long ago, but thanks to her I knew where to go, and thanks to my sister I knew that I wanted to go. I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ on December 2nd, 2000. It was a decision that dramatically changed the course of my life and is one that I will never regret.
Stay turned for Part 4 of "One Writer's Legacy."

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