Not very many people know this, but I’ve spent a huge chunk of my (albeit short) life as a very spiritual person. I’ve made some posts on Twitter regarding this recently, but for the sake of this blog post I will start at the beginning with a little story.
I grew up in a little town called Castle Rock, Colorado. Or at least, when I grew up there it was little. These days if you frequent Castle Rock you’ll find a sprawling suburban landscape with people packed in like sardines in a tin can. (I know, similes, gross, right?!) The neighborhood I grew up in was right off of Front Street, a major road useful in charting your way across town. This neighborhood was predominately of one religion: Mormon.
When I lived in that neighborhood everyone was Mormon, except the people who weren’t religious. I went to school with people of the Mormon faith and I was taught by people of the Mormon faith and when I said my family hadn’t been to church in a long time I was greeted by a chorus of Mormons, happy to send missionaries to our doorstep with piles of The Book of Mormon for us to read.
And all of that happened.
And when I was in the third grade my best friend invited me to go to church with her.
So I did.
Now what you’re probably not expecting to hear from this story is that my experiences as a child with the LDS church were exceedingly positive. I loved every second that I was there and every person that I met. I went to every church activity I could get to, and I loved it for years. While I was baptized Catholic and the original foundation of my faith was Catholic, the LDS church built around that and supported it fully. My whole set of moral codes, how I think, how I treat people, the way I act… that is all partially a product of my involvement as a kid with that church. (Well, and really awesome parents who reinforced all of those things splendidly.)
This past week, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. Heck, this past year I’ve done a lot of soul searching. I’ve been dealing with a swirling pit of depression and anxiety set on by an ever present fear of failure. I’ve been going through a massive, hard process of taking everything off my virtual shelf of being and going through it all. I’ve been honest with myself in every way, in some ways I’ve never before been, and I’ve forgiven myself countless times. But for this last week in particular, I’ve been looking at the topic of faith.
For anyone that knows me, this is an easy topic. I’ve been anti-organized religion for a very long time. I’ve kept my faith to myself and my mouth shut whenever someone brings up the topic of church.
I’ll tell you a little secret: I’ve always wanted to believe in God. There’s been plenty of times in my life when I have well and truly believed. There’s been times in my life when I refused to believe. And I have always, ALWAYS wondered very heavily about our purpose in life.
Why do we exist?
I’m sure you’ve wondered the same thing.
So for the past week I’ve been spending a lot of time meditating on the ideas of faith and purpose. I’ve been reconnecting with the LDS church simply to go back to the basis of my morality and faith and to just see how I feel.
To be honest with you, it’s been a pretty awesome and humbling experience.
I am going to share with you a realization that I had just the other day. A realization that may quite possibly be a defining, changing moment in my life forever. A realization so powerful and wonderful and great that I just cannot help but share it. And it all has to do with our purpose.
Most people know the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible. If you don’t, here’s a quick rundown:
Adam is created by God and is set to live in a place called the Garden of Eden. Beyond the animals there, Adam is alone. So, God creates a companion for him, someone equal to but separate and different and made of Adam, and her name is Eve. Both Adam and Eve are told that the Garden of Eden is theirs, with everything in it, and that they can do as they wish, with one tiny little teensy itty bitty exception. There’s a tree in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve are forbidden by God to eat from. This tree is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve are told that if they eat of the fruit from this tree, they will die. At some point in the timeline, Eve is tempted by Satan to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and she chooses to do so. So her and Adam can remain together no matter the outcome, she convinces him to eat it as well. And so Adam and Eve are made to be mortal and cast out of the Garden of Eden to live out the rest of their lives. Sin is unleashed on the Earth and all of humanity will be now made mortal and with the capability to choose sin.
If you’re not someone who believes in this story, do me a favor and suspend your disbelief for just a moment, for the purpose of discussion.
When a lot of people think of this story, they think of it as something negative. Adam and Eve were told that their purpose was peaceful existence in Eden and were told not to touch the fruit of the tree. Because of their choice, we now experience all of the trials of mortal life that we face each day here on Earth. What if I told you that I didn’t believe that was their purpose at all? What if I told you that I believed it was the purpose all along of Adam and Eve simply to choose?
What if I told you that I believe that our entire purpose on this Earth, in this life, is to simply just choose?
You probably at this point think I am a crazy person, but just listen to me for a moment and think about it. Really think!
Everything we do, every single day, from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep, is a choice. Every second of every day, we are choosing. And that is just, to me, such a beautiful and a powerful thing. Every day we get to just… choose. Whatever we want, we can choose it and we can do it, no matter what it is or how impossible it might seem, we can choose it and work for it and someday accomplish it. And how amazing is that? I mean what a blessing it is, that we have this ability to choose.
So this realization really got me thinking. If our whole purpose in life really is to choose, then what am I going to choose? What is my endgame? And I’m not just talking about the going to college and the getting a career and the getting married or getting a dog or basic, simple, small choices. I mean like, what do I want to choose to aim for, so that when I am laying on my deathbed I can say “Yep, I made this ultimate goal”?
Somehow, while I was thinking about this I got to watching a Glenn Beck video. And how random is that, that I’d be watching some interview from like ten years ago about Glenn Beck of all people? YouTube is a weird, scary place sometimes. But as I was thinking and listening to this interview, he said something that really got me thinking.
What a great goal: to love someone; to love everyone the moment you meet them.
And I just thought: Yeah.
Because see, that’s been my goal in my adult life. That’s been my endgame. My entire life I’ve been surrounded by anger and hate and confusion and all of these hard, rough, real emotions from the people around me. I have grown up in a day and age where things just are not easy. And every time I have seen people spiral into the darkness within themselves I’ve just felt so motivated to try and love more.
And it hasn’t been easy. You see, I’ve failed. A lot. There’s at LEAST once a day that I fail on my quest to spread love to everyone I meet. But when I heard that quote while I was thinking about the power of choice that we’ve been given it just dawned on me that I’ve been going about everything in the wrong way.
Because it IS all about our power to choose. It IS. And love in particular, oh man… love is so so special. And most of us tend to describe love as just something we have, that we give to people who are somehow, some way, deserving of it. And it’s all wrong.
Because life, LIFE is about choosing. And every aspect of this life, love included, is ALL about choice! Which means that everything that we do in this life, every. little. thing. Including love! Is something that we choose. Love isn’t something we just have, it is something we CHOOSE. And we can choose it whenever we want. That’s the whole point.
And man, how empowering it is to think that. How freaking amazing to think that even the hardest things about this life, even love, is just one decision away. Just one choice away. Just one “yes” away.
So I look back to the story of Adam and Eve and think just wow. What an amazing thing, choice. And of all the things that God could have gifted them with, they got choice. And now in turn, out of all the things that we could get, we get choice. That whole eating-the-apple thing wasn’t so bad after all, because look at how we get to live!
That is our purpose. To live our life as we see fit. To choose our own way. To fail and to succeed, to rise and to fall, by our own hand and our own choice. Love and happiness and sadness and anger and respect and worthiness and heartbreak and worthlessness is our own choice. Feeling what we want and not feeling what we don’t want is just a choice away. Every second there’s a new choice around the corner and every second we are alive on this Earth we have the power to live how we want. To choose.
And what a fantastic thing that is.
So my friends, I hope you go from this moment forward and you choose well. I hope you choose in a way that brings you success and happiness and if you don’t I hope you choose to choose differently. And know that I am out there with you, trying and working and failing and succeeding and choosing.