I love everything that Annie writes, and today I resonated the message from this dear piece and remembrance from the vault. Although we aren’t in a new year, the new start of school is always a good reset time for me to rethink where I am and where I’m heading.
In my old filing cabinet next to the piano, there is a folder marked “spiritual insights” with articles and quotes that, at some point in my life, sparked something within me. Lately I’ve needed some spiritual sparks—the shape of my testimony worn down by mundane daily-ness and taken for granted for too long—so I’ve turned to this folder to see if anything still hits a chord or can provide some New Year’s motivation.
Halfway through there is a paper (handwritten!) that I wrote as a 17-year-old college freshman for an honors religion class. We were asked to write weekly thought papers responding to the scriptural reading assignments. Mine tended toward the confessional, ardently admitting my failings and doubts on a variety of subjects. I enjoyed taking my testimony out and poking and prodding it like a specimen on a table in front of me. Keep in mind that every weekly paper included some variation on this theme:
I feel the rustlings of the Spirit and the quiet beauty and comfort of the Lord’s nearness…yet sometimes the rod of iron is slippery for me. It is slippery not because I don’t believe and not because I’m not listening but because at times I don’t know what I’m trying to hear. With so many internal and external voices rushing at my ears, it becomes easiest to doubt and to criticize.
Honestly, I could have written this passage this year. I do believe in the power of questions genuinely asked and in following where they lead. I also love to weigh and examine and talk through alternatives (and, oh, my accepting, listening husband knows this very well). I love hard-earned testimonies and honest searching. I love this 17-year-old girl.
The professor’s reply still speaks to me, though, decades later. Her comment is written in beautiful handwriting, inked in red pen and almost as long as the paper itself. One portion reads:
[This is] beautifully, sensitively expressed. But let me add that [this persistent] intellectualizing sometimes causes us to stand in the foyer instead of entering into the holy place.
In its entirety, it is a lovely and loving message to a girl tickled with her new ability to reason and question but not yet sure when to stop the ruminating and move forward. This stayed with me for a long time: a mental image of myself lingering and pacing in the foyer rather than actually entering and partaking of the goodness that is there beyond the threshold.
. . .
This is the invitation of a new year and the inspiration I need, the reminder that sometimes it’s time to stop thinking about things (whether they are spiritual ideas or personal resolutions or physical goals) and just try, act, do, jump, embrace, forgive, exercise, experiment. It is a soul sister of President Kimball’s “do it” (and later Nike’s “just do it”) and Bryant Hinckley’s “forget yourself and get to work.” Sometimes—often—the answer is in the doing and not in the hypothetical.