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Figuring it all out

By Justine Dorton

I know I had it all figured out when I was twenty. I know, because I remember. I was at BYU, my 1980’s hair as big as ever (and beautiful, mind you), my mind filled with the fire of great political philosophers, my heart filled all brimming to the top with youthful pride. The world was black and white, and I was definitely in the white. I charged forward with confidence and arrogance, condemning and persecuting the poor souls who certainly weren’t looking hard enough for the right answers. They needed answers? Why didn’t they just ask me? I had all the answers.

But then this strange thing happened. I got a little older, and my vim and vigor diminished a little. I saw this woman living her life completely different than my own. But she was happy. She was righteous. She was beautiful. How could we both be right?

I was mentored by some tremendous women in my first married ward — women who showed me that calmness and surety could come from actual experience, not just my own fiery darts of intellectualism. I watched middle aged women carry on with some sort of quiet strength. While I was gnashing and tearing about with the strains of my first child, they were calmly abandoning the arrogance of their own inner 20-year old, in favor of something far, far better.

It was uncertainty.

I couldn’t accept it. For years, I refused to believe that uncertainty could bring me anything but pain and misery. I charged forward with cock-eyed aplomb, recklessly careening through my life without a second thought for whether what I was doing was right.

Then, of course, I ran smack into the ever available “proverbial brick wall”. (and didn’t you know I would?)

I was forced to accept uncertainty. I was strong-armed into total incertitude. It was agony.

But then it wasn’t.

Somewhere, in the midst of all that doubt and queasiness, a calm assurance came. One that said something kind of powerful: “Justine, be still and know that I am.”

Well, ok then.

And now, in the midst of my continued wavering uncertainty, I press forward. I’ve got slightly smaller hair now, but I’m still beautiful. And somehow, it feels even better than before.

Read Truth Beautiful by Elaine Rumsey Wagner. Her grandmother had it figured out. Have you?

About Justine Dorton

Justine is a mother to five children, and has a husband lodged somewhere (probably in the den). She is not very fond of speaking of herself in third person.

6 thoughts on “Figuring it all out”

  1. It was about 4 years ago (I was 25), when I realized I knew nothing.

    Then it was about 2 years ago when I realized I knew even more nothing.

    Both times were huge for me –wake-up calls that threw my perceived sense of the way life worked right out the window. And, like you, I am grateful and much happier for it.

    I have years and years to go before I can "re-learn" everything I no longer know. But I'm actually okay with it. In fact, I think I'm one of a very few that is actually looking forward to turning 30, 35, 40, etc. because I know with each passing year, I will gain the experience spoken about and I will be so much better for it. Ooh. Long sentence there.

    Great post! Great article, too!

  2. This post was so beautiful. Thank you.

    Just the other day I was marvelling at how, at 5 years old, I KNEW the church was true (beyond a shadow of a doubt) and now, at 35, I simply cannot say those words. Here I am, completely uncertain of the things that I professed to "know" as a child. But I embrace my complicated belief system. It is hard earned, well thought out, very real and frankly– it's all I've got. Thank you so much for this post.

  3. After fifty years and six children, one of which is a recovering drug addict, and another who has left the church completely,(while growing up in Happy Valley) I am left saying that I have no answers, only questions. What I am sure about is that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows what experiences we need to become our best selves and return to live with Him. I love His plan which centers on His Son. And that's all I really need to know.

  4. There's a line from a song that I love:

    "The more I live, the more I learn.
    The more I learn, the more I realize the less I know!"

    One of my favorite scriptures has become Nephi's "I know that God loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

    The key of life in my mind is truly getting to the point where I trust that. Really trust it. Really let go and let God.

    Do you find that the uncertainty is what helps you really rely on God more? For me, it's a constant struggle to always remember — to really remember and rely on Him. I'm still awfully stubborn and wanting to be in control a lot more than I should be. What a journey.

    And yet, there is still this underpinning of certainty that keeps me grounded and settled even as I navigate the uncertainty.

    Hm. Lots to mull over. Thanks for this post.

  5. Shalissa, you can comment on anything even if it's old. The comment will still show up, and will still be emailed to the post author. And the thread will show up in the right sidebar, with your name as commenter. Is that what you meant, or am I misunderstanding? 🙂 Emily


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