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Priority and Perspective

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Like Pris, I've recently moved from one house to another. That is to say, I've moved my boxes from one house to another. I haven't had enough spare time yet to unpack most of them.

I've also moved from one state of mind to another, and like the temporal move, I still haven't had enough time to unpack the many thoughts that accompany the various mental shifts I've been undergoing for the past three months.

Where have I been? And where am I going now?

I've spent the last sixteen years in school, both dreading the end of August and the inaugural ringing of the school bell to signal freedom's end and welcoming it. I'm a nerd. I loved school. I loved September and the smell of new books and ideas just waiting to be discovered. And now it's approaching...and me? No change. I'm at work, and I'm working, and when September starts, I'll be working still. I'll be continuing projects I started this summer, working on new ones, and sitting in the same office day after day after day.

This has been a shift of perspective, and it's taken a lot of adjusting as I develop knots in my stomach at the idea of not attending class on September 5th. And I haven't come to terms with it yet.

The second shift I've undergone: somewhere in the last three months, I acquired a boyfriend. I haven't had one since high school. I haven't had time. I don't know if I have time now, but that doesn't seem to change things. So, the roller-coaster ride of relationships has thrown be back against my seat and I'm holding on for dear life, trying to balance mundane "reality" -- work, apartment, making dinner at night -- with weekend dreams and trips and travel to see my other-state-dwelling beau.

These are, to my view, changes that indicate I'm growing up. I can't live in the fantasy world of College anymore, where the harsh reality of Work does not exist. Bowdoin, my dear alma mater, was a small school; the dateable population was limited; and now? I spend nights on the phone and I contemplate the possibilities and consequences of the future.

But there's a third shift in "growing up" that hasn't happened, and I wonder if it bespeaks my priorities -- and whether they're in the right place. I've always thought as I hit adulthood that I'd come to have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Gospel. I thought they gave it to you in Relief Society and Gospel Doctrine. But that? No. It hasn't happened yet. I still feel I'm in Young Women almost, learning the basic lessons over and over and over again, and never delving any deeper.

Slowly, I'm coming to discover that if I want to go deeper -- if I want to have the "adult" understanding that my mother does (and from which I developed this assumption), or that my brother has...

...I'm going to have to make it happen myself.

And where should that lie on the spectrum of priority? The scriptures and the prophets say it should be high. How high? Is spiritual development the most important thing I can do in this life? If so, then why shouldn't I go off and become a monk -- er, nun -- devoted to deeper understanding?

Barring giving up all worldly experience, what do I have to sacrifice?

And how much more of a sacrifice does that become when one's personal life isn't completely focused around the Church? I attend a YSA ward -- sometimes. When I'm in town. But I don't have friends there -- all my dearest are non-members. My family is LDS, but I don't spend so much time with them now that I'm living on my own, either.

So how does one make spiritual development a priority, how does one develop that shift in perspective, when one is -- for lack of a better term -- living in the world, and enjoying the shift in perspective it brings to one who was brought up in an LDS environment?

I don't think I have an answer to that. But I'm sure looking. When I can find the time.

6 Responses to “Priority and Perspective”

  1. Anonymous Dallas Robbins 

    Sometimes deeper understanding, come from deeper practice. Feed the hungry, visit the widows, give selfless service. Go to a soup kitchen once a week is a good way to start. Sometimes by doing will bring a deeper understanding of the gospel, and visa versa.

  2. Blogger lchan 

    The future isn't what it used to be.

    The funny thing about being an adult is that you are still you. I mean, with motherhood and working and all that comes with that I do feel more responsible in some ways. I even feel different, but it's not what I expected.

    I wouldn't worry about it all that much, though. Just try to get the things done that you want to get done. Think about where you want to go. The future won't be just what you envision, but most of it will be what you put into it.

  3. Blogger Arwyn 

    I'm slowly discovering that, Laura, and it weirds me out all the time -- that I can be an adult, and yet still the Arwyn I was as a girl, as a young woman, as a college student. So strange.

    And Dallas, I think you have a good point. I've spent so much time doing to make these other changes happen -- I think the real solution is to spend some time doing to develop more deeply on a spiritual level, too.

    Which may mean cracking open the scriptures again, or -- and I kind of like your idea better -- getting my hands dirty and diving into some service. Hmm. I'll ponder that one.

  4. Blogger D-Train 

    I often feel similarly frustrated. Mostly, it's just a concern that the material that I read and hear is the same as it ever was. I still find it inspirational, but it's difficult to feel concerned enough to do anything about it. I often wonder if there is any deeper understanding at all.

    Nice to have you back, Arwyn.

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