Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Little Ball of Stress

That's what I am these days--well, not a ball of stress so much as an upright, walking, talking, human-looking container of stress, but I keep the expression I adopted in the days when stress continually forced me to curl up in a ball and try to hide in the nearest corner. I feel like banging my head against a wall when I go to church every Sunday, which is how I felt for several months last year when my mission papers took forever to go through and then I was told I couldn't serve a regular full-time mission because it would be too stressful for me and then I had no idea what to do with my life because I was certain the Lord had some work for me to do and I had really thought it was a mission. Yeah, I feel that way now. There is something I'm missing, something I'm supposed to be doing or leanring or some significant event is looming, but I can't quite see it through the clouds right now. And I want to bang my head against a wall to try and force the answer out of the depths of my mind, like maybe cracking my skull will release the pressure my thoughts are building up and then all the answers will be free to float lightly through the air where I can look up and see them. I feel like shaking myself and yelling, "Wake up and figure it out already!" But patience, patience. I actually did bang my head a little on the desk during the closing prayer in Sunday School. I also cried several time in church and afterwards today. The only meeting in which I did not cry was Sunday School, mainly because I was teaching it.

Two days ago, a good friend asked me to do something for her that I simply cannot do. I mean, I could do it, and it is tempting to do it because she wants me do it so badly to "solve" one of her problems, but I can't do it because I know it will solve nothing. In fact, it will perpetuate a gross lack of communication between her and another friend and aggravate the problem at hand. But she doesn't see the situation the way I do and insists that I can be the solution to her problem. I have done everything I can think to do for her, and now I am stressing myself out wondering if there is more, if I have missed something that will help her.

Then there are boys. I go through periods when I embrace modern society's gender role reversal during courtship. I happily (though not easily) ask out the boys that I like until, after a few months, I grow tired of it and wish I lived back when everyone knew that it was the man's responsibilty to pursue the woman and fewer people put off courtship and marriage the way they do now. Right now I am at that point where I am starting to get frustrated. I am currently interested in 3 guys. I don't know which one I like best because they are all quite different and I like and dislike different things about them. I suppose the solution to this is to go on dates with all of them so I can decide how much I really like them. I don't want to ask them out, though--I want them to ask me out. Sadly, I have never been successful in getting the guys I like to ask me out. Some girls are so good at that. But not me. Alas and alack and woe is me and pout, pout, pout.

Of course I am still enduring the adjustment to my job, and I have moments when I know I will get through it and love it and moments when I feel like I'm going crazy.

So while I cried in church today, I decided to ask for a blessing. I thought of several people I might ask, and couldn't decide on one. Then my home teachers, who never bother to talk to me outside of their short monthly visit and whose names I cannot always remember, decided to come over, and I thought, "Maybe I will ask them. It is, afterall, their responsibility to use their priesthood to meet my needs, and perhaps I need to give them this chance to be better than the sub par home teachers they have been thus far." I decided I would ask them if, during their visit, I felt like they were sincerely concerned for my well-being. I did not feel like they cared. They talked to me about the Red Sox, and, while I love the Red Sox, the conversation was not even close to meeting my needs and didn't show much effort on their part to determine my needs. Then, despite their failing my little show-me-your-sincerety test, I asked for a blessing anyway, and I'm glad I did. It is interesting to receive a blessing from someone who knows nothing about you because you know that what they say is pure inspiration, uninfluenced by their knowledge of your situation. And so I heard the words of the Lord, speaking directly to me through the voice of a young man I don't know, and it removes none of my stressors but helps me remember the gifts God has given me to help me deal with it all.

And as I have expelled many long and audible sighs, the kind that shake your whole body, while writing this, I realize I am worn out, and it is time to eat and sleep because these most primitive acts are the most comforting right now.

Current song: "For the Beauty of the Earth"


Deja said...

Wow this is gorgeously written. I mean, I'm very sorry you're a ball of stress, but what a gift to be able to express it so precisely.

Especially the bit about banging your head so it would crack and you could see the thing float away and then look at it and know what it was. Wow. Thank you for that.

jani said...


Speaking your truth, following your values, asking for help in the form of a blessing....wonderful examples of a life well led.

Look at your visit counter. You speak to more people through your web site than most missionaries talk to out on the street.

I am not a Mormon, nor do I attend any church, but I do participate in an interdenominational prayer circle held in rotating houses each Wednesday night.
With your permission, I would like to add your name to the prayer request round and send you an additional blessing if that would not be opposed by your faith.

I believe Christ reaches down for those who reach up. I see you stretching your boundaries getting ready to fly.

Erin Alberty said...

I agree with Jani -- maybe this blog is a big part of the answer. You may see your readership as the ill-gotten gain of your Bramble encounter, but we have stuck with you for months now and keep looking forward to more (Yours is my favorite diary blog). It seems one angry man turned into a big opportunity to develop and share your gift.

What is it about a traditional mission that sounds so ideal to you? Is it the travel? The evangelism? The service? There are ways to do those things without a traditional church mission.

I taught English in China for two years after college -- over the strong objections of my parents and teachers. They didn't think I was emotionally ready for the experience. They probably were right, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.


See today's Utah discovery at

Sad for a While said...

What's that quote from A Streetcar Named Desire?--"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." Well, that's not entirely true, but I sure am grateful for some of you kind strnagers. So thank you. And, Jani, that would be very good of you to put my name on the prayer request. God accepts the prayers of everyone who believes in him, so if He's not picky about a particular brand of faith in that regard, neither am I. :)

Liz said...

Hang in there. I know those feelings, but I also know that they pass.

As far as the guys go...that thing, I know not how to fix. I have gone through the same cycle--asking guys out and eventually getting sick of it and stopping until I haven't been out in ages so starting to ask them out again, and...repeat...

Hang in there. A member of my bishopric was talking to me the other day and I was telling him that I was exhausted and stressed out, and he said, "Well, remember, the scriptures say it came to pass, not it came to stay."

You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Heather said...

I had the same thought while reading this post as some of the others, that your blog is your mission. One thing about my mission that is different than the rest of my life is testifying all the time and feeling the rush of the Spirit use your mouth to reach others. I can do it with my kids now with the same sense of mission that I did while serving as a full time missionary and occasionally with sisters that I visit teach, but it isn't 24/7 like on mission. Try testifying, maybe in subtle ways to everyone in your life, the ladies you work with, your roommates, etc. I had the same guy problem that you are describing and I came to the conclusion that if I had to ask him out then I am never sure if he really liked me or not to start out with, and that made me not like him. Turn it over to the Lord. That is easier said than done, but He has prepared a special young man for you and if you keep living your life the way you know He wants you to, with prayer, He will have your paths cross and it will all work out.
You are a really talented writer. You have a great ability to express human emotion that others cannot.
Your testimony has reached many through your blog.
Keep on keeping on!

Linda said...

Kind words of wisdom from some readers who have never even met you. You most definitely have a gift for writing. And you are reaching people through it. I love you. Wish you could be here for Christmas! We'll miss you. Have you looked at the family blog lately? I FINALLY posted some pictures of the kids. Maybe they'll cheer you up for a moment or two.

Lizzie Jones said...

Anna. I'm a big fan of you... just in general. Thought your should know that.

Jeremy said...

I hope you can relax and de-stress a bit for the next few days.

You write wonderfully.