Monday, May 9, 2011

The Truth about Rexburg

I've been meaning to write this post since this whine fest. You remember, the one where I whined about my friend unfriending me from Facebook. Haha. I laugh at myself now, but it was pretty real to me then.

Mostly, I wish to undo this lie, and I quote myself: "Thank goodness for my dearest friend Eileen. If not for her, I'm pretty sure Rexburg would be the biggest waste of my life to date."

I love Eileen. She recently graduated. I was so proud of her! I went Rexburg to visit her and see her graduate.

It's true. Eileen was a very bright spot of my life in Rexburg. She is a woman of unconditional love. She rescued me many a time when I needed transportation for my kids, or food, or a soundboard. She was wonderful. I count her among my dearest friends. She still IS wonderful, by the way. We talk on the phone and on Facebook and she never stops loving me when I fail to call her for several weeks in a row. Without her, my life in Rexburg would have been even darker. True.


While my 2 years in Rexburg was a series of trials, it was NOT a waste of my life. Quite the contrary. While my 2 years in Rexburg felt like 2 years in Hell, it was actually more like a training camp, without which I couldn't have become the person I will become. While it was easy to focus on my constant lack of money, on my loneliness, on my legal problems with my ex, on the stress of full time studenthood, full time motherhood, and full time (sometimes part time) employment, I can now look back on those years with humility and gratitude that my wise and loving Father in Heaven gave me a trial so custom-made to fit my exact needs, that would bring me closer to salvation. In Rexburg, I experienced my first (and I pray it was my last) lay-off. In Rexburg, I couldn't ask Dad to come over and fix my computer or my garbage disposal. In Rexburg, I had to ask near strangers for help and that was humiliating! In Rexburg, I suffered poverty so severe that by all calculations, I should have been living on the streets. I should have starved. I should have lost my phone, my internet, my car, my electricity, my very home. I'm going to tell you, I made $8000 in 2009. $8000!! In a WHOLE YEAR! That's a little embarrassing, so I hesitate to admit it, but it wasn't for lack of trying, I promise you that. $8000 income. YES, that's an enormous trial!

Wait. Back up. I made $8000 in 2009 and I KEPT my apartment? And I didn't starve? And my kids didn't even know that we were exceedingly poor? And we weren't dressed in rags? And I dared call that a burden? I'll tell you what that was- that was a blessing of enormous proportions!

I didn't fail a single class. In fact, I got mostly A's and B's while I was there. What?

Let me tell you about Jennifer.

Mi prima bonita! Jennifer saved my life pretty much every single day while I lived in Rexburg. She is my cousin. Her husband was a student at BYU-I as well and even though she was a very busy SAHM of three young kids, she never turned down a request to babysit so I could just get this paper done, or that assignment ready, or anything. She is so filled with love and compassion that it spills over onto everyone she meets. Especially me, at that time. She had trials of her own, very challenging trials, but even though I was blind to hers, she was not blind to mine. Largely because of her generosity, her desire to help and serve, her limitless compassion, I got through Rexburg. Without her, there's a good chance I would have destroyed myself. I may have buried myself and never exposed myself to the world again. She saved me, every day. Until the devastating day she moved to Alaska. I cried for long time. I only hope someone can be to her now what she was to me then. Dear Jennifer, I love you so much, and I often think of how you saved me and my sweet kids. Never will I be able to repay you. I thank you, I thank you, I thank you. (I'm crying right now, thinking about your godliness!)

Aside from two very wonderful women who taught me love, I also was blessed with a very wonderful bishop who taught me love. My children taught me love and forgiveness. I was grouchy, I was depressed, I was sometimes mean to those sweet little angels. They never held it against me. I had home teachers who taught me love, and visiting teachers who taught me love, and classmates, strangers, professors, and grocery cashiers who taught me love. I had my kids' daycare providers who taught me love.

I interrupt this program to bring you a very important message.
Apple Tree Learning Center in Rexburg, Idaho, is THE BEST daycare center in all of Rexburg, easily. Probably the best in all of Idaho. I tried every daycare center in Rexburg and one home daycare, and Apple Tree is about 100% better than the 2nd best daycare in Rexburg. I love them. My kids loved them.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled program.

So, anyway. I was surrounded by love. I was never alone. There was even a time when my pad was the happenin' place to be. I had movie night every Tuesday with several friends at my place! What about that is me-ish? 8 or 9 people would show up every week and we'd either watch a flick or play games or nearly burn down my apartment (that's another post). Even now, that seems totally weird. I'd never done that before and there's a good chance I'll never do it again. But, the point is, I was growing.

In fact, that's one of the points of Rexburg. Enormous personal growth. The other point is love. I learned so much about love, and people, and relationships, and connection, and love in those two years. I learned that it is important and maybe vital to be connected to other humans. Well, connection is unavoidable. We ARE connected. To participate in that connection is to live. I still have a ways to go on that lesson, but I couldn't have learned it if I'd stayed in Nampa. I was stuck here. God took me out of this place and planted me somewhere freezing and foreign, and made me start new, and nothing was better for me. I was broken in Rexburg, diminished, humiliated, and crushed, and that's exactly what I needed. Because I am still rebuilding my heart, but this time I'm doing it with God. I'm nearly certain He sent me to Rexburg to destroy me. I was so proud. But as I step back now and see what is rising from the ashes of the rubble and debris created by my time in Rexburg, I can see God's point. I can see how He loves me. It was all for my benefit. He destroyed the prideful, stone-hearted me in order to create something much, much better.

And after He cut me down, He gave me countless lessons about love. Love is what builds us up. Love is how we share God. Love is an investment that is exponentially returned. Maybe not always with a specific person. We all have times when we give someone more love than they give us. And vice versa. But the more love we give, in general, the more love comes to us. Love is God. When I feel the Love of God, I know that everything will be okay. There is nothing better in all the worlds than God's love. As I share love with God's children, He gives His love to me.

And that's the truth about Rexburg.


Melanie said...

First, I can't believe you have a Christmas ticker.
Second, yay for lessons learned!
Third, I'm uncomfortable with the comment that He cut you down. He doesn't cut down His children. He put you in a position that allowed for your growth, but did He do the cutting? Or was it the job, the ex, the poverty, the stress, the daycares, etc, that chopped you down?

Melanie said...

Oh. It probably hasn't been approved yet. Silly me.

Melanie said...

I wrote a big comment last night. Did you delete it?

Stephanie said...

Haha I bet you were hoping I would only publish the first comment. :) He did cut me down. Don't you remember the story about Elder Hugh B Brown and the current bush? "“Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”
He did cut me down. I'm not talking about external circumstances. I'm talking about the pride that was rooted in my heart and was growing into whatever I thought I wanted. He cut THAT down, so I could start again and become what He wants me to be, which is ultimately what I want to be even though I forget it sometimes.