Day 30 (15 Nov 2006)

Written after losing my Social Security card, getting mad at my mom and then feeling really worthless when I found it.

Hi Alex,

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving, even though you may not get to celebrate it directly. Just remember why you are down there, but if you forget, it's OK to make up new reasons and talk about them as though they were your favorite. If people know you are describing feelings, then most ways to explain them are OK, but of course you should never make up any facts. I'm describing feelings right now, so if you are reading any facts into what I'm saying, you shouldn't be. All I'm really saying is that each day you can decide why you are out there. You can even decide you like someone else's idea of why they are out there and adopt it. I had a companion who was out there because his Dad was getting him a car for serving a mission. So there are lots of reasons to be serving a mission, just try to find the right ones for you at the right times.

I am dating various girls now. I don't think any of them are for me, but I haven't figured that out really. I have a date Friday, and she kissed me on the cheek a few months ago, so maybe it'll be OK? Sadly, dating is similar to missionary work in that whether you have lots of success or none at all, it's not a direct relationship to how hard you tried. It matters whether you tried, but it does not match your success, and is inversely related to your efforts frequently. Success in missionary work is the Lord's decision, and you need not let expectations and results dictate your happiness.

Rewards come in obedience. Practice what you learn out there and it will become quite natural to be a success and prosper in this world over time. You may even be a good and responsible person even at times when you don't want to be, so that the immediate results of what you learn is some quite painful experiences caused directly by a habit of obedience, but I am confident that in the long term, many countless people will find happiness abundantly because of what you do, if you practice obedience to the principles you discover and follow these and the Spirit even when they are a bit unusual. For example, yesterday night when I was rushing to get ready and go to the temple I had the thought that I should take my bathrobe, pretty stupid but as soon as I picked up my bathrobe I found my church pants underneath which is what I really needed. Happily this has been a more frequent occurrence at times recently. Practice like an instrument where mistakes and bad technique are common the first 50 times or more and it's no use feeling bad, but then you start to get it right most of the time eventually (or you learn a different instrument). Practice practicing obedience until you can't forget how it feels to practice it. Do it to learn the discipline, don't do it for the success or you will never have the patience when you need it most.

Be mindful of the Lord. He might present you with evidence that He doesn't care at all, only to see if that's what you want to believe. Believe in His goodness and you will find it. Believe that He has a good and tasteful sense of humor not beyond your understanding and you will find it. Believe that He deals in cruel jokes and meanness, and you will find that instead and indeed you have chosen a mean god and likely a false god as your god. Part of His great plan of agency is that He gives everyone great freedom in deciding their own relationship with Him in mortality.

Sorry. I know you don't need a lecture. I need a lecture and I'm just sending you a copy.

Have a good week.

Thanks,
Matt