How I stay connected 

Hello, my friends!
This summer has been a short one for me and it has been both wonderful and full of trials at the same time. There’s always one thing if it isn’t the other thing and honestly, life just goes on whether we want it to or not. I’ve had surprises and let downs and successes and failures. That’s life. That’s what all the people say. (cue Frank Sinatra.) With the school year starting tomorrow for me, I’ve been thinking a bit about how I handle this life stuff. Granted, sometimes I don’t handle it the best. I break down, I cry, I mope, I whine, and eventually I do get over myself and make something out of what I have. Sometimes disappointments come and I can just shrug them off. It’s about perspective and attitude about life. 
About two years ago I had the opportunity to visit with some dear friends that I hadn’t seen for at least 3 years or so. We chatted about our lives at college and how things have been going for us in various aspects of our lives. All of us were from different backgrounds, but we had similar standards-which is why we got along so well. One of our greatest commonalities was our shared love of Jesus Christ. While the four of us did not belong to the same religion, we were all still Christians and none of us felt uncomfortable expressing that notion with the others. One tiny difference did strike me, however, and that was that I was the only one who could say that I felt closer to God since coming to college. 
Now, I do not mean to discredit any of my sisters that I visited with that summer- I know that they each have a special connection to our Savior and I know that they love Him just as much as I do. We all went through different things in our lives and I understand that not everything is easy when it comes to figuring out who you are and where you stand in life. It’s hard. What I admire my friends for is their decision to work harder to strengthen their relationship with Christ. With the hard things they went through, they still recognized the need for the Savior in their lives which is not something most 20 something college students feel. I consider myself to be lucky to have friends of all faiths who can teach me how to be stronger and recommit to my own faith through their example and love.
The reason I mention this experience is that I have come to feel so much gratitude for the university I attend. When secular learning can walk hand in hand with the gospel and help us to greater understand God’s infinite wisdom and love, beautiful things can happen. 
In Doctrine and Covenants section 88 verse 118 we are taught “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
It is a HUGE part of the Lord’s plan for us to learn. To seek out knowledge and understanding-in my own opinion- is to try and become more like God. He knows and understands all things. Even though we cannot reach that same potential in this life, we can still do our best and try. 
One thing that I have always prided myself on is my ability to grasp learning quickly when it comes to something I am interested in. I will admit that while my exterior may have the makings of what some may call a “prep” (to use high school vernacular), I am quite the nerd. I love learning. The only thing I really love more than learning is understanding. When I can learn something and apply it to my life or to situations and see its affect, I just go giddy! Knowing how things work and why they work is amazing to me. Knowledge is important! 
Attending Brigham Young University has been a blessing in my life in more ways than I can count. Everything I do and learn here is centered on Christ. Because of that, there isn’t a moment when I can forget about my divine heritage or how my choices can affect the lives of others. 
Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel lonely, or overwhelmed, or distant, or upset, or angry at times. I am human and those are things I can’t help but feel. What gets me through and what holds me up through the stress, anxiety, and pain of life is knowing that things will get better. Knowing that I will be stronger after my trials as I try to progress helps me to remember that I am not just a human being that sometimes has a spiritual experience, but a Spiritual being having a human experience. (Look up that quote. It’s great!) 
What I want to tell you is that the only way we can really stay connected to God through the hard times is if we try. We shouldn’t blame him for our shortcomings and weaknesses, but go to him in those hard times and ask for strength. As we try to see how things can turn out brighter and try to understand why we are going through what we are experiencing, we can begin to see the bigger and better picture. And when we see that better picture, we remember that we are not alone. We don’t have to carry the burdens all by ourselves. A friend of mine counselled recently to look outward when feeling lonely. To find those who need help or just need a friend and in turn we ourselves will find what we need. I know this to be true. When I try to focus on helping others to have a better day, my issues-while they do not resolve themselves in most cases-don’t seem so scary. I am reminded of a loving Father in Heaven who sent his only begotten Son to earth to bleed and die for me. I am reminded of my Heavenly Brother, Jesus Christ whose blood atoned for my sins. Who suffered so that when I go through the pains of life I can find comfort and rest in Him. Because of Him I can repent. I can do better. I can BE better. 
And that, my dear brothers and sisters, is how I stay connected, or how I try to stay connected. By remembering the little things that together make up the bigger picture. By praying and asking for guidance, forgiveness, peace, and understanding. By receiving strength from God and knowing whose I am. I know that if you give Him the chance, you can stay connected through the hard times. You can make it through the school year knowing that you are not alone, no matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are a college student like me, or a teenager, or a parent, grandparent, child, young adult, or even a mollusk. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And you needn’t ever feel that you are unloved, because let me tell you something. HE LOVES YOU. I don’t know how to express that in any other way than those simple words. Don’t give up on fighting your battles and don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra strength along the way. Even Link has to pick up extra hearts on his way to save Zelda. 

I love you people! Even the ones I don’t know as well, or that I don’t know at all. Keep working at it. You’ll make it one day, I promise!
Love always,

Savannah

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