Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Bench

Something kind of awesome happened to me Friday night. 
And since I use this blog as a journal of sorts, 
I wanted to put it here.
For safe keeping.
And maybe so I can look back on it one day,
when skies are stormy,
and clouds are gray,
and life is hard and heavy.

Friday evening, I dropped Camden off at football practice,
dropped off the girls to my mother in law,
and headed to the Mesa temple.
A temple I have not been to in 5 years.
For a brief moment,
I considered going to the Gilbert temple,
but I was in a hurry.
And it was farther.

I pulled into the parking lot at 4:16.
If I hurried, I could still make the 4:30 session.
Practically running, I bolted through the front doors and handed the temple worker my recommend.
As soon as I rounded the corner into the lobby,
images flooded my memory.
And my gait slowed.
Almost 10 years ago, 
I was here.
In this exact foyer.
Walking with my mom,
anticipating tonight's endowments,
and tomorrow's wedding. 
I brushed the lingering thoughts away.
 I still needed to hurry.

I walked to the dressing room and quickly changed my clothes,
it was 4:23.
I was going to make it.

When I finally sat down in the chapel,
it was just me and my thoughts.
The memories flooded my mind once again.
It all started here.
Right here in this temple.
Starting on the path that would lead to the lowest of lows,
crushing heartbreak,
sleepless nights,
and an uncountable number of tears.

As we left the chapel,
and headed for the stairs,
a bench caught my eye.
I knew that bench.
It was the same bench I sat on almost ten years ago.
A twenty year old, 
hand in hand with a man who was about to become her husband.
The memory so vivid,
it was as if the decade of time passed had not faded it at all.
I smiled to myself.
So young.
So eager.
And so in love.

I finished the session,
walked through the celestial room almost without stopping,
and made my way down the staircase.
I headed down the ramp back to the women's dressing room,
the same ramp,
the sealer asked the new Mr. and Mrs. Patterson to walk down together.
At the end of the hallway,
I saw myself in the giant mirror.
The same mirror,
the sealer asked us to stop in front of and see the eternal family we had just created.

This time though, 
I walked down that ramp alone.
And about halfway down,
looking at myself in the mirror,
an intensely overwhelming love filled my entire soul.
My Heavenly Father's love.
He was proud of me.
The girl I was as a new bride that day,
was not the same girl I was looking at Friday night.
The words, 
as clear as if someone had spoken it,
filled my ears,
"Look how far you've come."

So maybe the marriage that started here ended.
And maybe I didn't have the life I imagined having as I sat on that bench as a young bride.
And maybe those years spent in the trenches were the darkest times of my life.
Maybe so.
But here I am now,
faithfully putting one foot in front of the other,
doing my best to deserve the life I've been given,
and feeling so much gratitude for the path I have taken.

I would not be me,
without that dream-filled bride,
 sitting on a bench.

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