In my dreams I still experience it all. I hear the ropes slap, I smell the new gym shoes, and I feel the energy through my body has I jump and cartwheel and turn. For years I jumproped (yes, I made that one word) on the Proform Airborne team. I competed and performed in everything from red ribbon week assemblies at elementary schools to the AAU's Junior Olympics. It was entwined in every area of my life. I practiced at least seven hours a week all year round, and taught once week during the school year. My team was my family. We competed, performed, traveled, laughed, cried, and shared our passion together. In fact, it was so ingrained in me, that I decided I would wait to got to BYU. Instead I'd stay at home, where I could continue competing and work on my associates at BYUI. But as my senior year progressed, I knew that I wasn't the right decision. I needed to give up my team. But not jumprope. I'd practice everyday! I'd work on singles. I'd stay in shape and be ready when a new jumprope opportunity arose.
But my freshman year was hard and busy. I only jumped one time. After my freshman year I got married, then eventually I had kids, and all the while I was still putting my heart and soul into my studies.
When I scroll through my facebook feed, I see all my old jumpers. Many of them have become professional. Some of them take time of off school to jumprope for Cirque du Soleil. Some of become world champions. Meanwhile, I wake up at 6:30 most mornings to work on homework, and my husband and I go to bed at ten at night so we can survive waking up with the baby. From the outside looking in, we're not very extraordinary or evening exciting. But on day, when my knees are bad and my arthritis sets in, I can't wait to look back on this again, and see where my struggle brought me.
"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me..." Luke 22:42
For the past couple weeks, getting out of bed had felt harder than unburying myself from a rock pile. And today was no different, exhaustion was a tangible pressure weighing my limbs into place, but I knew I needed to get going, to get ready for work. When I heard my husband of only a couple months finishing his shower, I slowly rose and drudged to meet him in the living room.
Freshly scrubbed and dressed Brad tried to greet me with a kiss, but the smell of his soap and deodorant walloped me in the face, making my already nauseated stomach squirm and demand to vomit. I staggered back, overpowered. While every ounce of concentration was spent clearing the mists of lightheadness and the storm in my stomach, I could see the hurt in Brad's eyes as I refused to kiss him. But I had no physical power to speak, to explain.
Not long after, I scrubbed down the sink across from my office for the eighth time that morning, hoping Brad would come with my nausea pills soon and I wouldn't have to clean up anymore throw up. I resolved that I finally needed to tell my manipulative boss that I was pregnant, even though I knew it would get me in trouble. I rightly predicted her stance that my unborn baby was a sign of disloyalty because it would mean I would quit her. Though I didn't guess it would become part of her fourteen year feud with the other boss. "You told her first? I can't believe you would choose her over me. She brought it up on our work meeting, to show she's more on top of things that I was. You just let her win again."
After nine months of vomiting so hard the blood vessels in my face would break, my little angel presented herself in the most hellish way possible: emergency C-section. As I held and loved my baby with feelings that went to an unknown depth, I couldn't shake the guilt of the suffering the surrounded her journey into this world. I was tired and hurt and depressed and in pain. Why did I have to go through that when I was bringing something so good into the world? I was ashamed and guilty. Why should I feel this depressed I have the most beautiful creature in the world in my arms? The answer to that took as long as the pregnancy, but it came from my Savior. He suffered, he felt pain, he asked the Father "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). While I know I'm incomparable to Jesus the Christ, I learned my suffering was not sin. I learned my sacrifice--my drinking of the bitter cup--showed love, not desecrated it.
As a blushing freshman I was already feeling overwhelmed in my new college life. My homework load felt staggering, I worked a billion hours a week at my new job, my first roommates were all seniors and new so much more than me, and now he was part of the picture, this twenty-three year old man that was nothing like the boy I had left at home. This new crush of mine, Brad, had been coming to my apartment everyday with some random excuse, and now he'd finally dropped the pretense and we were going for a drive together. Just us. Too many insecurities were running through my mind and I was terrified I was going to mess this up.
I'd been to Provo before, but I knew nothing about the beautiful mountains and canyons. Brad took me on the Alpine Loop. Sometimes I have a hard time connecting with nature, I see trees and mountains, but I just think it looks like the calendar on my wall. This time was different. Everything was gorgeous. The leaves were turning yellow, which never looks like a sign of death because the yellow and orange are too jovial. Brad was asking me all sorts of questions about myself. I worried anything I would say would condemn me, a barely nineteen-year-old freshman with no real dating experience. But something in the trees and the blue sky seemed to whisper to me, "Tell him. Tell him honestly. No sense creating a fake person. If he doesn't like you, he doesn't like you. Tell him. Tell him honestly." So I did. We drove, we talked, we were real.
When he stopped the car to pick me some sunflowers, the flower whispered a tiny thought to my heart. You're going to marry this man. And that tiny little sunflower knew what it was talking about.