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You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

The day I was going to get baptized, I sat in my apartment getting 'ready' - listening to two songs:

1. Ben Gibbard "Indian Summer"
2. Tenth Avenue North - "By Your Side"

The 2nd song I reckon makes more 'sense' - but both songs were not 'LDS'. Both songs reminded me that despite my imperfections, I was somehow loved. That I didn't need to earn it - that it was there, just ready for me to grasp.

As I drove away from my baptism - expecting to feel some amazing powerful change. To see 'Jesus in my eyes' - assuming that the same decision I had made 8 years prior - would reflect the same feelings, emotions, and sense of peace.

In fact - the next day? The next day I spoke about how perfect the fact of it being 8 years since my 'original baptism' (at least in their church) was - because 8 flipped over represented eternity - and this time I was being baptized for eternity - no matter what.

(Preface: in order to protect those whom I love - or those whose I respect. Or even to only protect my own children, I admit, I had over 1300 published posts here on between December 2008 and today, April 2016. I obviously have made but a few very specific posts available for public view. And what I share within even those is limited to my own point of view - and I urge anyone who reads those - to not assume or pass judgement on anything - whether it be a person, a place, a religion, or anything else - based off my biased opinions that I've selectively shared just to show context.)

The times I reflect in my life (outside of my amazing children) that I have been genuinely the most happiest? Were in that baptismal fount. And I truly believe I thought I would find peace and comfort in 2011 the same way I found it in 2003.

And regardless if I genuinely did find there - what my heart was shouting 48 hours prior to baptism:

But out of the darkness,
I came the farthest,
Among the hardest survival.
Learn from these streets,
 it can be bleak,
Accept no defeat,
 surrender retreat,
That guided me more than I ever thought possible.

What I wrote less than 24 hours prior to baptism, spoke more truth than I even thought my self was capable of:

"I've made my share of mistakes. I am not perfect; and I will continue to make my share of mistakes, because I will never be perfect. I am merely me; whatever that entails. But I know within the gospel I have found great peace and humility, I Have come to a deeper compassion for the world around me... I have gained a more genuine love and patience. I find comfort and peace in circumstances, though I may not always understand them. The gospel has given me hope, especially in these hard times. I know that I have a father in heaven who truly loves me, and understands the trials that I am going through - and cares."

But even that amount of truth, less than 24 hours before that specific moment - and as much volume as it spoke - it was what I shared soon after what I thought would once again be life changing that laid the path - and I had no idea:

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but the rising every time we fall.
-Nelson Mandela
Just like in 2011 - I had no idea what I would face - but the journey wasn't the success - it was the rising despite the journey.

And between my official separation from my ex-husband in May 2011 and today, nearly 5 years later - I have made a heck of a lot of weird or bad or immature choices. But I have also made a lot of turn around's. I have learned a heck of a lot - overcome a heck of a lot - and become a heck of a lot.

Which is the only reason I even choose to reflect upon my past today.

Because every- EVERY- single hurdle that has been thrown my way since I became an adult - I've somehow found the strength and capability to overcome and move forward from.

And I just need to remind myself that - every single day - every. single. day. - Because if only this time it's not for me -it's for her. And not only do I deserve more - SHE deserves the world.

The lower lights are still burning today - I need not forget that.
And Christ welcomes my heart, regardless, whenever I'm merely willing to repent.

And I'm there.
And I'm there - not just for me - but because I must be there for her.
And them.

We can be the lower lights that set a gleam across the wave,
some pore rescued seaman we may rescue, we may save.

I know my life was saved not just by Heavenly Father, not just by Jesus Christ,
but those who surrounded me with love and help despite my shortcomings.

And I must teach that same reflective love to my children.