Sometimes I feel bad for Michigan. I am really not fair to that state. I have lived in ten states through out my life and I have loved all of them, except Michigan. I believe that everyone should travel and live in different places to see and learn things from new perspectives. There is beauty everywhere. Except in Michigan.
And yet, I keep finding myself back in Michigan, so to speak, reliving it over again. Whenever I feel the same sense of unease, depression, overwhelming fatigue, I think “Oh no, this is just like Michigan.” My time there was a time of trial, fraught with anguish, but Michigan was also a time of remembrances and as such cannot be forgotten. It was in Michigan that I woke up and took fresh stock of myself when I thought I had ruined everything. I remembered my mother and grieved for her, and I remembered why I loved my husband in a time when it was difficult to do so.
All the bad parts of Michigan no longer stand alone. They are paired with the profound experiences, good friends, and inner strength that I found there as well. I have not yet developed a great love for difficulty—much like how trials make you stronger, but you don’t go asking for them. Or how the refiner’s fire yields pure beauty, but it still burns. The problems I faced in Michigan were transformative and I hated them. But, I do love who I have become. Trials can make you stronger; it’s learning from them that’s the real trick.
I know that I’m biased, my objective brain knows that Michigan really is a great state, but I cannot erase my experiences. Our experiences shape us and the way we see the world. Not everyone hates Michigan. I met many there that love it because it is their home, their life, their family. It is my experience in that state that has changed how I see it to the point that my Michigan is very different from the Michigan experienced by so many others. It doesn’t make mine any less true. Rather, it means I accept the challenge to hold my view and recognize another’s as equally valid and true even though it is different. And just because I see something a certain way, it is not the only way, and I can learn to see it in a new light.
Similarly, I have a particular way I view my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some love it, others hate it. It depends on how you have experienced it.
There is no easy way to tell you why I view things the way that I do. My husband will tell you that I’m not as Mormon as I think I am to which I reply that I am Mormon and it’s all those other Mormons that are confused. I have learned the gospel through study, but mostly through my experiences. Truth can be studied and learned in a variety of ways but it is not until you have lived it, that it will have meaning and become a part of you. Intellectually, the scriptures and doctrines of the Church can be interpreted many ways. I like my interpretation because it is what I have learned through my life, it is what I live. A scripture will have a particular meaning because it was not learned in a vacuum. It was taught to me at a certain time, by a special person, with a healthy dose of the Spirit, and then used by me in a chosen way. My view of the Church is linked to my life, just as it is for everyone.
Thus, I could start in the beginning of my life but I have chosen to start in Michigan. Before Michigan, I learned many things. In Michigan, I applied them and learned them again from a new angle. The problems were not particularly new, rather they came together to form a Triumvirate of Trouble that took every lesson I’d learned and all the strength I’d gained before to overthrow. Because of Michigan, my past did not stay in the past. It gained meaning. I gained a purpose that had been lost and needed to be brought back home. I learned to overcome my trials by seeking unity and am stronger for it. Now, I’m grateful for Michigan.