Monday, May 13, 2013

Here I am

I think my very favorite moment in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a letter that a father writes to his daughter simply because she asked him to. The letter ends, "I hope one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love." It's such a gorgeous sentence because it so aptly conveys the kind of trust involved in loving or being loved by someone. Sometimes, the meaning isn't immediately (or ever) clear, but you go ahead anyway, because you trust that person enough to proceed blindly.

This sort of blind trust in God has definitely been part of my religious experience. For me, there is a period of blind faith between when I choose to believe and start living a principle or aspect of the gospel (even though I usually don't understand why I'm doing it) and when I understand that to be true. And the reality is, knowing it's true usually entails a confirmation that it's the right thing but not necessarily understanding every aspect of the why. I've learned to be okay with that, because I think that one of the most fundamental aspects of faith is that there needs to be reasonable but not certain grounds for believing, which means there must be space for both doubt and belief.

Lately, I've been pretty overwhelmed with this whole mission thing. It's like now that I've bought most of my clothes and I've got other preparations seriously underway, the realities of the things that scare me are really sinking in. Kiev Ukraine is literally on my mind all the time - in both good and bad ways. I've been participating this giant 7000-member sister missionary facebook group, planning my life on Pinterest and reading all these blogs and talks about preparing and going on a mission. The general consensus seems to be "A mission is really really really nearly unbearably hard but it is absolutely entirely worth it and you will grow in orders of magnitude."  I already knew this, but right now, I can't help being absolutely terrified. Which is why I need blind faith. 

I know that I am supposed to go on a mission. I am absolutely sure of it. Never in my life have I been more confident of anything. Right now, however, is a period of blind faith. I'm not totally sure how I'm going to do all these things that terrorize me, but I believe there will be a way. This is my life. I am the one who has to live with it, who has to live with the consequences of the choices I make, and I am making my decisions in accordance with what I think is right.

One of the things I learned studying for my religion final is the Hebrew word Hineni. It roughly translates to "Here I am" and it's used almost exclusively by humans addressing a divine presence. It's a word used by Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and Isaiah, among others. And I think it's the word that you use when talking about a mission, because it's not so much a physical "Here I am" as a moral and spiritual "Here I am." It means "This is where I am. What do you need from me, Lord? I am ready." Which is where I'm at right now. I am ready to try.


  1. Hannah, I tried to send you an email and reach you through JoAnne's brother, Paul Haag. I had no success with the email route and I could not get a hold of Paul (I left a message yesterday on a telephone number for a Martha Haag in Virginia). I am a high school friend of JoAnne Haag. I found some old photographs from our senior year and I wanted to give them to you if you are interested. I am not sure what the correct protocol is for leaving one's contact information on another's blog. That being said, I will leave you my email address if you want to contact me. The address is Paul should remember me from his sister's senior year of high school.