Parents, family, friends: I love you, and I have grown more grateful and appreciative of your love as you have written me with your concerns about the recent change of direction I have decided to take in my life. I truly do appreciate your concern.
I had made plans to juggle three full time careers: international travel, extreme mountain climbing, and LDS education. It is possible to do all of these things simultaneously; I had a plan to live and work in Asian nations as a professional education consultant, and it's a viable plan. But when I have prayed about it recently, I feel more and more that that is not what the Lord wants me to do. More importantly, that plan will not help me be what the Lord would have me be.
The primary focus of my life must be my future family. I've felt that before, which is why I gave up music. It's possible to have a family as a professional singer, but it is a very difficult, constrained possibility. Similarly, although it is possible to have a family and do all of the things I previously wanted to do, my previous goals prioritized my welfare over my family's.
Similarly, climbing mountains – climbing Everest, especially – unrighteously risks my life and my ability to fulfill the things I have been called to do. My primary calling in life must be as a husband and father, followed by my occupational calling as an educator establishing LDS schools. Everything else is tertiary, and if the tertiary things conflict with my core goals, they have to be cut away.
And so, I exercise the principle of triage and redefine myself again. This week has been one of rebirth, as I've shed successive layers of constructed identity in the pursuit of a new and better one. I may no longer even live outside of the United States; although I would still like to live and work in China (and the rumored six figure income directly out of grad school wouldn't hurt either), I understand that I may not be blessed with that opportunity. Even if I am blessed with that opportunity, I understand I may be called to go another way (Alma 22:4).
In this time of meditation and renewal, I have refocused on my original goal of establishing an LDS school system. Since I no longer have other goals in my mind, I have found a lot more energy and fire as I've considered LDS schools. I've gone back over my original notes on the subject, and rediscovered a pure and holy fire that I haven't felt concerning my future for a long time. I feel I've shed a great weight, and that I'm being lifted again on the underlying currents to something much higher.
And I've shed precious time. I'm going to graduate in two semesters, I believe, two semesters and a Spring term if I'm unlucky or unpersuasive. My new major gives me a far greater breadth of options in the education field; international relations supports only international and comparative development education; sociology supports that field, and each of the other education majors in grad school. I want to work in the field of education; sociology gets priority.
Similarly, I gain precious time. One year allows me a year of practical experience in education before I get a doctorate, or makes Teach for America plausible, or other opportunities. If I can get the same benefits at a cost one year less expensive, again sociology gets priority.
But regardless of all the rest, I feel better and happier about my new course of life. I can honestly say that my previous plans weren't making me happy. I think these new ones will.
Much of my personal image, my definition of myself, was wrapped up in travel and international change. The decisions and prayers of the past week have stripped much of that away, and so I am re-orienting myself according to my new paradigm. I ask for your understanding and continued love as I redefine myself.
But know this: my old paradigm was removed. “When I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor 12:11) And though I still see through a glass darkly, I couldn't go back now if I tried. My metamorphosis has already progressed past that point; were I to return to International Relations now, it would not be the same as before. To large degree, the young man from before died, and his successor is different. Better, but different.
Someone counseled me to rely on the Lord in this, concerned that I wasn't doing so in making this decision. This decision has been to rely upon the Lord and His promises concerning my future happiness. This decision was to cross the Rubikon, and to march forth; or rather, to sail forth in an unknown course, in search of a destination I do not see, for a far country that lies beyond the horizon. But I believe in revelation and the Lord's promises. He knows where He is sending me, and I know that this is the right way for me to go. My new life is not as glamorous or exciting or dangerous as my old one; but it is a better life, one filled with more happiness. I'm looking forward to it.
And so, I go forward.