Today is the most Mormonest of days, Pioneer Day, so Happy Pioneer Day to you all.
I originally intended to address how strange it is as a convert to be a part of a religion that is simultaneously so invested in its history yet runs from it at every turn. While it is a valid point that I would like to address at some future date, today is not that day.
Today I would like to address the pioneering spirit within us all. Make no mistake, I do not mean “pioneering spirit” to mean “be like the pioneers and hold mock treks and have a strange reverence for them.” What I mean is that something inside of us that spurs us to greater heights of spirituality and humanity. If one never ventures outside of their comfort zone how will they know their true boundaries and what they are truly capable of? In the same way that faith untested is no faith at all, a life unlived is no life at all.
Most people at one time or another are a pioneer; traveling that unmarked path, while scary, can bring immense satisfaction. Walking by faith, or gumption, or whatever you want to call it is how we find out who we are. No one is there to tell us to turn right, or turn left so we feel our way through the darkness until we emerge on the other side. Sometimes we are worse for the wear, but always we are wiser.
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Recognizing that a situation is fearful, or new does not mean you have to shy away from it. At my grandfather’s funeral in 1995 the Priest sang “Be not afraid” (http://youtu.be/snmwD6d9Xo4) and that song spurred me on a faith journey that would change my life forever. Maybe something small will change your life as well.
Perhaps someday I will share my own pioneering story with you all. It involves many twists and turns and since it is a story about me it is an awesome one. For today though, take some time to think in what ways you might be able to be (or have been) a pioneer in your own lives. You would be surprised by what you find. You may not have walked across the country, but each generation has their own cross to bear and in your heart as a child of Heavenly Parents you have walked and walked and walked and walked.