Brunelleschi's Dome. Image found here.
Today was the study abroad fair, and of course, there is going to be an Art History study abroad this Spring in Europe. And my heart longs to go.
At first I thought that I might have a chance. They offer a lot of different scholarships, and if I was awarded enough money I could probably make it, right? But as I added up the totals I realized that it just isn't going to work. If I won awards from every organization, then I could go. But the truth is, I'm not going to win all of those awards. I could probably get something, but not enough. I can't afford it. I could take out loans, telling myself that it is a good experience and valuable to my education, but that doesn't seem right either, because deep down inside, I know that I need to bloom where I'm planted and lift where I stand.
After this disappointment set in, I became angry. Why do they have to have this study abroad information floating around every year? Every time I hear about it I want to go but I can't, and it is painful. Why can't the study abroad people just go away?!
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is not their fault. The reason I feel unhappy about the study abroad thing is because it has made me so selfish and focused on myself. When they introduce it each year, I start to think that I am entitled to go to Europe because I'm an art history major. I am perfectly happy until I recognize that there is something I can't have. I forget how very blessed I am.
I find comfort in the example of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, whose education was in the Humanities and was funded by student loans and the sweat of his own brow. I'm sure he would have liked to have gone abroad too. But I am grateful for the sacrifices he made, for they made him the amazing man he is and make these words from "The Inconvenient Messiah" so much more powerful:
It is not easy to go without - without physical gratifications or spiritual assurances or material possessions - but sometimes we must since there is no guarantee of convenience written into our Christian covenant. We must work hard and do right, as Abraham Lincoln said, and sometimes our chance will come. And when we've tried, really tried, and waited for what seemed never to be ours, then "the angels came and ministered unto him."
So here is the fact of the matter: I don't need to go to Europe. I don't deserve to go to Europe. If the Lord wanted me to go, He would open up the windows of heaven and provide a way for me to get there - but He doesn't. I need to stay right here and soak up the richness of my life - my loving and supportive family, my incredible friends who love me for who I am, my high-quality education gained on a spiritually-enriched campus, my classes that allow me to sing and dance and write and create art, my calling that teaches me to serve, my opportunities to grow closer to the Savior and through His Atonement obtain eternal life.
No. I don't need anything else. God has blessed me with a beautiful life, and I am going to be better at cherishing each moment of it.