My cousin's farewell was today. It brought back some memories of my own mission years ago.

I thought I was hot stuff as a missionary. I knew all the scripture masteries and felt I could easily teach about gospel subjects. I learned Italian faster than anyone else in my MTC group and was fluent enough to teach a lesson on the plane flying out.


I was clueless.

I had little to no social awareness. I didn't understand interpersonal relationships, and I'm sure I dragged my companions through the pits of despair. I tried. But building a relationship with someone who forgets everything you talked about just two days prior is tough.

It's like building a sand castle with someone. You can make something beautiful, something meaningful, but it's also ephemeral and fleeting. I have to look in my copy of Preach My Gospel to remember the names of my companions, and find photos of them to remember their faces. And with the exception of a few moments, my memories of them are completely gone.

Realizing now that episodic and autobiographical memory issues are common in autism makes it easier for me and the people around me now.

But during my mission I didn't have that perspective.

And yet somehow it still worked out.

God still accomplished His work. Even through me - a broken, messed up, bipolar, autistic guy who, if I had been diagnosed beforehand, probably wouldn't have been allowed to even serve.

And that's the point.

God doesn't ask me to be perfect. He doesn't ask me to be ok. He doesn't ask me to be able to connect with everyone emotionally or be an amazing friend to everyone I meet. 

He just asks me to do my best, even if that is far less than the ideal I wish for. And that best is perfect. I am a part of His plan, meant to grow in the place I'm planted. The growth I experience, the messes I make - they're all part of the plan for me and the people around me.

There is peace in Christ. God knows me, He knows my needs, He knows the people around me, and life and all its circumstances is designed to help all of us come as close to Him as we can be.

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