Leaving a relationship to start a new one is a pretty scary process. We’ve all been in the situation: you’re not particularly happy in your current relationship, but you’re too afraid of venturing out without the possibility
of new love tangibly around the corner. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, folks. We’re not apes swinging on vines. We don’t get to have a hold of the next vine before we let go of the one we’re on. But this analogy isn’t about monkeys, it’s about islands.
Imagine, if you will, that you were in an accident at sea. Terrifying, I know. And now, you’ve woken up on the shore of some mysterious island, a lá Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Which, all things considered, is good news because you’re alive. And islands aren’t all that bad, right? That’s where people vacation! As you contemplate the opportunity in front of you, you find a small scroll in a bottle stuck in the sand. You open it and read, “I know this seems good, but what you’re really looking for is 100 miles away if you follow the arrow.” You look down where the bottle was in the sand and see the arrow. You read the note again, but overall, ignore it. Because you’re alive! And there’s like, fruit and stuff! (But no wifi . . . )
Alright! You could make a home here – and if you’re being honest, you need to work on your tan anyway. It’s the beginning of a beautiful time. There are berries to pick, animals to hunt, wood for shelter and lovely, sandy beaches. You set up camp, and for a few months, it’s a good life.
But, after a while, the berries are difficult to come by. The animals are extinct. Even the sand on the beaches seems a little coarser than it used to be. It’s often stormy and the shelters you’ve made aren’t enough to keep you protected. You keep thinking back to that note you found when you first washed ashore. It becomes clear that, in order to be happy, you’re going to have to leave.
You make your raft and set out on the course the note prescribed. As you first leave, you hit the breakers and waves a few yards out from shore. They keep pushing you back, capsizing you. You start thinking that if you don’t have the strength to get through 100 yards, how could you POSSIBLY go 100 miles? Maybe it would be easier to just quit. This is way too much effort. But you gain courage and strength to do what you know you must do, and finally, free from the rough waves of the shore and sandbars, you reach open water.
As you paddle along, the effort it takes to move forward is a bit easier. But, after a few days, you start getting a little anxious. The island you left grows smaller and smaller in the distance, and there’s no sign of anything on the horizon. You start to question your decision to leave.
I mean, who wrote that note, anyway? you think. On the last island, I knew what I was dealing with. Out here…I don’t even have a CLUE what I’m getting into.
As time goes on, your fears grow larger and your paranoia more persistent. As you see the last of the peaks of your former home disappear behind the curtain of the sea, you ask yourself, Is this right? Is this worth it? At least back there, I knew I had land. Even if it wasn’t very good, I had SOMETHING. You stop paddling and weigh your options. As you bob there in the ocean, the very last sign of land in your sight, you decide to go on. You dip your homemade paddle into the water and the island disappears from view.
You’re in open water. Alone.
But after a little while, something strange happens. Whether it’s rational or something a little deranged, you feel a sense of euphoria; a zeal for the quest to find your new island. No, your new utopia. Your old abode out of sight, you focus instead all your energy and thought towards what you’ll do once you reach your covenanted paradise. Oh, man, you croon, I can’t WAIT to lie in the warm sand again. I’ll probably just lie there for days. Each daydream fuels your motions, pulling you closer to what, with each stroke, you feel is certain respite.
“Therefore, let not your hearts faint. … Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.” 1What goodly land? Well, your goodly land. Your promised land. Your new Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny. I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what His plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses or Nephi or the brother of Jared did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord’s will for us and to know that He loves us beyond mortal comprehension. I also believe that the adversary and his pinched, calculating little minions try to oppose such experiences and then try to darken them after they happen.” – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Then, one day, you see it. Your heart leaps, but you keep your emotions in check. You narrow your eyes and you see it: your salvation. You leap for joy, nearly falling off your small floating platform and then drop to your knees. From your torn clothes you produce the tattered note. The one that promised you this fate all those days ago. You whisper quietly; to yourself, to the note – to God: “Thank you.”
Ok, now that you’ve humored me, I’ll explain myself.
The first island is the less-than-desirable relationship. Yes, it seems better than the alternate (being alone) but is it really?
The note is the feeling you have / assurance from your Heavenly Father that you deserve to have a relationship that is fulfilling, with someone who loves you as much as you love them, etc.
The waves and surf along the shore are the difficult emotional toll and strength needed for the initial breakup with the person you’re with.
The view of the former island is how you feel about your last relationship. You can’t really be ready for what’s to come until you’ve moved past longing for what you once had.
The open water is the ethereal space between relationships. This is where you discover who you are, as an independent individual. Where you learn your own strength and your value and worth.
The view of the next island is the butterflies of a future relationship. Landing on that island is the realization of it being the relationship you’ve been searching for.
“I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.” – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland