Lucky to wear the sweater

These are the most Irish things about me:

  1. I recently colored my hair, and there is a little red in it. Ginger every day, baby.
  2. I once wanted to travel to Ireland.
  3. I may have kissed someone from Irish decent. #namedericwhitlock
  4. I have a ring on my right hand that looks Celtic if you squint and turn it to a 45 degree angle.
  5. I once picked a clover. It only had three leaves.
  6. I like the Charlie Brown character Peppermint Patty. She also wears green.
  7. I have green on the inside of my glasses. I wear them most days. #Idareyoutopinchmeever

Most of my feelings about this cloverlicious holiday can be described in one word. Meh. It’s just never done it for me.

Happy St. Patty's Day. #meh #theresgreeninthere

Happy St. Patty’s Day. #meh #theresgreeninthere

Don’t worry, though. I’ll still be the mom that dyes her kids’ milk green, cooks green pancakes for breakfast and cornedbeef and cabbage for dinner. I’ll do all those things.

As a student of psychology, I’ve thought about the root of this apathy. Two words: Fourth grade.

I was sitting on my bed. Tears streaming down my blotchy, red face. Hair gone amuck. Mother standing in the door.

“The bus is going to be here! You have to get ready, Em.”

School was a daunting prospect. It was St. Patrick’s Day morning and the only thing I had to wear was a itchy,  pink sweater with giant flowers knitted into it. It was tragic. The only reason it fit was because I had finally almost grown into it. The monstrosity still drowned me in a sea of 1983. But those lime green stems on the sweater from Hades were the only green I owned.

Wearing this sweater was going to be a fate worse than death. Even now I can remember the metalic yarn on the sleeves that went down past my finger-tips. No bueno.

My mother, bless her soul, tried to talk up this mess I was in. But the clock was ticking and I had to get moving. I faced defeat. I knew that if I didn’t wear something with green in it, stupid Bryce Crawford (who I was desperately in fourth-grade-love with) would pinch me. Curse my pride. I put the sweater on, tried to salvage my mess of hair, and placed a pair of smudged, crooked glasses on the bridge of my nose.

School that day was the most uncomfortable experience of my fourth-grade life. I was finally old enough to worry about what others thought of me. I was miserable. I came home and cried and cried.

Ever since that fateful day, I have hated St. Patrick’s day. I still don’t own green. I wore a scarf with green in it to church today incase anyone reminiscent of stupid Bryce Crawford tried to pinch me.

Today as I looked back on this experience, it made me laugh. But that awkward sweater taught me a lesson. I chose to be miserable. I could have gone on my merry way, shrugged off the event of an unfortunate wardrobe, and been happy.

This is perhaps one of the greatest pieces of wisdom I could impart on those of you preparing to serve. You will have days when you have to wear the awkward, itchy, ugly, uncomfortable, knitted, pink flower sweater. You absolutely will. But you absolutely can choose how to react to it.

Days when every appointment falls through and you tract for hours? Love it.

Moments where you feel all is lost because your progressing investigator didn’t come to church after they promised they would? Learn from it.

Days where you would rather swallow a live hedgehog than have to wear the same skirt and cardigan? Embrace it.

Nights when you have to say, “Why, yes” to a third dinner? Cherish it.

While you don’t have to lie to yourself about your emotions in a particular situation, strive to choose joy. Choose positivity. Choose happiness. Choose light.

I promise, I promise, it will change the outcome of your mission. It will change you. It will change your life.

Go forth, dear sisters, and remember how lucky you are to be wearing that sweater.

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