Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Driving to Heaven

Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Driving to Heaven

Article excerpt

Cory and I more or less live in the cab of a long-haul semi. We have a house in Indiana, but we don't make it home very often. It's not unusual for two months to pass between visits home. There are a lot of problems connected with living most of your life in an 8'6"x13' box. When we first started driving, I was shocked to learn how quickly our tempers flared, and how often the thought of divorce came to mind. After two months, I was ready to never see him again; but we fought it all through. Another problem was that, after we had been driving for a couple of years, Cory developed diabetes and, under regulations governing long-distance hauling, could no longer drive. For many months, I drove alone. Now Cory rides with me, so at least we are together.

Another problem has been keeping active in the Church. I believe in strict obedience to the principles of the gospel. Obviously, trucking has meant no home or visiting teaching, no callings of any sort, no sacrament meetings, no closeness with ward members. Cory and I have been compelled not only to work on Sunday, but to buy food and fuel. It has been impossible to keep our job while still being strictly obedient. For a while, I feared my lack of meeting attendance would lead me to true inactivity-that is, I feared I might get where I didn't care about missing church. As for Cory, he had joined the Church at seventeen and still found some ways of his old life appealing-occasionally desiring to return, but fighting that desire.

This essay is partly about how I came to be the kind of person I am. But mostly it about how I feel about God and my religion and about how Cory and I have worked out a way to worship and serve the Lord while driving truck seven days a week. We feel we are staying close to the Lord and following His ways and doing His will.

I grew up in Snowflake, a small Mormon town in northeastern Arizona. My family was a big one. I had ten brothers and sisters. I came along in the next-to-last position-a place where it seemed pretty easy to get lost and go unnoticed. Surrounded by people, I seemed to exist in a black hole of loneliness through much of my childhood. I was depressed most of the time.

I felt that I wasn't supposed to be lonely and depressed, and I went out of my way to conceal my feelings. I knew that I was supposed to have a testimony; and I thought that, if you had a testimony, you wouldn't feel the way I did. The gospel was the central focus of our home while we were growing up. My mother was always the one to engage us in gospel discussions. I, being more like my taciturn father, preferred to keep my deepest thoughts and feelings tomyself. It was hard for me to find words for them, and I was simply afraid of or didn't understand some of them.

I felt like a hypocrite, having the appearance, rather than the actuality, of a direct relationship with the Lord-a relationship I truly desired but didn't know where to begin to find. It seems tome there was a kind of desperation in my pretense to a testimony. No persona, no dissembled personality, seemed too extreme for me to adopt if circumstances required it. It seemed to me that failing to dissemble, failing to appear confident of having a testimony, would confirm a terrible fear.What if the great black vastness was proof that there was no God and I had no "spirit" inside of me?

This was in stark contrast to everything around me at church, amongmy friends, and particularly at home. For example,my mother's favorite scripture, 2 Nephi 25:26, was plastered on the bathroom wall and her bedroom door, and occasionally it found its way to other walls in the house. "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." I truly desired to know to what source I could look for the remission of my sins. As I said, I wanted a direct relationship with the Lord-I just didn't know where to begin to find it. …

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