Friday, September 14, 2007

I Didn't Know Life Was Going To Be This Hard

I didn't know life was going to be this hard. I remember, very distinctly, my first few years of college, becoming aware of all the things that I was blind to as a child. I learned about things that had been there for years, but I didn't realize it. For one, I remember shopping for shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. for the first time and being shocked at how much it cost for life's basics! I also remember noticing things like my Grandmother's failing health. In may ways, I'm still growing up. I wonder...At what age do you feel "all grown up"?

Every once in a while, I look at my life and think, "I'm the mom! When did that happen?!?" When we are on vacation, and I'm the one making a picnic lunch or ensuring everyone has sunscreen on. In more serious moments, I realize that my kids are looking to me to fix the problems. Some are easy fixes, like kissing scuffed elbows or hurt feelings (apparently all of Macy's feelings are in her tummy because that is what I have to kiss when her feelings get hurt). Some problems are bigger, like does my son have ADHD? How can I help him?

I remember walking in the room and seeing my mom sitting at the table with her head in her hands sobbing. That was the day that Emily Whitwer died. She was the second young mother in our ward to die of breast cancer. Both women left families with five young children. My mom served with both of these amazing women in Young Women's. I remember in eighth grade, a friend of mine came to school and told us her parents were getting a divorce. I remember a good friend of mine in Jr. High and High School whose dad couldn't hold down a job because he suffered from depression. When I was in High School, my friend's mom gave birth to a full-term still birth baby. I didn't fully understand the impact of these (and other) events when I was young. But, as I watch those that I love so dearly struggle through these trials, it rips my heart out. I'm the mom now...I'm involved...I'm no longer sitting on the sidelines watching my parents. Over the past few years, my prayers have become much more meaningful in pleading with the Lord on behalf of friends and family. I was talking with my mom a couple of months ago, and I said, "I'm 30 years old, and I feel like I'm starting to learn how to pray." I think I could add to that list. I'm 30 years old, and I feel like I'm finally learning how to exercise faith, love unconditionally, forgive, find happiness amid pain, turn it all over to Christ.

My good friend, Jen, put a post on her blog that centered around the hymn, "Each Life that Touches Ours for Good." I loved it! I have definitely been blessed to know so many amazing people. Thousands of people have touched my life in profound ways just by their friendship and example. Some people have touched my life who I don't even know. We were up in Bear Lake over Labor Day, and we attended a Fast and Testimony Meeting of 1600 people. I was in the Mother's Lounge feeding Paige, so I couldn't see the speakers, I could just hear them. The second testimony was a young and very bubbly woman. She said she couldn't wait to go home and tell people that she bore her testimony in front of 1600 people. She kept using the word "awesome" to describe the gospel, her husband, and her little baby. Cynically, I thought to myself, "What does she know? She's probably never had anything go wrong for her in her entire life. It's easy to think things are awesome if you've always had it so easy." She went on to describe how they lost their first baby shortly after he was born, and how she had overcome her loss. I immediately repented for my sheer snottiness and for being so judgemental. Then, I opened my heart and let her teach me something. She taught me that regardless of the trial, we can find joy in our lives. No matter what, we choose our attitude. She also talked about the countless blessings that she does have. I have no doubt that this woman is overcome with grief some days, but she has chosen to live the majority of her life positively.

I've been reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. It's about two Christian sisters (in their 50's) who are put in a concentration camp during WWII for harboring Jews. She describes a hell so awful that I can't even imagine surviving that situation. However, her sister tells her, "We must go everywhere. We must tell people that no pit is so deep that He (Christ) is not deeper still. They will believe us, because we were here." We can't expect the Celestial Kingdom to be handed to us on a silver platter. (My good friend Jen taught me that one, too. What would I do without her!) If this is the time to learn Christ-like attributes, we have to suffer. Humility, compassion, love - it all comes from suffering. My mom said that she no longer looks at very loving, righteous people and thinks, "Why can't I be like that!" Now, she thinks, "Wow! I wonder what they've been through in their life to be so compassionate!" My mom just shared with me an amazing experience she had involving the following scripture: Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord. - D&C 98:1-3

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less
difficult for each other?" - George Eliot

I was sobbing on the phone to Greg today (it's been a rough one), when Macy saw me. One of the joys of my life is discovering the amazing abilities that my children have been born with. One of Macy's is her sensitive and sympathetic heart. Even as a baby, she would be fussy in her car seat in the store when she would hear the cry of another baby and immediately stop and look around with big, concerned eyes. As a young toddler, we would be in Sacrament Meeting, and she would be in mid-sentence when someone would start crying from the pulpit. She would stop, look up, and say, "She is sad. I will give her a hug." Today, she climbed on the chair with me and asked me why I was sad. She suddenly looked surprised and said, "Do you want some waffles? You go to bed, and I will bring you some waffles to eat in your bed. That will make you happy." Wouldn't it be great if her little three-year-old solution worked?!?

I hope you don't think that I've been lecturing...just pondering. I know that so many of you are suffering, so please let me help. It is not only by going through trials that we learn Christlike attributes, it is helping to lighten the burden of others as well. I am so indebted to all of you that have touched my life and taught me so much! Each of you truly has touched my life for good. Thank you! Plus, if you call, I just might show up with waffles!

Whew...That was a long one!


Jen said...

you are so insightful. I LOVED this!! Thank you- I got more spiritually out of this than I do in Sacrament meeting because kids are always climbing all over me. :) You're so fabulous! Thank you for this.

jackiemcdonald92 said...

I love reading your blog Emily. It always makes me laugh or gives me something to think about. How do I get on everyone else's blog?

Emily said...

I'm so glad you you read it (and comment!). I never know if my ramblings make any sense. I look on Jen's, Kim's, and Paige Fotheringham's in the ward. I'll send them your email and they can invite you. You should start one. I'm sure you have a lot of fabulous stories with your kids.

My Family said...

Thank you so much for your posts. I love to read your posts. I have learned so much from you. I really love and appreciate you so much. ((hugs))

elizsteveb said...

I didn't know life was going to be this hard either. I think to myself "why didn't anyone tell me?" I think you're right. If we all look back we do remember bad things happening to good people all of the time. Life is hard and sometimes really sad. I'm so glad that we can rely on other people's wisdom. I feel that you have shared some of your wisdom with me my sweet friend Emily. Thank you for your thoughts. Love, Liz

Kimberly Porter said...

You are so thought-provoking. I have thought about this entry quite a bit the last few days. It is very true. I always thought after you got married, life would be easy. But it has gotten harder. But, the rewards are much sweeter, too. Thanks for your thoughts.