Sunday, March 28, 2010

Each Life That Touches Ours For Good

I actually enjoy going to funerals. Is that weird? My husband would exclaim a resounding "Yes! You are definitely wacko!" I don't mean to be terribly morbid, but I do enjoy attending funerals that rejoice in a life well lived and bear testimony about the grace of the Savior and His loving, charitable sacrifice so we can live again. I had this opportunity a couple of weeks ago, and I walked out of the service so uplifted.

Greg and I met at a friend's wedding. One of my best friends married one of his best friends. (Go here for the full story.) Greg met Steve as a Freshman in college. They are only a few days apart. They served their missions together, returned together, attended some more school together, and eventually married two beautiful, talented, amazing women. Steve's grandparents lived in the Orem/Provo area when Steve and Greg were at BYU. They often went over to Steve's grandparents house for meals, and Steve's grandpa took them fishing occasionally. Greg grew to love these adopted grandparents, and they took him in and loved him right back. I had the opportunity to meet them and visit with them on a few occasions throughout our married life. They loved me and drew me into their home immediately.

On March 4th, Grandpa Carlson passed away. He had been suffering with health problems for a while. Although they had relocated to Arizona, he was buried here in Salt Lake. Steve and Liz and Steve's entire family made the trek to Utah for the funeral. Greg and I (and Spencer and Kade) had the privilege of attending the funeral. Although I had only met Grandpa Carlson a handful of times, he had a profound impact on Greg's life (which, in turn, has a profound impact on mine). Greg is not known to "gush" about people. You definitely have to earn your praise from my husband. As he reminisced about Grandpa's life, I watched him speak with complete awe and reverence about a man who loved unconditionally and chose to live life joyfully.

Several times throughout the service, family members spoke of Grandpa's positive attitude. They also spoke about his ability to love and not judge. His daughter (Steve's mother) gave the eulogy. She spoke about how she has always felt that the Savior loves her because her dad loved her so deeply and always treated her with love and respect. Several people spoke about Grandpa's funny sayings and the ability he had to "enjoy the journey." He loved to fish. Fishing became a great metaphor throughout the service. His family spoke about how he taught them to relish in the peaceful surroundings and the majesty of the Lord's creations and not worry so much about catching fish.

I watched Greg, Steve, and Steve's family laugh and swap stories and sweet memories of Grandpa Carlson. It seemed that one person's memory led to another and another. As I sat through the beautiful service, contemplating the life of this man who loved the Lord, loved his family, and lived a happy, full life, all I could think about was the hymn "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good."

Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love.

What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

When such a friend from us departs,
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory,
Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior’s name,
Who bless our days with peace and love,
We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.

- Karen Lynn Davidson

Although I hardly knew this good man, by impacting the life of the most important person in my life, he has dramatically influenced mine. I left that service with a renewed passion to love my family more deeply and find more joy. Period. I also started contemplating how many people have impacted my life and they may never realize. Of course my close friends and family have an enormous impact, but I also thought of friends/acquaintances that I may or may not keep in contact with anymore. People that attended school with, people from past wards, people that have moved from my current ward, new ward members that I don't know very well yet. I thought about the stranger at the grocery store who stepped in to help a mother that was clearly struggling with her little ones. Instead of shaking her head, this woman took action. I thought of the sweet temple workers who helped me when I first received my endowments. I thought about all of my YW leaders. I thought of past roommates. I thought about people in my life who have died, but have left an everlasting imprint on my life. I thought about teachers and friends who have loved my children, thereby influencing my life tremendously. I thought of all of Greg's past friends, extended family members, youth leaders, professors, bishops, mission presidents, etc. (the list could go on and on) whom I have never met but have made him the man that he is today. It is almost mind boggling to consider all the people that have touched my life.

I believe that we have a greater power to influence than we realize. I have been so blessed to be surrounded by so much good.

I am grateful.


Fauset Photography said...

I love that song. I love your writing. I love a friend. :)

Liz said...

Beautiful thoughts Emily. Very touching. Thank you for sharing this. Steve wants to share this post with his family if that's okay. Love you.