Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"In the Thick of Thin Things"...

Last week was an interesting week.  Things were not running smoothly at all, in fact, since I had been sick the week before last, you could say that my house was in a shambles.  When mom is sick, let's face it, things fall apart.  Add to that the fact that Todd has been working his butt off with this new funeral home, and has once again gone AWOL.  As grateful as I am to have him back at work, it's still hard to go back to doing everything myself again.  I miss him.  I had forgotten how much this job wears on him, physically, and mentally, and in turn wears on me.  Both of us have been on edge, and frankly, at each others throats.  During this time, I have been working hard to try to get my blog book for this year going, and because of that I have been spending some time going back and reading posts I wrote last year, during the first part of our lawsuit with the people who bought Allen Funeral Home.  It was actually super painful to go back and read some of those posts, with my feelings as raw as they were. It wasn't helpful to my current state of mind, either, to go back to read those posts that were filled with emotion, and anger. I found myself being drawn back in to the negativity that permeated my thoughts, and my whole being.  I found myself thinking of all that we have lost over the past year, and how much I hate those men for what they did to my family.  I found myself spiraling downward, into discouragement, and despair, and frustration. 

Then, early one morning, Todd gets a phone call from someone in our ward telling him that a sweet lady, about my age, with two teenage boys, had passed away in the night.  Her husband was out of town, so her children had found her that morning, could he please come over and help them.  Of course, in a way that only Todd can do, he went over and cared for, and comforted a family in need.  This sweet woman had suffered for years with illness after illness, which left her hardly able to get around anymore.  Her once vibrant and functioning body, gave out on her, leaving a broken hearted husband, and children behind.  It's funny how it takes something like this happening, to wake me up to the realization that in an instant, my life could be forever changed.  It's amazing how your focus changes from what you lack, to what you are blessed with.  From what you think is important today (like a clean house), to what is really important (like the sweet spirits who live in that house).  How shallow, and self absorbed I had become focusing on our mistakes, and our regrets, and forgetting our blessings, which are many.  How much regret would I have if my husband, or one of my children were taken from me in an instant, and I didn't feel like they knew how much I loved them, or how much I cared?  Life is fleeting.  Even though we know that, somehow in the every day grind of life our focus gets lost, and we forget what is most important.

When I attended the funeral, I was amazed at the number of stories that were told about this lady who had obviously spent her life in the service of others.  I found that the spirit was so strong at times that my hair was standing up on my arms, and I was tearful at the stories being told, even though I hadn't known her that well myself.  I think that at funerals, the veil between heaven and earth is very, very thin.  You could feel the love of our Heavenly Father, for both this sweet woman, and for those who she left behind.  When our bishop got up to speak, it was like his message was exactly what I needed to hear.  He talked about how so many times, we get caught up "In the thick of thin things", and we forget to focus on the things around us that are truly the most important.  This is what I had allowed myself to do the past few weeks, reliving the pain and the anguish of the past, wishing things were different, and wallowing in sorrow and regret.  President Monson put it this way in a talk he gave HERE:

"We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes."

I realized, then and there, that I needed to change my focus.  Instead of being irritated, and frustrated by our situation, I need to find ways to accept it, and look to the future.  I need to find ways to be grateful for what we DO have, instead of focusing on what we have lost.  I need to try to remember every day that it's the people in my life that matter,  the relationships that are important, not the things.  I have learned all too well that material possessions are fleeting.  They do not last, and we cannot take them with us.  Most of all, I need to remember that when life gets hard, my focus needs to be outward, and not inward.  When we are lost in service to others, there is hardly time to think about our own struggles, as I learned from listening to example after example of people who had been touched by this sweet lady, even when she was struggling with illness herself.  Is life challenging?  Yes, it's challenging in it's own way for all of us.  We each endure struggles, and sorrow.  We each endure pain, and suffering in our own way.  How else could we become like our Savior?  How else can we possibly come to know Him, and appreciate what He did for each of us?  It is through our struggles, and our trials that the atonement becomes real to us.  Not just something we talk about in church, but something that we NEED.  One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Max Lucado:  "We can endure any challenge for a moment, when our reward is Eternity." What a reward indeed.  I hope to earn it.

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