Sunday, May 3, 2009

Well-earned praise

Several years ago in the midst of a particularly lonely and frustrating time, when there was already much going on, something bad happened, something difficult.  Just briefly, I thought, "Why do I have to deal with this right now?"  And then I had a moment.  "Why not?" I asked myself.  When things go wrong, we are tempted from time to time to think, "Why me?"  Suddenly I thought, "Well, why the heck not me?  Everyone goes through things like this--many people I know have been through much worse--so what makes me think I'm so special?  Why shouldn't I have to deal with the same miserable crap that so many others have to deal with?" 

When I am blessed (so very frequently and abundantly) I never (well, OK, rarely) stop to ask the Lord, "Why me?  Why have you chosen to bless me so wonderfully?"  All too often, I take his blessings lightly or don't even realize that they're there.  I have tried since that moment to be careful to be grateful, particularly during trials.

The trials in my life that have been most difficult for me probably wouldn't look like much to a lot of people, but because of the particular nature of my personality and the choices I've made, they become my biggest heartaches nonetheless.  I often see people who have what I always wished I had and think to myself, "Why couldn't that have been my place in the world?"  And then I remember why it was so important that I came to the world where and when I did.  All my greatest strengths, all the parts of myself that I love the most--and that my husband, friends and those I serve love the most about me--exist because of what I lacked.  If I had had the ease and comfort that I wanted, I never would've learned so well to rely on the Lord for those things and I would be a timid little girl, a tepid believer.  The relationships and reassurances I wanted in my life, from the people I wanted them from would certainly have made my life easier, but I would've been a weaker person.  I would've been less understanding.  I wouldn't have laughed at myself nearly as easily.

I am so grateful for the things that I lacked--I'm grateful for what my trials have made of me. More so because through Him and the other people he put in my life, the Lord always provided a way for me to be whole.  This has never been more true than in the gift of a temple sealing in my life.  Until I was married, I was sealed to no one.  I can never express in any adequate, meaningful way the gratitude I have for my husband--for the easy, natural understanding we share and generally smooth ride that is our relationship.  But not just for him; I am grateful for the whole family that sealing bound me to.  For sisters.  For a father. For a mother.  The relationships I have with Doug's family are very different than the ones I have with my family members, but have come to mean as much to me in the years that we've been married.  I married into this big, intense family of girls who became my wonderful sisters--how grateful I am to be able to talk with them about many of the subjects closest to my heart and know that they are thinking and working from the same philosophies as myself most of the time.  How grateful I am for the good-natured, good-humored, generous-hearted Chuck--always ready to listen to what's going on in our life, always happily doting on my children, always ready with a hug.

And Katy.  How could words express, as we approach Mother's Day this week, my gratitude for my second mom?  She is such an amazing Grandma (or, rather, "Mimi") to my children.  They've both been asking to go to her house all day, they adore her.  We have very different personalities and there are a lot of things we do in very different ways, but there has been no one else in my life who understands quite so well how I feel in the face of my greatest challenges.  A few weeks ago, I got very frustrated and wanted desperately to talk to her, because I knew she would understand how I felt and why, with no need for defensiveness or exhaustive explanations.  She was far away and so I couldn't get to her right at that moment, but I have never been so grateful that she was a part of my life.  I knew she would give the kind of comfort that only can come from a mom, that she would listen patiently to my tear-filled ranting and make me feel better.  What's more, she knows what its like to be a square peg in a round hole, wanting desperately to fit (and loving deeply those with whom you don't fit), but unwilling to compromise beliefs or principles in order to be more comfortable.  She understands both the strength and heartache that come from standing alone, understands them much better than I do.

I am grateful for her example of sacrifice--she has given much for her children and grandchildren.  I am grateful that I am able to seek her counsel and be the beneficiary of her experiences.  Several years ago, I remember Doug saying something along the lines of his mom being remembered by her kids for the example she set--they'll remember that she made some big sacrifices and did the right thing, often when it was hard, that she was always honest with them and always supported them.  I am grateful for a husband who, despite the challenges they have due to their personalities and some of the experiences they've had, deeply loves and greatly admires his mother and will make sure that his kids know how special she is.

There is a law of compensation in the eternal realm--anything we lack (or have taken from us) here will, if we are faithful, eventually be added unto us again.  I am one of those fortunate few to whom the Lord has made up the difference long before I passed from this life.

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