Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter thoughts

We were able to spend Easter Sunday with Doug's mom and step-dad and several of his sisters, which made me realize just how much I've missed them.  Much of our conversation made me realize how homesick I've been.  As we were leaving town on Saturday, I called Clint to let him know that Chuck would be picking up our washer and dryer (which Clint had generously been storing at his shop for us), and just hearing his voice during that 5-minute phone call made me miss all my California friends and family terribly--I suddenly realized that all the interaction I've had with anyone from back home since we moved up has been over email, Facebook, or text message.   It was the first time in nearly six months I'd heard any of those wonderfully familiar voices.

As we sat around Jen and Paul's house in the evenings, visiting and catching up after putting the noisy monsters to bed, I realized all over again just how little we had said/explained about the events of the last year and half to anyone other than those directly involved--it was just too much to explain, and then even if we did explain all the events, it wouldn't mean much without also being able to explain all the people/personalities/relationships/responsibilities involved and all the different ways all those things intersect--its just too involved.  And realizing that made me so very grateful all over again for the friends that we've been blessed with.  If we had to go through such trials, I could not have asked for better people to go through them with.

Being in Church on Easter Sunday, I started thinking about last Easter.  Doug's grandmother had passed away the previous Thursday, and his sisters had arrived from Utah on Friday.  Sunday morning, we got up, got the kids ready in an unusually patient manner, had quiet personal prayers, and then a reverent family prayer together before leaving for church, where we sat in a happy mass with Doug's whole family, save for one brother-in-law who hadn't been able to make it from Utah yet.  I watched in joyful contentment as my husband blessed our baby daughter with his brother, brothers-in-law, father, step-father, and several close friends standing in.

Then, since life seems to have a habit of swinging from tremendous highs to frustrating lows, the first talk really threw me off kilter.  I sat there, earnestly trying to listen, but struggling--I kept reminding myself over and over again that there was nothing wrong with what the speaker was saying, that in fact it was all doctrinally accurate and lessons we all need to remember.  But I had to consciously keep repeating that mantra to myself, because the tone of delivery and the individual from which the message was coming made it gut-wrenchingly difficult to hear, to even sit through--I kept having to fight the urge to bolt out a side door in hurt and anger.  When the first speaker sat, I wasn't even angry, though I was tempted to be.  I was exhausted.  I sat there, holding my baby and silently crying and thinking to myself, "I am just so tired of all of this.  I just want to run away and hide and be done with it.  I just don't want to do this anymore. I just want some rest. I'm so. . .tired."

Then the second speaker stood.  Tim began his talk, in that quiet-but-crystal-clear manner he has at the pulpit.  He started by saying that a lot is expected of us as Latter-day Saints, in what we do and who we are.  And then he said, "Do you ever get tired?  Do you ever think, I just can't do this anymore, not one more thing?  I just want to be done?"  It was nearly word-for-word what had been in my mind moments before.  I started crying harder, and as he continued his talk, reminding us on that Easter morning of what the Savior has given us through the Atonement, I found the even keel that just a few minutes earlier I had been certain would escape me for weeks.

As I relived that experience in my mind, I felt silly for being so worn-out, so ready for escape--but I remembered that in the intensity of that moment, I didn't bolt.  I did keep trying.  I remembered that the Savior had a moment of painful exhaustion where he longed for escape, too:  "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me. . ."  A hurt, tired child pleading for some other way, some sort of relief.  But the important thing to remember is that no matter how tired, no matter how hurt, he didn't give up and run away--he pressed on.  In the face of exquisite anguish and unfathomable exhaustion, he pushed forward with the humbly courageous words, "Not my will, but thine."  My little burden in that moment seems so laughably miniscule when trying to comprehend the Atonement, but the principle of patterning our behavior after the Savior's remains.  When we find ourselves overcome with pain and fatigue that we did not bring upon ourselves, we need to turn to our Father, as He did, and ask in His name for the strength to press on, not in prideful determination, but in willful obedience, and trust that on the other side of that pain are greater blessings than we have yet known;  trust that we will not only be OK, but might indeed have the opportunity to serve even those who have caused us that pain, and serve them in some small measure in the way that He has served us.

Forgiveness can be difficult.  Especially when it feels as though someone has made a decision, taken some action, specifically to wound us.  But the Savior has taken upon Himself their sins as well as ours.  It is he who decides what price they will pay for them, not us.  He asks us to let it go, to place that burden on him, and be at peace.  Some transgressions can't be erased from our minds, but the anger can  be washed from our hearts, if we have faith enough to trust that, through his justice and mercy and the power of his atoning sacrifice, the Lord will make us whole, will restore all that we lack (and deal perfectly with all other individuals, as well).

And it is important to remember that, though the Lord had to travel his stony path alone, we never do.  For that I am so very, very grateful.  Through his power, I am sealed to my husband and children, and I am always mindful of the fact that the Lord has provided me with a companion I trust and love to weather all life's storms with.  But in addition to that, we have both been so fortunate in the many other wonderful people who have walked our path with us: parents, siblings, grandparents, and so many friends.  Through this specific storm, we have felt safely steadied by the warm spirits and willing hands of the Meiks, Ashcrafts, Cregors, and Hunters particularly.  We may have been tired at times, but we have continually felt loved, and never, never alone.

During the last 18 months (was that October City Council meeting really a year and half ago? Oh my. . . . .), my mind has wandered often to the lyrics of "Be Still My Soul":

Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end

As I think fondly of our many wonderful friends whom we are now separated from by geography, the last verse often comes to me:

Be still, my soul, when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed, we shall meet at last.

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