I haven’t done a real post in about a month. Life got busy, but life is always busy. Sometimes it gets so busy your brains almost fall out. That’s where I went, but not because I’m some psycho over-scheduler or anything… stuff just happens. Trips to see family, trips for family to see you, Christmas (enough said), children in hospital, loved ones in hospital, and somehow all the regular routines and demands of life don’t take a break during that time (food prep, laundry, housekeeping, obligations at school and church, etc.). I’m not complaining because a quick look back at your own calendar probably reveals a really similar cacophony of activity.
Anyway, when life gets a little …. shall we say “challenging?”…there are usually a lot of lessons to be learned. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about lately. (I’m not promising it’s profound or unique, but it’s where I am right now.)
- When things are so busy, it’s hard to maintain function. This helps me understand why it’s important to keep our lives as simple and focused-on-the-essentials as possible. It almost leaves room for crisis, which is sure to occasionally come along.
- Also, we can go into superhuman mode for a little while and accomplish more than seems possible. It’s a small kind of miracle that meets the needs at hand, but we cannot maintain daily life in that kind of mode and expect to … here it comes again … function. Our minds and bodies reach a point where we push their limits and they need rest. They need recovery. We have to be able to dial it all back and take care of our basic needs so that we can be useful and helpful again. For me, I call that limit “oatmeal brain.” It’s where my mind is so tired of problem-solving that it needs a nap. And chocolate.
- People are good. It’s an amazing thing to watch when family, friends, and even acquaintances step up and rally around someone in crisis. My brother was in the hospital for 6 days last week. I’ve witnessed people making visits, preparing food for, offering blessings, sending up prayers, writing encouraging notes, providing childcare and even cleaning and moving all out of love and concern for someone who is suffering. I understand how busy life can be, so it’s a beautiful sacrifice to watch and a calming reminder that there are still lots and lots of wonderful people left in the world.
- People are complicated. Everyone has private struggles and heavy burdens. Those challenges affect how people see the world and interact with others, sometimes in very intricate and mysterious ways. It’s easy for us to judge others because our own heartscape and mindscape are so different. Why doesn’t he just….? Why can’t she …? It’s way more complicated than that, and we just don’t get it. It’s a miracle that we’re able to have healthy relationships at all, but I can only attribute that to the grace of Christ and charity– the ability to see others as He sees them.
“I consider charity—or “the pure love of Christ”—to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course, is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient.
I have in mind the charity that impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful, not only in times of sickness and affliction and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others.” – President Thomas S. Monson
- This is even (maybe especially) true in family relationships. Maybe part of the reason that God wants us to have families is 1. to get to know someone on an intimate level (faults and all) and still love them, 2. to realize that despite all our familiarity, there’s more to them than we see, and 3. to rely on God to help us treat them the way they need to be treated. Our Heavenly Father, after all, knows our minds and our hearts and even our nothingness, and loves us with a love that is greater than we can comprehend. He succors us individually in just the ways we need most. He shows us how family should be done. This is hard to do. Really, really hard. Especially when we have plenty of our own challenges to deal with. Maybe this is naive of me, but I think that as we reach out to others in mercy and love, our own suffering will find some refuge and relief. I just know that we need each other and we need the Lord.
- Lest you think I sit around having deep thoughts all the time, I’ve also learned that if you put a Lindt dark chocolate truffle and white chocolate truffle in your mouth at the same time, it tastes satisfyingly like a milk chocolate truffle. I’ve learned that children also have a temporary period of monster-like behavior following a period of vacation. And I’ve decided that right before a child gets baptized, Satan must get a 90-day free trial with them just so they actually have a good pile of sins to wash away on the big day.
So how about you? Has life been whispering any lessons to you lately?