Thursday, October 06, 2011

Life is Hard For You, Too, Eh?

My fantastic friend Janelle just wrote a blog post describing how the decision to go to the doctor to get more medication for her severe RA meant postponing more children (she can't get pregnant while on the medication because of how unsafe it is for the baby). This is hard for her, because she wants more children --but her RA is very restrictive to her mothering, anyway (go here to read her entire awesome post).

It got me thinking. Here was my comment to her question: "What do you want more of?"
"You are my hero.

What do I want more of? Patience. Long-suffering. Contentment in the face of unexpected and expected trial. I guess, in a way, the same things as you!

Is it fair to say that my trial right now is HAVING another child? Even though my mind is crazy? Even though I’m already at my wits end with the 5 I already have? I really believe that wanting more children, being able to have more children, and having those children can represent a myriad of complications –depending not the woman, the family, and the trials already present. Don’t get me wrong –I WANT this baby (with all of my heart), but these last few kids have a huge leap of faith on my part. Can I really keep myself mentally healthy to take care of them all? Can I really set aside my fears and demons long enough to get off the couch in my exhaustion to do the laundry? To make dinner? To cheerfully organize the playroom?

I love being a mother. But it’s hard stuff, man. So, I get it. But I’m grateful that:
A. You, Janelle, have a wise husband who loves you so much.
B. You have a God who does, too.

“Faith in God includes faith in His timing.” -Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

And now I feel a blog post of my own coming on.

I miss you."
I was surprised at how quickly I was able to discern what was bothering me.

Then, I read this post over at Segullah. It's about how she had a stillborn baby 8 years ago, and how she faced this pain --she could either choose anger or faith. She chose faith:
"I don’t see pain as evidence that God doesn’t care. It’s as foolish a notion as my children seeing their vaccination shots as evidence that I don’t love them. Pain and heartache are the gifts we may use to help us grow; the invitation to become stronger. But difficult things don’t necessarily make us better; if so, there would be nothing but wise people roaming the Earth. But we are given obstacles, grief and heart-searing trials as powerful tools to make ourselves exceptional people."
The theme that I find in our three stories (right now; and I know it's a small sample, and you have your own story to add here) is that we've all chosen faith. We've all chosen to move on, keep trusting in Heavenly Father, rely on Jesus Christ, and just keep hoping that we'll understand the reasons/lessons one day. Frankly, it's not just "all we can do" --it's the ONLY way to do it. Sure, people choose bitterness. They choose anger. They refuse to forgive.

But what does that do to their souls? Their progression? Their ability to live?

I've seen a lot of pain this last month. My own life has mostly consisted of Jared's death, my depression's desperation to take over, my exhaustion, Brandon changing jobs (I'll blog more about that later, but yes, we're in the midst of changing jobs). But my friends? Here's just a few several of my friends have had to face:
*Chronic fatigue/insomnia/depression mixed with surgery
*Stillborn baby at 36 weeks
*Continuing in patience while dealing through the aftermath of intense spousal abuse
*Watching several loved ones grow old at the same time (which probably means death at the same time)
*Cancer, cancer, cancer
*Children with Autism/Aspergers (while dealing with either single motherhood, or their own mental demons)
*Complicated and frustrating marital situations
*Single motherhood with teenagers

Pain is real. It happens to ALL OF US. That is not the problem, dear reader. You think you have it bad? Well, so does Mrs. Neighbor. She's got it bad, too. You think it could be worse? Well, Mrs. Neighbor's situation IS worse.

Does that mean we should compare our trials? Wish for others in the face of our own? No way, man. What it means is that we are all the same. We are all children of a God who loves --loved --us enough to send us here to this Earth to give us this pain. He's allowed us agency, experience, pain, and then crazy amounts of joy because He loves us. And if we let Him, He will guide us through it.

Quick example: When I got back from China, I was told by someone (who had toured there as well) that all she could think about was how lucky we are to live in a nation of such freedom. All she focused on was what they did NOT have (which is a good exercise in gratitude, I'm sure). However, I was floored. Because I took away something very different --all I could think about was how we are all the same. SAME. We all work, sleep, eat, raise families, laugh, cry, smile, live. It was an reiteration that we are ALL children of God. All of us.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by past and current Apostles of Jesus Christ who have given me some awesome perspective whenever I feel as if the world is closing in around me; whenever my demons try to get the best of me. It's just a good way to remember that we're all the same. That God loves us all. And I like it! Mostly because I need to be reminded A LOT:
"Faith in God includes faith in His timing." ~ Elder Neal A. Maxwell

"At times it may seem that our trials are focused on areas of our lives and parts of our souls with which we seem least able to cope. Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses. And no one is exempt, especially not Saints striving to do what’s right. Some obedient Saints may ask, “Why me? I’m trying to be good! Why is the Lord allowing this to happen?” The furnace of affliction helps purify even the very best of Saints by burning away the dross in their lives and leaving behind pure gold. Even very rich ore needs refining to remove impurities. Being good is not enough. We want to become like the Savior, who learned as He suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind.” "
~Elder Paul V. Johnson

"How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness."
~Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to "be of good cheer." Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them. But even as the Lord avoids sugary rhetoric, He rebukes faithlessness and He deplores pessimism. He expects us to believe!"
~Elder Jeffery R. Holland

“As children of God, knowing of His great love and His ultimate knowledge of what is best for our eternal welfare, we trust in Him. The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith means trust.”
~Elder Dallin H. Oaks

"What to do when adversity strikes? There is only one thing to do. Stand steady and see it through. Stay steadfast, constant, and true. The real tragedy in the whirlwinds of life comes only when we allow them to blow us off our true course."
~Elder David S. Baxter

"At times some may think that no one cares--but someone always cares! Your Heavenly Father will not leave you to struggle alone, but stands ever ready to help."
~President Thomas S. Monson
Think happy thoughts today, dear reader. You deserve 'em!


Mary said...

Thanks so much for this post! And thank you for sharing the quotes. Just what I needed.
We have been trying to have another child for 4 1/2 years now, during which time I have had 9 miscarriages.
After one of my miscarriages my Bishop was talking with me. He asked if I was angry with God. I was totally shocked at that question. The thought to be angry with God had never entered my mind. I was relying on God to help me get thru my heartache.
But with each miscarriage, I see how easy it would be to turn the frustration and anger I have towards Him. Each time it gets a little harder to choose faith over bitterness. But I keep on trusting in Him and that He knows what's best for me.
Again, thanks for the quotes. They were wonderful reminders to me to keep holding on and trusting in the Lord.

Curls said...

You know when I was in Mexico I felt both those things simultaneously. I felt so blessed with what I have, yet I also felt a deep sense of kinship to everyone as well. I felt I needed to use my blessings where I live to better bless those around me. It was a humbling experience and really changed my outlook on life this past year.

Janelle said...

Thanks Cheryl! My cortisone shot is working and I'm feeling pretty good. What a difference a few days can make.

Cheryl said...

I have a dear friend who has a progressive neuromuscular disease and is in a wheelchair, she has 3 children. 7 years ago her husband who was her rock was killed in a very tragic accident leaving her a very young widow. Every time I think my life is too hard I call her and she ALWAYS lifts me up and makes me smile. She is THE most amazing person because she has chosen faith (and optimism and humor) to get through her monumental trials and in turn has lifted thousands of others!

Cheryl said...

one more comment...this post reminds me of the song "Bring the Rain" by MercyMe (a Christian group). You can google it or go to is awesome!

flip flop mama said...

Love this. I too have chosen faith. I like what you said, "We've all chosen to move on, keep trusting in Heavenly Father, rely on Jesus Christ, and just keep hoping that we'll understand the reasons/lessons one day."
So true.