"...Life was not meant to be enjoyed in retrospect." --Dieter F. UchtdorfI love October. The blistering heat of summer finally gives way to cool, comfortable mornings and toasty afternoons followed by cool evenings. People start to go outside again and we start to remember why we put up with the crazy heat in this state. October kicks off the fall holidays, which are my favorites, and I get to break out the Halloween decorations. For me, October is also a time of reflection and gratitude for the many blessings in my life. It's not always easy to see the blessings when storm clouds of adversity are closing in on us, but they are there. Sometimes you don't recognize them until weeks, months and even years down the road but they are there. And sometimes the blessings you get are not necessarily the ones you wanted.
This weekend, we were privileged to hear from many wonderful speakers during the General Conference of the LDS church. One of my favorite speakers, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, made a couple of statements that have stayed with me. He said, "We have the power to chose to be happy regardless of the circumstance." Some days, it's hard to feel that way. Lately there has been a great deal of sadness and heartbreak for many of the special needs families whose stories I've become acquainted with through blogs and facebook. In a recent post I mentioned that once you've lost the naive blindness to the fact that you're not exempt from any kind of trial in life, you can't get that back. I've realized this week just how much more heartbreaking it is to watch other people suffer through loss when you know that you could very well be next in line for that particular trial. Any of us could, and that's a heavy thought.
Not every difficult trial in life equates to the death of a loved one. There are other types of trials that can also make it incredibly difficult to find joy in life. Many of us face long, drawn out struggles with circumstances that are difficult to escape from and regularly bring us to our knees pleading for relief. In my own experience, it is in the depths of humility that we are able to see the many small and simple blessings that our loving Heavenly Father gives to us. Sometimes those small and simple blessings are what we need to cling to in order to make it through the heavy storm clouds and find the sun shining on the other side.
Moments of happiness lead to more moments of happiness. Seeking out positive experiences and opportunities to serve others, no matter how big or small the service, leads to happiness. Letting go of pettiness and drama in life releases you from voluntarily carrying unnecessary burdens. Getting outside yourself helps you to gain perspective, recognize the blessings in your own life and have more gratitude and appreciation for them. One of the reasons why I've sought out blogs about other kids with complex medical issues is because it has helped me to appreciate the fact that things could have been so much worse for Raya. It makes me sad to read about the horrible struggles that some kids go through with severe chronic illnesses, but through reading their stories I gain a greater appreciation for the blessings of health and strength that all 4 of my children have been given.
I don't really have an end point to all of this. I'm just feeling full of gratitude tonight for a loving Father in Heaven who knows me and each and every one of His children by name, loves every single one of us, and wants us to be happy no matter what our current circumstances are. He wants us to learn that we can BE HAPPY wherever we are in life and with whatever we have. I'm thankful for the Atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ, which allows me to be forgiven for my shortcomings and heals my heart when it is hurting. I'm grateful for all of the amazing families I've become acquainted with (or just blog stalked) that have helped me to deal with the emotions of raising a medically complex child as well as all the other aspects of special needs parenting, whether or not they realized it. I'm also grateful for the love and support of our family and friends. There are blessings to be found in every trial in life.