Sunday, December 2, 2018

Moments and Miracles

Moments and miracles.

Over two and a half years ago, I started this blog with the intent on keeping our friends and family updated about Tony’s health. It quickly turned into a place to share our story, feelings, and experiences as Tony’s health worsened and it continued to be a place as a great outlet for accepting and working through my grief once he died.

I chose the name Moments and Miracles because I wanted to share with the world that we are all able to find the beautiful miracles in every day life, regardless of our current situations. So, to close this blog after the many moments I’ve experienced, I really would like to share one last time how I know the hand of God has touched my family and my life countless times. There was a post a few months before Tony died where I shared my feelings about my reaction if we received a miracle vs. if we did not. One thing I didn’t know then that I understand now is that we did receive a miracle (more on this later). I also commented that if Tony still was to die, I would shout to the world about the goodness of our Heavenly Father and the peace and joy our Savior gives to us. Today is that day.

Sometimes the most difficult thing we put ourselves through is our inability or our non desire to see the good around us. It’s so easy to look at our lives and place blame around us, or to feel that no one truly cares (and I’m talking here from experience of doing this myself!). We can get caught up in the mundane tasks of life, as well as the feelings of drowning during really difficult experiences, so much so that it’s hard to see past what’s right in front of us. Comparisons can eat at our soul when we feel we don’t “measure up” (to other people or even to the best version of ourselves) or that we aren’t being blessed enough based off our goodness and efforts compared to others. Life IS hard and that can be overwhelming at times, even to a point where we can let these burdens take away our joys.

The remedy to all of this really is so simple that many people will just brush off the idea. It may even sound cliche to them. But sometimes the most simple concepts happen to build the strongest foundations that will help us withstand any storm we will face. I feel so strongly that the answer to all this is humility. I know, you are thinking that I’ve got to be joking. I’m not.

When we are humble, we don’t linger on feelings of “why me.” We don’t feel that blessings or opportunities or privileges have been taken from us. Humility gives us the ability to look away from ourselves and to look up around us. True humility has no comparisons. For example, we often try to be optimistic and say something like, “Well, at least I have a home and food while there are many in this world who don’t have these things.” Instead, with a humble attitude, we have gratitude and give thanks at point blank. We are grateful for our blessings regardless of what blessings we have or didn’t have before. A humble heart will thank their God by saying thank you sincerely and in a simple manner because it understands that all good things come from Him, and without this, we really can’t achieve or be fully blessed with anything. When we can have gratitude in this way, we truly become happy because we begin to see the beauty and gifts of so many things around us, especially in the simple things.

Humility is also the only way we can become better. After experiencing a change and having a grateful heart as I talked about above, we can then push forward with hope because we understand our worth and we can now recognize so much good around us. And when we feel overwhelmingly blessed and full of happiness, all we want to do is be better. We want to change and we want those we love to feel the same way. This is when we start to really look outward and as we do that, we change inside. Humility is a powerful attribute and when we start to experience it and slowly grow on that feeling, we are changed for the better.

So the miracles I’ve seen in the past few years (and really in reflection, all throughout my life), started with seeing all the blessings and good around me, conscientiously noticing God’s hand in my life. It’s a constant effort to work towards seeing these things and you will notice a definite difference when you ease up on your efforts. I’ve done this many times and that’s when the negativity can start bringing you down. So we have to make a constant effort with humbling ourselves and acknowledging the good; it’s a life’s work for us all.

There are so many examples I can relay to you about how I’ve seen the tender mercies of my Heavenly Father but my point is to show you what has helped me immensely, not to give you a list of the miracles I’ve experienced, in order for my little life experience to help others find peace and hope in their lives. I feel that I’ve needed to be open with my life the past few years to show anyone that what seems heartbreaking and impossible to overcome can be turned into miraculous blessings.

That leads me to the most important miracle that I’ve seen in my family and my life. I remember the day that I found out I was pregnant with Caleb (who was born 3 months after Tony died). When I first took a pregnancy test and saw the results, I sobbed for an hour by myself. Not because I didn’t want a baby (I’ve always seen any baby as a beautiful blessing) but because I felt overwhelmed with my potential responsibilities I’d be physically bearing alone. After I stopped crying, I tried to shift my thinking and thought that maybe this was an answer to our prayers; maybe because I was having a baby that meant Tony would be healed!

It wasn’t long after that I realized the miracle we had prayed so hard for wasn’t going to happen. But I knew deep in my heart that God answers prayers and that he wouldn’t deny us of blessings. A really close friend put it well when he recently told me that he knew that no matter how difficult things lay ahead for him, he knew that Heavenly Father would bless him more than he could realize because he has recognized that in his own life countless times. So, while Tony still died and had to leave a family that needs him, there was an even more amazing miracle that happened in my life and I’m sure many people’s lives who are close to Tony. The miracle is that we have been changed (and are continuing to change for the better)! Deep sorrow and suffering break us down but if we allow ourselves to let God into our lives, to truly trust Him and rely on our Savior’s Atonement, our hearts and souls are healed and expanded to where we can love deeper and our desires to be a force for good in the world multiplies. This is the ultimate miracle: that through these hard trials we can come out on the other end positively changed in a way we could never accomplish on our own.

And this is why a loving Heavenly Father allows us to hurt, to ache, to cry out for help, to even feel destitute or abandoned at times. It is only through this process that we don’t just learn to be better, but we BECOME better because we know through our own experience how relying on our Savior will give us the joy and hope and love we need to overcome any challenges in our lives. The miracle is that He loves us so much that He gives us the opportunity to do this. We mean everything to our Father in Heaven and His Son and I know this with all my heart because I don’t just feel it, I’ve experienced it time and time again. We all can if we keep pushing forward and trusting.