"The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead."
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Magnitude of Gratitude....

Earlier this week a member of the relief society presidency called and asked if I would share an experience in my life that has taught me gratitude.  Easy, peasy, I thought.  There are a lot of things I have learned and that have taught me gratitude.  However, I was surprised how quickly my mind kept returning to the same experiences and thoughts.  

First I was thinking of my cute dad.  The poor guy was "blessed" with 5 daughters.  But luckily he taught us to hike and love the outdoors, and even accompany him on some hunting excursions.  We played contact sports and were shown strategic ways to use our smaller sizes to our advantage.  I'll never forget how proud he was of me when I got my first yellow card.  Seriously, welcome to "Green Family Olympics" where daughters and sisters compete in girly events such as arm wrestling, push up/sit up competitions, pull ups, wall sits, foot races etc. etc.  He taught us how to be "tuff", to "walk it off" and to be strong.  Those experiences from my younger years helped me a lot all throughout my jr. high and high school years, especially when it came to playing soccer and volleyball (and my attempt at track).  But they also helped me to be strong in other areas....sometimes I think I tried to look or act a little too strong when I should have asked for help, or asked someone older and wiser for advice.

Lately I have been struggling and have been super down in the dumps (no pun intended for the strapping garbage man I call, "husband").  I found myself feeling sorry for myself, and then realizing what I was doing, I would justify my feelings, simply adding to my doom and gloom.

But then the phone call came....what experience has taught me gratitude?

I began thinking about our struggles to become parents and start a family.  Sometimes I feel like the thoughts and confusion consume me until I am nothing but a sad excuse of a wife in the same sweats from yesterday.....like I walk by my closet of clothes meticulously organized by color and say, "hey guys, remember me?  I used to get ready for the day, but now why bother?  I'm not going anywhere anyways.  Except to the mailbox, and if I look both ways and run quick, no one will even see me.  I don't even need shoes."  Which is fine, every once in a while, but not on a consistent basis.  Anyways, enough with my wardrobe conversations.  It seems like I'm used to get my feelings hurt or become upset with our current fertility issue quite easily.....almost expectantly.  Someone would say something or compare me to someone or themselves and I would go home and be so angry I would just cry.  What happened to the "tuff" girl my dad raised?  The girl who didn't let anybody push her around on the soccer field, or gave her best on the volleyball court?  (track cannot be included since it was mostly used to get a head start on my tan for the summer.)  

As all my feelings and thoughts were running around in my mind this week, my thought process began to change.  I remembered my dad sending me a book while I was away at school called The Peacegiver by James L. Ferrell.  I absolutely loved this book.  I had never really known other aspects of the Atonement other than that the Savior paid for my sins.  At the time I did not realize that the Atonement encompasses so much more than that.  The Savior knows our sorrows, feels the pains of our trails, he felt the sting of being hurt or wronged by someone else.  He knows how I feel.  And if I let Him, He will take those pains, hurt, and tears of mine away.  

I thought about all those times when I was hurt by something someone had said, or when I became offended when someone told me they knew how I felt with my fertility issues.  I tried to be "tuff" and smile and take the advice and stories, but inside I wasn't feeling so "tuff".  I was feeling hurt, angry, offended.  

However, I have been reflecting on these situations for several days now.  And instead of judging someone for what they had said to me, thinking my situation was so much worse than theirs how could they even try to compare with my situation. I began to see things a little bit differently.  I found out when I use the Atonement, I don't have to put on a "tuff" face anymore. 

I have so many blessings.  I have truly been blessed with experiences and opportunities that have made me a better person.  So why ruin all that with negativity?  How much better was I when I compared my situation to someone else's, trying to prove I have it worse?  Someone who was only trying to empathize or sympathize with me.  Should I become angry or hurt by them because I didn't like their word choice?  Or maybe they were a little condescending....but I can't change them or how they feel.  But I can change and control the way I intake the information or conversation.  I was SO.WRONG. to think my situation is worse than a mother who has children, but is now having a hard time becoming pregnant again.  And before anyone in particular thinks I am pointing the finger at them,  I'm not.  Who an I to judge your feelings and your situation  And I apologize to you, even though you may not have known I had some of these feelings.  I, not you, was wrong.  I do not know your whole situation.  I do not know the pains you as an individual are suffering.  So with my attitude changed I would hope to be a good friend during these conversations we have about our similar situations.  And if our situations are not similar I hope to be a good listener.....sometimes we all just need a good listener.

And during this month of Thankfulness and family, I would like to say that I am and will forever be THANKFUL for my Savior and the Atonement.  Because without it I would not be able to turn to Him for comfort and solace, for strength and peace of heart and mind, for patience in the unknown and questions.  When I turn all my heartache, grief, and trials over to Him, I find I am able to focus on the things that I do have, not that my heart doesn't ache for the precious little fingers and toes I don't get to count right now, but that I am able to find comfort in the fact that He feels that same ache for me.  And one day when I have extra appendages to count, that day will be that much sweeter.  And hopefully the gratitude I feel for the blessings I do have, right here, right now, this very moment in my life will not only linger, but become stronger.

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace when other sources 
Cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice, 
I draw myself apart, searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows, 
Where when I languish, where in my need to know
Where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand? He, only One.

He answers privately, 
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind, love without end.


Jordan said...

This is whit! What a beautiful post Shawn. All of it was wonderful to read! Love you

Carly said...

i think you are great. you are so strong to write about your struggles and feelings through it. thanks for sharing and helping me have a better perspective, too.

Kelli said...

Oh Shawnee you should be a writer! What an amazing way to express your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We love you guys and are always praying for you!!

Fox said...

ps - I just started reading that book.

The Jones said...

You wrote all of this so eloquently Shawnee! Thanks so much for sharing something so personal, hopefully we can all be more sensitive to others needs and struggles...after all we never know what they are going through. Lots of love! :)

p.s.I am ordering that book on Amazon as we speak...Thanks for the recommendation:)

Shane and McKenzee said...

Somehow whenever I start feeling down and sorry for myself I come across a beautiful post by you. I feel really blessed to know you. Your faith and positive perspective help me to re-evaluate my own feelings. I really love you and think that you are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your hard things...you have no idea how much they help others