It was a quiet morning at our house a week ago. The three youngest children were at various youth camps, Mark had gotten up early for a business trip, Greg and Jackie were just one day/one week postop respectively. I was letting them sleep. I woke up early with Mark and was about to go and walk, but then I was hit with exhaustion and went back to bed to read my book. I decided that it would be a good mental health day and I would take it easy. My mother-in-law called to check on the kids and as we talked she asked about my own well-being. She said that I sounded weary. That was it! That was the word I have needed to explain (even to myself) how I am feeling. Weary! I was actually energized to have such an appropriate label. Free to indulge in a couple days of weariness, I thoroughly enjoyed the time resting and visiting with my post-op-soon-to-leave-for-college children.
[Update – they are both doing well. Jackie returned to work this week (driving again, hooray) and hopes be able to lose a few restrictions after her appointment this Friday. Greg has very little pain and is healing ahead of schedule – just not lifting or using that left side of his body too much.]
A few weeks have passed since I went urban-hiking with the our church youth group. Ten girls and a few adults spent the day hiking almost 13 miles through Portland with the LDS Temple as our end-destination. Because it is Portland, we spent the majority of our time on jogging trails, many of which wound through beautiful forest parks. Our steepest ascent was through a cemetery, and they even had to stop traffic to let us get through a construction zone.
It was a great day! Obviously I love walking and hiking. I was so pleased that we didn’t hear a single word of complaint from any of the girls. I was especially pleased over the next few days when I learned of how miserable some of them really were… one young woman was wearing shoes that were too small and took days to recover, Natalie ended up with large blisters on two of her toes (we tended to them at the halfway point and she continued on), another young woman is now undergoing physical therapy for some issues with her hips (not caused by the hike, but the hike was painful)… One of the women now has a black, bruised toenail… our leader is well into her 70’s and we did need to slow down those last few miles… Still, no complaining – just pleasant company the whole day. (Truth be told – perhaps the only whining came from myself, Greg, Natalie and Kimberly – we were still covered with mosquito bites from the hike two days previous!)
The hike was enjoyable, but it was not easy. My thighs were feeling rather fatigued during that last mile or two. Everybody was ready to sit down by the time we reached the visitors center. What a joy it was to me that the most readily available benches sat facing the Christus. While we sat resting, we listened to a recording of Christ’s words from the scriptures, declaring his Divinity, etc. I was struck by the thought that because of His suffering, we need not suffer. We were so tired, and here we were resting at the feet of the Master. I thought of how it would be as we each complete our time here on earth… so tired, so weary – and we find rest with our Savior.
That rest is also available to us while here in our earthly life. I think that most of us know this – or want to know this, but don’t know how to access this gift. As I walked yesterday I was thinking about it. It really comes down to having a relationship with the Lord. How does that happen? How does any relationship happen? To have really close friend is something that takes a good deal of effort. This effort is usually quite enjoyable – spending time together, getting to know each other, sharing thoughts, serving one another, etc. My best friends are people that I admire and I learn from them. I am a better person because of trying to be like those friends. How much effort do I put into my relationship with my Savior?
I wondered as I walked… how many people admire a celebrity or athlete? Learn all their songs, watch all their movies or games, dress like them, put up posters, listen to interviews, etc? This type of “relationship” will almost certainly be one-sided, yet so much effort goes into them. Entertainment is a nice part of our lives, but what about all those other parts, all those other people, all of the truly important and vital areas of our life?
Many years ago I attended a one-night class on interior decorating. They taught us that you can tell what is important to someone by the way that they decorate their home. I was happy to come home and tell my young children to look around – see all the pictures of themselves – and know that they are important to their parents. We also have several pictures of Christ, I hope my children have also learned how important He is to their parents.
I have been so grateful this year that I have a relationship with my Savior. I wish that I put more effort into it – but whatever I do seems to be reciprocated ten-fold. Prayer, scripture study, family time and service to others – these are the things that help me draw closer to him. I also like to find myself in places that I can feel his presence… warm family times, uplifting entertainment, nature – especially away from the crowds, quiet time alone and reverent church services where I can feel those inner stirrings deep in my soul – these are all times that I really know who I am and what is important. Christ says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Keeping his commandments helps me understand what it means to be like him. This gives me strength. I need this strength always – but particularly this past year – needed it through what has seemed a continual string of medical trials. I am deeply grateful. I wish so much to be able to share my experiences and lessons learned with fellow sufferers – not just cancer families, but everyone – we all have so many trials, we all know what it is to be weary. Such a variety of trials, and one grand solution. He who suffered so that we would not have to.
This week Natalie went into deep cleaning mode (I love that mode). She sat in her room and went through many of her things. She brought me a little notebook that she found – the only thing in it was a poem that she had written several years ago (13 yrs old??). She doesn’t remember the circumstance, but we both enjoyed the words that she had penned, and I am sharing it with her permission:
They say I fought in Heaven,
that I stood for truth and right,
They say I strove to prevent
the ignorance of night.
They say I chose to come to Earth,
to struggle, feel and learn.
I came because eternal life
is something you must earn.
They say that trials will come my way,
with all their pain and sorrow.
But I stay firm and steadfast,
valiant until tomorrow.
But tomorrow I must try again,
to live the life God would have me live,
Ever the selfish human being,
to others I must give.
Service is Christ’s way,
Kindness is his path.
He is right beside me,
and I know this for a fact.
They say that I am not alone,
that I have family, peers and friends.
But I know that it is in Christ that I will find
the strength to see this journey to the end.