October 09, 2014

Act Well Thy Part

For some reason, I was able to do close to a year of bed rest surprisingly well.

Having a doctor tell you that if you aren't careful you could hemorrhage, kill your baby, and bleed to death in under 5 minutes, just puts your choices into perspective.

Because I chose to get pregnant and did not choose to abort when my high-risk pregnancy was diagnosed, I accepted my parameters- bed rest, hospitals, a preemie baby, surgeries, pain, and a long recovery.  I pushed on despite my parameters but I tried not to fight against them.  

Sure, I saw MANY people around me who were healthy and able.  But, I seemed to seek out the MANY around me who had things much harder and worse than me.  I was able to feel grateful and so blessed in my yearning.  I found ways to serve and love from my bed.  My limits placed parameters on my ability to give, NOT road blocks.

I cherish the friendships I made in the hospital.  I am so grateful for the projects I did have time for.  My mind today is healthier because I learned what peace and stillness felt like.  The journals that I wrote back and forth to my children are sacred to me.

I certainly didn't endure perfectly, but I was happy and grateful in less than ideal circumstances.

My underlying, foundational belief was that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me.  I knew that He could heal me and that IF He did not, it was because He knew this specific trial was exactly what I needed (what my family needed) to purify my soul.  I knew that this life is intended to be a time of learning and growth.  I trusted Him, trusted His timing, and trusted the process.

I felt peace in my bed because I knew that God could raise me from my bed if He needed me to walk.  I knew that even if I died, all would be well.

Today I can tell you with my whole soul that I was right.  My suffering has become my own journey to the Holy Land.  I have learned who I am and who He is.  I have learned there is holiness in hard.  

I wouldn't say that God caused my suffering so that I could learn.  But, I know He walked through the hard with me, He helped me learn.  He used my experience to teach goodness.  I feel it was a privilege to endure.

Please excuse this somewhat ridiculous comparison.

Yesterday, I got caught in the tide of wanting.  I looked around at my kid infested home and I saw my limitations.  I just naturally yearn for a beautiful home.  I have a beautiful home, but sometimes I could wish away this stage of my life.  I would really love a whole bunch of money to spend on cute clothes and home decor.

My furniture is old and colored on with sharpie markers.  My house decor is peanut-butter chic.  I love my house and I know with a few thousand dollars I could buy some new furniture and fix things up quite lovely.  Sometimes I just think life would be so fun without a strict budget. 

I found myself looking at homes online of people who live a storybook castle life, with loads of money, perfect houses, house cleaners, a nanny, and interior decorators.  I wanted that life and ALMOST felt sorry that my life didn't look like someone else's.

You see, this trap catches us all, no matter how much we have.  It's so easy to look up and want-- instead of looking out and being grateful.

These are my parameters.  Right here, right now, I do not have money to have a pottery barn catalog home.  I believe that if God wanted me to have more money and nicer furniture, He could provide the means for that to happen.  I actually believe He will bless me with the desires of my heart in time.

Is it dumb that my ache for more money, time, ability, patience is not so very different from my prior ache for more health, strength and life?

I know how dumb and worldly my example sounds-- but there are many parameters in life.  We have physical limitations like health and fertility, social limitations like loneliness or business or awkwardness, financial limitations not enough or too much, time limitations, limitations of ability, limitations of opportunity, educational limitations, family limitations.  Some parameters we create, some are inflicted upon us, and some are just part of life.

I guess I just think it's OK to wish things in your life were better.  That yearning is holy and powerful.  Deep desire stems from love.  Last year I wished I could walk and lift, this year I wish I had some new living room furnish and a kitchen table that fit my family.  These are not bad desires.  

But, they ARE very real parameters.  We will always have parameters in life.  They change, but they do not go away.  

We will ALWAYS see something in our children that they need to learn.  It's hilarious actually.  

I had an absolutely rebellious child for a couple of days.  (Again, I understand how ridiculous this example is.  I think it would be much easier to accept if I had a son addicted to drugs I was using as an example.)  This boy flat out refused to do what his father and I asked him to do.  He was sassy, disrespectful, and completely defiant.  His father was ready to throw down the hatchet (if that is a correct saying).  I was ready to find some awful punishment to make his life quite awful... I ached for him, I pled with him, and I prayed.  And then, I was blessed with a gentle wind of perspective.

I have a practically perfect 15 year old (but this lesson would be true even if he was half rotten).  He is kind, he gets straight A's.  He keeps his room spotless.  He helps out every time I ask (except with above noted situation).  He reads books like The Autobiography of Parley P Pratt, for fun.  He wakes up on his own, happily, by 5am every day to attend a scripture class 30 minutes away that starts at 6am.  He practices the piano and french horn daily without being asked.  He bakes cookie for the family.  He does dishes.  He cleans his bathroom well without being asked.  He's an Eagle Scout.  

And-- he has somewhat rebelled against feeding his dog.  He hates feeding Rocco and says he doesn't have time to walk him. 

This ONE thing could, and did, escalate in our minds to make him seem like a difficult child.  Good thing we caught the big picture before we completely distorted our perspective.  

Caring for the dog was his hard thing.  We simply asked another, very willing child, to walk the dog daily.  And, gave this child some encouraging expectations (and incentive) to feeding the dog.  This morning Jakob happily fed the dog on his way out the door.  Something that was huge last week, was just commonplace this week.

We didn't need to be upset that we saw something in this child he could improve on-- we will ALWAYS find something.  We can expect parameters.  Taking away the anger and feelings of injustice in a given situation allows us to see things as they really are.

We can absolutely love an imperfect life and an imperfect child!!

I actually think it's easier to accept children and lives with big disabilities than it is to accept parameters within the normal spectrum.  Why is that?

Strengths and weaknesses are part of life.  How can we ever love others if we can't even accept our own parameters?

One of my good friends honestly loves her two hardest kids easier because she thinks of them as brain damaged when it comes to expressing their emotions.  

Anyway, I'm not sure this blog makes any sense.  I guess I'm just trying to say that life, even with parameters, is a gift.

We were not meant to live an "ideal" life without any limitations.  Parameters are gifts!!  Parameters are blessings.  Parameters cause us to yearn, to desire, to SEE, and to appreciate.  Often, parameters are more about timing than limits.  If you get what you think you need, there will be something else you need or worry about.  That's life.

We cry when we can't get pregnant and we cry when we are sick and pregnant.  That's just life.

Today-- I am going to be grateful for my brand of hard.  When my eyes turn to those who don't seem to have any hard, I'm going to CHOOSE to turn my head to those who seem to have so much more hard than I do, and I'm going to be grateful.  I'm going to choose gratitude and refuse envy.  

God can easily change our parameters.  Perhaps He already IS leading us to the most beautiful pasture.  Perhaps when we are frustrated with the path we are on, it is only because we can't SEE where that path leads.

Perhaps, because we are stupid humans, God will raise us from the dead, fill our home with beautiful, happy children, bless us with green pastures, bountiful chickens, and the most gentle bovine-- and we will STILL wish for new couches.

But, if this happens, let us pause and remember that our mind is like an advanced google search engine programmed to search our whole world of goodness to find the one area that is not quite right.  

We are pigs that just genetically have to find and push the edges of our fence no matter how lovely the pasture.  And, it's OK to notice the limiting parameters, as long as we accept the reality that parameters NEVER disintegrate, they only change.

You can play the Super Mario Cart of Life forever, and no matter how many Princesses you rescue, there will ALWAYS be another level.

Let's enjoy the game together.
We only WIN when we are smart enough to know that everyone in this life has their own parameters.  We can choose to be unhappy or choose to Act Well Our Part.

What ere thou art, act well thy part.

Today I can walk and I have sharpie colored couches.  
Tomorrow I'll have clean windows, new couches, money, wrinkles, and bad knees.
Oh, glorious life.
I'm grateful.

I love my life.  
I love the process of life and I'm grateful for my parameters.
All is well.


Anonymous said...

beautifully written and just what I need today! One of my parameters in life is finances, we just barely seem to squeak by every month. Now I'm not saying that I am SO grateful that we have sufficient for our needs, I am SO grateful for food on my table, a warm house, cars that run etc. However envy sneaks in easily to my life. I married into a family where everyone else is HUGELY successful, and I'm not even kidding...they aren't living on credit, they are smart financially but have so much extra they travel to Europe, Hawaii regularly. They have pottery barn decorated houses, they have the latest and greatest everything. And I shop at Savers for my kids and do "staycations" here in our town, and even those are too pricey to do much. Sigh...sorry about the pity party, it's just hard to be in the midst of so much money. However I am grateful that my kids are learning to work hard, that I can't buy them everything they want, that they are learning to work for things and buy them on their own. They will be hard working, grateful adults and for that I am so grateful. In fact just typing that made me almost more grateful for my life than the life of abundance because of the life lessons we are learning. However I wouldn't mind a trip to Europe and Hawaii ;) Sorry for the hugely long rant!

Marie said...

Thank you....again. Beautiful post, Jen. How I wish you had come into my life when I was a younger gal...❤️

Kristen said...

Jen, random question, since you mentioned it in your past two posts, could you do an update on your recovery? How's the scar? Your feet still tingle? What can I say, I'm nosey/curious. I'm also super glad that you're feeling well enough that I have to ask about this!

Catherine Andrews said...

Thank you for the perspective! I needed that today!

Catherine from Wyoming

Amber said...

Very true, I am learning the same sort of thing-- how much I accomplish, what I look like, how much I do, what my children do, what my house looks like, etc. don't define me-- we are so much more than that. We are ore than our checklists, to dos, and parameters. Everyone is, it is mind boggling actually, and kinda hard to grasp, but so liberating and calming at the same time.

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