Preface point 1: We had a great lesson in Relief Society at church today about how we can find beauty and faith in our trials. It was an excellent lesson and really clarified several things I'd been thinking in my head the last few weeks.
Preface point 2: I am by nature a whiner and complainer. I think that most of us are, to a certain degree. I whine a lot and I need to stop....or at least back off from the whining a bit and spend some of my time doing other things.
That being said - here is a moderately non-whiny but insightful (maybe?) blog post.
I read a lot of blogs. Some from people I know and some that I find fascinating and just spend my time lurking in the shadows. Lately though it seems that a lot of the things I read fall into one of two categories.
1) Giant balls of whiney whiner heads who complain about how hard or unfair their lives are.
2) Sad and inspirational stories of people who lose the fight of their lives but go down swinging. People who overcome life's obstacles and tribulations with grace and their heads held high.
It's really opened my eyes these last couple of weeks about how lucky I am and how good my life is and how much I love my family. And it makes me want to write comments on the blogs of the whiney whiner heads to tell them to cut the crap because life is really good for them because they are alive and loved and well taken care of and have people to take care of.
On Thursday night, after the University of Utah football game the young wife of a former student of mine (and member of the Utah football team) was killed in a brutal car accident by a man evading he police in a highspeed chase. This beautiful young woman had just celebrated her first wedding anniversay and had her entire life ahead of her and in an instant, everything was lost. I cannot even imagine what her family and her husband are going through. This kind of loss is so gut wrenching that all it does is make me want to hug my kids a little tighter and smoosh them with a few more kisses. It makes me want to be nicer to my husband and make sure that I do things for him that are nice, that he appreciates, because you never know when something tragic could happen.
A couple weeks ago, a blog I read called Pacing the Panic Room introduced me to Tim LaFollette and his wife. Tim had passed away the day I found his story of a nearly two year battle with ALS, Lou Gherrig's disease. He and his wife, and friends made an award winning internet documentary about his battle with this evil and horrific disease. Oh, to be so brave in the site of death - to keep perspective and loved ones near. To fight the battle of your life knowing that you cannot win. If you have some time, and even if you don't watch this series. Look into the amazing work that the Often Awesome Army is trying to do for a disease that is under researched in the United States.
This series brought me to tears many times while watching the videos. I was in awe of Tim and his wife. I know it made me be nicer to my husband in the days I was learning of their story and I hope that the family and friends of Tim know how powerful their voice is.
This week I finished reading a book called, "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. This book is about Louis Zamperini who fought during World War II. Zamperini was an American Olympian before the war and joined the Air Force after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This book was amazing. It was gut wrenchingly sad and frustrating and breathtaking at the same time. Zamperini survived a plane crash into the middle of the ocean, 48 days lost at sea, shark attacks, strafing by Japanese pilots and no food or water except for the occasional rain storm or bird that would land on his shriveled and sun baked body. Once he was finally "rescued" (see: captured) by the Japanese he survived torture at the hand of a Japanese Prison Camp official for nearly two and a half years. He came back from the war a wreck, turning to alcohol to drown his nightmares. (You MUST read this book! I don't want to tell you all the details, but this man, who is still alive at 94, survived more than any human should ever have had to suffer!)
A few years after the war, his wife drug him to a Los Angeles tent revival where a very young Billy Graham was preaching. During one of Grahams messages Louis Zamperini had a flash back to one of the days he had been lost at sea. It was a day he said in the book was beautiful - the sea was calm, the sky was clear and while lost in a little plastic raft with no hopes of being found all he could think about was the grace of God....that God created this world full of extreme heartache and intense beauty. He remembered that on this perfect day, he promised God that if he were saved, he would dedicate his life to serving and helping others.
There are so many things in this world that are hard. So terribly hard. But, we can find beauty in tragedy, strength in adversity, and glory in the biggest challenges we face. Yes, my kids may be crazy sometimes and my husband may work long hours. Yes, we may not have situations that are ideal and circumstances in our lives we cannot control. But - we must move on. We (I) must stop complaining about the small and trivial because I've realized that those small and trivial things really are blessings...we are lucky to have them because we are alive.