Monday, September 9, 2013
I'm sitting in class and we are having a discussion about hard challenges that often come our way. In particular, we spoke of many of the challenges during the Biblical era. Picture me, 47 years old, husband left after 21 years of marriage to pursue an alternative lifestyle, spent the last 3 years living week to week financially and day to day emotionally as a single mother of 4. Then, now, remarried, combined parents of 10 and when I am not in school full-time or at work, I am busy blending and cleaning, blending and cooking, blending and organizing and sometimes blending and playing--------- needless to say, this discussion of "challenges that come our way" made me smile and provoked a lot of feelings within me. A young student maybe 18 years old, raised her hand. I sat two rows behind her. She talked about how no matter when we live, we have the knowledge and know-how of our time. One period did not necessarily require anymore faith to live than another. She went on to talk about how we have trials, no matter when we live, and we just have to get through it. My head and heart began to spin. I laughed inside and with an almost audible chuckle, I thought, "Oh boy, wait until that young girl grows up, and sees how really hard life can be?" "Wait until all she hoped for and planned on crumbles around her and she has to pick up the pieces!" I sat feeling somewhat older and wiser then, my eyes wandered down. Almost as a neon billboard in Vegas, I saw it, an artificial leg. That young girl, whom I thought had not really lived through, let alone survived a real-life challenge, was missing her leg!!!
My heart began to beat with deep feelings of compassion and admiration for this young lady. Then, I was humbled-------just looking at her face, she seemed as though everything was fine. Day after day, she would carry her back pack into class, listen and take notes, just like everyone else. Perhaps, some of those days she was in pain, real physical pain, from walking all over campus with an artificial leg? Just like me, on those days when I am so exhausted physically, and my back is straining to carry my heavy pack of books and burdens? Maybe there were days when she felt all alone, like no one else REALLY understood what it was like to live each day without her leg--to live each day with her leg Just like I have often thought, to live each day without the normalcy I once knew? A tear rolled down my cheek when I wondered if she ever felt like everyone was staring at her because she was different? Just like I feel each and every day? I wondered if she had days when her artificial leg just rubbed the wrong way and made a raw spot that just writhed in pain? Just like me, on those days when surviving family change is just too hard, and my feelings are raw and the pain is so real?
As my eyes and heart took note of her predicament, I was overwhelmed with so many feelings, but the most poignant was this: "We just never know what is going on in the lives of those around us. We don't know what pain, what heart ache nor what challenges people are facing. But, this we DO KNOW--we are ALL facing them. And, though are challenges may be different, many of our feelings are the same!!"
Realizing that many of my feelings may be her feelings created an instant bond of empathy and compassion. And, a desire to know her, to love her, to lift her, to lighten her load, and just to make her smile. Feelings are a gift! Feelings are powerful. Feelings are a means of expressing ourselves and our experiences. Feelings can bridge gaps or create a huge divide between us. Feelings can help us draw near to one another, or they can isolate us from anyone or anything that can help us. It's what we choose to do with our feelings that makes all the difference.
I have often felt like no one understands my story, therefore no one could ever understand how I feel. However, this young lady taught me, just through my feelings, that though our journeys may be different, our feelings, our loneliness, our broken hearts, our challenges may be much the same. So, when my feelings get the best of me, and they do from time to time, I will remember, that behind every door, behind every perfect PTA president, behind every perfect body and hairdo. Behind every straight A student. Behind every perfect parent with perfect children. Behind everyone who seems to have everything I don't, there may be a heavy load to carry, a broken heart, a lonely spirit, or a missing leg or something else that is missing that makes them feel different--- painfully different. Yet, their feelings may be just like mine----so I can share, lift and lighten as I am realizing that not only do we all have challenges to face, but we all have FEELINGS---- feelings that are so amazingly similar that we need not ever feel alone. Feelings that have been felt by someone familiar, even to our Savior, that we need not suffer, or "feel" alone. Heaven won't be filled with people who have never made mistakes---but with people who knew how to become better because of them. I am sorry for my quick thoughts of judgment towards this young student whom I thought did not understand what a challenge is. However, I will be forever grateful for the feelings that I had because of this experience. I will also be forever grateful for the feelings of love and admiration I have for her and for others, because of the feelings we share, though unspoken, quite binding......our FEELINGS.
Feelings Challenge: This week, try to share more feelings with the intent to create a bond with your spouse, your family, your children, your friends and co-workers. They are hard to share because of the amazing good that can come, when we do share ourselves......feelings!! I took this challenge!! Let me know how it goes!!!