Friday night Ron and I spoke to a youth group at “This is the Place Heritage Park“. It was a beautiful night and we had a wonderful time sharing our thoughts about some important things. I would like to share some of the things I talked to the youth about.
To introduce Ron and I to you I would like to share a few experiences from our lives. I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for us – I just feel that It might be helpful to know a little of our background in order to understand the things that we will share with you:
- I was born in Ogden and Ron in American Fork,
- I was raised in Taylorsville and Ron in Brigham City
- We both had pretty normal childhoods.
- I went to very little college after high school – Ron Graduated from BYU and got an advanced degree from the U OF U.
- I was diagnosed with an incurable muscle disease at 24 years old – Ron broke 22 bones, had hundreds of stitches, ran over himself with his own car, 20 surgeries, broke his neck, has been in 5 car accidents… he always did do things bigger and better than me – He’s kind of a show off!
- I lost my first husband through a divorce.
- Ron Lost his first wife in a car accident.
- During our marriage – Ron contracted a hospital acquired staph infection and almost died from it.
- In 2006 Ron was paralyzed in a surgery on his neck and not expected to walk again.
- Ron lost his father and so did I.
- 2 years ago we lost our son-in-law
- 5 months ago we lost our son
Maybe this talk should be titled “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger!” But what we hope to do is to talk about how to handle challenges and how we can keep a positive attitude!
When I hear someone say, “IF Momma Ain’t Happy Ain’t Nobody happy!” I can’t help but picture a mean ornery woman chasing children with a wooden spoon!
It’s true though when Momma’s aren’t happy it seems that everyone else is in a bad mood! Often the same thing holds true for you too – If you are not happy and you are kicking the dog and yelling at your sister everyone else suffers too!
An experience that helped me recognize the importance of finding joy in the journey came when Ron was just beginning to recover from the surgery that left him as an “incomplete quadriplegic”.
I was on high alert during the night in case he needed my help. Being a man he really didn’t want my constant help. One night he quietly snuck out of bed on legs that could hardly function when I heard a crash. I flew out of bed trying to find him in the dark. But in my haste I tripped over his leg and fell on top of him. In a seductive voice he said, “Well hello!” “I knew I could make you fall for me again!” That was the first time after his accident that I actually laughed and it felt really good!
The key is to understand that we can’t always choose the path that we walk in life but we can always choose the manner in which we walk it!
When I was 4 and a half years old and my mom had just given birth to my baby sister Tamy, My mom put me in charge of keeping my two younger brothers Darrel and Kenny quiet and out of the babies room so she could sleep and so could my mom.
I took that job very seriously and when my little brothers snuck down the hall to peek in at the baby I went after them with a vengeance – No one was getting in to see that baby! I remember slamming the door and shouting at them – (because of course the baby wouldn’t be startled by the slamming door or my yelling!) And then I realized there was something very wrong – my little brother Kenny was frozen with a look of pain and surprise on his face no sound came from his open mouth. His finger was still in that door I had just slammed! And then pandemonium broke out! Blood was everywhere, Kenny’s finger was badly cut, the baby not only woke up but was screaming and so was I, my brother Darrel and Kenny!
How could everything have gone so wrong I thought – wasn’t I the one keeping those demon little brothers away from my baby?! No one ever thanked me for my heroic efforts. And I was blamed for everything going terribly awfully wrong! All I wanted to do was the right thing!
(Ken did get even with me years later though, cutting my lip open while practicing fly fishing in our front yard! So we’re all good!)
There’s a sign right in front of Splash Mountain in DISNEYLAND that reads:
“You can’t run away from trouble; there’s no place that far!”
There are these pockets of times in our lives that are great. When life seems to flow with little difficulty, and then everything seems to go wrong:
- Good health goes Bad
- Wealth goes to poverty
- Friends leave us behind
- Trouble seems to find us
It’s at those times when after we were used to being comfortable and now we’re not, we might feel fear and sometimes even anger. The anger comes in part from a feeling that what is happening is UNFAIR. Having Good Health and the feeling of security can seem as though we deserve it, that it is owed to us. And when it vanishes, a feeling of Unfairness can set it!
Sometimes we think that we alone have difficulties. We look on others and think that their lot in life is better than our own. Our view becomes one-sided. And then just like me as that little 4 year old we cry out, “I was only trying to do what was right! How could this happen to me? Why Me?!” We forget everyone else around us (my little brother with his badly cut finger!) – it’s all about me me me!!!
Sometimes this misery and focusing on ourselves can shake our faith in God as well! But God has never left us alone he only allows us to struggle through our challenges so that we can be taught in certain areas where he knows we need to grow.
We should ask ourselves – “What can I learn from this experience?”
The Emperor Moth:
There was a man who found a cocoon and he took it home so that he could watch as it emerge. It was an Emperor Moth and he loved the beautiful markings on their wings and couldn’t wait to see this one appear. One day, a small opening appeared and he sat still, watching for several hours as the moth struggled to force its body through the little hole.
Then, it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. It seemed to be stuck. So the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily.
But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth, because he expected at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body. Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and rush, did not understand was that the tight cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings, so it would be ready to fly once it escaped from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By removing the moth from that struggle, the man robbed the moth of the ability to fly!
Struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, he would cripple us! We would not be as strong as what we could become!
I have a dear friend named Jeane Taylor who has had a multitude of challenges anyone of which could have crippled a person and actually one of those challenges actually did cripple her. Several years ago Jeane was very sick and in the hospital for weeks and weeks. She nearly died and it was only because of the fasting and prayers of others that she lived.
Jeane’s kidneys failed and her sister donated a kidney to her. The circulation in her outer extremities, her hands and her feet began to die. All 10 fingers and both of her feet had to be amputated. The pain and suffering she has had to endure is beyond my comprehension.
Jeane has had every reason in the world to curse God, however, She has a beautiful spirit and strength that is amazing! She praises God for all of the gifts that he gives to her. She is an incredible example to everyone she meets.
Adversity does not mean that you have to curl up in a ball and die… unless you are a potato worm! Make the most of what you have and not on what you don’t have.
Sometimes the answer is “no” or “not now”. We need to learn to find happiness even in our challenges. We need to be able to say, “Not my will, but thy will be done. The Son of Man has descended below them all… Art thou greater than he?”