Well I've started this post 10 or 15 times, but have been afraid that it would come off a bit whiny, and hopefully I'm centered enough now that it won't but hey we'll see. I've learned a lot about myself and life through the challenges Karie and I have faced in recent months, some good things, some bad. Mostly though I've learned how to appreciate the blessings I have been guilty of taking for granted.
This is the part that might sound whiny, but hopefully it won't by the end of this post. August began as perhaps the greatest month of my life. I had never been happier. For starters I had recently received a diagnosis for the chronic kidney stones that I have been slowed by for the last several years. After a lengthy struggle with stones, and the almost equally frustrating process of finding a Dr who would, and could treat them adequately I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel. Next I got a job with a company that not only was a better job with greater opportunity, it was something I can envision becoming a career. Add to this Karie and I went to some great concerts (James Taylor, John Mayer, Jack Johnson) and on a fun trip to the Oregon coast.
The most amazing thing however was I was an expecting father. This alone was enough to fill my whole body with joy and motivation. Seriously I never imagined I could be that excited about anything. Because of that driving thought I felt on top of my game in anything I did. It was the wind in my sails and I could do anything.
Now I'll try not to sound whiny here and just try to illustrate how things sort of unraveled from there. It started with a trial I'm used to, a kidney stone. It was a doosy as pain goes, and it took me right out of commission. It quite frankly took all the wind right out of my sails.
The next day I found out on my way to work that my Grandma J had passed away, and was sent to spend a little time with my family. Later that day Karie and I found out that we had miscarried. This crushed me in a way I can't really elaborate on. My new company allowed me to go home the next day and take care of my family (they have been amazing through this whole thing.) I had the opportunity to conduct my grandma's funeral and see a lot of family that I don't see to often and that was great.
Since then I have had four kidney stones, pretty much constantly for the last month and a half, and struggled to do much of anything productive. I have been nearing the end of my rope when it comes to tolerating these kidney stones. The constant pain, plus the frustrations and trials we've been facing seems unbearable at times. Many of you know that I am also the bishop of our ward, which has been amazing, but constantly challenging. It would be an understatement to say I've had a hard time fulfilling my responsibilities the way I would like to.
In a nutshell it has been somewhat of a battle to feel like myself again, it has felt like whenever I come close to getting on top of things, there's a new soul stretching challenge that comes in my path. It has forced me to improve my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and has again verified to me how important my near perfect wife is to me.
Before I continue painting the gloomy picture that was September, I have to express how grateful I am for my wife, modern day prophets, general conference, and the power of the Atonement.
I wish I could cover how all those things have impacted me over the last month but that would take forever. I would, however, like to talk a little bout President Dieter F. Uchdorfs talk in General Conference. Hearing this talk has been one of more important turning points for me. On Saturday afternoon he gave one of the finest discourses I have ever heard on hope. You can listen to it here. While it is filled with many great insights on hope, how to cultivate it, and how it benefits our lives, the lesson that initially stuck me was the contrast of hope and despair.
Of despair he said, "The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition advances sickness pollutes the soul and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward."
Hope on the other hand is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn it encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world relative confusion and fear."
This is just one of the many great illustrations in this talk. I needed to hear this talk in a major way, because I have recently felt myself on that "staircase that leads only and forever downward" This talk has helped to inspire hope within me again. Hope that my current trials will someday turn to my benefit. Hope that Karie and I will soon have the opportunity to have a sweet baby. Hope that I will soon be through these kidney stones and can live a normal life. Hope that I will be able to live the gospel and be the kind of husband my wife deserves. Hope that I can be a good bishop, and can be there for those in my ward who need the help of a good bishop. Hope that I will be able to support my family, and be productive in my job. Hope that in the words of President Uchdorf I "will never allow despair to overcome my spirit."
President Uchdorf's words ring true. When I hope for these things, I am filled with a kind of light, or strength. Ideas come on how I might be made equal to the tasks that lie ahead. Assurance comes that somehow through these trials, my weaknesses will become strengths. Mostly I feel like Father in Heaven is aware of me and my personal struggles, fears, pains, doubts, fears. and shortcomings. This only comes as a byproduct of hope.
When I allow myself to doubt, it inspires despair, exactly as that quote describes. It brings a suffocating darkness that stunts any possibility of progression.
When I choose to be hopeful, I am assured that my Heavenly Father loves me, and knows all things. He knows "the end from the beginning."
All in all it has reminded me how to hope after a difficult stretch of trials and frustrations.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this, and it's far more personal than I would usually post. So I hope you'll forgive me if it's made you uncomfortable, perhaps I'll remove it if that's the case. I just felt I needed to share some of the things that have been going on with me. I've been inspired by some of your blogs (thank you Mandy) and felt perhaps someone needed to hear some of this stuff. So if you're still reading, sorry and thanks.
If you didn't get a chance to hear this talk on Saturday, check out the link.
President Uchtdorf - Sat AM Session (Hope)
I always appreciate comments, so please if you have anything to add i'd love to hear it.