Waiting in Line for a Lesson

Recently, as I sat in line at the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant, I learned another lesson about judging others. I say “another” because it seems I am often being taught these lessons. Hopefully, one day, I will need fewer lessons.

On this particular day, I was running late and in a big hurry. In other words, it was a normal day. I had been waiting for what seemed like half an hour but was probably only about five minutes. I was next in line and thrilled when the truck in front of me finally started to pull away from the window. It moved about half a car length ahead and stopped. I moved forward as far as I could but could not even get close to the window.

As I waited, once again, for this truck to move out of my way, I grew more agitated by the minute…by the second. I could not imagine why the driver of this truck just continued to sit there and block my way. Just when I thought I could take no more, the truck began to move. As the driver pulled away, I was able to see that a small car had been in front of the truck blocking his way this entire time. I had been angry at the driver of this truck and judging him for something He had no control over. He had been just as stuck as I was.

As I thought about this experience, I thought how often we judge people based on the limited and often flawed information that we possess. We do not know what experiences past or present are influencing the actions of others. We often cannot see the forces that are either motivating them to act or preventing them from acting. Without this knowledge, it is impossible to judge fairly.

I have been trying harder to avoid the inclination to judge others. I have been reminding myself that it is my Heavenly Father’s place to judge not mine. I remind myself that He knows us with a perfect knowledge. He knows our past, our present, our motives and our fears. He knows our mind and He knows our heart. He knows us…

I remember these things and I am grateful that it is His place to judge and not mine….

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Somewhere in the darkest night…

I read somewhere, that on a dark night, the human eye can see the flame of a single candle from a distance of up to 30 miles. At the time, I found this fact difficult to believe. A few nights ago, as I lay awake in the middle of the night, the glow from a tiny LED light changed my mind. It was amazing to me that this tiny light, almost imperceptible by day, seemed to illuminate my entire room at night.

I thought about this little LED light the next morning as I drove to work. Weary and sleep deprived, the morning quickly became one of those where nothing seemed to go right and everything seemed to annoy me. By the time I reached my office, my mood was dark and gloomy and I was sure that the entire day would follow suit.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with some special friends in my life. They seemed to know, some even from great distances, that I needed their help. Within minutes, I began to receive text messages, emails and even a personal visit. All of these messages were filled with words of kindness, support and encouragement. With each message, my mood, and my day seemed a little lighter, a little brighter.

It occurred to me, that my friends are like the flame of that single candle shining in the darkness. They are like that tiny LED light. They are there for me in good times and in times of light. But it is during my darkest and most difficult times that they seem to shine even more brightly, more brilliantly, and illuminate my way.

I am glad that our Heavenly Father uses us to bring His light to the lives of others. I am thankful for the people that He has sent into my life. I am grateful for the friends, family and even strangers that have helped to light my way through their kindness and compassion.

I will try to remember the flame of that single candle and the glow of that tiny LED light. I will remember that even the smallest acts of kindness can help to light the way of those walking through dark and difficult times.

I will remember these things, seek after my Heavenly Father’s help, and do my best to be that light whenever and wherever it is needed.

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Every Knee Shall Bow

I have inherited a lot of things from my parents. Many of them I consider to be good things such as my blue eyes, brown hair and fair skin. Others, I consider not so good, such as my poor eyesight, slow metabolism and arthritis.

For the last few years, I have suffered from time to time from the pain and stiffness associated with this arthritis. Until recently, it has been only a minor nuisance. It has slowed me down at times, but I have been able to manage the pain with over the counter medications.

The last few weeks, however, this arthritis decided to attack my right knee with all its might, and I have found myself moving more and more slowly. Each day, I have expected the pain to ease as it has in the past, but each day it has seemed only to grow stronger. On Thursday, when I was barely able to limp to my car without bursting into tears, I decided a visit to the doctor was in order.

The doctor ordered tests to rule out any injury or damage that might require surgical intervention, but she suspected that the culprit, was indeed my progressing arthritis. She gave me a couple of prescriptions and sent me on my way.

As I limped slowly and painfully to my car, I began to feel more sorry for myself with each step. My mind and imagination began to kick in to overdrive. If this was just my arthritis getting worse and causing all of this pain, wouldn’t it just continue to get worse with each passing year? What if the medication doesn’t help? What if I am forced to limp around like this for the rest of my life?

At the height of my pity party, as I got into my car, I looked up and happened to see an elderly man just outside the doctor’s office. The man was in a wheel chair and wore a jacket with a Navy insignia on it. He appeared to be a Navy veteran. As I looked closer, I noticed that he was missing one of his legs.

As I watched this man chat happily with a friend, tears ran down my face and seemed to wash away every trace of the self pity that existed seconds earlier. I was embarrassed that I had let myself get so distressed, so worried, over something so minor, so trivial by comparison.

I am grateful that my Heavenly Father placed this man in my path that day. I’m glad that seeing him helped me to gain perspective and better see the reality of my own situation. There are so many people in this world that suffer trials much greater than mine. I am grateful that He changed my focus so quickly from worrying about myself to thinking of them.

I am grateful that my Heavenly Father reminded me that I need not ever worry or feel sorry for myself. He has taught me that the physical ailments, trials, pain and suffering of this life are temporary and will one day be nothing but a distant memory.

I know that no matter what trials or adversities I must face in this life, when I need Him, He will be there to comfort, uplift and carry me. He will always be there for me…..no matter what.

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A Chain Reaction of Kindness

Some mornings, when I am feeling particularly weak, I have a favorite fast food restaurant that I visit. I say “weak” because, while the food there is great, it is probably (definitely), not the healthiest of breakfast choices. From time to time, I will pay for the meal of the person in line behind me—probably a subconscious effort on my part to cancel out the guilt I feel for stopping there in the first place.

I know it isn’t much, but when I do this, I always feel better. I drive away hoping that this small gift made a difference to the people in the car behind me. I enjoy imagining what their reactions might have been. It makes me smile to think that maybe, it made their day a little brighter, a little happier. At the very least, I know that it has made my day better.

While most of these reactions are seen only in my imagination, I have had the good fortune to learn about one that actually happened. On one particular visit, as I pulled up to the drive-thru window, the cashier seemed overly excited to see me. She seemed to almost bubble over as she spoke of my previous visit.

The cashier told me that after I paid for the meal of the car behind me, the man was so surprised and touched that he paid for the meal of the car behind him. When she told this to the person behind him-he did the same. She said this chain reaction went on for several more cars and that she and all of the other employees were very touched and inspired by it.

I drove away that day feeling very grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with this experience. I am grateful to Him for reminding me that no act of kindness is too small or insignificant. Even the smallest acts of kindness can touch many other lives that are unseen and unknown to us.

I think about this experience often, and when I do, I am reminded that I can be a part of making the world a better place—one act of kindness at a time…

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Trials and Traffic Signs

 

Recently, as I was driving to work, I found myself suddenly mesmerized by a random highway sign. It may seem peculiar that an ordinary, everyday sign caused me such fascination, but something about this one caught my eye.

What drew my attention to this sign, was the man who was standing in front of it. I’m not really sure exactly what this man was doing to the sign, but he was strapped in a bucket high above the highway. What mesmerized me by this sight, was how very small the man looked in relation to the sign. I pass dozens of these signs every day, but I had no idea that they were so huge.

I reflected on this sight for some time. I thought, to this man, just inches away, this sign must have seemed immense and daunting. I thought how the man probably cannot even read the entire message on the sign from his vantage point or perspective.

As I pondered this man and his work on this huge sign, I thought how he is much like us facing the problems and trials in our lives. We cannot see them clearly or understand what they are trying to teach us while we are so close to them. Much like this sign they can seem enormous, intimidating and confusing. They can make us feel very small or inadequate by comparison. As we get some distance between us and our trials we can usually see them in perspective.

During these times when our problems and trials are so close that they seem insurmountable and overwhelm us, when we feel hopeless and unable to endure, our Heavenly Father will always be there for us. He, with His eternal perspective, can see the whole picture. He knows that we can succeed, that we are meant to succeed.

He will be there to comfort us, strengthen us, and help us through the trials of this life—every time we ask…

 

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That their burdens may be light

 

It has been almost two months now since my mother passed away. During this time, I have experienced an immense outpouring of love and support from family, friends and acquaintances. Many, have also offered their suggestions and advice for dealing with my grief.

I have discovered that everyone grieves differently. For me, grief has been like a sad melody that has played in the background of all my other thoughts. It hasn’t been big and bold out in the forefront of everything. It has just seemed to color everything else that I have done or everything else that has happened to me.

Even though I seemed to feel fine on the surface, I suddenly began to have trouble coping with normal day to day problems. Everyday decisions and choices became more difficult. I even began to have minor panic attacks and issues with anxiety.

As I struggled with problems that would normally be only minor annoyances, it occurred to me that our ability to cope with the problems of our lives can be different from time to time and from person to person. We cannot judge the severity of the problems or trials of others or their ability to cope with them.

I remember as a child feeling completely heartbroken due to some minor childhood catastrophe and being told by adults that my problem was silly or insignificant. I understand now, that to them, my childhood problems must have seemed very trivial, but to me, at the time, they were huge.

I think, at times we are all like little children. The severity of our problems is dependent upon our ability to cope with them at the time. We want, we need, our thoughts, our feelings, our worries, our concerns to be important, to be valued.

I will try to remember this past few weeks and the difficulty I have had coping with even minor problems. I will try to avoid the tendency to compare the trials of others with my own or to minimize or discount them. I will try to be more compassionate, more empathetic.

Instead of trying to judge the severity of my brothers’ and sisters’ burdens, I will try to help them carry them…

 

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Fireworks, Fear and Faith

 

When I was a child, I loved celebrating Independence Day. I loved the cookouts, picnics and parades and I especially loved the fireworks. As I got older, I began to appreciate the reason we celebrate more than the celebration itself. I loved celebrating the birth of this magnificent nation and the freedoms that I enjoy as one of it’s citizens.

As I got even older, and became a mother, the celebration itself became even less appealing to me. I began to dread the annual fireworks. As the fireworks stands went up, so did my anxiety level. I still enjoyed watching them, but I worried about the danger associated with them. I worried about the safety of my children and my home and property.

My fear has become reality a couple of times. The first, was several years ago when one of my sons was badly burned by a defective firework. The second, was last night when an errant firework threatened to burn down my home.

Last night, I was sitting at my dining room table working on a project that should have been completed much earlier in the day. The sun was setting and the window blinds were closed. I moved the blinds just enough to look out the window and happened to see an orange glow reflecting off of my daughter’s car. For a moment, I assumed that it was just the setting sun, but something told me to take another look. As I peeked out the window, I saw the back corner of my house engulfed in flames.

I have no way of knowing exactly how it happened. I do not know where the misguided firework came from. I do not know who shot it off or why it landed so close to my home. What I do know, is that my Heavenly Father was watching over me and my home last night.

I know that the corner of my house that caught fire is only visible from one window in my home. I know that I almost never sit near that window at that time of night. I know that I looked out that window at the exact moment that the flames began to engulf my home. I know that because I did, we were able to put the fire out with minimal damage to my home and family.

I do not know why my Heavenly Father chose to save my home and family at this time, but I know that He did. I know that He is in control and that He knows me personally and watches over me. I know, that if I am listening, He will lead me in the direction and path that He wants and needs me to follow.

Most of all, I know, that if I follow that path, in the end, I will be safe no matter what.

 

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