Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Big Lessons from 2011

Looking back on this last year does not fill me with joy. I don't know that I could count on one hand any super-duper moments that have left me saying, "Well, at least there was the time when...". Okay, okay. There were some great times, but even those great times came at a price.

For me, 2011 was a learning year, and there were some hard lessons being taught not only to me but also those I deeply love. It's made me think back to a dream I had a few years ago before my husband was called as a Mormon bishop.A woman had knocked on my door. I was late it getting to it and she was halfway down our walkway when a giant storm hit. I beckoned her to come in and be safe. My husband wasn't there, as he was out helping those in need, so it was my responsibility to care for and comfort our children and this woman whom we had taken in. The storm raged outside, but we remained safe. When the storm at last passed we looked outside to assess the damage. It was horrible. Our home, I noticed right away, had not been touched.

I am a firm believer that God gives us dreams at times as a way to warn, to comfort, and to give instruction. Almost four years later this dream has come to represent the roles my husband and I were to play as well as the promise that even through the storm our home and those in it would be kept safe. The last few years have tested and tried my husband and I in ways I never thought possible. Yet this year was different, for this year I found myself finally learning a few lessons from the things we've been asked to accomplish and endure.Here are some of the things I've learned.

1. Things don't always go as planned, and so we need to be flexible. I was invited to join a small group of women who worked to create a story for the local teenage girls in our area we are over. The story was truly inspired of God and I feel so privileged to have written it. We had planned to have it read at girl's camp in different sections each night. Things were coming together beautifully, and then life hit. The area we were to have camp had not dried enough from the previous winter enough to allow us entrance. It was horrible. Everything fell apart. We felt helpless, and even hopeless, as we tried to figure out what to do.

It was decided the camp needed to be split up into the different congregations (also called wards) and done on a smaller basis. At first those of us involved in the presidencies of the wards felt overwhelmed, but then the most amazing things began to happen. Stories from all over filtered in about how little miracles were taking place in making sure camp still happened. In our own ward we not only had a place open up, but there were experiences which taught our girls the difference between being 'in' the world verses being 'of' the world in ways we leaders could never have hoped to help them learn. We discovered what it truly meant to bend our own desires to the will of the Lord.

2. Just because it's down on paper doesn't mean that's how it'll go. A big part of being in a presidency - no matter whom you may be over - is the ability to plan ahead. It rarely does any good to talk about doing things without writing them down and planning them out. Our ward Young Women's presidency has taken this to heart. Every other month or so we try to get together to make plans for activities and things over the coming months. We were feeling especially good about this just a few months ago as we managed to plan for a half year of weekly activities. On paper we looked major organized and on top of things. Once again, life hit. Nothing we'd planned happened. There were three deaths in a matter of three weeks in our ward. As my husband is the bishop it became his responsibility to be over these funerals - which not only take up a lot of time but is physically and emotionally draining.

At this same time other crazy things were happening to the members of our presidency. One woman had to have surgery. Another was desperately looking for a job. And another ended up having her baby almost 6 weeks early. We were unable to accomplish so many of the things we'd planned. It was frustrating and discouraging. Several activities in a row had to be cancelled. Many times over I had to remind myself it was not the end of the world.

3. If you don't make the time for spiritual things, you'll never find the time. The older our kids get the crazier our schedules become. The kids get home from school and immediately want some down time playing games or spending time with friends or being on the computer. Dinner time comes and then the dishes need to be washed. Afterward is homework until it's done, an act which (depending on the child) can take hours. Soon enough it's bedtime. What was missing? Scripture reading. We used to be fantastic when it came to reading the scriptures. It was every night right after dinner. But soon we were hit with youth activities for M and myself, my husband being called out at all hours for ward members in need, and scouts for the boys. It didn't take long, I am sorry to say, for us to get out of the habit. All of these things are good things we're doing, but we've been failing in our home, and that is one place we cannot afford to fail.

Of course, finding the time to make it happen means sacrifice. Maybe friends or computer time or even homework will have to wait for something far more important and far more fulfilling.

4. If we don't take care of ourselves, the Lord will make us. In my last post I wrote about my husband being sick. We didn't realize just how sick he was until the next day at work when he noticed one of his legs began to hurt just to walk on it. He lifted up the leg of his pants to find the front of his calf red and swollen. Being a diabetic he knew it was necessary to get it checked out immediately, as the feet and legs are typically the first things to be affected. Later that day we found out he had an infection called Cellulitis, one that is fast acting and usually manages to place it's victims in the hospital on an iv drop. We had caught it early enough so a trip to the hospital was not necessary, but it did mean he needed to stay off of his leg for about a week.

Those who know my husband will quickly realize how torturous that was for him. He is a physically active man and does not take kindly to being kept down. I had to chuckle, however, as the same comment kept coming from family and friends: "I'm so sorry he's sick, but at the same time I'm glad he gets to rest." My husband will work himself to exhaustion doing all he can for Heavenly Father's children. Though he hated being made to sit down and do nothing for several days, it was obviously needed. And if he wouldn't do what was necessary to allow his mortal body to rest so he might still be of service, the Lord made certain he did.

5. People have to go through tough times. They just do. And sometimes the hardest thing we can do is let them. I have watched so many of our beloved friends and ward members go through excruciating things in the last year. All I have wanted to do was make it better. I wanted to bring them into my home and out of the storm. If there was a way to make the pain go away I wished for it to happen. But that is not the Lord's plan. I know this. I've known it most of my life. I know and understand it more and more as the years drift by. Yet knowing it does not make watching others learn it easier. I cannot take their pain away, but I don't have to. The Lord all ready suffered for it. I can, however, take them in my arms and help support them when it gets too hard to hold themselves up. And this leads me to the greatest lesson I've learned this year.

6. We have to trust in the Lord, and faith is key. All the knowledge in the world does us no good when it comes to putting the things we've learned into action. More than once this year have I found myself at the end of my rope, unable to give, with no idea what to do next. It has been at these points where I have had to lay all the problems down at the feet of the Lord and say, "Help." And He has. I have found peace when needed. Fears and troubles have been placed at bay so I might continue on. When I have been weak and unable to stand on my own two feet He has been there to lift me up.

I have found myself needing to trust in Him more than myself, but also trust He will work His works through me. It's difficult for me to express all that this means to me, nor the intricacies of the knowledge this brings. I cannot begin to tell you how humble I feel, knowing the difference between how much I can do on my own and how much I can do with Him. My faith has grown this year.

I am happy to leave behind 2011. It was not an easy year. Yet I would not trade anything that happened it in for easier times. If I were to do that I would lose all the blessings and knowledge I have gained. For this I am grateful to a loving Father and Brother who have been by my side over the last twelve months...well, really my whole life. While I pray for a time of peace in 2012, I know if this is not meant to be I will still be okay in my little house, regardless of how the storm may rage.


Team Jensen said...

We have been failing at our scripture reading and you can definitely tell. That's something we'll be more diligent about doing this year and in the years to come for sure!

For us 2011 was a great year and also a hard year (for me physically at least). With the birth of our third child, it was sad to see 2011 go, but I'm anxious to see what amazing things come of 2012!

LoveIsAll said...

Like yours blog! Very nice, i'am also happy to leavle 2011!