This week, after rounding a corner with all the unpacking and house decorating, Rick and I were beginning to feel like life was back on the upswing. We started feeling more like we live here, and less like we were still moving in.
There are always unexpected costs and mishaps when moving to a new home. Especially when purchasing a home. After having already spent an unmentionable amount of money on paint, water pipes, gas lines, home security, irrigation, and yard stuff, we thought that, surely, we had fixed all that needed to be fixed, at least for this year. And then we heard what sounded like an angry beast trying to escape its confinement within the metal walls of the furnace and air conditioning unit. Two low, fast rumbles followed by a longer, louder bellow. Even after cutting its power, the beast complained for hours with its angry growl. Yep. Our AC, our furnace, and another several thousand dollars gone.
And that was, of course, the same day that my parents arrived from Salt Lake City to visit us in our new home for the first time. Why does it always seem like life hits you at the least convenient time?
Truth be told, there’s never really a good time for bad or inconvenient things to happen to us. The trick is to figure out quickly what we need to do about it, do it, and move on. Otherwise we will be in danger of missing important life lessons and becoming too wrapped up in the “poor me” trap.
Sadly, I admit that I allowed myself to fall into this very trap. Since February, I had been stressed out about the unexpected change of finding a new home, moving in, and taking care of all the surprises that come with that. The stress was like a gas, filling in all the spaces and cracks of my life, sometimes making it difficult to breathe. I couldn’t think of anything but myself and my family.
Then, a couple weeks ago, I got a text message from a dear, dear friend, whom I’ve known for nearly twenty years. She’s expecting her first child and was asking for prayers during her last few weeks of pregnancy. I assured her that my prayers would be heaven-sent in her behalf. What I didn’t tell her, at least not right away, was that this was the first I had heard about her being pregnant. I felt so ashamed. She had been posting things about it on social media since January, and somehow, I was so wrapped up in my own little world, that I missed one of the crowning moments of my friend’s life. When we talked on the phone the next day, she was so loving and forgave me quickly. I was so relieved, and vowed that I would snap out of it and stop being so self-pitying and self-absorbed.
Have you ever looked into a spoon? If you hold up a spoon and look into it, you will see an interesting thing. When you have the spoon facing you, focusing on yourself, your reflection is upside down.
As unexpected things have recently seemed to turn my life upside down, it’s been too easy to get caught up in focusing on my own needs and feel like there’s no possible way to overcome. Elder Steven E. Snow, of the Presidency of the Seventy, reminded us of four things we can do to help us deal with the unpredictability of life. He told us:
First, follow the prophets. Listen to and abide by the counsel of the Brethren.
Second, keep an eternal perspective. Understand that change and challenges are part of God’s plan. Life’s challenges and changes provide opportunities for us to grow as we exercise our agency in making righteous decisions.
Third, have faith. President Thomas S. Monson has counseled us that “faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other”. We must exercise faith to take on life’s challenges and changes. It is how we learn and progress.
Fourth, be of good cheer. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable”. Laughter and a good sense of humor can soften the bumps along life’s journey.
What beautifully simple counsel. I haven’t yet mastered it, but I am trying every day to do a better job. And by turning my view outward, being more aware of those around me, I know that I will have the strength to figure out how to deal with my own challenges and all that life sees fit to dish out.