Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year: Time to Rebuild

Life was a little bit difficult more me in 2012. In fact, it was very difficult for me. I remember in my mid-30's sitting in a lesson in the LDS institute and the teacher was talking about trials. At the time, I squirmed a little simply because I didn't feel like I'd had many trials. Then the teacher started to talk about some of the trials he and his wife had faced. I was taken aback. He was talking about not being able to have a fourth child, not getting the job they'd hoped for and so forth. I found myself rating his trials as pretty insignificant. After all, my husband and I had gone through job losses, infertility, health problems, and living very near the poverty level. Yet at the time, none of those difficulties had entered my mind as a trial. They were just part of the journey of life. Judging our trials against someone else's isn't very helpful in managing our own. The thing is I was in a better place in my mind to handle them. Those difficulties hadn't gotten me down. We never really know how much a person can handle until they face that final straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back. It isn't the same for everyone. Your straw might just be something that someone else would rate as pretty insignificant.

That's why judging how someone feels or should feel about their situation isn't very fair. Sometimes when we look at someone else and the difficulties they face, it's pretty easy for us to offer solutions. It's easy to see what they should and shouldn't do to overcome this or that. In the LDS church we have a lot of solutions for people and they are rattled off in any sunday school class: read your scriptures, pray, have family home evening, go to the temple and so on and on. Sometimes those solutions aren't the solutions at all to mend broken hearts and spirits. Sometimes the answer comes outside of those. Sometimes the answers don't come at all. Sometimes it just takes time. Attitude is everything, but making a shift in thinking takes practice. And sometimes it takes thinking that doesn't come sitting in the pews at church. Sometimes we find the answers in unexpected places. That each of us our own our own journey is something we should remember when we find ourselves thinking we know the answers for someone else.

I had some months last year where I felt so much anxiety it lodged in my chest like a rock, only my heart was racing and sometimes I couldn't breathe. Sleeping of course was hard, but waking up even harder. If I tried to tell someone what was wrong, I felt completely ungrateful. I have so much to be grateful for. At the time there was nothing I could pinpoint except the feeling I didn't really belong in my church. My thinking had shifted to the point that I couldn't dwell on what binds our hearts--only what divides. I hit the proverbial rock bottom, and I hope there isn't another bottom even further down, because I'm not the strong person some had perceived me to be.

The Paradise church building like my faith was torn down. As the summer passed I went out of my way not to see the destruction of the building--the reminder of the devastation I felt. I'd been acting for a long time--years. Acting sometimes works and we become the person we've been pretending to be. Or the pretense eventually breaks us. As it did me. I may act confident when I'm shaking inside. I may act indifferent when I care so much it hurts. I may act like a believer when I am not.  Finally though, I started to feel better. I had a "coming out" period where I started talking to people. I admitted that my belief system had crumbled. For me, talking was needed in order to re-build. It may have made some  uncomfortable. I'm sorry that it did. I hope you see that I'm still just me--the same person--with a clearer vision of who I am. I see gray in all shades instead of black and white.

When I felt strong enough I started driving by the church that was being built in place of the old one. Finally one day a month or two ago, I drove by and saw the steeple hanging off of a crane. My heart jumped. It was beautiful! I couldn't believe it. My eyes filled with tears. They had built a bell-tower and placed the old historic bell within it. This wasn't going to be just another cookie-cutter church. The powers-to-be had listened to the voices of the people and saved something valuable. It was a small gesture, but it gave me the hope to be able to re-build my faith piece by piece. The rock work in front was from the old building. It wouldn't be the same, but it will be beautiful. I too, can take something of value and re-build something new.

In a new year, I will work to focus on what unites us. I will work on mending and thriving. I hope I can learn to respect your journey and you will respect mine.