“I think I’m going crazy”, I said as I sighed. Even right smack dab in the middle of teaching a group fitness class my mind is tormented. I know the questions I ask myself, as an onlooker, to someone who’s in a situation I fear. In fact, I asked a dear friend who is being faced with life threatening effects of brain cancer. “Do you ever stop thinking about it?” The answer was “NO!”, and while I, myself, am not faced with cancer, one of my dear children is. The reason I asked my friend if she ever stops thinking about cancer is because I was wondering if my all-consuming thoughts about the situation my family has been in for four years was normal. I often ask myself if I’m crazy, or if it’s normal for it to never go away. For the most part, it’s always there. Occasionally it waits just off to the side of the stage, but it has little patience and is very persistent in being front and center. At all times I am working to either stay present… having hope, belief in miracles, faith, trust and patience, …or… I am trying to control it, running through scenarios, solutions, statements by doctors, articles I’ve read, etc., looking for a way to “control the situation”. It’s exhausting and jumping back and forth like this genuinely makes me feel as though I’m losing my mind.
I came across a quote by Henry B. Erying that says, “The Lord doesn’t put us through this test just to give us a grade, He does it because the process will CHANGE US.”
As I read this quote I asked myself if it was true, did it feel like truth in my body? I have to humbly agree that I believe it is true.
I love my son so much, it KILLS ME to have watched all he has been through and that I cannot control cancer. I freaking hate cancer so bad. One thing I have noticed about myself, and others, is we often blame God for cancer or believe for some reason that he gave it to us or our loved ones. If anything, it makes more sense to me that satan is at the root of cancer. It is so evil and destructive, there is no possible way God created it or gave it to anyone. God is the one who blessed us with our bodies, it is satan who is pissed that he didn’t get one.
Anyway, the point I’m getting at is, I can either allow difficult situations to destroy me, as satan would have, or I can rise above, having faith in a loving Father in Heaven, trusting in the Saviors plan, using the gift of His atonement, which he gave us all, and walk in faith, placing my hand in the Saviors and endure with patience, looking for the spiritual gifts that come in the form of change, when we embrace adversity.
I began to mentally make a list of the positive changes that have taken place because of this beast, and here are a few…
For some, it takes being placed in a vice, having an extreme amount of pressure applied, to figure out who you are…. that’s me. I am learning who I am. I feel like an idiot to admit it, and satan tries to sell me a lot of guilt because of it, but it has only been in the last few years that I have truly begun to realize who I am. I am starting to understand my worth (this all happens on good days mind you… it’s not constant and it’s not easy, but I’m catching glimpses and sometimes they stick). I’m beginning to understand that Heavenly Father’s children, and daughters especially, are divine, sacred beings who deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and love, especially by our selves. The reason we do harmful things and don’t take care of ourselves is because we are not grounded or aligned and we have lost that close connection with Father in Heaven and the Savior, we have forgotten who we are. When I am grounded and aligned and able to feel the Saviors presence, I have love and compassion for myself. I have no desire to check out or run away, I want to stay present because it feels good, even in the midst of really tough days, I enjoy my own company, I am okay with myself, and I find that I don’t need anyone else to bring me happiness.
I have learned that everything in life isn’t an emergency. I watch people freak out over the stupidest things. When I see people raging in their cars, flipping others off or screaming (essentially to themselves because no one can hear them and they don’t realize how distorted and ugly their face becomes while they are doing it… haha …. But thank you for the entertainment) I just shake my head. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there,… late for work or an appointment and thinking it’s the end of the world… HAAAAA!!!! Who cares? I immediately ask myself in each situation, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Is it even life of death that’s causing you to act this way? Immediately I breathe and find peace. Honestly, there really isn’t much in this life that is worth getting upset over. Perspective, I’m learning perspective.
Being in a fragile state most of the time, I’m learning to treat others kindly, speak softer, assume everyone is going through something hard and treat them as such, we just never know. I’ve learned to stop and listen before I speak, in an attempt to validate and hold space for those who are speaking. I’ve learned that it’s best not to compare my situation to others, that I think are similar, but rather to listen and offer love…. often times, because we are human, we think that if we tell someone we know exactly how they feel because we’ve been there…. we really haven’t! No two experiences are the same and even if they are similar, the surrounding circumstances are different in a thousand ways. I’ve learned that when we compare, we invalidate.
I humbly acknowledge that God wants us to have peace and joy and that it is usually us who keeps that from happening. He answers prayers, even very specific and seemingly trivial prayers in very miraculous ways…. I’ve witnessed this numerous times. If we kneel and ask in humility for the righteous desires of our hearts, AND IF OUR DESIRES ARE IN ALIGNMENT WITH HIS PLAN, He answers our prayers.
I am learning that this life is so short, it seems so long and as if it is all that matters, but in reality, it is such a small window of time.
I’m learning that there are no coincidences, and that if we are listening and acting, we can be part of the magnificent symphony that is going on around us.
I have been blessed with and was guided to learn some very valuable tools that help me to access the peace the Savior can offer. I have learned that my most basic and life saving tool is my breath. When life is too much and the chaos and pain are circling like a tornado around me, I can find my breathe, bring myself back into my body and out of my head. It sounds silly at first, but most of us live life in our heads on a bunch of hamster wheels. If we can use our breath to locate all of our senses and rather than run with our thoughts, simply observe them and let them pass through us, we start to release the negative energy that gets stuck in our bodies and essentially what happens is, we turn everything over to Christ. In my best moments I have learned to feel the earth beneath my feet (or the chair under my backside) and to be grounded (or find my roots…remember who I am…seek connection with God…and align myself with Him). Once I am in this place I am able to stay present, or in this moment, I’m able to find safety and peace in THIS moment, having faith that I’ll find it again in the next moment, and the next. The past and the future steal our peace…. we cannot change or control them, yet we waste so much time there.
I am learning that I love God and the Savior. I’m learning to feel of their love for me. I’m learning that I love the principles of the gospel. I’m learning that God never expected us to be perfect in this life and that mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.
I’m learning that I don’t have to be strong all the time, that there is strength in softening. I’m very slowly learning that feeling each emotion won’t kill me and I don’t have to run from them and each time I am successful in staying present through a difficult emotion, I find a sense of empowerment and love of self.
I’m grateful I have taken the time to identify the positive changes that have occurred within myself. I could also list the changes I’ve seen in each member of my family, but perhaps this would be a rewarding exercise for each of them to do on their own. I have to acknowledge that in doing this exercise, basically in having gratitude, I can feel more peace. I am grateful for all I am learning and for the positive changes that have been a result of the difficult things in my life.