Saturday, September 27, 2008

I am blessed.

I don't fear death or cancer or car accidents or poverty or earthquakes or burglary. I fear being humbled.

I have surmounted a mind-numbing amount of tragedy over the last four years by seeking the joy in the sorrow and soldiering on with a spine of steel. Of the two strategies, silver lining searches are far more effective with less dangerous side effects than steel spines.

It's good to be mentally tough, I know, but it forces me to walk a fine line between gutting something out and being vulnerable enough to cry and accept help when I need to. Too often that feels like softening, and in an effort it "keep it together", I just keep charging ahead. Then I get impressed with myself, and I think about how strong I'm being and I feel proud that I'm making it through when my whole world is teetering precariously around me. And that's when I invite an education I don't want but probably need. When bad things rain down on me, I just harden and harden and harden, letting it get to me less and less, feeling stronger and stronger. But that's when my Father in Heaven, with great love and perfect knowledge of me, showers something further down, something that shatters my brittle shell, and I fall to pieces.

But then He is on hand to reshape me into something pliant, malleable, fluid, more responsive, softer. Gentler.

It hurts every time but all the same pieces of me are there. They're just put together in a way that makes more sense. I feel more myself than I did before, blinking and a little dazed from the remodelling process, but pleased with the new space inside it created, one that allows for more light and room for other things to fill it. Like gratitude. And warmth. And blessings.

So before I grow too proud of myself for coping or even just surviving, I have to ask if I'm ready to be humbled. And when I'm smart, and honest with myself, and can see clearly in a moment that seeks to cloud my vision with trials and hard times, I ask if I've invited that challenge by being too impressed with myself. And if I have, then I try to accept the lesson I am being taught. And if it's just one of those rotten things that just happens because that's how life is, I try to hunker down and embrace my total dependence on the Lord because that's who gave me the spine of steel, anway.

I'm in a moment of peace in my life. Everyone is healthy. We are finacially secure in a really insecure time. We love each other without reservation and express it openly. We have adventures and watch our children grow into happy boys. But I'm trying hard each day to remember that whatever hand I have in any of that is one that is supported by the Lord and not my own genius at parenting or anything else. I have tried to do my part and have been blessed for it. And if things begin to go wrong, I need to stay pliant. Compliant with God's will. Suppliant to His succor.

Nothing else matters. Not validation from the number of RSVPs to my son's birthday party, or comments on my blog, or invitations to bridal showers or recitations from my husband of my finer qualities that I seem to forget.

I relinquish my seven comment demand. People will speak if they want to. I will be pleased and feel blessed if only my son's two closest friends show up for his birthday. They are the ones who know and like him best. I will be honored to entertain just five people if that's all that came to our annual fall barbecue. That's five people that didn't have to show up.

I am sitting in front of a window, staring out into the autumn fog that's rolled in off the ocean, listening to the happy plucks of my husbands fingers on his ukulele as he sits on the stairs and makes up songs for the baby, who bounces in delight. I am blessed by my Heavenly Father. I am humbled by His goodness and generosity. I thank Him for my gifts and talents, for my husband and children, for my family. These are, in the end, the only things I really need. I am thankful for a day like today when I know that. Really know that.


Lisa said...

I don't really know how to respond to this post, as I feel it requires capitals and exclamation points, but they don't fit in with the content I'm responding to at all.

This is a wonderful post. I can't believe how insightful and just plain beautiful your language is. I'll be reading this over and over. It's really lovely and I wish at this moment I was Charrette because she would put how I'm feeling into words, and I am no good at it.

Anyway, this is really one of my favorite posts of all time. Thanks so much.

Heather of the EO said...

Yes, what Lisa said. Even the part where I wish I was Charrette so I could respond with what's in my heart really really well.
This is just so well written and well said and beautiful. You've captured something that is at the heart of every human and in such a lovely, personal and profound way.
But I did kind of like the seven comment rule ;)

Annette Lyon said...

That's just beautiful. Thanks, Melanie.

charrette said...

I'm going to give you my very best compliment: I wish I wrote this. In fact, I've been crafting a similar post -- in my head -- for awhile now. I have been thinking about this very cycle you describe, my own tendency to avoid being humbled by hard things, and my gratitude for those hard things in retrospect...even as I become proud of myself in the midst. You expressed it all so beautifully. I wish I could respond with equal eloquence. And it does really all boil down to that single thought: I am blessed.

What makes me sad is that you've been through such harrowing experiences, and yet at the same time I almost want to rejoice with you for what you must have learned in the process. My first semester teaching, I had a student who was a widow at 23 (after 3 months of marriage) and just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. My only response to hearing her story: The Lord must love you very much.

Kimberly said...

This is one of those things that I can't say I've been struggling to put into words but having read it I suddenly recognize this same process in myself. I feel a bit awestruck by the beauty of this post, to be honest. Humbled by it even.

charrette said...

I just logged back on to print this out, as my oldest son is preparing to give a priesthood lesson on...humility. I hope you're okay with me sharing this with him.

Also, I think you should put the seven comments rule back in place -- even in your own head -- because then nobody accidentally misses stuff like this.

Oh, and um, you should submit this to the Annex. (But try not to get too proud when they post it.) ;-)

Alison Wonderland said...

Oh, the steel spine, I know it well.

"Yes, I have four kids and a full time job and I'm building a new kitchen. It's not a big deal." It's such a big deal. I'm amazing. Is of course what I'm thinking.

I have a really hard time remembering who gave me the four kids and the job and the ability and knowledge of how to build the kitchen (I certainly didn't have it before).

And here's your seventh comment anyway.

Julie Wright said...

Beautiful post and dead on accurate. I am terrified of being humbled. I never pray for things like patience and understanding, because I know what it takes to get those fabulous characteristics. I love your thoughts and perspective.

Nancy said...

Amen...pliant, compliant, suppliant...nice

M has a date this week! She is fabulous - now to find someone fabulous for her.

Melanie's Sister said...

Funny. That's what my therapist has been trying to get me to admit for MONTHS! It must be in the genes.