A few weeks back I mentioned a blessing Andy gave me to count the blessings that came from the trials in my life. Because my trials are deeply personal, I won’t do that here, but I have been trying to do this, particularly on days when my anxieties flare up. I have to say, that the week I focused on gratitude did indeed bring “spiritual healing” as President Nelson promised. These small and simple acts of recording, pondering and writing down my gratitude have led to larger changes. I think I’ve struggled with anxiety for a while, to be honest, but I haven’t ever been humble enough to acknowledge that fact. I don’t look at it as “well you can excuse my behavior because I feel anxious…” but instead it has made me self-aware of why I react in certain situations and allows me to access the resources and tools I’ve learned about recently to combat that anxiety. Though looking back at my life, starting back in elementary school, I see how I reacted in social situations, life trials, etc. because of my anxiety which led me to create a perception of my reality that maybe isn’t as realistic as I had believed it to be. My Great Grandma- Alice Cook was a poet. This is one of her poems that my Aunt Christine shared this week that reflects exactly what I was sharing:
If I could number only happy hours,
I should, perhaps, name all that I have known;
For days when clouds hung low, and grief engulfed
Me with its surging flood, when hope had flown
And doubts obscurred the way, have now passed on—
Ameliorated by Time’s gracious hand.
Today I know that blessings ofttimes wear
A strange disguise; I better understand
The need for clouds and tears and shattered dreams.
A maze of hues will hide the rich design
Of master-works of art, when seen too near—
A distant view full beauty will define:
The somber tones accentuate the bright.
Give warmth and depth to modify the light.
As I read this I thought about the dark or challenging times in my life. I actually feel super blessed right now. My circumstances are great, my life is exactly where I wanted it to be when I made my life plan when I was younger and yet I have to make daily efforts to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I’m happy. I don’t know how to explain that they don’t coincide. My anxiousness doesn’t affect my overall happiness. I just get overwhelmed and it leads to anxiousness. But so much good has come from realizing this struggle and facing it. I have learned how to change my mindset on my perspective reality (though it is still a work in progress). It has helped me become a better mother, I’m slower to anger, quicker to sympathize and be compassionate and taking the time to teach rather than criticize. A smart lady— Sara Rasband’s Anya— told me I need to lift rather than drag people to reach the expectations I have for them. I am still working on this, but the trials in my life have helped me along this journey and honestly have brought all the good I have in my life.
As I have been focusing on the Savior’s birth every night with my kids, it has caused me to reflect on the power of a baby. The potential each one of them holds is astounding. The image of the wise men, angels, and the shepherds kneeling to this baby unaware has instilled in me a reverence for the innocence and beauty of a baby. This small babe would some day bring great things to pass. I pray that as you focus on the Savior, you too can realize the greatness of his life and the goodness of his presence in your life, even in the hard times. For without His greatest struggle, we would not have the ultimate and greatest blessing of eternal life and exaltation. Merry Christmas.
And now some snapshots from my week: