I wish I could somehow pour my feelings out directly onto the computer screen. The written word has many capabilities, but it falls far short when trying to describe the most heartfelt emotions. It is also a poor medium for communicating the evolution of a train of thought traversing the human mind. Nonetheless, I will give it a try.
I was driving down the road yesterday. It was a beautiful fall day. The snow-capped mountains around me were perfectly accented by the amazing blue of the sky. The stand-up-for-what-you-believe-in Sara Bareilles anthem “Brave” was blasting through the car. (This happens to be one of Cali's favorite songs, and I couldn't help thinking of her with a smile.) My thought process began with how grateful I was for inspirational music. From the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Josh Groban to pop anthems, music can do so much to lift the spirits and inspire us to action.
My mind wandered back to a time when I used to listen to great music on the radio and feel jealous. I wanted to be the one performing! I thought I had the talent to write music like that, to sing music like that. Why couldn’t that be me? I was fortunate enough to have the chance to chase my dream. We moved to Tennessee. I attended song-writing clinics. I performed at singer/songwriter venues and entered competitions. I quickly learned that I didn’t have the talent to be a star singer, but felt that I could make it as a songwriter. I tried for four and a half years. Christi and I, my brother Matt and I and other aspiring songwriters and I wrote multiple songs that I felt had radio potential. One of our songs actually made a publisher cry! But we never had the success I had hoped for. Then suddenly we knew it was time. We needed to leave Tennessee and come back home to the west. My dream was over.
But something had matured inside of me. Instead of feeling bitter or jealous when I listened to the radio, I felt grateful! Grateful for the beauty of the music. Grateful that I had been able to give it a shot. Grateful that I didn’t have to wonder, “what if?” I gave it all that I could for four and a half years…and I did not succeed. The Lord had a different plan for me. For our family. Our time in Tennessee, while not producing what we had hoped when we moved there, was priceless. Lifetime friendships were forged. Christi and I grew closer than we had ever been as we adjusted to life with no family anywhere near. Spiritual lessons were learned. And we were led to China. All while in Tennessee. The Lord knew we needed to live there for a time. But it was for His reasons, not mine. And I found peace. Would it have been fun to tour with Garth Brooks? Absolutely. Would it have fit into the unique calling Christi and I have come to accept as ours? Not likely. I am so grateful that the Lord did not answer my prayers for musical fame and gloryJ. To quote Mr. Brooks,… "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers."
Of course all of this and more went through my thoughts in just a few seconds. Next I reflected on the need to reflect. I have been reading a book with the boys. It is historical fiction set around the ministry of Jesus. (It is called The Kingdom and the Crown series, and I highly recommend it.) This past week was our fall break, and I went camping with Taylor, Parker and my dad. As we were on the long drive home from southern Utah, my dad read to us. (As a side note, I haven’t been read to in years, and I was amazed at what a wonderful experience that is. Made me more determined than ever to make reading with my own kids a priority.)
At one point in the book the author gives a detailed description of a Passover meal in a Jewish household. I was struck with the power and importance of recalling the sacrifices of those who have come before us. As this family remembered the plight of their forebears as slaves to Egypt, as they ate the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, how could they not be more grateful for the blessings they themselves enjoyed? How could they not feel grateful to their God for delivering them from such bondage?
As I was listening, my mind went to my own life. I admit that there are times that I wonder why and how. Why have I been given so many challenges to deal with? How can I face a lifetime of caring for a child with Elli’s severe special needs? But as I thought of the Israelites and others throughout history who lived in slavery for generations, as I thought of those living in poverty throughout the world today, as I thought of the pioneers who settled this land and the sacrifices they made, my perspective changed. I have NOTHING to complain about. I have been blessed beyond measure, beyond comprehension. Where much is given, much is required. And where much is required, much is given. I was so grateful for this reminder.
I was struck by the value of the Jews celebrating Passover every year. The clarity and understanding I felt as I was listening to the story was wonderful. It will last for some time. But I am sure that there will come another day when I am overwhelmed and wonder how I can make it and why the Lord would give me these particular trials. How important it is to reflect on the sacrifices made by our ancestors and the blessings the Lord has given them. By doing this regularly we are much more likely to see the blessings in our own lives and be grateful for the path that God has chosen for us.
I’m not sure I expressed myself very well here. I hope some of my feelings came through. Most of all I hope that my children can learn to find peace. If the path the Lord has in store for them involves their hopes and dreams coming true, wonderful! If a career in film animation or a spot on the high school basketball team is in their future, fantastic. But if His path for them involves roads they would not have chosen themselves, I hope that they will be able to see His glory in their journey.
Fifteen years ago, ten years ago, even five years ago, I had no idea where I would be today. Had it been up to me, I very well may have tried to go a different direction. But the Lord knew what was best. I am grateful for His guidance. I am grateful for His love. I am grateful for His peace.