Monday, July 18, 2011

Life Lessons

When I was in my late teens, I was confident I had all the answers. I knew exactly how I would handle every situation. And, I knew it would be the right way to handle everything.

Perhaps that’s why a summer day in Indiana is so vividly burned into my memory. I was wearing a white leather skirt with a red camp shirt. Do you remember those shirts? That was a very stylish outfit then. My sister and I were sitting in my blue Nissan in front of the mortuary where she and her husband lived. Talking. I had been quite upset with her. I thought she had made some bad decisions.

She was pregnant for the 3rd time and I thought it was the most foolish decision ever. I couldn’t understand why she would put her body through that. She had horrible pregnancies. And, more truthfully, I couldn’t understand why she would put our family through it. Afterall, everything came to a halt for the entire pregnancy. Someone else had to care for her 2 other children, clean her house, cook for her, and the scariest part of all … the doctors had told her that she might not survive another pregnancy.

I had already lost one sister. I didn’t want to lose another sister. This seemed to me to be the most selfish decision she could possibly make. I knew she loved the attention of being pregnant. The whole world stopped for her when she was pregnant … and she loved those little babies. I didn’t understand that at all. But really?? How could she risk her life for all this? It was so selfish!!

Then as we sat in the car, she explained to me the feelings that she had received through prayer. The feelings that there was still one more child for their family. I don’t remember what specifically she said to me that day, but I will never forget what she taught me. I will never forget learning about a mother’s love. I will never forget learning how much mother’s are willing to sacrifice for their children. I will never forget learning that she was willing to sacrifice her life, not because she was selfish, but because she loved a child she hadn’t even met yet.

I learned that day that only a mother can know some things. I learned that faith can help us do things that sometimes do not even make sense medically. And, I started to learn that perhaps I didn’t have all the answers.

A few years later, I learned a similar story from my father. I was a little older, but still seemed to think that I had all the answers for the particular situation our family was handling. I was frustrated by the pain my parents were feeling and wanted desperately to spare them. I was sure if they would just follow my counsel that it would stop.

On a particular day, I told my dad how I thought he should handle a particular situation. If you know my dad, you know that he typically speaks in a pretty slow, I’d say slightly southern drawl, and has a real talent for making things seem like suggestions. Never forcing his thoughts or opinions on you. I on the other hand can state things quite strongly. I’ve mellowed over the years, but am still working on developing his talent.

After telling him exactly how to fix the problem, I don’t remember his exact words, but again I’ll never forget the lesson. He simply taught me something like this: He said something to the effect of, “You know, Tina, when I die the only two people I’m going to have to report to are my mother and my Savior.” (That statement tells you a lot about how he felt about his mother. She was an amazing lady!) “I have to do what I feel like I can say to them I did everything I could.”

Many times over the years, I have thought about that lesson. I base a lot of decisions on that. Can I stand in front of my Savior and say, “I did my best.” Or “I did all that I could do.” Or, “I did all that you asked me to do.”

I know that if I live my life by that standard, I will be able to return and report feeling good about the work I have done during this earth life. I will have done all that I could do.

What lessons have you learned in your life that have blessed your life?