True or False
I read -L-'s latest post with interest. So many of his words resonated with me, which is unusual since, in general, my involvement as I read, is clinical, at best. I've trained myself to be detached--it's the only way I can investigate my feelings without becoming immersed in, or overwhelmed by them. I don't believe I'm the only one who does this, although I might be one of the few who will admit it. But in the process of searching for truth, I have to admit, it's really an unnecessary quest. I've found my answers. I won't be turned from my convictions. I am where I will be for the rest of my life. So why do I continue to explore?
I think it's more than passing interest or idle curiosity. I've never needed validation or support when it comes to the things I really believe. I think I continue to read, seek, question because the answers come with deeper clarity each time, and repetition seems to be an essential requirement to lifetime learning. But along with the clarity comes an easing of austere judgment, especially as that judgment pertains to others. As I understand what is true for me, what is best for me, I become more and more certain that my path is mine alone, and truth seems fluid, certitude is dubious, at best.
This is not to say that I am finding elasticity in the gospel I believe--no, there are certain constants that do not change. I'm finding that flexibility inside myself...the ability to accept flaws, to deal with humanity, to realize we're all in this together--like it or not--and we were put on this earth to love and help, and to accept those things in return. I often believe I don't have to accept anything from anyone, but if I had been meant to journey alone, that omnipotent God would have created a planet for me on which I could live my solitary existance. Obviously, that didn't happen.
As I read through -L-'s words, he created one of those black/white, right/wrong dilemmas for me. "So, which is it then? Be true to yourself, or forget yourself?" The interesting thing is that, regardless of what I've yearned for, no matter what I may have missed, I've never felt that I've been untrue to myself, and I've never forgotten myself, either. In fact, as I've immersed myself in learning to love in a way completely different from what felt natural, I've discovered a depth to myself that I never knew existed. And that depth seems to grow with each life changing experience.
In twenty years there have been many experiences. The one that seems to stay with me happened eleven years ago. My tiny daughter, six weeks old, weighed in at about 5 1/2 pounds. She was in the hospital with RSV--and not expected to live out the week. Her skin was purplish-gray, and she labored for every breath she took. She crashed four times the first day. I sat beside her bassinet and cried. Darrin held my hand and cried. Then they started an airborne treatment. The doctor told me it was unlikely to help, but we should try it anyway. The medication they tented to my daughter triggered my asthma. I was not allowed in the room with her. I stood at the window, wishing I could hold her, wondering why this was happening.
I remember watching Darrin, as he entered Tabitha's room. I was so envious, and relieved at the same time. I watched as he cuddled her tiny body, as he rocked her. And I realized that this was not my daughter, it was our daughter, made with our love, because we worked together to get past the obstacles. We had created the beautiful life that was cradled in my husband's arms. I realized how tenuous that life was, and how in just one day, it could be gone. I realized that any perceived sacrifice was not a sacrifice at all. And I knew that what I had built with my husband was real and tangible and must continue. I would never be happy in any other circumstance, regardless of what my body might say.
Prayers, priesthood blessings, faith...the doctor told me the day Tabitha was released from the hospital that he had been certain she would die. The nurses told me they had never seen a baby so ill recover. One nurse told me she had never seen anyone love another person as much as my husband did. I told her, "Yes, he's a wonderful father." "Oh no, honey," she said, "I was talking about how much he loves YOU!" I looked at her, surprised. She laughed, "It's in the way he looks at you, the way he touches you, the way he speaks to you...you're very lucky."
-L- said: "I think the 'real me' took a backseat when I got married. I signed up to give myself away. And I think the promise that, 'He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it,' rings true in this instance." I can't debate that point with him, and perhaps my statement here will actually make his point for him; but all I know is that when I got married, I discovered, over time, the "real me." The me that acknowledges that I may always feel a need to be held by someone other than Darrin, but I feel complete when he holds me at night. The me that feels a physical response when I make eye contact with a beautiful woman, but feels safe, whole, and right when I make eye contact with my husband. Darrin makes me feel more "me" than any other person. When we are together, I have no doubt that what we have is sacred, special. When we are apart, I feel that even more strongly. Did I initially "lose" my life, only to find it?
"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out." What exactly is the music inside of me? Is it the song the world tells me to sing? Is it the song of the heart required of the Lord? Am I allowed to write my own composition? I believe I've been making music for my entire life. Sometimes that music was of higher quality than others. But now the tune is familiar but not boring, played with ease and finesse, with the occasional mistake put right with daily practice. The tune is carefully constructed through conscious choice, and trial/error experiences, not inspired by perfect pitch or natural ability.
The interesting thing about sacrifice is that, when all is said and done, in the face of the blessings received, one often wonders exactly what was lost. "Self-denial … is not the negative, forbidding thing that often we shake our heads about. In one sense there is no such thing as self-denial, for what we call such is the necessary price we pay for things on which our hearts are set.”
--Henry Emerson Fosdick