Thursday, October 9, 2014

Empty Eyes

Have you ever thought to yourself: What do I live for? or What matters most to me?

It has been over 15 months since I have been here in North Carolina. I can hardly believe it. Over the past 15 months I have been able to see many people with many different desires. It interests me to be able to sit down with all of these people and get to know what they look forward to in this life. As you might imagine, these desires range from working on cars, to supporting a family, to tending a garden. I love being able to see what matters most to people.

I will not soon forget one of these wonderful people I have sat down with. The man I am referring to was the husband of one of my favorite investigators. His name was Al. They lived in a cozy, brick home in a quaint town. It seemed like every time we would show up, without fail, Al would be out front with his walker gardening out front. Needless to say, his garden was beautifully kept. Al would always sit in on lessons and nod his head and give input every once in a while. After 5 months of getting to know this friendly couple we began to see their desires and what they look forward to in life. We soon found that Al is one of those men that loves getting things done and being able to work with his hands, especially in his garden. In a lot of ways, he reminded me of my grandfather. Like my grandpa, as Al got older and older he felt like he wasn't able to do the things that he used to. His health continued to decline as we visited the couple. He had a few falls and a few trips to the hospital. His wife worried about him quite often.

On a visit in the last little bit I was there, my heart broke for Al. Each visit he seemed to be less and less engaged and subsequently more and more distant. Finally, one night he completely broke down. This man that used to have so much purpose now was completely distraught. As tears rolled from his eyes he told stories of the time when he grew up on a farm in Maine. He would ride horses, till the soil, plant seeds, and reap from the harvest. He reminisced on the things he had achieved in this life and reflected on how absolutely incapable he felt now. He was devastated that he couldn't even uphold a garden now. He had what I have come to know as "empty eyes." Empty eyes the result of hitting rock bottom and feeling as though there is nothing left. As I looked into Al's empty eyes, I saw a piece of my grandpa in him. 

I will promise anyone on earth the same thing that we promised Al that night. There is more to life than this. When it is all said and done things like working on cars, supporting a family, or tending a garden are great things to do in this life to gain experience but ultimately we don't take cars, money, or our garden with us. I know that when we leave from this life we have the ability to be with our family again, to return with God, and ultimately experience joy that we cannot comprehend. Let us all take some time to evaluate what matters most to us. Focus on those things that matter most. Reach out to a friend, bond with your family, and achieve worthy goals. I know that the happiness that comes from those things is the happiness that will last into the life to come.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Balanced Diet

We eat, we sleep, and we repeat. The necessities of life are often plain and simple to us, a normal way of life.

My companion and I have been trying to eat as healthy as we can as of late. We make sure we get enough fruits and vegetables and stay away from sugary sodas and desserts. As I reflected on how much of a difference it has made in how we felt, I thought of how "spiritual food" greatly affects the way we feel also.

For many of us, much of time is spent taking care of our bodies needs but how often do we take some time for our spiritual needs. When was the last time you took some time to ponder about what you want to become? When was the last time you helped a friend? When was the last time you prayed? All of these things literally feed our spirits and help us live balanced, happy lives.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Future is Bright

The other day I was pondering on the fact that our loving God would let some of his children go through trials, even devastating trials at times. The hardest thing I have seen on my mission is when innocent, kind people are hurt. I realize, the unenviable pattern of life is that everyone on earth will have ups and downs. Just looking at life logically, it is impossible to have all our days be better than average. Some days will be fantastic and others will be heart-breaking. But if God is really there, and God really loves us, why?

In the Bible, 5th chapter of Mathew it says
          "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
An instant parallel that opened up to my mind as I read that verse is like any Father and Child (or Mother and child) relationship. If the child always got what he wanted, if they are anything like me, life would consist of ice-cream for every meal, late nights, no homework, sleeping in, and simply living in the moment. That would be absolutely fantastic for the first day or two but it would slowly begin to become detrimental on the children. Likewise, more often than not, experiences teach us vital life lessons and skills. Our Father in Heaven allows these trials come upon us so that we might come out stronger.

I know what it is like to feel sad, inadequate, or discouraged. We all do. But as we look up to the future ahead and have faith, one day it will all be well. I love the quote from Thomas S. Monson at the top. "Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith."