As I have thought about this throughout the week, I have realized that I truly do have a gift of seeing the beauty around me. Life and circumstances are rarely easy and perfect. In fact, sometimes it is so unbelievably difficult, so gray and impossible, that I wonder how I'm going to make it. I have been blessed to always see at least a little bit light past that gray. I have been blessed to understand that all of my circumstances are important in creating my life. And as I think about it, I am so blessed to be surrounded by many people who do that, too.
I have a brother who very unexpectedly found himself a single dad. He was able to look past his anger and hurt and build a beautiful life for himself and his son. That precious nephew is now a thriving, talented, happy teenager with amazing opportunities ahead of him in the world, all because he had a dad who kept going and searching for good. They now have been blessed with the presence of an amazing woman in their lives.
I have dear friends who lost their beloved son to suicide. Their world was ripped violently apart. Yet they clung to each other, to their marriage and love, to their living son and persevered through the agony. They now revel in the beauty of their love, a son and a daughter-in-law full of love and light, and grandchildren accomplishing extraordinary things in life. They see the joy they have created.
I have a mother who lives with physical pain each and everyday of her life. She never complains or wallows in self-pity. She doesn't sit around at home. Instead she throws her energy into loving and serving her family, her friends, even people she barely knows. She cares for the poor and needy, she visits the lonely, she cheers up the sad. She has compassion beyond any I have ever known. And this brings her so much happiness! She actually glows.
I have a friend who I consider a brother, who's heart was attacked by a virus, who has survived two heart transplants, who's life was completely turned upside down and changed. This is a man who has traveled the world, who has climbed Everest, who has known adventure I probably never will. Yet, he is content in his situation, and grateful beyond belief. He loves his quiet walks with his dog, enjoying and noticing wildlife and nature on a completely new level. He treasures his adorable wife and her incredible love and support of him.
I have a daughter who, as a starving, struggling college student, had her debit card stolen and her bank account emptied of nearly a thousand dollars, all the money she had for her semester's living expenses. Instead of throwing up her arms and giving up, she did all she could to recover the money. Instead of losing faith in humanity and becoming bitter and angry, she looked for good in the world, and the tender mercies from a loving Father in Heaven.
I have a dear friend who wants nothing more than to be a mother. She and her husband have lost babies in pregnancy and suffered greatly through fertility treatments. Yet, she continues on. She showers incredible love on the people around her. She loves their babies like they were her own. She has perfected yoga instruction and blessed many lives with her peaceful, loving nature.
I have a son who, upon arriving in Mexico for his long-awaited and articulately prepared missionary service, found himself in a depression. He refused to let it consume him and actively and quickly sought help and treatment. He also fervently threw himself in the service of his Heavenly Father and the people of Mexico. He has found joy and relief, and has helped many others to find the same.
I have a grandmother who married at sixteen, escaping an abusive step-father, and moved across the country with unknown people. She embraced the love her mother-in-law offered her, as my grandfather went off to war and left her in this new place. She became and learned how to be a mother, how to manage a family and home. She had seven children by the time she was 28. She had many years of trial and difficulty, but always enjoyed her life's journey. She loved like no one I have ever known. When Corbin came into our family, she treated him like her very own grandchild. When Iver and Shakira were born, she snuggled them the same way I did. They were hers. I often think about her sitting up there in that heavenly paradise, looking down on her posterity and giggling that fabulous giggle of hers, so full of complete and total joy.
I am enchanted and uplifted by these people, and many others in my life. We have that little gift in common.
Recently Corbin and I were discussing the fact that the life we have created is actually so much better than the life we ever imagined for ourselves. It certainly hasn't been easy. We have suffered and endured hardships such as extreme mental illness, poverty, very difficult living situations, addiction, cancer, difficult injuries, long and extreme work hours, and stress of owning and operating our own business. But when we look back on our twenty-three years together, we see beauty. These hardships, like the weeds in my front yard with lovely periwinkle flowers on top, are the most brilliant threads in our tapestry. They have made us who we are. They have solidified and strengthened our love and passion. They have caused us to see the world through the lens of gratitude. They have given us the peace and calm to weather the unexpected. They have given us incredible compassion for those around us. They have taught us humor.
My life is beyond beautiful. It is exquisite. I am crazy-thankful.