“Mom,” Jesse asked me the other day, “When will we ever be in heaven?” (These types of discussions come up often since losing his Aunt Leisa this past June.)
“Well, we actually already lived in heaven before we came here,” I told him. “We lived there for a long long time – with Heavenly Father and with each other -- and we learned a lot of things.”
He seemed to be listening intently so I went on – explaining more of my truths to him.
I explained how, even though we had learned and progressed so much living up in heaven as Heavenly Father’s children, we were eventually ready for something more – something bigger – to help us truly become who we wanted to be; to help us truly become like our Father.
I tried to put into four-year-old language the words to explain how, to do that -- to truly become and progress more -- we had to do something tremendously scary and hard. We had to come to earth. And, in the coming, we would forget much of what went on before. We’d only have those fleeting little moments where truths in this world would resonate with some part of our soul; moments where we would hear, and feel and understand things that went beyond our human reasoning and intellect. We’d have to hold fast to those moments, and let them confirm in our hearts that we were bigger, far more significant, far more eternal, and destined for so much more than our short span of human years would suggest.
I told him how we knew we’d have to deal with lots of hard things down here, and how we’d have to work hard all of the time to be good and make right choices; but that it would be worth it because we would get a body, and we would learn and grow so much.
I said all of that, as I mentioned, in a stumblingly simplified manner.
“Then, when we die,” I went on – quickly adding -- “probably when we get old, we’ll all be back in heaven together again.”
I guess he got it. He sighed and said, “Well, you know why I didn’t want to come to earth?”
That made me chuckle as I believe very strongly that we were given a choice in coming to earth. It was a brave and scary and faith-filled choice and . . . well . . . the fact that Jesse is here means he did want to come. Still, I asked why.
“Because,” he said somberly, “I’d have to get flu shots.”
Ah yes. Flu shots. Those are one of those hard things in life. I didn’t tell him that some difficulties in life would feel more akin to having a limb severed than a shot administered, instead, I told him that along with the “flu shots” of life, there were lots of really good things: A beautiful earth. Family. Etc.
And, when I get on this blog and post those good things (as I am wont to do), it doesn’t mean that our lives are perfectly pulled together. It doesn’t mean our kids never fight, or whine (good heavens how I wish!) It doesn’t mean I am constantly an angel of a mother with nothing but gentle words, soft kisses, and a fairy-like ability to keep things clean and orderly. It doesn’t mean I have inexhaustible patience . . .
When we head off to pick out our Christmas tree, there are kids wandering where they aren’t supposed to, crying because they are stuck in a dense pocket of “Christmas tree” and can’t remove themselves, and whining because . . . well . . . just because, I suppose.
I don’t mean to paint rose-colored, false pictures of life because, in truth, there isn’t much that goes on around here that doesn’t come mixed with it’s share of “flu shots”.
But, it’s this: It’s what President Thomas S. Monson said not so long ago: “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . .”
I’m just trying, as much as possible (and despite our troubles and my many failings) to tend to, or, at least focus on my “abundance” garden.
I mentioned a small few of the troubles of seeing Santa’s reindeer and picking a Christmas tree? Yes, those moments were there, but there were also the other moments. The sheer excitement and disbelief when we paused at all our usual 7-foot size trees and, instead, came home with a 16-and-a-half foot tree! The eager little hands all grabbing on to some part of the mammoth tree to carry it to our truck. The Grinch song playing on the radio on the drive there and, afterwards, Daisy repeatedly telling Abe and Goldie, “The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote, ‘stink, stank, stunk!’”. At the reindeer, there was Goldie – so excited to take her own pictures of the beasts. There was Daisy, holding Anders’ hand and pointing everything out to him. And, well, Jesse didn’t think drinking all those germ-infested sodas was such a bad experience.
Wait. Wait. Wait. You’re not done yet. Go back and look at Anders in his suit again. I know you didn’t look close enough. Good heavens that’s darling. And cowboy boots! Sheesh. Thanks Aunt Kimberly! Also, the pictures of the girls holding little Styrofoam decorated trees were from last weekend. My sister throws a little “Christmas tea” for all the nieces each year in which they drink hot cocoa, eat donuts, and make crafts. Fun.
There. Now you can be done.