Today I read a little scripture in 3 Nephi 5:8.
As the Nephites were finally seeing the light at the end of a particularly long and dark tunnel, it talked about how many things had happened “which, in the eyes of some,” were “great and marvelous”.
That part: “in the eyes of some” really jumped out at me. Some. Some saw miraculous and beauty in the events, experiences and blessings that had come to them. They saw “marvelous” in the things they’d been through and their current situation. But “some” also means . . . many didn’t. Many went through the same experiences, had the same blessings and witnessed the same wonders without particularly seeing anything special in any of it.
It made me think of a quote I once read about us never being able to experience the joy something has to offer us until we are grateful for it. It’s such an obvious statement, but how many things are happening around me or are a part of my life that I receive no joy from simply because I don’t even know to be grateful for them? How many things do I not recognize as “great and marvelous”? How many miracles and blessings do I just . . . not see?
This is a silly and rather small example, but when we spent all those weeks in Georgia this past August, much of the time was full of adventure and fun, but there were other moments that were very hard for me. Mike was gone during the day with the one car we had there, and, while often we’d wade through the work to get ourselves all down to the beach a few blocks away, other times I thought I might go insane waiting for Mike to get back. We were there together, my kids and I, but we didn’t have many of our things, and we didn’t have any of our usual demands. I’d never realized before that having a home of my own to take care of during the day, tasks to help my children complete, errands that needed done and chores that demanded my time was a blessing. I’d never thought about it being “lucky” to have a car at my disposal to get anywhere I wanted or needed – even if it typically entailed carting at least three small children along with me.
Ever since coming home, when I start to feel stressed or grumpy about all that needs done around here, I often pause and am surprised by a spark of gratitude that I have a busy life with purpose and demands and meaning.
But that was only one small thing. I want to have my eyes opened to more. I’ve been saying little prayers more constantly throughout my days. Prayers of thanks for having this entire home to just be in -- unbothered by the world and quietly taking care of my family. Thanks for my freedom to come and go where I please. Thanks for autumn. Thanks for Mike – his loyalty and kindness and hard work.
Even still I feel a sense that there is so much more joy there – waiting for me; so many things where God’s hand is at play in my life or I am being given a task or challenge that is a blessing in what it allows me to learn and how it stretches me.
During one of my most difficult life trials, I recall having a very distinct thought come to my mind. It was simply this: gratitude will save you -- as if I’d been tossed a life line and I could choose to grab ahold of it or not. I remember looking for the spots of beauty in my life. One that struck me most constantly was simply seeing my kids interact happily together or noticing moments when we were all together joking or laughing about something. There it was. In the fear and darkness: JOY! It seemed to anchor me and spread light and hope. It awed me to know that what I’d always hoped . . . was actually true – that trials did not have to mean life lost its joy. Elder Nelson’s talk, one of my favorites from our recent general conference, spoke of the same thing. And I’ve been feeling strongly that I will need to refocus on gratitude as we welcome this new baby to our family. I will have three kids under two and a half, and the demands of the rest of my family and life will still all be there as well. It is going to be hard, and there is a chance I’ll get some post-partum depression; but I feel again that strong feeling that gratitude will save me. It will bring me joy. And it will open my eyes to the Lord’s awareness of me and my path. It will allow me to better see the amazingness of the “great and marvelous” around me.