I wanted to share an experience while it was fresh on my mind. First, here’s a short backstory that will help it make more sense: We are currently living in my parent’s basement, while our new house is being built. My brother is also living with my parent’s while going to college. It’s a party every day.
The other night, the husband was out helping a friend. My bro and I had taken my kids to get some dinner from the drive through, and were almost home when the car overheated. Luckily, we had exited the highway and were at the stop sign. We were just down the road from home. A nice man stopped and helped us get the car off the road, and it became evident that it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s January in Idaho, people. It’s COLD! Luckily my mom was able to come and get us and we made it home. I feel it necessary to insert a fun fact here: my brother’s car had not started either. So we were down 2 cars.
Emotions were high after we got home- talk about stressful. My brother was unsure of how he would get to class the next day. The semester just started and although he gets ONE absence in the class, it’s not something you want to use up right away. For me, I am usually home, so it’s not dire that I have a vehicle. I’ll admit that it’s hard to feel like you can’t just jump in the car and go when you need to, but I do have a bit of a free, fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants spirit. I was feeling pathetic and plain dumb for thinking I needed to feed my kids cheeseburgers when I could have stayed home and had cereal for dinner. It was a little chaotic discussing our options, and with stressed people being put in a stressful situation, there was a little bit of tension. Not long after, my husband called and told me that his friend’s car had just broken down, and he was going to help wait for the tow truck and then drive his friend home. Other factors like broken tow straps, lost jumper cables, and 4 page papers due definitely helped the chaos factor. *** I’m pushing to rename January 17th as Day of the Dead for vehicles. I’m sure it could be a national holiday next year.***
Whew… the evening went on. We were able to loosen up a little and a couple hours later, prayed that we would be able to get the car home. My brother and I drove to where the car was sitting on the side of the road, and lo and behold, it started right up. He drove it quickly home before we got into any more adventures. As we were sitting there waiting for the reinforcements that would be able to help identify the car problems, we started talking. Maybe it was the prayer that pushed our minds and hearts in the right direction, but we started seeing the blessings of the day, rather than the problems. “If I had gone to town like I was going to, it would have been way worse. Who knows where we would have ended up.” “That man was SO kind and helpful.” “I am so glad my morning class got cancelled and I have time to fix my car before I go.(brother)”. And so many more.
Car problems are pretty common. If you own a car, you’ve probably experienced problems with it at one time or another. This is not the first time that I’ve been stranded on the side of the road, when my husband was not available to help me. It really is not the end of the world. But it got me thinking about the other trials that I am going through right now. The ones that are happening behind closed doors and not many people know about. The ones that are threatening to drag me down to darkness and crush me. If I’m being honest, I have been in some dark places with these trials in the last few months. I have given in to darkness more than I care to admit. It is cold, and lonely, and HARD.
I am blessed to have grown up with a mother who has taught me to live with a grateful heart. When my parents divorced and she was a single mom, we had these gratitude journals that we had to write in every night. She made us think of 5 things we were grateful for every. single. day. That experience has taught me how to count my blessings. I am far from perfect at it, but I do know that it has gotten me through many hard times in my life.
Imagine for a moment being in a pit, where there is absolutely no light coming in and it is cold and dark and lonely. And suddenly, a ray of light shines through and there is a ladder placed in the pit so that you can climb out. This is how I picture the role of gratitude in our lives. Every time we can count a blessing when we are living in darkness, it’s like reaching another rung on the ladder. Until finally, you have climbed out of the pit and you are submerged with the light. That light comes from our Savior Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. Now, the pit may not go away, just like sometimes we have trials for longer than we’d like to have them. But now you are focused on the light. And on the things that are GOOD in your life.
I am trying to remind myself every day to let the light in. There is darkness all around and it is so easy to give into it. But when I start to look UP and look OUT, I can see so many beautiful and wonderful things. It’s my kids catching my eye and smiling at me; it’s seeing my husband with my sweet kids and hearing giggles erupt from the room; it’s a stranger saying hello to me at the grocery store; it’s a conversation on the phone with a family member. There is SO much to be grateful for.
So cars will break down. We will get stranded on the side of the road, in January in Idaho, while the car is billowing smoke. Our hearts will be broken by people we love. We will deal with illnesses and sickness. We will lose loved ones- to death and to misunderstandings. But if we will look for the light, we will make it through. One thing I know to be true, because of my testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel, is that light will ALWAYS conquer darkness.
I hope you’ll join with me on my quest to let light in everyday. And because I am a die hard Harry Potter fan, I’m going to leave this here:
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”- Albus Dumbledore