Friday, March 13, 2015

The View From the Shutters

Life is good.

A gift and blessing from God. A gift so great that our minds can't even comprehend it now.
Yet, there are times when life can be almost too much to bear.

Just recently, people close to my family have suffered some of the cruelest blows life ever deals.
The kind that breaks hearts even in the telling.

I'd give anything to be able to ease their burdens, but it's hard to know what to say or do that will offer comfort when good people suffer so much.

For some reason my mind goes back many years to a sunny summer afternoon.

I was sitting in a comfortable chair by a large window rocking a baby.
The window was covered by two rows of wooden shutters.
Each shutter had a little slat that moved up and down to allow the sun and light coming into the room to be adjusted.
All the shutters were closed now, the room was dark and cool, and the baby I was rocking was falling asleep.

I reached over and moved the slat closest to me and the blind opened so that I could see outside.
There was the flower bed just off the front porch. I remember bees flitting around the basil that was growing like crazy there. I watched the bees for a while and then gazed past the bed and across the street to my good neighbor's yard. She was sweeping the walk.

My view was blocked any further.
But, strangely, it was as if the entire world was framed in those shutters. Everything that existed seemed to be contained in that confined space.
Because nothing else was visible.
I enjoyed what I could see and then reached over to move the little slat on the next shutter.
Suddenly a whole new world opened up to me!

There was my other neighbor's house with her lovely trees. Her little boy was just starting to climb in one. A car was pulling into the driveway.
It was amazing how different the world seemed now.
I reached over and pulled the slat on the other side.
Now I could see to the end of the block. There were many houses, people doing different things, more trees of all kinds, and a small white cat in the arms of a little girl. I could even see a plane flying off in the horizon.

It was a different universe than the one I first saw as I moved the shutter to look out on my own front porch and flower bed.

I remember still the feeling that came over me then.

What if I made my decisions in this life based only on what I could see from the first shutter? After all, what I saw then looked like all there was, from where I sat in my rocking chair.

But, that wasn't the truth.
There was infinitely more to it. There were more shutters covering that big window.
And then, the realization came, there was everything else. Everything behind, above, below and beyond my little street.
Everything on earth and everything beyond.

Here I was, sitting in my chair on this one little planet in the gigantic universe.
Looking out a shuttered window.

I would be wrong if I lived as if all that mattered was what I could see from my chair.
Because I just couldn't see everything from where I sat.

That thought has stayed with me all these years.

We can't see everything from where we are now.
Much that is vitally important is not before our eyes in this life.

But Father sees the whole picture.
And he says he loves us.  All of us.  Even the ones who must bear incredible burdens.
Maybe even especially them.
He says someday we'll see for sure that he was right about everything.
An apostle once said that someday we'll all agree that Father was perfectly loving, generous and merciful with every one of us.
Someday we'll know just how very much He loves us.

Father says trust him for now.
He knows how much it hurts and he's sending comfort.
He promises the pain won't last forever. He promises joy will replace it soon.

Just trust Him for now.
No matter how heavy your burden is now, trust Father's love.

Someday we'll see that we've been given tender mercies we never even knew were there.
Someday all the little shutters will open.

I learned something else important somewhere along the years of life.
But that learning came slowly. Sometimes one tear at a time.
It's about death.

What I learned is that we need to trust Father in matters of life and death.
Even then.

Because no matter what we do we are not in charge of who is called home.

Young people may die before we think they should.
They did not die before Father thought they should.
He called them home.

I don't know why they were called home.
But Father knows.
Maybe they're exceptionally valiant spirits who came to earth only to get bodies and to become part of eternal families.
Perhaps they were able to learn all they needed to learn and complete all that was required at their hands quickly.
Perhaps they were desperately needed for eternally important missions elsewhere.

I believe life and death were both incredible blessings for them.

I believe too, that their families must be very special to have had such valiant spirits become their own forever.
They should feel blessed beyond measure.

And Father understands broken hearts. He understands sadness.
His scriptures say that we should live together in love insomuch that we should weep for them that die.
He knows.
Because tears are part of the bargain we make with life.
Russell Nelson, an apostle of the Lord, said the only way to take the tears out of death would be to take the love out of life.
And no one would want to live like that.

Father knows our loved ones will be missed until the minute they fill our arms again.
But He promised that they WILL fill our arms again!
"Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted," He said.
He knows that the only way for that to happen is for us to be together again.

Russell Nelson also said,  "That the only length of life that seems to satisfy the longings of the human heart is life everlasting."
Life everlasting.  Love everlasting.
And that's what Father promised. That's why he sent his Son.

So we're not to weep forever. And not feel despair over those we love going home.
Going home is a blessing.

And please remember that those beloved children, those valiant ones who left so soon, would not want their families to be sad for long.
It hurts them to see their loved ones suffer.
Soon they hope to see tears replaced with smiles when those tender, beautiful, memories come.

They would want their families to trust Father.

Trust that they are now more powerful and blessed than we can scarcely imagine.
Trust that they are surrounded by loved ones and are happy, working, learning and helping according to Father's vision, not ours.

Trust that He knows what's best better than we do.
Even though we bear heavy burdens, trust in His wisdom and love.

Trust that He can see farther than we can from our chairs beside the shutters.