Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thankful Thoughts


What moved me this week... 

Transitions in our lives are often hard to manage. I've seen three of my children's families transition to having a new little one in their home this summer. That transition is often a formidable one, but another transition that can be just as challenging is when the last child leaves home and a parent is faced with the question, "What now?" I've found that in time you discover new adventures and avenues for growth that add meaning and direction to your life, but during that period of changeover from one phase of your life to another a little soul searching can take place as you try to determine where you fit in your new world.

Last weekend Mark and I were visiting his brother's family in California so we went to church with them on Sunday. Because it was the first Sunday of the month it was Fast and Testimony Meeting. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka: LDS, Mormons) Fast and Testimony Meeting is a meeting where rather than predetermined speakers on particular subjects, the members are given opportunity to bear testimony to one another of gospel truths and to share spiritual experiences they have had in an extemporaneous manner. My sister-in-law Sharon took the opportunity to share.

Recently her last child went off to college, which left their home unusually quiet and left her life noticeably less fulfilled. Sharon soon realized being a mother with no children living at home affected all aspects of her life, but it became particularly apparent when she went to church the first Sunday after becoming an empty nester. Because her husband is busy on Sundays with a demanding church position, for the first time since she became a mother she was left to sit alone while attending church. Sitting companionless at church tugs at your heart when, for over 30 years, you've had seven children and a husband to keep you company during services. That feeling of solitude made Sharon wonder if anyone would miss her if she chose not to attend church. Would family and friends even know she was absent? Would they care if they noticed her missing?

As we all do when melancholy sets in, Sharon {in her own words} was in the processing of hosting herself a little "pity party." All this she admitted as she stood to share in the meeting we attended with her family.  Her admission surprised me. My sister-in-law is an amazing woman with many, many talents and abilities. Among her many positive attributes is her friendly, welcoming, self-confident nature. People flock to her because of her out-going personality. She is the last person I would expect to feel lonely or less than self-assured. Nevertheless, by her own admission she was feeling awkward and alone.

Now... for the tender mercy. After church a young mother approached Sharon. After the usual pleasantries she told my sister-in-law that she always looks forward to seeing Sharon at church and that her attendance meant something to her. It was, of course, just what she wanted to hear. She was reminded through the words of that young woman that she was still needed and of worth. Additionally Sharon recognized that the young woman's words were a blessing and affirmation from a loving Heavenly Father.

There are several references in the scriptures to the "tender mercies of the Lord." I have come to realize that these "tender mercies" are the very personal and individualized assistance which we receive from and through the Savior. Often these ministrations come in quiet, subtle ways through the help and support of others. When we recognize the source of these ministrations, we realize how wonderful it feels to be blessed, watched over, supported, and protected by Him, and we realize that He is mindful of us and aware of our needs. I am moved by the tender mercy that Sharon shared with us -- not only because it happened to someone I love, but because I could relate to it so completely.

5 comments:

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

We never know when one of our angels will arrive. Sometimes its a soft breeze on our cheek when we call out in dispair to let us know we are heard and other time, like for your sil today , someone walks up and speaks to words we need to hear.
thank you for sharing this special moment with us.

Trudy said...

Sonny is spot on.....our angels speak to us when we need them to. I needed to read her comment to make my day and there she was, another angel. Thank you Sonny.

Su said...

I am also going thru an empty nest - all of my children seemed to have left at one time - within a weeks time. I thought it would be exciting and happy until I came home from work...alone & not expecting anyone to show for supper or bedtime. Then it hit me - my very own pitty party. Thank you for posting this and letting me know that I am not alone.

The White Silk Purse (Dana) said...

Amen.

Annie of Blue Gables said...

Suzanne,

Eloquently spoken.

I dreaded the empty nest, but it happened so fast with so many distractions as we helped our youngest, newly returned missionary, get everything lined up for his wedding.

She was someone he had only recently met (returned from mission in July, married in October). She asked me to sew her wedding dress. I had no time to even think of pity. I'm so glad.

Another thing that helped was my hobby (a choir I had joined several years earlier). I realized I would no longer feel guilt as I left him alone on Tuesdays to travel 150 miles away to attend this choir. It was a freedom I hadn't expected to experience.

So girls: (all you out there who are dreading this day), make sure you have other things to keep you busy and happy. It really helps.

Thanks, Suzanne for the very refreshing post. I loved reading about your personal experience of something you heard in a Fast and Testimony meeting.
~a