Sunday, March 9, 2008

Asthma, Smiles, and the Gospel

So I was just up late kind of thinking about life and stuff and just felt like I should get some things out there so I thought I'd write this. It's kind of funny that I blog at all because I'm pretty sure nobody ever reads these things. Occasionally when I just wrote Facebook notes I'd get comments on those but I don't think I've ever gotten anything from my blog thoughts. Oh well, whatever. If you read, I'd love to hear about it.

Life is pretty crazy. It's amazing how tough it can be for some people and it's amazing how tough it can be on us sometimes. I really can't imagine a lot of the difficulties a lot of people go through. I've hit some rough patches in my life here and there, but honestly things have been pretty easy for a lot of my life, especially when I look at others. It's amazing the struggles some people have to endure. I've seen a number of people that struggle with issues like anxiety and depression and it's such a sad thing to see how much eats them alive. Every single day is a battle to not get overly concerned and worried. I really am such a happy person that it boggles my mind what that must be like. Of course I guess that's just one of those interesting things. We each have our challenges and difficulties.

One of the challenges I was given was asthma and allergies. Now that pales in comparison to a lot of other people's struggles, but for me there have been a lot of times in my life where it was a pretty serious issue. I can still remember the first day my mom decided I had asthma. It's so funny because I really don't remember any sort of gradual onset or anything. I was really physically active and life was great, then bam, one day I'm wheezing up a storm and complaining to my mom that I couldn't breathe. I don't remember the doctor's visit, I just remember being on my mom's bed telling her I couldn't breathe. Ever since that day, my life has never been the same. I had nights where I would struggle so hard to breathe and so the night would seem so long until the next day when we would go to the doctor. I remember missing my first day of 6th grade because I was having problems with asthma so my mom took me to the doctor. Of all the medical conditions someone could have, it's really probably one of the best ones. It's reasonably easy to control. Sure it can be some fearful discomfort, but it's not likely to kill you and if it's regulated well enough you can still be physically active.

You know though, I'm really thankful for the experience of having asthma. It really was a rich blessing for me to have it growing up. I'm so much stronger for it. It taught me a lot about suffering. I mean it's a pretty scary thing not being able to breathe. I think we all have memories of being little and having people sit on us or being shut up in small areas and it just can be hard to breathe. That's scary. That's kind of what asthma is like. But after enough time even on those really difficult days and those especially long and tough nights, it wasn't scary. It was a pain in the neck, but it was manageable; I knew everything would be all right. And now, it's easier to have that kind of outlook on life in general. I've seen physically tough times, so when I have tough times of other kinds, it's easier. I don't know that I had ever really thought about it till tonight, but having asthma was a very spiritual experience. It taught me a lot about faith. Maybe my faith wasn't where it should have been at the time, but reflecting upon it all, the Lord blessed me and protected me. Now I know He can and will do the same even today. Sure it may be tough at times, but I'm strong, I can handle it. Better yet, I have others to help me along the way. And even better still, I can help others along the way. It really is such a blessing to make a difference in someone else's life.

It surprises me how big of a difference we can make in another's life through such seemingly simple acts. Ever notice the difference a smile can make? Now that is incredible. I sometimes wonder if I've got a special gift as far as that or if we've all got that inside, but I've noticed my smile can make a big difference when I show it for others. The big smile I give them makes them smile big in return. Reminds me of a semi-recent circumstance in which a friend told me "You make me smile because you're always so happy that it makes me happy." Smiles are powerful and pretty special. The gift of conversation is really special as well. My closest friends are my closest friends because of the things we don't do. I know that sounds funny, but what I'm saying is most of my really close friends we honestly don't go out and do a ton of stuff together. A lot of what we do is simply talk. Sure often times it's kind of mindless drivel, like talking sports and it's nice having that foundation, but it matters even more that we can have serious, deep, meaningful conversations and that we can lift each other up. I love that in my life and I know others need it more in their life, that's probably I should try to share with them more often. It's interesting how small gestures can make such a difference. I love spending time doing things with others and I don't like excluding others from the group. I know that makes a big difference in others' lives, being included in the group. Next time you're going to do something with your group, maybe you should try inviting somebody you maybe wouldn't normally. Sure maybe you won't become best friends, but it just might make a big difference in their life.

All of this talk reminds me of a paper I recently read by one of my best friends. She's an English major and just an all around amazing person. She's somebody I really look up to. Apparently she is going to get this essay published in a journal later this year, so I took a chance to read this personal essay. It really was fascinating. It was a personal exploration and it gave some amazing insights into the person she is. Her struggle in life is having some teeth that she has had to have repeated surgeries on. I knew somewhat about these circumstances, but I didn't realize just how deep they were until I read this paper. It really has been a trying and difficult experience for her and she's developed a lot of anxiety over it. It was really fascinating to read about this experience because she is somebody that I view to be such an amazing and strong person. But I guess it was naive of me to think that she wouldn't have her struggles as well. I wonder how her struggles have shaped her. I wonder if a lot of the reason why she is the way she is came from her struggles with her teeth. The paper made it sound like that for a large part. I wonder how much of a realization that has been for her. It was funny to read about a lot of the cruel ironies that came to her relative to teeth in her life. I think it's also kind of funny that a person with problems with teeth would be so heavily involved in something related to communication. Life is beautiful.

I suppose I'll leave this off with my testimony. This has been a rather relaxing and empowering experience for me to write all of this. I love the miraculous blessings I have in my life. My Heavenly Father has blessed me so richly. I know that He loves me. I know that He is there for me. I know that He is the greatest friend I have in this life. I know the suffering the Savior experienced is far greater than I'll ever know, but because of my experiences I've grown closer to Him and I love Him for it. I hope I can someday be like Him. I hope I can touch others' lives like He has touched mine. I hope I can be a great example of Him and I hope to always share His love. I know that the Atonement is real. It can and will bring us at one with God. We can have hope in this life through our faith in Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I know his teachings are true teachings from the Father of us all. I know the Book of Mormon is an inspired book meant to bless our lives and I know by applying its teachings, we will return to live with our Father in heaven again someday. I bear witness that the work of the Lord is marvelous, perfect, and true.

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