Monday, November 11, 2013
Navigating The Trials Of Life
Well, I haven't forgotten my blog today--okay maybe for a bit, but all for good reasons. My sweet son has been having a major two-day allergic reaction of some sort. Two doctor trips one more pending this evening and a trip to the ER. Life as a parent is stressful. It all kind of leads into a great guest post from a good friend and incredible father, Marshall Christensen. Marshall is a special education coordinator at Provo canyon school in Utah. He loves technology, enjoys biking, makes a great Hagrid at Halloween, and considers himself a picture perfect scout--and he assures me of his humility. Here is what Marshall has to say.
Navigating The Trials Of Life
By Marshall Christensen
When we are young, all of us develop a picture of our ideal future. We imagine ourselves working the most gratifying job, being married to the most attractive, caring spouse, and having best children in the neighborhood. We envision the ideal course our life will follow: graduating from high school, attending college, falling madly in love and marrying our ideal spouse, landing the perfect job, moving into our dream home, having sweet little babies and then watching them follow this same ideal path. And then, life happens...
As we journey along this path we call life, we often find obstacles that hinder our progress and detours that lead us away from what we consider to be ideal. Many of these obstacles are small and easy to navigate: our job may be stressful once in awhile, our spouse may annoy us from time to time, our children may misbehave every now and again. We may discover that our ideal path is riddled with bumps and covered with potholes. However, we are generally able to roll through these trials without much damage. And then, life happens...
Many, if not most, of us will face larger obstacles in the path of life. These obstacles often serve to stop all progress on the path of life. Death and divorce, illness and injury often bring us to our knees and leave us feeling like we can't go on. It is at these times that we realize that there is no way we can go it alone. It is at these times that we reach out for help from those who can best help us: friends, family and our Father in Heaven. It is at these times that life happens...
My life's path has traveled far from the ideal that I imagined in my youth. You see, in the year 2000, an ill-fated blessing was placed in my path. My daughter, Jessie, was the perfect little baby girl when she was born. By the time she was one, my wife and I realized that our lives' paths would follow a different course than either of us had imagined. Jessie suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet (Dra-vay) Syndrome. This condition causes Jessie to have frequent seizures and has left her functioning at the three-year-old level. Now, at the age of thirteen, Jessie still sleeps with my wife and I (because of the seizures). She still needs help dressing, eating, and using the restroom. Jessie will never date, drive, or graduate from high school. She will not attend college, marry, or have children of her own. She will not follow that ideal path that we all imagined when we were young.
The question is often asked, "If you could go back and change the course of your life, would you do it?" I can answer that question with an emphatic "NO!" Although moving along the path of life with Jessie in tow has been a challenge to say the least, I would not go back and change our choice to bring her into this world. There has been too much joy in getting to know this special little girl. I also know that I am a different person because of my opportunity to work with Jessie. I am more patient. I am more kind. I am more empathetic toward the challenges of others. Because of the trials, the pain, and the mental anguish of having a child with special needs, I have become a better person. I would never give that up!
Yes, we all have developed a picture of our ideal path in life. No, most of us will not remain on that ideal path throughout our lives. We can choose to be bitter, angry or upset because we did not get exactly what we wanted. Or we can have a good attitude, seek help from our friends, family and Heavenly Father, and learn from our trials. I choose the latter. I choose to sit back, enjoy the ride, and let life happen.