Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Power of Music

I'm a Rascal Flatts fan. Since the time I gained a love of their music, I've wanted to attend one of their concerts. Well, last night I was given that opportunity. Thank you to my parents for the awesome birthday present! The concert was awesome!

I don't want to turn this into a post about Rascal Flatts, but I would like to give you just a little background. I recognize that we all have different taste in music. Some love country music, some despise country music. To me, it's not really about the type of music, but it's about what I gain from the music, whether that be a country song or any other genre. What I love most about music is the ability it has to convey messages in a different way than words alone are sometimes capable of.

With that being said, I would like to reiterate why I took a liking to Rascal Flatts music. I found in listening to many of their songs, themes of faith and encouragement that really resonated with me. I can't say that all of their songs have been inspirational to me, but I found in them a recurring theme with much of their music that I really appreciated it. Here's a sample of lyrics from two of their songs that I found some meaning in.

"My Wish"

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

"He Ain't the Leavin Kind"

She stayed mad at him for a lot of years
For taking her husband
Started losing her faith and thinking that
Her life meant nothin
But when she looks at those kids
She raised all by herself
She knows she had some help
Yeah she knows

He ain't the leavin' kind
He'd never walk away
Even from those who don't believe
And wanna leave him behind
He ain't the leavin' kind

No matter what you do
No matter where you go he's
Always right there
With you

Even from those who don't believe
And wanna leave him behind
He ain't the leavin' kind

For me both of these songs convey messages of faith, encouragement, and the reminder that God is always near.

Another song that I found great meaning in and that came in a very timely way for me was one that Racal Flatts sings called "Why."

This song is one that tells the story of a friend who loses a good friend to suicide. I first heard this song on the radio not long after I began my journey in recovering from depression. The first time I heard the song I was a little taken back, not quite sure if I had heard the words right or if perhaps I didn't quite understand what the words of the song were conveying. However, I took additional opportunities to hear the song again, and my first impression of the song was correct. The song was addressing suicide. More than once this song has moved me to tears. I have found such personal meaning in its words and have gained such gratitude for the blessing it was to me as it came out in such a timely way for my personal situation.

If for no other reason, I hope this song "Why" has the ability like it did for me, to touch the lives of those who are dealing with depression or who have dealt with the sobering hardship of the suicide of a loved one. I hope this song will have the power to bless the lives of many and to help them understand that "life is worth the fight."

-Christipher Reeve

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are We Loving Each Other Through It?

Wow! I have been a bucketful of tears over the past couple of days! If you'll be patient with me, I have many thoughts floating around in my mind that I need to share. Sometimes I have an experience that leads to a reminder of another experience, and then another, and so on and so forth. Well that's been the case with me over the past several days. Many times this blog is where my thoughts are shared, and today is no exception to that trend.

I've recently had several conversations with a sweet young woman whom I have stewardship over in the young women's program in my ward. This young woman is only fifteen, but has already learned many of life's important lessons. Over the past year she has had to deal with her dad's diagnosis of a rare brain tumor, along with the complications that have come as the result of that. During this same time her best friend had been diagnosed with cancer and fought a valiant battle, but the cancer took her life. Needless to say it has been a very difficult year for this good young woman.

In addition to my conversations with this young woman, I have also had conversations with her mom. She too expressed some of the hardships and struggles she has faced as she has had to learn to cope with her husbands brain tumor diagnosis, the ongoing recovery process, and the mourning of lost hopes for the future. Both this young woman and her mom are wonderful people who have had to cope with some of life's very difficult challenges. I've been reminded of many things as I have spent time talking with both mom and daughter. However, one thing that has really resonated with me, is knowing that even though we cannot always change the circumstances that we are dealt, we do have the understanding that we can make a positive difference in one another's lives as we take opportunities to love and support each other. We may not be able to take the hurt away, but we can always help to lift a burden as we strive to love each other through one another's individual circumstances and hardships.

My thoughts began with the experiences of this mom and daughter, and have expanded to many other thoughts as I have taken time to reflect on how my life has been blessed by this simple, yet profound idea, of "loving one another through it."

I have been reminded of my grandmas valiant fight with pancreatic cancer. I watched as her loving children and husband gathered around her to care for her. They took care of many of the very basic needs at a time when she was not capable of doing it herself. I watched as my grandpa read to her from the scriptures, and I relished the time I had to sit by her side and talk to her before she passed on.

I was reminded of the difficult night when we were told that my dad had a tumor on his kidney. We didn't have any idea at that point if we were going to be given a time table on how many days we had left to be with him. The doctors shortly thereafter removed my dads kidney. Miraculously, my dads tumor was benign. How grateful we were.

I thought of a good lady whom I had the privilege of helping, as she battled breast cancer. Having no family nearby, with the exception of a handicap daughter who lived with her, her ward family became her family. As a member of the relief society presidency during that time, I had many opportunities to be by her side as she fought her battle.

My thoughts have been turned to an experience I had many years ago when I was assigned to visit teach a sweet lady who was battling the devastating effects of an eating disorder. She was very ill, but I had great opportunities in the short time that I was blessed to visit her to understand what a good lady she was. I took the opportunity to visit her at the hospital when she was so sick. As I left the hospital that afternoon, I didn't realize that would be the last time I would visit with her. Not long after she was released from the hospital, she passed away at her home.

I've been reminded of the day when I received a phone call from my mom letting me know that my cousin had died. He was in a car accident during the night. He was young, only in his 20's. The police officers showed up on the front porch of his parents home to inform them of the passing of their son.

My memories turned to the time about seven years ago when I was struggling with kidney problems. I had to have a kidney biopsy done in order to confirm a diagnosis. I was only in my 20's. I was nervous and feared what might lie ahead in the future for myself, my husband, and my children. I received the biopsy results showing that I had a chronic disease.

I thought of recent correspondence I have had with the wife of a husband who recently passed away. He struggled with depression and anxiety for a good portion of his life.

My thoughts turned to many around me who have faced their battle with depression. I have had the blessing of being able to associate with so many good people who have faced this trial, and have come to love many of them dearly.

I've reflected quite a bit on my own battle with depression. I've thought of the many good people who have been by my side offering to me their love and support.

I recognize that most of these experiences I have shared are not happy or uplifting experiences. However, each and everyone of these experiences have taught me that we all have our own burdens and trials to carry. Although in most circumstances we do not have the ability to remove a burden from another person, we do have the ability to love, stand by, and support another person as they cope with their own personal burdens. Sometimes just knowing that we are loved and supported can make all the difference in the world.

I want to express me deepest gratitude for so many who have loved me through my trials. You have been a blessing in my life. I hope that I can share that same love for others around me, that I have felt from so many of you.

Also, I was very touched by this song that I heard a few days ago. It was written specifically for ladies who are battling breast cancer. However, I think the message of the song can be applied to any and all who are dealing with trials and hardships in their lives.