(excerpt from "One Mom to Another"- A Mighty Work.)
I once gave a talk in a women’s conference with the theme, “With Joy Wend Your Way.” The phrase comes from a well know Latter-day Saint hymn, “Come, Come Ye Saints," written in dire circumstances when the pioneers were being tested and stretched beyond capacity. The hymn boldly declares “with joy, wend your way, all is well.”
I made note that the word joy comes first and it is with joy that we can wend our way through this life. Our capacity for joy doesn’t require us to dismiss the fact that life is hard and we will
face challenges. True joy can be found in the middle of the difficulties. If we can learn to embrace the sacredness of now and accept that it is our job to act and not be acted upon, we can find joy despite our challenges. How do we recognize the sacredness of now when it isn’t always apparent? The sacredness of now requires that we keep our focus on the current moment. But as the days’ events unfold, we can be so focused on what can go wrong or what has gone wrong that we don’t see what has gone right. It is so easy for us to fail to accept the opportunity to act rather than to be acted upon by the day’s twists and turns...
Caroline was home after her sophomore year of college. She and I went to the store. While in the produce department, she ate a piece of pineapple that came from a sample bowl.
It got caught in her throat and she could not breathe. I can still see clearly as if it was yesterday, her looking at me, unable to speak, her face turning red, tears running down her cheeks, with eyes that were yelling, “help!” My feeble attempts at the Heimlich didn’t work. Another woman tried, it did not work. A man (I found out later that he was a doctor) came up and after a few attempts, was able to dislodge the pineapple piece. I hugged Caroline close and told her she was absolutely grounded from eating pineapple. Ever. Again. As we walked around the store, buying the groceries on our list as if nothing had happened, I allowed the “what ifs?” to creep in.
“What if no one was able to help her? What if she had died? Then, of course it was my fault. I should have taken CPR classes. Why didn’t I have my Heimlich maneuver certificate? I am a terrible mother. Who allows her child to choke on pineapple?” I was filled with worry and guilt.
Joy in the everyday is hard to achieve if we spend our time concentrating on all that could go wrong, and we run the risk of being so caught up in what might happen that we miss what is happening now.
We found ourselves in the same checkout lane as the doctor who had helped her. I thanked him again and I told him I was glad he decided to come shopping today. He stopped, got a smile on his face and explained. He had not planned to go to the store that day, but the idea came to him that he should. He now understood that it was no stray thought, but a direction by a greater power to be at the right place at the right time.
The “what ifs?” melted away when I started concentrating on what went right instead of what went wrong. Gratitude and faith began to replace worry and guilt. The Lord, in anticipation of the events that would take place, got the right person there at the right time.
I acknowledged the blessing that Caroline did not die and that it was not my fault that the pineapple got stuck. Although I was not successful in helping Caroline myself, I asked for help and found the very person who was sent there to help her. Faith, gratitude and the knowledge of my Savior’s presence in that moment helped me appreciate the sacredness of now. Acknowledging the blessings in even the most unfortunate events, looking for the tender mercies, and refusing to play the blame-ourselves game, allows us to feel joy.