Dec 12, 2013

Life is Beautiful

by Kari Diane Pike

I love life. Life is beautiful. The earth and all the rest of God's creations are magnificent -- every single one of them. That includes you and me, by the way. We are magnificent!

Let me backtrack for a minute. A marketing student at BYU contacted me recently for help on a project. Here is part of what he asked:

  • Think about how you feel about the [BYU]Creamery. What thoughts and feelings come to mind? It might be helpful to take a minute and write down your different thoughts and feelings about [brand/product]. 
  • Find 5 – 7 pictures that express those different thoughts and feelings you have about the Creamery. These pictures may come from the Internet, newspapers, magazines, a photo album, etc.The pictures you select need only have meaning to you. For example, in another project about financial planning, someone brought in a picture of a traffic jam to show the frustration she felt about financial planning, and another person brought in a picture of a trophy to represent his goals for financial planning. Again, the pictures should represent how you think and feel about the Creamery.
This took a lot of thought and turned out to be a lot more difficult than I imagined. But we had a delightful discussion.  Afterwards, I realized that I could use the same technique to ponder on how I feel about a great many things: family, the gospel, bacon, scriptures, chocolate, adversity, oh, wait! Life!

I've been taking another look at photographs and journal entries and asking myself what is it about those pictures and memories that make them stand out? Why did I take the picture? Why did I record that experience? What was happening? Why does one event stand out in my mind over other events?

I'm sure you can find all kinds of doctoral theses on this subject, but one word came to my mind -- opposition. Of course, that word lead me to think of others: adversity, diversity, change (I seem to be fixated on that word lately), growth, strength, etc.

What makes life beautiful? Tall mountains, deep valleys, icy winters, glorious summers, and green spring times. I remember those things and those people who have challenged and loved and taught me the most. While there are times I welcome a flat and easy road, it doesn't take long for me to start dozing off. The challenge of climbing and negotiating switchbacks, keeps me mindful of the path I want to take.

I thought about this last week during a family hike up a trail in the South Mountain Preserve here in the Phoenix Valley. The variety of the landscape thrilled me. (Heavenly Father is the ultimate landscape artist!) Climbing the rocky switchbacks presented an invigorating challenge. I loved the sense of accomplishment that came as we reached each viewpoint. The last bit of trail to the summit required a bit of scrambling. I had my ten-month-old grandson in a pack on my back and I stopped to shift his weight a little so I could be sure of my balance. I looked up and studied the steep trail. Big mistake. Unlike the path during the rest of the hike, I couldn't see anything beyond the summit except blue sky and clouds. There would be nothing to hang on to, nothing to keep me from falling over the other side (Yes, I have a problem with heights). Every nerve in my body screamed "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!"(and yes, this reference tells you how old I am).

I let the rest of the family go ahead of me. They gave me words of encouragement, suggestions for the best footholds, and reached out helping hands. But I couldn't bring myself to finish the climb. I watched their expressions as they enjoyed the view from the top. Fear was keeping me from enjoying the fullness of the experience. That thought brought feelings of disappointment and discouragement. I decided enough was enough. I took a big gulp of what might have proved to be my last breath, and asked for help. Loving hands and voices guided my every step. My daughter probably still has bruises from where I grasped her arm. The best part was feeling my eternal companion's arms around me and hearing him whisper, "I love you. Good job!" (The grandbaby slept through the experience.)

Since then, I've pictured my loving Father in Heaven just waiting for me to look up and trust Him to guide my path through life. He allows me to choose whether or not I will make the climb at all. He sent His Son to mark the path. When I ask for help, He sends the Holy Spirit and angels to direct my path and lift me up. He's waiting for me to return to Him and feel His embrace and hear His voice saying, "Well done. I love you."

A few brave family members at the top of South Mountain
One of my beautiful and brave daughters.

One of my handsome and brave sons.

How do your challenges make life more beautiful for you?

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