Learning

I bore my testimony last week in Sacrament Meeting (because David was out of town and I feel silly doing it in front of him for some reason–and because I felt like it).  As often is the case, I know what I want to say but sit down not knowing entirely what I said or if I said what I meant to.  But something came out in the middle that wasn’t what I meant to say, but was so relevant and true nonetheless.  It was this, “While it’s true that I don’t always understand why my prayer can’t be answered when it seems like I’m asking for something that is right, I know that if my prayer had been answered one year ago or five years ago, I would not have had the opportunity to feel Heavenly Father’s love in the way I have going through the waiting.”  Unfortunately, I said, I learn best in difficulty, which I guess is why we’re here to be tried, and to learn from our experiences.

 

Here at work we had to take a “Strengthsfinder 2.0” test when I started, and I learned I was a learner, an idea person (ideator, they called it), someone who was good at making things happen (an activator), interested in and able to get a good idea of future possibilities (futurist), could relate and communicate ideas to others well (relator).  I liked this test, first because it talked about how much more efficient we are to play to our strengths rather than spend all our energy on our weaknesses (not to say you don’t try to improve).  But also it made me realize many of what I’d considered liabilities (being a goofy, impetuous dreamer that talked to much) were kind of strengths.  And, it validated this obsession I have with learning stuff and figuring things out—especially the way the world works, the way people work and the way God works. 

 

To me, learning about things—what is real, what is true, what has happened, what will happen, how things in the world work–is a hugely important thing.  To me, learning truth helps make our actions more relevant and purposeful, more in line with reality.  But, learning, for me, often has to come with pain.  Hard learning like this can make us refined, it can crush us, it can make us bitter.  I’ve allowed it to do all of these things for me at various times. 

 

Let me just start by saying my life is good, and I’m blessed and things are fine.  But, there is a certain part of our lives in which we are very, very stuck and no matter how hard we try we just can’t seem to get unstuck.  And although it is just one part of our lives, it is so all-encompassing, and it tends to spill over and corrupt every aspect of our lives far too often.  Lately more than ever there have been signs that we will finally get unstuck, but I’m noticing that as the signs come and go, I’m starting to learn to hate the signs themselves—it’s like I hate them in advance for creating false hope.  Isn’t that weird?

 

This weekend I came up with this analogy about the last few years that goes like this.  Imagine you are stuck in a small, room with no windows and a locked door, and you can’t get out.  At first, you knock, bang, tug kick and finally yell at the door.  You plead for someone outside to open the door.  Eventually you stop all that with the exception of simply trying the doorknob every so often.  Sometimes, a voice comes over the loudspeaker (did I say there was a loudspeaker?) and says, “The door may soon open!”  And with the first of these announcements, you get excited, and you wait for the door to open, and you think about all the possibilities that await you when the door opens.  But it doesn’t.  Periodically, the same announcement is made, but nothing ever happens.  So, after several times you stop being excited.  Sometimes you may regress and go back to kicking and screaming at the door and begging for someone to open it, sometimes you let yourself get excited again.

 

Now I feel like am in that place where I’m sitting quietly in the room, trying to not even think about the door, and when the announcement comes, I just fall apart and wish it would just go away.  Is this a broken heart and a contrite spirit?  Why is broken needed?  Now I’m finding I resent things that try to make me hope, even great opportunities and possibilities.  I don’t like that I’ve learned to fear hope.  That seems very backward.  That’s why we need trust (faith) and hope together—we have to have faith that the thing we hope for is a true thing.  In my case, I have reason to trust it is a true principle that the door will open someday, I just need to keep my sanity and faith while I wait.

 

Just my rambling thoughts.  I read an interesting article about learning, and baby learning vs. adult learning here:

 

Op-Ed Contributor: Your Baby Is Smarter Than You Think

 

Budding triathlete

Maybe things would have gone differently if I’d discovered triathlon at 10—my health, my confidence, who knows?  Ben was inspired by my Spudman adventure and asked if he could do a sprint triathlon with me.  I told him he’d have to show me he can do each part of the triathlon before I’d pay and sign him up.  I told him that at the pool.  He commenced to swim 10 laps on the spot to meet the 500 meter requirement, and, in the coming three days, worked up to 12-mile rides on his bike.  We are going to start walk/running together a bit, since that’s the weak link for both of us.  So, we’re just doing the rec center one on Labor Day, so no wetsuits and low-key.   I’m excited for him to start feeling that sense of accomplishment at such a young age.

 

I swear, it was all him, I never would have asked him to do any of this. 

 

So, for his birthday, we got him a new, bigger bike, complete with a (cheap but it works) bike computer to see his speed, distance, etc.  We also got him a punch pass for 25 trips to the rec center pool, and a training journal to plan and track his efforts.  Due to lack of time (and possibly planning), I was up until 3 a.m. last night decorating his cake, putting up the birthday sign, blowing up balloons, buying the bike (24-hour Walmart—I guess I see why people shop there, but seriously, where do those weird people I see there come from?)   Over the years when I do something really fun for a birthday, the others expect it for theirs, and then it becomes tradition.  For instance, I make exotic cakes in whatever shape is requested, not to say I’m a fancy cake decorator, they still look VERY homemade.  Ben and I decided on an exploding firecracker, since he was so into the fireworks in July.  I even was able to nail that perfect reddish-pink of the Chinese firecrackers!    ast year I left Sophie’s presents wrapped and stacked on the table for her birthday for when she woke up.  Sophie asked a few days ago if I’d do that again for hers in September (it makes it feel like Christmas, you know).  So, Ben asked for the same treatment and specifically requested a mylar balloon, but I didn’t have much to present on a table, so I added a pencil box for school, etc.  Of course, Noah has stated his expectation that he will have the same table setup in October.  Ben also asked for cinnamon rolls this morning, so I arranged to go into work late, made the dough last night (about 2:30 a.m.) and got up at 6:45 to put them together.  I wanted big ones but I accidentally made them huge—bigger than a CD.  Oh well. 

 

He was ecstatic this morning and just loved everything.  I called him at 11:40 a.m. (10:40 California time) and told him he was officially ten.  I don’t know why this feels so monumentous, but it is.  His time in our home is half over—in 9 years he’ll be going on a mission.  It’s mind boggling.

 

I spent some time recently downloading all my Carepages entries and comments, and I was reminded of how much love and prayer was going around those days.  That was the start of me doing this blog.  I’ve had so much support from my friends near and far through all the craziness of the past several years, I just want to thank everyone again for that and send my love out there.

Ben’s Ten

Sweet little Ben—Today I can’t stop thinking about my first little baby, the constantly grinning, fair little boy that hardly ever cried—that sweet little guy I had to wait for seven years to finally get to see.  I always had a feeling, deep down, that I would someday be able to have a baby, and I knew it would be a boy.  I can’t believe it has been ten years since you came into our lives—not because it went fast, but because I can’t imagine ever living without you. 

 

You have taught me so much, have challenged me beyond my wildest dreams, and have shown me how frightening it can be to look into another set of my own blue eyes and know that you are destined to enjoy and battle with so many of the same personal challenges and strengths I have.  I know I have made an enormous amount of mistakes as your mom, but I have tried to prepare you as best I could to help all those crazy “Wise” genes play to your advantage and not become your downfall.   So often when I get impatient or mad at something you’ve done or said it’s really because deep down I’m saying “Please, don’t be like me.”  But perhaps, like me, some of your strength and wisdom will come from the experience and perspective that only comes from having flawed parents.

 

You are a handsome, bright-eyed genius, still with all the exuberance of a puppy.  I hope you always keep that enthusiasm for everything.  Emotional intensity has been your bequest and burden from both sides, and this will serve to make your life both more difficult and painful and more full and rewarding.  Your amazing brains will do the same.  Your potential is boundless, your genetic road can be treacherous, your guides are imperfect—but I know the Lord will give both us and you the wisdom to enable all of us to accomplish everything we came here to do and become what we came here to become.  In fact, I know he put us all together for that very reason. 

 

I love our talks, I love your ambition, your optimism.  I love to hear about your dreams and inventions.  You amaze me, you make me crazy.  You really do light up my life.

 

Thanks so much for coming to our family and being my son.  I love you so much.  Happy Birthday.