Queridos amigos y familia,
It’s been a growing week. Or maybe I should say ANOTHER growing week here in Ipiales (Colombia). Not a week growing outward or upward but rather internally – spiritually, mentally and personally as I learn more about myself and make efforts to shape myself into the person I want and am supposed to be.
On Monday I received some amazing, yet simple advice from my parents that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff or stress over little things that don’t matter. Or worry about some petty event or two that I was overthinking and allowing to affect me. As it is with good advice, what they told me was worthless unless I took a step back and a deep breath to analyze and internalize for myself what I needed to do and how I could use it to help me in my situation and frankly, for the rest of my life. This is something I see a lot of my mission – many of the people we teach, either for lack on our part as teachers don’t have the opportunity, or for lack of sincere desire on their part chose not, to make that crucial internal connection of “why and how” in their minds. But last Monday afternoon the necessary connections were made in my mind and a flood of peace rushed over my conscience as a smile formed at the corners of my mouth. I was free.
It’s interesting to me because letting something go is an internal decision, a change in frame of mind. It doesn’t require much else. But I’ve learned now more than ever before, if we want relief from something, we have to do it. There are a lot of people who worry, struggle, hold on to things, fret, stress, argue, and essentially tear themselves apart – tear themselves down – because of what are often little problems and petty events. I meet and interact with these people every single day. And interacting with them makes me reflect on myself and how I act. A lot.
I remember one day last year while working the phones at my Aunt Kris’ office, a woman called to complain about a problem that had occurred with some medical treatment she had received and her insurance coverage. I remember vividly the condescending tone in her voice and colorful insults she easily threw as she cut me up on my end of the phone as a representative of an entity that “had done her wrong.” The funny part is Aunt Kris’ company had absolutely nothing to do with the medical care or insurance and she simply had a wrong number. Being overly helpful, caught way off-guard, and I suppose a little stupid, I googled the company that she had meant to call and passed her the number, even double checking that she took it down correctly. She apologized for cursing at me and hung up. To this day, I have always wondered if she called the correct number and laid into a new innocent person on the other end of the line for a second time with her foul language and bad attitude, or if she had really was sorry for how she treated me and used a more diplomatic approach. I will never know the answer. But I bring this story up to express the negative impact it had on me. I was really offended by how she treated me and felt really sad about it. Who knows why, I really had no reason to feel sad but it really bummed me out. I took the situation very personally and that was my error. How lucky I was to be working alongside a great friend, Mitch, who helped me laugh it off, forget about it, and move on with my day. Maybe that’s part of it – maybe others out in the real world, who surely have much bigger problems than me - maybe they don’t have someone to help them forget and move one. I have been guilty of feeling like that recently and it has been tough. If you are feeling like that, I am here to say forget and move on. Don’t take things so personally. Be happy. Smile. It’s a better world when we smile.
One of my favorite parts of being a missionary is that we get to help families. I love helping families. There is nothing more important in this world to me than family. This week during a spiritual lesson with a family I love, the eldest son who doesn’t have much interest in our message rushed downstairs, threw his shoes at the feet of his mother and beckoned her to wash them while he showered and got ready to leave for the night. This gracious mother did him this favor and washed his shoes. Twenty minutes later the son shouted from the top of the stairs that he wanted his mother to now bring him the clean shoes. She explained that she was focused on talking with us and would bring them soon. His reaction was distasteful as he snapped back that he needed his shoes right then and that she must bring them to him. What unfolded next taught me a lot about what I need to work on and what the world could use more of. This humble mother smiled, forcing back the urge to give her son his due reprimand, excused herself and brought him the shoes before returning with a smile. What did I learn? Obviously her son was horribly wrong and severely mistaken - surely he could come retrieve his shoes. Without doubt it would have been better for him to clean his own shoes – I mean he is 19. The lesson I learned was this: just because someone doesn’t talk or fight back in an argument doesn’t mean they have lost. In fact, everyone wins when they excuse (forgive), forget and move on with virtue.
Maybe it’s just something that moms do…but her quiet example has me focusing less on winning an argument and more on letting things go. And that starts with noticing more when other people do just that for me.
Have a great week family and friends. I love you all.