Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grateful for Stress?

I'm not kidding when I say that life has been somewhat stressful lately. While it's a wonderful thing to send a child out as a missionary, it can also provide new challenges. We have been quick to try to respond to our missionary son's requests before he wings his way overseas. There have been many mailings.

Just before this son went into the MTC, his brother received a mission call as well. We anticipated that they would be in the MTC together for a few days. Accordingly, we made preparations for our next missionary son to serve. Three days after our son's farewell, our stake president called late in the evening to tell us that our son had been assigned to a different mission and would be entering the MTC a few weeks later. The stake president had no idea which mission the call entailed; he only knew that a new call would arrive in the mail within a day or two.

Our son had difficulty sleeping that night. My wife noted a blurb in his original call packet that said that his call could be changed at any time to suit current needs and developing conditions. The mail, which is usually delivered early in the afternoon, arrived late in the day. Our son anxiously opened his call, but with considerably less excitement than when he opened his original call. While accepting of his new call, our son wishes that he didn't have to wait any longer to enter the MTC.

My son and I each reviewed Elder Ronald A. Rasband's April 2010 talk about how mission calls are made. I certainly felt better after that, and I believe my son began to feel better about it as well. He still feels like he's in limbo.

In the meantime, we have spent a significant chunk of money getting all of the stuff our sons have needed to prepare for missionary service. This is not an inexpensive process. We have also been chunking in the monthly $400 for each of these sons. We will be forever grateful for the family members that have generously stepped up to cover some of these monthly costs.

Following President Monson's announcement of the changes in ages for missionaries, we have been chatting with a young lady friend of our first missionary. She has met with her bishop and may well serve as a missionary too.

While all of this has been going on, we have been dealing with other new challenges. Our son that grapples with a chemical imbalance has enrolled in a program to help him learn coping skills. Can you say, "Ka-Ching!"? But as a parent, you do whatever you can to help. You work, you pray, you pay, you set aside other things, and you hope it is all worth the investment.

Among all of these stresses, regular life has had to go forward as well. We've tried to help our kids with the subjects with which they are struggling in school. We do our jobs, our church callings, and handle our household and family duties. I try to do my scouting jobs. And we try to get enough sleep.

I must admit that I have always struggled with the scriptural and church leader admonitions to be grateful for all things, including our trials. By reason, I know that I will someday find great value in life's past trials. It's just hard to be grateful when you're in the middle of it all.

But even among trials there are some silver linings. After driving to early church meetings and driving boys around to collect fast offerings on Sunday, the vehicle refused to start when it was time to go to church. The electrical functions seemed to be normal, but the starter motor did nothing whatsoever. While chagrined, I was grateful that the vehicle was parked in our garage at that moment and that we had other vehicles to get us where we needed to go that day.

Yesterday we towed the dead vehicle to an auto mechanic shop. To our great surprise, they reported that the battery had gone bad, and that it was still under warranty. Thank goodness for tender mercies. I don't feel too badly about not detecting the failed battery. The mechanic wasn't able to detect it either until he hooked it up to a computer. The symptoms did not seem to denote a bad battery.

My prospective missionary that is in limbo referred to the copious notes he made of the recent LDS General Conference and suggested that coping with trials was one of the major themes. I remember some of the talks that referenced that subject because I paid fairly close attention during the conference broadcasts. But maybe it wasn't close enough. I am now trying to methodically read through the talks online, although, the time I have available for that task is quite limited at present. Sometimes it's good to sharpen the ax before trying to cut more wood.

Life is not bad right now. It's just somewhat more stressful than usual. And although we are experiencing the discomfort of juggling our finances and changing our priorities, we are also experiencing many wonderful blessings daily. These blessings are easy to see when I take an opportunity to pay attention to them.

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