Monday, May 16, 2011

You Just Never Know! Consider the Lilies of the Field

I was hoping to have the music video and these thoughts in the same post, but blogger is just not cooperating so well this morning! We will take what we can get at this point.

"Consider the Lilies" as performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has always been one of my favorite songs. I love the words to this hymn/song! They bring comfort and meaning to my life.

This morning as I was logging on to facebook, a friend had posted the following note about an experience she had had with the passing of her sister-in-law. I wanted to record these words somewhere in my "journal," so that I might reflect on them and think about the impact of my actions on others. I especially was touched by the "Christ-like" behavior of my friend toward her sister-in-law and family! What a wonderful example. Again, this post just reminds me that "you never know."
Consider the Lilies of the Field....
by Janet George Bell on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 7:21am

My sister in law Cynthia died last week. She had suffered for decades with paranoid schizophrenia. Because of her illness, it was really hard sometimes to be around her because she would do and say things that were totally off the wall. She had six children who suffered along with her much of the time. Her brothers and sisters had at times tried to reach out and help her, but as with many mental illnesses it was hard going.

Finally, after my father in law passed away in 1999, she became estranged from her siblings as one of her delusions was that her brothers and sisters had plan and carried out his death. (I think she just couldn't bear to part with her father who had been her champion so much of her life through thick and thin). She had a difficult and often combative relationship with her mother.

So we lost touch with her. I would hear about her from my niece Rebecca (her daughter) at times. Rebecca was always somewhat conflicted in her feelings about her mother. She loved her but she didn't have the resources to take care of her. So it was with sadness and trepidation that we (Randy and I and Rebecca and her husband) traveled up to Utah to say goodbye to Cynthia. (I had to tell Rebecca that her mother was dead, and let me tell you that was NOT EASY! Wow, I hope I don't have to do that too often).

The day of the viewing (we only had a small family viewing for Cynthia) Rebecca and her husband went in to her mother's apartment to start the process of sorting through her mother's things to see what to keep and what not to keep. In that process they found some surprising things.

You have to understand that Cynthia, in the midst of her illness, had picked up smoking, drinking, carousing, but none of these things made her happy. She had at times sold all of her possessions and lived on twinkies. Two of her children (her youngest) were removed from her custody when they were little and she always wanted to go and find them and get them back, but in her mind they stayed small children. She had been committed at one time for attacking her sister. She had even very recently been arrested for stealing a chicken from the grocery store that she insisted had been paid for, and I suppose that in her mind it had been.

Well, as they went through her things, they found something startling, especially to those of us of the LDS faith. They found a temple recommend, dated from 2009. They found scriptures and books on spirituality. They noticed that her fridge was full and that her apartment wasn't as "crazy" as it had been at times, and that she actually had framed pictures on the wall. Next to her bed was a framed photograph of her grandchild (she had a lot of grandkids).

They called a number they found there and learned that Cyndi had been a visiting teacher, that she was much loved in her ward and that yes, she had gone to the temple. She had been in the best mental state that her illness would allow in the last few years of her life because she had moved into a ward (like a parish for those who don't get LDS jargon) that had taken her in and loved her. It took our breath away.

I have many friends and family that do not really believe in God. Some of them might feel as if God isn't interested in them or their lives. But in this example of how God dealt with this, seemingly one of the least of these his daughter, I have once again come to find that if there is any chance at all, He will lift, He will save, and all things are possible to Him.

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."(Matthew 6:28-29)
"But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is." (1 Nephi 9:6)
While talking to a friend last night about someone we both encounter on a regular basis who suffers from mental illness, it occurred to me that having a mental illness is really much different than having cancer or diabetes or some other physical illness. Illness is illness, and while we are somewhat more inclined to be compassionate to the person who is "sick" with a physical ailment, mental illness too has to be treated with that same kind of kindness and compassion.

I think of a 90 year old friend of ours who fields a phone call everyday from a woman who suffers from mental illness. Our friend has taken these phone calls everyday for over 50 years. He believes that if his five minute phone call can help his friend, then so be it. What is five minutes really to someone who is suffering? What a great example!

I guess I share these two examples this morning, as I strive to be more Christlike in my actions and my everyday dealings with those around me. What do my words and my actions say about who I am? Am I really a true follower of Christ? Some days...NOT!

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