Whenever I post pictures and blog posts on here, I have a little bit of hesitation. Social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, have a way of making everyone else's lives look enviable and perfect. We see pictures of everyone else on vacation, having parties, creating amazing things, and it can be dangerous to our own self-perceptions. I feel like these adoption profiles are somewhat the same. As prospective adoptive parents, we all want to present ourselves the best we can. We want to look good for the birth moms, we hope it will make us more desirable for being chosen. So we put up all our best pictures, where we are all smiling and happy and having fun. And we see everyone else's best moments too.
But the reality of life for every single person on the planet is that we also have challenges. There is no one who glides through life easily without challenges. Usually these times come in waves, so while we might be struggling, someone else is getting a break and having some good times. When we are low, seeing someone else's high can feel depressing and we can start to feel like our life sucks and everyone else's is rainbows and unicorns all the time. But we have to remember to keep the big picture in mind. We've each had good moments too. And when we are having a good moment, someone else is sure to be struggling. I've learned to not envy anyone else's life, and to just be grateful for what I have, because everyone has struggles. However difficult our lives become, there is always something to be thankful for.
Years ago I read the book, The Hiding Place. It's incredible. It's written by a lady who helped hide Jews in Europe during Hitler's reign, and was caught and sent to a concentration camp with her sister. Of course it was horrific, everything happening there. You'd think there could be nothing but misery. Yet these two sisters chose to seek out the positive. They were miraculously able to sneak a small Bible into their sleeping quarters (which was a large room with bunks up the walls, filled with fleas). They were able to read the Bible to the other women who shared their room, giving them all strength to survive and carry on. But their beds were full of fleas, that bit them, making sleep even harder than it already was. But one day her sister was praying and thanked God for the fleas. She said "How can you thank God for the fleas?!!" Her sister responded that the fleas were the only reason they were able to read the Bible without being discovered. The fleas were so bad that none of the guards would ever enter their room. They stayed away, and that allowed the women to pray and read the Bible regularly.
What an incredible example of an attitude of gratitude. Being able to find something (that was also a curse) to be thankful for in such vile circumstances... it makes me never ever want to complain about anything ever again. There is always someone worse off than us. There is always someone that could use a kind word, a friend, some love. I've found that turning my thoughts away from myself and looking for ways to lift and help someone else, makes my own burdens lighter.
One of my favorite quotes (well this is actually a bunch of quotes compiled together) is from Gordon B. Hinckley. He said:
"There is a terrible ailment of pessimism in the land. It’s almost endemic. We’re constantly fed a steady and sour diet of character assassination, faultfinding, evil speaking of one another. …
I come … with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I’m suggesting that we accentuate the positive. I’m asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.
I am not asking that all criticism be silent. Growth comes with correction. Strength comes with repentance. Wise is the man or woman who, committing mistakes pointed out by others, changes his or her course. I am not suggesting that our conversation be all honey. Clever expression that is sincere and honest is a skill to be sought and cultivated. What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land and times in which we live, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism. Let our faith replace our fears.
We have every reason to be optimistic in this world. Tragedy is around, yes. Problems everywhere, yes. But … you can’t, you don’t, build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.
Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. Do not let the prophets of gloom endanger your possibilities."
We have had our own share of tragedies, and plenty of problems. And so have you, I'm sure. But there is still joy to be found, and peace to be had in our hearts. Do not despair, do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Things will work out.