It’s been a rough month for me. Personally, I’m fine, but I’ve known a few people who’ve lost loved ones in the past few months – and I know a few who’ve had close calls themselves. It’s given me an odd perspective on life the last few weeks. While I have a firm belief in an afterlife, and I’m confident that death isn’t the end, it’s still a hard reality to deal with. And it’s hard to watch someone else deal with it, too. Sometimes, you’re not sure whether to cry with them or keep a stiff upper lip and try to become their strength. Either way, it sort of tears at your insides.
This year, Easter came just in time. As I was at my lowest this week, I had a few miracles lift me up. One was a friend who makes good cookies and sings in the car. One was a free cup of soup. And one was a good, solid, 3 hours of gospel doctrine about what Easter really means.
As I sat and learned about Jesus (again), it just kind of struck me – this is why death doesn’t matter. This is why my family can laugh at funerals. We know someone who’s been there, and then back again, and that’s where we’re all headed, too. As I said a short prayer (along the lines of, “Thank you, Sir; you have excellent timing”), a hole in my chest was filled that I didn’t know I had. It felt like I could have just taken a sheet of paper, written down all my problems, and then stamped, “JESUS” across the whole thing. Problems solved. Still not easy – but a whole lot easier to face with a little perspective.
And furthermore, I’ve decided something: life is happy. And yes, sometimes life is horrible. But that still doesn’t disqualify happiness. And while I’m allowed to be sad when things are sad, if I had just left this life, I wouldn’t want to stand around and watch over somebody who thought this life wasn’t good enough to smile at. So I’ve declared Easter to be the new year – it’s a resurrection, for crying out loud! A new birth! And I’ve made a few new years’ resolutions:
1. I’m going to the temple more often. I need the perspective, and I need the quiet, and heaven knows I need the reverence.
2. I’m going to dance every day.
3. I’m going to be a happy person. And I’m going to stop worrying about what life throws at me. Who cares what life throws at me? If I’m still living, I’m still learning!
“Our comprehension of this life is that it is eternal life – that we are living in eternity today as much as we ever will live in eternity. Our belief is that we lived before we came here; that which is intelligence, that which is spirit, did not have its beginning in this life….the intelligence that God has placed within [the body], that which has power to reason and to think, that which has power to sing and to speak, knows no death; it simply passes from this sphere of eternal life, and awaits there the purification of the physical tabernacle, until the time it will be reunited with this tabernacle, which will be glorified, even as the body of our risen Lord was glorified, if we have lived to be worthy of it….
“What a happy people we should be with the knowledge we have that this probation is not to prepare us to die, but to live…” ◊
(“Mormon View of Life’s Mission,” Deseret Evening News, June 27, 1908, Church section, 2, qtd. in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, 2011.)
Photographs from http://www.valdosta.edu/~jgportis/