July is often a month I spend thinking about the freedoms we enjoy, those who have made it possible and well, my birthday happens to fall in that month as well so I would say I think about myself too. This July has been completely different. While Independence Day was a great celebration and Pioneer Day was a success, I can’t think of a more eventful month than July 2015. Here are a list of things that happened:
- Moved Into A New House
- Fired from my job
- Applied to 60 places
- Received 6 Job Offers
- Started The Job
- Spartan Race
- My Birthday
- July 4th
- Grandpa Bennion’s funeral
- July 18th – Olsen Reunion (Jordan’s side)
- July 24th – Pioneer Day
- Economics Course in my MBA
- Grandma Allen’s death
This has all happened in a span of about 40 days. Some of these were planned events and some of them were not. Regardless, this has been a great time of reflection for me on the meaning and purpose of life. Some of the questions include:
Why am I here on this earth? What am I doing with my life right now?
Aside from my experiences personally, we have also experienced friends who have died, friends with parents that have died, NICU babies that have been born too soon and are still alive, NICU babies who have not been able to survive — I have to say after all of that, I am still at peace. I can find peace in a lot of different ways. Lately it has been running or exercising. At times, it has been driving in the commute to and from work. Whatever it may be, I have learned that there is one source where I can turn to for happiness and that is God’s Plan of Happiness he has for each of us.
In my previous job, I contemplated a lot how much work meant to me. I was doing something that I loved and was continually growing on a day-to-day basis. However, I was putting in 50-60 hour work weeks on top of my MBA program. It took me getting fired from my job to realize that what you do at work is only a small part of what is important in life. When I was fired, yes I was applying frantically to other places, but I knew that with the connections I had, it would all work out. People know my work ethic and know the person that I am, I knew I would land somewhere.
However, that wasn’t what struck me the most. I was completely at peace. I was actually able to spend more time with family and my kids. Something I had not done in months due to school and work. It was a blessing to put in some hard hours of job searching and then come home at 3 or 4pm to loving arms and play with my kids. I learned that I need a work-life balance and that my new job, wherever I take that, must provide that for me to be happy. I am glad I am at Clearlink. It is a great place to work and I am excited for the future.
About 3 weeks ago, my dad had mentioned that my Grandpa Bennion was not doing too well. He mentioned multiple times that he was coming down to visit him in the home he was in. It was a tough thing to hear. All four of my grandparents were alive and aside from a few cousins who have passed away, I really have not had much experience with death. When my Grandpa Bennion passed, I was at peace. I had no feelings and I know that it wasn’t because I didn’t care. I did care. I think that I was at peace so much because this man wasn’t the man that I grew up with. My wife and kids never knew the Grandpa Bennion the way I did. That was hard for me to grasp and I think in the end, was the reason I didn’t visit much.
During his funeral, our kids were pretty quiet (I think) and I remember the life sketch and those who spoke of his life. Grandpa Bennion lived an excellent life and finally, my wife could hear all the good things he did. His humor was one of a kind and I am glad she was able to know him for those things through his Alzheimer’s, but he was such a great man. A simple man who loved to help people. He loved to come to our home when my parents took vacations and either fix or build things. He was a handyman from his years on the farm and in the service and he was always willing to lend a helping hand, whether you wanted it or not. I am at peace with him because now, we can reflect on the good things he accomplished in this life. Alzheimer’s took full effect to where he didn’t recognize us, but I commend my grandma for her patience and attitude about loving him until the end. The most impactful part of that weekend was when my grandma went up and kissed his head before they closed the casket, you could feel the spirit so strong at that point and I remember aspiring at that moment to love my wife until that time comes. That is a love that I want in my marriage.
The beauty of life is that it is a probationary and small part of what is to come. I love my family but most of all, I love our Heavenly Father. When questions come or doubts arise, I know that he is able to comfort me. I am grateful for the scriptures where we can learn of ancient prophets, of the sacrifices made by our Savior Jesus Christ and the teachings of his apostles. God is a loving and caring god. This is all part of that great experience.
The past 10 years have been an adventurous run for my grandma Nydda Allen. Her situation is extremely similar to that of my Grandpa Bennion. There are definitely some differences in their behaviors and how Alzheimer’s affected each one, but it important for me to recognize that she neither lost her wit as well. It was fun at times because it was like joking around with a little kid. When I saw her and grandpa at the family reunion in November, I remember walking up to her and saying “well who’s this pretty lady you have here” and grandma began to blush, it was so cute. It reminded me of my daughter and when I say those things to her. Her innocence was a great thing at times, but I was grateful that she never lost her trademark “squeeze you tighter” hug. Even as brittle as she became, she still put every ounce of love she had into her hugs.
Grandma Allen was such a stellar example of living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Her attitude and demeanor towards family history work, service and love is extremely unique. I don’t know there are too many Nydda Allen’s out there. Her keen and “kill them with kindness” approach to discipline and life is something I attempt to emulate with our children. One particular experience when she would visit us in Idaho when my parents went on a long vacation for dad’s president club trips. My friends would come over or Karly’s friends would come over and Grandma Allen would have genuine conversations with them about who they were, how they knew me, what they like to do for fun etc. She always cared about others and very rarely do I remember her sitting down. She either making meals or prepping something, and she loved to hum her favorite hymns as she did so.
I am so grateful to those family members who sacrificed to make the reunion at Thanksgiving possible. It was one of the highlights of last year to see everyone, reminisce about life and talk about goals. I am blessed to have a lot of successful cousins who have outstanding work ethic, ambition and how they achieve work-life balance. It was a great to see that others have similar challenges and reflect on how we are all working through similar concerns in life.
As the world teaches us to do things one way, one thing that never changes is our Heavenly Father. God is conscious of our challenges and needs. I have had a lot of time for reflection and I am grateful for it. When life gives you lemons (lost job, death in family etc.) make lemonade (find a better one, remember the good times etc.). Staying positive, optimistic and forward thinking has been a blessing in my life. Although I am down to two grandparents, I want nothing more than to make them all proud of the principles they have instilled in us. I will be unable to make Grandma Allen’s funeral, but I know she will be remembered well for the person she was.
My challenge to all is to reflect on your current situation. Where can you be better and where can you place higher importance on the real important things in life? A big house, nice car, new boat will only bring happiness so long – true happiness is found in God’s plan and through our savior Jesus Christ. I hope each of you can find that inner peace.