Monday, May 4, 2015

From Dad

Elder Josh,

Here we are at another week. 

You will be glad to know that I had a chance to visit Bro. Meeks this week. He was really down on his spirits and it was pretty sad to hear how bad his struggles were going. 
Here's a list of his problems:
  • He's trying to recover from multiple strokes he's had over the last few months. 
  • On top of that both his knees are in terrible shape so he needs a double knee replacement. 
  • He can't get that done because he has a heart problem and he's overweight. 
  • What he needs more than anything is exercise but he can't because of his knees. 
What he is facing is genuine adversity. He has the real deal. When I look at the problems he has, it really puts my life in perspective. I realize that any problem I have pales in comparison to what he is facing. You and I can complain all we want about our adversity but I know that it isn't as big as not having your health and possibly looking at the end of our life. It reminds me of when my oldest sister was facing the end of her life. 

I can't remember how much I've told you about my oldest sister Gaye Lynn. She died when she was 48 years old of multiple sclerosis. She slow lost the use of not just her legs but every part of her body. Over a 30 year period everything in her body slowly shut down. I can remember the day when she had to face the fact that she was going to lose the use of her body slowly. I was probably Alex's age so it was pretty hard for me to process seeing her face such a huge problem. I can remember that she was very inconsolable as one would expect. The reason it was probably harder for her than someone else is that the Lord blessed her with extra gifts. She was as tough as nails. I saw her do a few things that to this day puts her up there with an MMA fighter in toughness. At her birthday party she had 5 guys take her and try to throw her in the pool but they couldn't do it. It was amazing. There was something I saw her do that was far more epic than that. We were riding horses one time and I saw her fall off over the front of her horse one time. Before she hit the ground the right front hoof of the horse caught her right in the mouth. It busted all her front teeth out and broke her jaw in multiple places and gave her a concussion. Any normal person would have gone to the ground but not her. She was able to take that shot and not let go of the reins. She came off the horse but did not hit the ground. As I said, there are professional fighters that could not take the shot she did and do what she did. What's even more astounding is wasn't a week or two later that she was back on the same horse riding again. She still had her jaw completely wired shut and was still eating all her food through a straw. You can imagine how hard it would be for someone this tough to accept the fact that their body would slowly deteriorate. Fast forward about 20 years. I was facing some real tough times in my life. I was alone with Ty and Jacob. They were 2 and 4 years old and I was facing the fact that my family was falling apart. Again, it was real adversity. I called my sister during that time because I knew that she knew something about adversity. I was right. She had gone from facing even bigger adversity than I was and she had figured out how to deal with it. The advantage she had was the gospel perspective. She told me that the biggest factor in her dealing with her problem was to think about the entire plan of salvation. She found peace in realizing that she knew in the pre-existance that she would have the problem she did and in spite of knowing that she was willing to come to earth anyway. In other words, she "signed up" for this problem. I learned more about the Lords plan of happiness from her than anyone else on earth. To this day she is one of my greatest heroes for figuring that out. Fast forward another 10 years and she was facing the last stages of her life. When it was time for her to go, she went peacefully. 

Back to our friend Bro. Meeks. He's facing the same kind of thing with his body. By the way, I did take our advice and I told him that story about my friend Frieda from my mission. He and Sis. Meeks really liked it. In fact, by the end of my visit with them, I could tell his spirits had lifted quite a bit. That was a great idea to tell him that story. He also told me that he really appreciated the email you sent him so good job on doing that. It wouldn't hurt to keep him in your prayers and maybe send him another email from time to time. 

I wanted to tell you these things so you might think about what real adversity is. Last week mom told me what you had written her about your concern about some mistakes you made in the past. I read all that you wrote to her very carefully and it sounded like you were on the right track as far as taking care of it. I don't know how it's going to turn out for you but I do know that it won't be nearly as tough as what people like Bro. Meeks or my sister have faced.  My love for you runs real deep Josh. As your father, there is nothing you could ever do that would change that. It wouldn't matter if you wound up in prison. It wouldn't change the way your mother or I would feel about you. You need to know that we love you as Heavenly Father does. Unconditionally. The best thing you can do is face your mistakes head on with FULL repentance. Be completely honest with yourself and your priesthood leaders and the Lord. Do everything that is asked of you. Not just with this but for the rest of your life. Going through this on your mission is a special thing because it puts you in the position to learn more about the Savior and His Atonement than any other you could any other way. Remember, we love you and are with you. Especially when you face tough times in your life. Don't ever forget that.

Love Dad