I was wrong! You might ask, "About what?" I have often stated that although my dear Papa showed his love in many, many ways, he struggled to express that love vocally. In fact I counted and there were only four times that he said out loud to me, "I love you." So where was my mistake? My error was in thinking that saying "I love you," verbally was more important than the many, MANY ways that he showed me his unconditional love.
One of those four times of vocalization was a bittersweet moment. He was dying, and I was riding a train from Portland to Utah to say my last good-byes. He was dying from cancer that had basically eaten him alive. Yet somehow he managed to say those precious words.
Yesterday I found a letter that my Papa wrote to me. He and Mama were serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints, in Lamar Missouri. I was serving a mission for the church in Michigan and Minnesota.
Missionaries never serve alone. This is a system of protection, and also an increased potential for witness power. If we compare this idea to a court system, two witnesses are far better than one. When teaching and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, it's important to have those two united witnesses.
There are different terms used to explain the companionship of missionaries. A brand new missionary will serve with a "Trainer," who quite literally helps the newbie adjust to mission life. Then there are co-equals. This term refers to the fact that neither of the missionaries will take the lead in their mission work. They will share responsibilities, function as a team, and make decisions together.
Yesterday, I was feeling all around blue! A "White Flag," day was fully engaged. White flag as in, "I surrender!" I have bronchitis again, with croup, and laryngitis. This, of course, triggers my Fibromyalgia, which makes me hurt EVERYWHERE!
My dear Mama passed away in April. She left behind a treasure trove of letters, pictures, and other delightful memorabilia. I was sorting through some of these artifacts and came upon a letter written to me from my Papa.
Papa wrote this particular letter while we were serving our missions. As I read the first page, my eyes filled with tears. I quote, "Co-equal -- How can any lady missionary be an equal with my (our) daughter for looks, talents, personality, and all that other good stuff. It's hard to believe, seems impossible. I guess the word in this case means equal responsibility in plotting your course, and getting the work done. We love you and know the Lord loves you so we are not concerned about your being equal to any job or opportunity that comes your way."
With a Father who loved me like that, how can I EVER give up, give in, or give way? He believed in me, he loved me, and indeed although he spoke those words, "I love you," out loud only four times, he wrote them, and he showed them with his unconditional love.
After Papa passed one of my peers at work said to me, "I am so sorry to hear about your Father's death. I understand that losing him must be really hard. For what it is worth, I never knew my Father. He was never a part of my life. Remember to be very grateful that you had a Father that loved you." That gratitude helped me to have the courage I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to see life as a precious gift.
I do NOT quote Papa's words to say to the world, "Look at me! I'm just a little bit better than anyone else." I share these words in case anyone reading is having a "White Flag Day," and needs this little reminder to count your blessings. Seriously, stop whatever you are doing, and think aloud, or write down your blessings. Even if they are as small as "I am NOT sick. I DO have a job in a time when many do not (even if the job is NOT what you wish to do for employment for the rest of your life, it's still a blessing to have an income.)
How about simpler joys, like the beauty of the sunshine, the nourishment of the world in rain, or a good night's sleep. How about having all of your 5 senses in working order, or people in your life that need you to love them. Seriously, when we are feeling blue it's hard to think outside of yourself, and reach out in love to someone else. Climbing out of your own funk and reaching out in love to someone else always blesses you more than it blesses them!
I WAS wrong...I did not see all of the ways that Papa expressed his love. I did not understand that even MORE important than simply saying the words out loud was the multiplicity of methods that he used to love me unconditionally. Thank you Papa.