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Today was a sad morning in American Fork, UT for my Luke . Over the Christmas break, his school teacher died suddenly from a heart attack. When we told him, he just sobbed. She had loved Luke unconditionally, and sometimes Luke is tough to love.
They had a special devotional to start the day at school, talking about where she is now and how she would be happy that they are all at school remembering her. The kids were cute, sharing stories about her pet cat Patches, and asking if they would still get a giant size Kit Kat when they passed off their multiplication facts like she had promised. I think kids bounce back from hard issues better than adults do. The parents were all in the back of the room sniffling while the kids were laughing and telling stories!
This is another speed bump in a long road of challenges Luke has had to bounce back from. He was born premature at 25 weeks, and spent his first four months in the NICU. He went home to a single mom who didn’t have the money or support to care for him like he needed. When we adopted him at 2 1/2 years old he was malnourished, had an undiagnosed very serious health condition, and couldn’t speak. The doctors thought he was was autistic and wondered what in the world we were doing bringing him into our home. We’ve spent the last 7 ½ years in American Fork, UT proving them wrong!
He turns 10 in two weeks, and you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. He is tiny, but very strong. I often wonder how so much attitude can be squished into that tiny of a body, but I’ve decided he’s needed that attitude to stay alive, to keep going, and to push past the walls that have been put in front of him. He has speech and learning disabilities, but functions very well in a normal and even challenging school. He will be okay, even through this sad time.
I think it’s instructive to watch how the children are handling this challenge. They are looking back – but only at the good times, the funny stories and things they can smile about. And I applaud their sweet new teacher and the administrators at the school for allowing them space to do that. But mostly they are looking forward. To recess and getting their homework done, to the changes they will need to embrace with a new teacher. To the day when they might meet this beloved teacher again.
As the New Year comes to American Fork, we all start thinking about resolutions and things we want to change. Often we spend our time looking back at what didn’t work – that diet, that exercise program, that budget, that family time goal… But does looking back help us move forward in the new year?
Resolutions are for breaking
I listened to a wonderful talk from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland over the break that helped me put New Year’s Resolutions in perspective. He joked that it was January 9th of that year, so ¾ of all resolutions had probably already been broken. He said the problem was looking back, and he then shared the story from the Bible about Lot’s wife. If you don’t know the story, I’ll give you a short and sweet summary.
Lot and his wife lived in the infamous wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to the scriptural account, the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. They were told to “Escape for thy life,” and “Look not behind thee … lest thou be consumed”.
Through much delay and negotiation, Lot and his family left just in the nick of time. The next morning fire and brimstone rained down from heaven and the cities were destroyed. Even though she had been warned, it seems Lot’s wife just couldn’t help but look back. What happened is well known history – she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
Elder Holland asked the same question I had been wondering. Just what did Lot’s wife do that was so wrong? He offered this as an answer: “Apparently, what was wrong with Lot’s wife was that she wasn’t just looking back; in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before she was past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her.”
What in your past are you turning back to? What are you holding on to that is preventing you from really moving forward today in American Fork, UT? The past is to be learned from but not lived in. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead.”
He is talking about wonderful things in our past. The kids in Luke’s class loved their teacher’s silly stories about animals. They can choose to enjoy their new teacher’s stories or pine for the old ones. You can wish over and over for things to be as they once were – the good old days perhaps, or you can make your tomorrow even better.
Throwing the past back
The other issue I see is not letting go of less than wonderful things that have happened in the past. If we keep thinking about them – “Chocolate and potato chips are why I put on those 20 pounds, but they sure make me feel better than carrots!” “ I know I shouldn’t have said that to my husband, but he was wrong!”, we will never really be able to look ahead. Elder Holland used the best imagery for this:
“If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat!
Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, “Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?” Splat.
And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt…”
So American Fork residents, instead of making New Year’s Resolutions that will most likely get broken, commit yourself to looking forward. Use the past as a toolbox of learned experiences that will help you in the year to come.
I need to exercise (along with probably 70% of Americans!!) so if I focus on how lousy I did last year, and how I still have to get up early to go to work, and am up late helping with homework, and I have no time….Yuck! I will get nowhere fast. So I am using what I learned last year, that I have very little time, and I am going to do a 10 minute workout 3 times a week.
Yep, I’m shooting low, but that helps me to look forward and actually see success rather than looking back and seeing that it didn’t work before either. So what can you look forward to this year? What do you really want to change? Shoot low if you have to, but don’t dwell on why it didn’t work for you last year. Unless you really like salt, looking forward with hope for the future is the best way to spend 2016 in the American Fork, UT area!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen
This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.