The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
December 2017

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Wrong Wrinkles

I had the chance to speak in church today, and since the talk I wrote covered some thoughts that I've been meaning to blog about, I thought I'd just post the talk here.  Also, a Mr. Irvine requested it, and when Mr. Irvine asks, I do it! 

Several months ago I was driving along in our car and came to a stop light.  I took the opportunity to flip down the little mirror in my visor and slap on a little last minute lip gloss or something like that.  I looked in the mirror and was horrified with the discovery I made.   I had the wrong wrinkles.  I looked closely and there they were – the exactly wrong wrinkles.  I mean, I am getting older and I have accepted the fact that I will wrinkle up a bit here and there as life goes on.  But in my mind I envisioned those wonderful crinkly laugh lines that happy people develop after smiling too much all their lives.  I’m a happy person, right?  I thought I had every right to expect those wrinkles.  But I don’t have those wrinkles.  I have these two miserable little creases right between my eyes from scowling too much.  Also I have developed a slew of streaks across my forehead from furrowing my brow; either in anger or confusion, and believe me, I hadn't planned on spending me thirties being angry and confused.  Alas, there they are.

I thought a lot about those wrinkles.  Where did I go wrong in missing the “cute wrinkle” boat? I’m kidding of course, but it did start me thinking about hard “furrow your brow” parts of life. I realized that for me, on my path right now, what was frustrating and what I really didn’t expect was how difficult parenting is.  I mean, this is really really hard.  I know, I’m kind of being a baby – I’m so blessed with a happy marriage, a good home, plenty to eat and wear and so many things that so many people are without.  And yet, parenting is not what I expected.  I didn’t know that having three little darlings would mean I’d be engaged in a major uphill battle day after day after day.  I didn’t picture those times of trying to cook a supposedly delicious and healthy meal with one hand, a baby whining on my hip and pulling my hair while one big kid tells me dinner smells bad and the other is crying because her pants are the wrong color.  And bedtime was ½ an hour ago.  I mean, I had always really wanted kids; I thought I’d be a fantastic mother who read with her kids every night and played games and did crafts with them.  We’d cuddle close and lie on our backs in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. I just didn’t expect that they wouldn’t want to do those things with me and that doing happy nice things would sometimes be a battle royale, not to mention doing all the other stuff I am responsible for.  Thus the wrinkles.  And a few gray hairs.

I have a dear friend who used to live in this ward.  She, like so many others, bought a house and moved away.  I went to visit her in Bountiful shortly after she moved a came upon a rather wonderful insight.  My friend had bought her house from someone who had decorated the walls of the home with vinyl letter stickers.  You know, a pretty script stating “families are forever,” under which could be hung a family portrait.  Nice.  Fine. Unless you do the lettering in a deep and somewhat threatening scarlet color, use a large bold print and plaster the phrase, “LOVE IS SPOKEN HERE,” right over the dining room table.  I’m sure the cute mommy who put that up there was just doing what I’m trying to do – get her kids to be nice to each other every once in a while, but somehow the once beloved words of a tender primary song turned into a scary “I’m getting yelled at!” kind of feeling.  My friend went at the stubborn red letters with a razor blade the first chance she got.  Finally, with a little elbow grease, she was able to remove most of the stickers, down to two last letters.   What remained on her wall were the “O” and the “K” from the middle.  Well, that changed everything.  Now the wall just says, “ok!” It’s saying, “Hey, I know you’re trying, and some things you’ve gotten right and some things you haven’t, but you’re still trying.  Ok.  Good job.”  I love that big red OK above her table.

Most of us are familiar with this quote from President Hinckley:
"Life is just like an old time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

How I love this quote.  Despite the bad wrinkles and all, would I trade my life for someone else’s? Never. Who would I be if I were not struggling so hard to be a good parent?  Certainly not the self that I have come to love and enjoy being, plus I’d miss all the lovely lovely parts of parenting, of which there are so many. As much as I did not expect the hard things, neither did I expect the overwhelming joy that my children bring me.

So I struggle along. And it is the struggle itself that is so vital to our purpose here on earth.  It’s not easy, don’t we know it, no matter what our stories are.  But I invite you, in your dark and brow-furrowing moments, to remember what you’re doing here.   The point is to keep going, to turn to the Lord with an open heart and open arms and say, “O.K.”  I will do what you’re asking.  I will trust in your beautiful and infinite wisdom and keep going.  I will be grateful for those moments when I am blessed with the joy of things being the way I hoped they would be, and I will also be grateful for the times when they just aren’t.  

I will remember what Joseph learned, that these things shall be for my good.  I will remember what Nephi taught, to press forward with a brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men. I will savor the vistas.  More importantly, I can savor the blessings that come from the challenges and be grateful for the path that I haven’t always chosen but that I’m blessed to walk upon.


Misty said...

Great insights, Rach. I love how real & honest you are. Makes me feel better about the chaos that is my life.

Sheri said...

You are writing my next talk...that was beautiful. I'm sorry we missed it in person.

Lainey said...

O K Thanks for some inspiration to face tomorrow!

Melissa said...

Great thoughts! Thanks so much for sharing. I need to call you and talk about brunch.

Jordan said...

Thanks for sharing! Am so sad I missed your talk Sunday. David said you did a great job. I am so glad you put this down so I could get a chance to read it! Good job Mr. Irvine for recommending you do this on your blog! :)

Cullen said...

This Mr. Irvine is highly grateful that you posted this! So many things rang true to me while I listened.

Especially: "Who would I be if I wasn't struggling . . . Certainly not the self that I have come to love and enjoy being."

Thank you for capturing in words something I've felt for a long time.

mrsmckracken said...

Amen to that, my friend! Love your guts.