Self Help Saturday: The Meanings of Life

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I know that most of us search for our purpose in life, hoping for it to be something worth bragging about.  A high paying job, maybe something that carries a title to remind you of your importance.  An incredible home or car, a hope that happiness can be held by obtaining material things. To fulfill a calling to a certain field of service, to preach or to sacrifice your life to a higher calling, like that of a nun or maybe even a priest.  I feel like these things yield insight to why we were really formed, and what all of us should seek to obtain in life.

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I had a moment this morning to be in the stillness of the day and realized that it wasn’t still at all.  I woke at 4:15 this morning and I made me a bowl of grape nuts, I enjoy the taste of this cereal now as an adult, but my decision to eat this cereal didn’t start with a craving for a healthy cereal.  My grandmother used to eat this cereal.  I would ask to have some of her cereal when I was a little girl and was perplexed as to why she would eat this hard, crunchy, nearly sugarless cereal.  I didn’t understand then that her reasons for eating this cereal was more for the nutritional value and less for the taste it produced.  I choose to eat the cereal now because it makes me think of my grandmother and it is a way to cherish her, savor her memory.  I then began to think of the other memories I had with my grandma.  She would keep us when we were little, and while the memories I have collected of time spent with her are not epic memories, they were and remain to be special.

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She had a little trailer house in a small town.  This small trailer was a special place for me, it consisted of 2 regular sized rooms and a small room that was more than likely meant to be a laundry room, but it was converted into a small spare bedroom.  There was one main bathroom and a half bath in the master bedroom, if you could call it that.  My grandmother’s house was always well kept and had a special ambiance produced by fluorescent lights under the cabinets that created warm swirls of light in the kitchen and it either always smelled of cleaner, or home cooked meals.  My grandma was a special lady.  She always made me feel safe and loved.

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I can remember waking up in that small bedroom or in rare instances waking up in her bed.  I wouldn’t always get to sleep with her, she said I would roll over her many times through the night or nearly kick her out of bed.  I am a very hard sleeper and apparently, as a child, a violent one.  🙂 I would wake to the smell of eggs and bacon being cooked to over-medium perfection, The aroma filling that small house to the brim, and reminding me of where I was at the first moment of waking.  I would clumsily jump from the bed and walk to the kitchen.

I would get a nice hug from her and a nice hot, plate of love sprinkled with the correct amount of salt and pepper that fell from the two white tall plastic salt and pepper shakers that I will always identify as the kind my grandma kept near her stove or on the kitchen table.  Before it would get hot, we would sit out on her front porch and watch life happen.  People driving in and out of town, and noticing the different colors and styles of the vehicles traveling down the town’s main street.  I didn’t care what we would do, I was enjoying my time with my grandma.  She was a very strong comfort to me as a child.  I don’t have a lot of strong memories of being a kid, and maybe part of the reason I hold onto these memories with her was my ability to relax in her presence, but these memories with her are vivid.  I know that they may not mean much to most reading this now, but one of the things I would do with my grandma was walk to the post office.  She would let me have the box key and find her box and grab her mail.  I don’t know why, but sometimes I can think of those events and miss the smell of that building.  I visit it from time to time just to inhale the fragrance of love letters and bills.  My grandma is still living in those memories, and it makes me feel calm, safe and loved.  I grew up and my grandma has been dead for several years.  I joined the military and while I had plans to come back from the military and start college near my hometown, I decided to buy her little trailer house that had been left to my uncle.  He had stayed with her, and was her caretaker for as long as I can remember.  I remember coming back to that place and feeling a little disappointed when it no longer held the charm that she gave it.  I am sure she didn’t really know how truly amazing I felt she was.

A unique and special human being.  My grandma didn’t have a special job, but her role as a mom and a grandma is one she fulfilled honorably.  She didn’t have a fancy house, or tons of money. Her wealth was in her gifts of cooking, cleaning and loving her family and friends.  She, in my opinion, had a rich life.  I have only given you a glimpse of this special women today, because that is where my prayers took me this morning, maybe it was a certain bird’s song this morning that triggered this memory or maybe it was the time of morning sitting out on my back porch, that was similar to sharing her front porch watching the buzz of the morning traffic. Whatever it was, her memory visited me heavy this morning and that is when it hit me.  She was a happy woman.  She didn’t have much, and she was able to still give to those in need.  She was a person that didn’t hold some special title, but still someone I admired very much.  She never told me when I was little that she had found the meaning of life, but she told me this morning.

Life is about love, forgiveness, and relationships.  All other things are trivial.  Love is something more than just a feeling.  It is in the food we make.  It is in the actions we choose.  It is in a sympathetic hug or a self-less sacrifice.  Love is in the way we adore something or someone.  It is our commitment and loyalty.  Love is a choice, a decision made to show the world compassion and understanding.  To truly love we forget our own needs, and begin a mission to meet the needs of others.  Be loving today!

Forgiveness, if we were not human, we would have no use for this word.  Do you think animals ask forgiveness?  Does the bird apologize to the worm for having it for breakfast.  Forgiveness, our need for acceptance, and appreciation set us apart from animals.  I realized that we must forgive ourselves first.  Before one can truly offer forgiveness we must first extend and accept it for ourselves.  No person is perfect, so all have felt some self-betrayal at some point in which forgiving yourself was necessary.  I thought I knew what forgiveness was, but I didn’t really understand it until this past year.  I received forgiveness from my husband.  He had no reason to forgive me, to give me yet another chance.  He made a choice to work on our relationship.  That decision grew from his first act of forgiveness. I wonder if he would have still made this choice knowing all that he knows now.  How difficult forgiveness can be and how incapable we are without God’s grace to provide complete forgiveness.   We are humans, still just a small step separates us from the animals.

When we decide to love and to forgive we open up our hearts to these amazing things called relationships.  If you want to truly be great, take time to build those important relationships with your loved ones.  When you depart from this life… What will be remembered?  I want people to think of me like I think of my grandma.  A special woman, that blessed other people’s life with love and forgiveness.  This may not be everyone’s equation of happiness, but for me, it all makes the reason we are here make a bit more sense.

Love your writer,

Michelle C

This entry is dedicated to my grandma, Maxine! I miss you so much, and so thankful for the wonderful memories you created with me as a child.  I hope that my life is half as fulfilling as yours.

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