Thursday, March 27, 2008

Because God couldn't be everywhere...

Because God can’t be everywhere…

He created women. Even though He can only be in one physical location at any given time, His love, and influence can be felt everywhere. I often feel His love when I look into the eyes of my wife. In her eyes I see a love that fills the vastness of space and chases away any doubts or fears I harbor in a troubled world, and I am left dumbfounded as to why I should deserve it. She spends her strength, time, and energy giving of herself to those around her.

It can be said that most relationships are based on give and take. Having broken both of my elbows less than two weeks ago, and having become as dependent as a one year old for my basic needs, that concept is true in my life. At the moment, my wife gives and I take. That thought on give and take probably describes most of my marriage, but it is greatly magnified right now.

I eat because she feeds me. I wear clothes because she puts them on me. I would smell much worse than I do, except for the fact she bathes me. There are other hygiene related issues that take place because of her.

The day of my injury I was draining our pool, as the water level receded, I power-washed the pool walls. Our pool has a diving board and the deep end is ten feet deep. With about 5 inches of water left at the bottom, I walked into the deep end to power-spray the back wall. Walking down the steep decline I stumbled. Despite trying to slow down, my speed increased until I made contact with the far wall. Smacking the far wall my body exploded in pain and crumbled into a fetal position in 5 inches of water.

Here’s one of the miracles that occurred. Wendy stood there when it happened. She wasn’t supposed to be there. She speaks ASL, not because she or anyone in her family is deaf, she just thought that it would have value to be able to do so.

Anyway, she works one Saturday a month as an interpreter at the LDS Mesa temple. It was a slow Saturday without much for her to do. Almost always in these situations, she will stick around and go through the ASL endowment session. This time she didn’t. This time she came home, and accordingly got me the help I needed immediately.

For the week I spent in the hospital she always stayed by my side. Briefly she would go home to check on the boys, but always quickly returned. She slept in my hospital room on a pull out couch that wasn’t quite long enough to stretch out on, so she slept in the fetal position for the short moments when she could actually drift off to sleep.

Due to the accident, I was put on several different medications; one is to lower my blood pressure. We subsequently learned that one of the possible side affects of this medicine is that it induces nightmares and anxiety attacks.

I’m not sure how well it decreases my blood pressure, but the side affects work just fine… The first day I took the medicine I went to bed about midnight. I woke up about an hour later drenched in sweat. I sleep with a CPAP machine (a mask that goes over my nose as I sleep that keeps me breathing.) When I woke up it felt like it was full of water as well. I thought that I was drowning and I started to panic.

With my right arm, the slightly better one, I ripped off my mask and screamed for Wendy. She materialized at my bedside and immediately began to stroke my face with her hand to calm me down. She then walked up and down the hospital hallway with me as I tried to calm down from my irrational delusions.

I am not typically subject to anxiety attacks, but I now have a lot more compassion for those that are. I battled anxiety attacks for a few days after taking the meds. Wendy, being at my side through all of it, was the calming influence that always brought me back to reality.

Now when I go to sleep she places my laptop next to the bed and plays church hymns from my i-tunes account. It helps me go to sleep with peaceful thoughts. However, what grounds me in the middle of the night when I wake up is knowing that she is mere inches away from me. She makes me feel safe with her presence. She is the calm in the storm of life swirling around. She gives meaning to the following words from James Allen’s book, As a Man Thinketh:

“Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.

A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought. As he develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.

The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others; and they, in turn, reverence his spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn of him and rely upon him. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good.

The strong calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold - yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money-seeking looks in comparison with a serene life - a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the Eternal Calm.”

When I was 26 my oldest brother asked me to go to a dance with him. It was a dance for the older single adults. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but after much persuasion I finally agreed to do this favor for him. The dance was at some person’s home. After paying the entry fee, I turned to go inside and got run into by a pretty girl. We both stammered our apologies for not looking where we walked and headed in different directions. I felt a moment’s guilt for thinking that was the girl I wanted to spend the evening with, but I was pretty sure that she had to be the homeowner’s daughter because she clearly wasn’t old enough to be at this event.

As we stood in the living room I gave my brother several better options of what we could be doing that evening. Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder and knew that one of the older women wanted to dance. I slowly turned hoping for the best, and there stood the teenager, as I had come to think of her. She asked if I wanted to dance, and I was curious if her mom would mind. Throwing caution to the wind I accepted and we started dancing. Within two minutes I learned that the teenager had previously been married for nine years and had three children. I started doing some quick math in my head, and came to the conclusion that she must be a bit older than I had guessed.

At that moment, resisting the urge to run, was the best decision I ever made. We talked for the rest of the evening and I quickly became quite enamored with her. 17 years later, she is still my best friend and the love of my life. On the flip side, she also came to the dance unwillingly, having been dragged there by one of her friends. Her friend told her that she needed to meet some older, more established men, and that she would be looking for doctors and lawyers, or CPA’s. Somehow my wife resisted the urge to run when she discovered that I was only a student. Even now, she just smiles when I tell people how she robbed the cradle and that I’m her trophy husband.

President Hinckley once stated, “Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work announced complete and good.”

Joseph F. Smith stated, “The love of a true mother comes near to being like the love of God. No love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother. … I have felt sometimes, how could even the Father love his children more than my mother loved her children? It was life to me; it was strength; it was encouragement; it was love that begat love or liking in myself. I knew she loved me with all her heart.”

The importance of women can not be overstated. When the Savior Himself was resurrected to whom did he appear first? His apostles? No. I would think that His first stop would’ve been to see His Father, but it wasn’t. The first person He visited was Mary.

Likewise, when I am resurrected some day, Wendy will be the first person I go looking for. She is my rock and my compass. She knows my strengths and likewise my weaknesses and stands by my side. Any success I achieve in life is in large part due to her. She has always supported me in whatever task I choose to undertake.

Unfortunately, I can not adequately articulate what she means to me. Mere words lack the ability to express my feelings.

Wendy, I will love you through the eternities and always wonder what I did to deserve someone as wonderful as you to be part of my life.


Anne Bradshaw said...

What a painful experience. But your Wendy sounds like an angel indeed. What a blessing.

Dan and Wendy said...

Thank you Anne. She is indeed an angel.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Dan, you've made me cry. What a beautiful tribute. I hope I get to meet your wonderful wife someday.

Marsha Ward said...

Wow, Dan! How wonderful that you are articulate and unstinting in praise of a priceless woman. How blessed you are that she was on the spot when you needed her so badly, and continues in her service to you. Believe me, the more she serves you, the more she will love you. It is lovely to see you proclaim your love for her to the world.

Dan and Wendy said...

Without trying to sound overly dramatic, she gives my life meaning.

Even on those occasions when I give up on myself, she doesn't.

Tristi/Marsha - thank you for your kind comments.

Olsen Family said...

You are so sweet!!! Good Job!!! I really was touched reading about how you feel about your wife. I LOVE IT>

Dan and Wendy said...

Hi Christina,

Olsen men have a tendency to marry way over their heads. I think that Justin did very well also.