|The view from the courtyard where we lock up our bikes at home.|
My friend was asked first. She is probably one of the most sincere women I have met here. You can tell by watching her for just a few moments that she would do anything for her family. She's an extremely devoted mother and wife. She works hard. She doesn't complain. I'm always impressed by her day-in and day-out positivity and cheerfulness. She responded, "Mia famiglia. E . . . basta!"
I was asked next. "Anchio, ma anche abitare in un bellissimo posto." In a different setting, perhaps both of us would have answered in a different way. As the rest of the class answered, I thought of how I would answer the question if I had all of the words and ability that I did in English. At the top of the list, undoubtedly, was my family. But without being surrounded by beautiful and inspiring things, would I still think my life was full? What about without other relationships? Without friends? Is there room in a full life for good food? For working hard? For achievement?
I began feeling guilty for not giving my friend's answer. I felt that maybe she was better than I because she said her family is all she needs.
Does it make me a discontented person to confess that I need more than just my family (even though they make up the large majority of what I need) to feel like I have a full life?
I took these questions to Michael and we talked while we ate leftover tomato soup from the night before. He has a way of teaching me while we talk, but not making me feel like a louse in the process. It makes me grateful every day. We talked about how we have both always felt stirrings and tuggings that there is something important for us to do. We both agreed that while the most important thing to do is to raise a family that Heavenly Father would be proud of, the gifts and talents that He placed in our hearts are also worthy and important pursuits.
Michael shared a quote with me from Joseph Smith that says,
"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” (History of the Church 4:227)Those words settled on me softly and made me feel dignified again. And I thought how grateful I am for the Restored Gospel and modern-day prophets.
I think when we're acting as our best self, we could boil our efforts down to blessing the human race. The feeling of wanting to surround myself with beautiful things and thoughts and people and places isn't selfish in its very nature. It can be used as a tool to show others the beauty in the being I worship every day. It makes me happy to have beauty as a constant presence in my life, and the God I worship cares about my happiness.
I feel deep gratitude, especially on Thanksgiving Day, as I think about what I have been given and what I have to do. My life is full. From the stirrings in my heart to the dinner on the table, I feel blessed by and indebted to a host of people, but most of all to Jesus Christ for placing those stirrings there and giving me the power to turn them into actions.