Sunday, December 7, 2008

I love you Grandpa!

I went to my Grandpa's funeral yesterday. He was 92. Joseph B. Wirthlin was 91, his funeral was the day before my Grandpa's. There is no relation between the two men. But I've been thinking alot about the things Elder Wirthlin taught in relationship to my family.
My Grandpa was a good man. He was funny, smart, very hard-working and he had a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My grandpa had his flaws just like we all do... and I regret that most of my life I didn't focus more on his strengths.

So where does this tie into Elder Wirthlin. Well, he gave a talk back in 2005 called, "The Virtue of Kindness" and all day at my grandpa's funeral I kept thinking about this talk.

Elder Wirthlin said:
"Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home. I often wonder why some feel they must be critical of others. It gets in their blood, I suppose, and it becomes so natural they often don't even think about it. They seem to criticize everyone—...Even when we think we are doing no harm by our critical remarks, consequences often follow."

I regret being critical of my grandpa and not taking the time to focus on the good in him much sooner in life.... I really think I misunderstood him. Sadly, it wasn't until a few months ago that I began to see my grandpa in a different light.
I began to look for the good, and when I did, I started to see it manifested all over the place. He has always, always been kind to me. He always had a joke to tell that would make me smile. Greeting us as we came up the steps to his front door was always some kind of electronic toy that was motion censored, sure to entertain us. His door bell always played a different tune to match the season of the year and even someones birthday. I loved to hear him play the piano (he could play almost any song just by hearing it first.) He loved taking pictures, I think he's passed that on to me... I too want so much to hang on to the memory of my children. He worked so hard to provide for his family (I believe this is one of the ways he showed he loved them.) I know he loved his family deeply, I have no doubt. He just had his own unique way of showing it.
I remember every Christmas looking forward to seeing the star he had lit high above his house on his old radio antenna. It was there every single year and could be seen a mile away. Just over 7 years ago, after his stroke, the star stopped shining and no one has been able to get it working since. I would like to see it shine again just for him.
This last little while I think I've come to understand my grandpa so much more...
I got the feeling that he had a low self esteem. I also believe there are some patterns of behavior passed down from him to my father and then to my son. My son has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a little OCD and ADHD... it would be interesting to see if this was the case with my grandpa too. I know my dad says he sees himself in my little boy. My son is often greatly misunderstood because of his intense personality, he struggles socially... but I see him as an amazing, huge hearted boy with the best of intentions and wonderful gifts.
One night, a couple of weeks before he died, I called my grandpa just to tell him how much I loved him, I told him that he was a good man and that I was proud of his accomplishments.... he broke down and cried, "I don't know what to say.... I don't know what to say.... (he cried some more) thank you so much... I will sleep better tonight than I have slept in a long, long time... thank you... I love you too, I love you too!"

It's amazing what a few kind words can do!
I have seen and experienced the contagious disease of criticizing, judging, back biting, ill words and gossip. I have seen families tragically torn apart and lives crumble under this horrible illness. This disease starts with the thoughts in ones mind, spreads to the tongue and eventually overtakes the heart weakening and deadening the life of the spirit.

I suppose that the only death that is truly tragic is the death of our ability to love and forgive.

But just as Christ overcame physical death and raised his body from the tomb. He also overcame spiritual death and can bring back to life our ability to love and to forgive. Through Him we can see things so much more clearly, because He is the Light and He sees us as we really are. He is the way to happiness in this life and the life to come.

I'll close this post with these words from Joseph Wirthlin:

"Each one of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another. Never look down on those who are less perfect than you.

We are all children of our Heavenly Father. And we are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental. The Savior taught, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."  He also taught that "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
"But," you ask, "what if people are rude?"
Love them.
"If they are obnoxious?"
Love them.
"But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?"
Love them.
The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.
Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, "And of some have compassion, making a difference."

Who can tell what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?
My brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ transcends mortality. Our work here is but a shadow of greater and unimaginable things to come...
...As our Heavenly Father loves us, we also should love His children.
May we be models of kindness. May we ever live up to the words of the Savior: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Of these truths I bear witness in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen." - By Joseph B. Wirthlin, given April 2005


Leah said...

Thanks again for the reminder to try to be better than I was yesterday, and to try to see people through the eyes of the Savior.

Alicia said...

Leah you are a good friend! Thank you for keeping up with us these past 9 and a half years. You know you've got a good friend when you can keep in touch this long. I am thankful for you.