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April 06, 2015
Life on Planet Kathy
The Peaks and Valleys of Life
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Recently I had the most stellar of weeks. My birthday was on the horizon and strange and extravagant birthday gifts had started arriving out of the blue.

Every time Fluffy was up and walking around, I would ask him, ďWhy donít you go to the front porch and see what new packages have arrived?Ē Much to my pleasure (and his dismay), there were usually new packages ó sometimes enough of them that it was difficult to open the front door.

Oddly, though, gifts started arriving for other reasons ó or no reason whatsoever. One day, we got two surprise gifts from two different people, and they werenít just for me. They were for Fluffy too.

That same day, we had visits from two groups of people. Boy, did we feel loved! We felt as warm and fuzzy as the lint trap in an industrial dryer. You donít feel any warmer and fuzzier than that.

But later in the week, I learned that while I was having the best week ever, other people were having what was possibly the worst week of their entire lives. Some of them were people I loved.

When we got to the temple for our weekly work assignment, for example, I heard about a family who had planned to come to the temple with their daughter that day, and it was the first time the daughter would attend. This is usually a big deal for active Mormons, similar to getting married or being baptized. The mother and two other daughters had planned to accompany her, and all the preparations had been made.

The night before the appointment, the woman ó a mother with two young children ó had died. Nobody had expected it. It was a complete surprise to one and all. Doctors had found cancer in her only the week before, but they didnít expect her to die that quickly.

I saw the mother and the sisters when they came to the temple office. They had decided to attend anyway on her behalf, even if the guest of honor could not be there, and they got ecclesiastical permission to have the dead womanís work done so she could be buried in her temple clothing.

As I watched the sorrowing family, I couldnít help but feel a little bit of guilt. How could I have been so happy that week when other people in the world were so ravaged? How could I be oblivious to the pain of others around me? How could I be rolling in joy when others were drowning in sorrow?

But then I thought of the obvious answer. We canít all be in pain together. If we were, who would be there to administer to our needs? Part of the reason for pain in our lives is to provide others with the opportunity to serve. If we were all grieving at the same time, this would never happen.

There has to be a system of checks and balances. Some of us have to have full wells, so that when the wells of others are empty we can help.

If all of us were empty at once, how parched we would be! There would be nobody to help any of us, because all of us would be exhausted from tending to our own needs.

But when some of us are feeling so loved and cherished that the world is a warm and happy place, we are the very ones who have the strength to provide comfort to those whose lives are torn apart through illness or pain or bereavement.

The next time you are having a particularly wonderful day, consider that the same day may be the most terrible day for someone else. Spread some of your cheer to them, and both of you will feel more loved.

Waves of joy may deposit us on higher ground. When it does, we can reach out into those troughs of sorrow, holding out our hands and clasping onto those of our friends and loved ones who grieve. Perhaps through our love, our concern, and our service, we can bring them to firmer ground with us.

Iíve mixed so many metaphors here that Iíve worn myself out, but you get the picture. Just as He always does, God knew exactly what He was doing this past week. We have all been put here to take care of one another, and the best way we can do that is if at least half of us have the mental and emotional stamina we need to help the other half out.

I was so emotionally and even spiritually giddy last week that I had the reservoirs to reach out and help others who were suffering. Fluffy and I were able to do everything we were called upon to do, and still have some strength left in reserve in case more is needed ó which indeed it still may be. We have it covered, just as others have covered us when we were the ones in need.

I like the way it works. I like the way we learn to take and then to give. Itís like breathing. We inhale, and we exhale. In and out ó itís the way of life. We canít always take; that makes us selfish and needy. We canít always give; that makes us feel too indispensable ó too important.

Weíre all in this together. We hold each other up. Sometimes weíre the flower. Sometimes weíre the stem. Thatís the way life is supposed to be.

Copyright © 2024 by Kathryn H. Kidd Printed from