You know that old saying... They can't see the forest for the trees? Years ago I used it and one of my children inquired about the meaning. So here is the best description I found online (actually two that I combined.)
It is meant as an analogy and really has NOTHING to do with forests or trees. The point is that I am sometimes so focused on the small things (trees), the details, the trials or challenges, or even...THE BUSY WORK in life, that I can't see the Big Picture (Forest)...the vision, the plan, the goal, the eternal destination of my life. Can anyone relate?
This was me recently...
In my great desire to reach out and make a difference this year I created The Butterfly Project. This project was meant to get people REACHING OUT. I have received some of the most amazing letters from people that have done just that. Interestingly enough some anticipated the promise I make at the end of each Butterfly Project blog post: We are changing the world...ONE letter at a time. Where did they anticipate this change...in others. They expected that hearts would melt, soften or be touched by the letters. In many cases this has been spot on. Hearts have softened and relationships have deepened. But often that has not been the case. Still some reported change inspite of that. So where did the change occur? Transformation took place within. The birth of this idea accompanied a quote I discovered by Ghandi: You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
I began this project with a not so altruistic goal in mind. But I did HAVE a goal, and I still DO! My goal was to be less selfish, more grateful, less judgmental, more praising, less critical, more uplifting. Do I believe that ME changing in my little corner of the world can make a difference? Yes, YES, Y E S...I DO!!! Why? How? I have thought of these questions over and over again. I have an answer for you. I truly believe in the power of ONE! I believe that ONE life can change the world, or at least a part of the world, a large part of the world.
My grandfather was a carpenter. He was a gentle spirit and an amazing man. I love him and still miss him (missing that has been going on nearly 26 years). When he was 17 he probably should have died in a major car accident. His neck was broken, the car was a pile of rubble. When help finally arrived on the dirt country road he sat up, held his head together and told them his name, then passed out, or so I am told. We are talking 1929. He missed school, graduated late and was never allowed to serve in the military. We all know now of the war that ensued. So maybe, just maybe that accident that everyone cursed was really a tender mercy. His brother "Worry Wart" as I know him, didn't come home from the war. Call it divine intervention, call it fate, or destiny...call it what you will. What I KNOW is that my grandfather went on to marry my grandmother. They have 4 children, but two died full term because of Rh factor. It is a miracle that my mother lived, she was the second child and her brother and she both have positive blood. For anyone that knows the ins and outs of Rh factor they understand that this meant NO blood from my grandma's first birth crossed over, or my mother could not have survived. Today Rh factor is a moot point. Anyone with access to modern medicine takes a rather painful shot (I know) and that is about the end of it. Thank heaven for modern medicine and for the tender mercies that brought my grandfather through the jaws of death, and saved my mother from the jaws of death.
When my mother died we filled a church. But it didn't begin to represent the lives she touched. She was an elementary school librarian for 18 years. She LOVED books, loved reading, loved children. In the years she was there she would go out of her way to memorize children's names. Contests ensued for rewards based on reading and she lit up the room with stories read allowed. Often she stayed late and without pay, filing so that while the children were there...she was PRESENT. She was available and able to fully influence these precious minds. To say that she influenced 14,000 children over the years is a conservative estimate. This is an ordinary woman like me. But she really wasn't ordinary to anyone that knew her...to them she was extraordinary. To me, she was the world. And living in the world without her has been very difficult.
This has lead to my epiphany. Mother's Day has become one of the most bittersweet days of my life. I have the supernal joy of five little ones, and the shadow of mom's absense. I vaccilate between the two. With the depressed state I let myself get into the past couple of weeks I just kind of checked out. My house swam in the chores I didn't do. My husband is so patient and knows that I usually shake it off by June and saying something does not make matters better. So he silently walked around me doing all he could (likely on egg shells). Then I started delving into a book my T.F.F. Ethel told me about. Here is a link to it Teaching Self Government by Nicholeen Peck. I am only a couple chapters into the book but I have had to ask myself some hard questions...
What is my family vision?
Where do I see myself in 20 years?
Where do I see my kids?
What kind of feeling do I want in our home?
I don't want to focus on the "trees of my life" anymore. For me it is going to be about the Forest. The big picture. And all the little things I used to worry about, I am going to learn to let go. The only little things I need to focus on now are the little things that lead to my Big Picture. Because the only way to eat an elephant is a bite at a time. And the only way to reach my 20 year vision of what I want my life to be like in 2032 is one bite at a time.
What conclusion did I come to? I watch too much T.V. I do too much facebook. I check too many emails. And I might even spend too much time blogging. I am not sure about that one, and I may keep this blogging thing as my last string to connect me to the "real world." But the REAL WORLD I want is a happy home and that world is NOT as elusive or imaginary as "the World" makes it out to be. On Sunday one of the speakers in our congregation said, "How do children spell love? T.I.M.E." So I won't be as frequently on Facebook, emails, Pinterest or the likes. I will pop in and out...but I am going to connect to the people who MY CHANGE can effect the VERY MOST. Why? Because when I am dead someday, I want my children to feel like I was a huge part of their world...and without me there is a hole. I hope I will teach them to deal with the grief better than I am...but I do want to live so they will miss me immensely. I hope you continue to reach out, to write your letters. I will! I WILL!
P.S. We really can change the world...ONE letter at a time!