Beautiful and meaningful moments can occur almost anytime. But, sometimes they occur in the places we least expect them. Often we think of beautiful and meaningful moments as the times when things are going our way, the “happy” parts of our lives. Or in other words, the times in our lives where we get to feel all the good feelings. But, after an experience at the airport… my belief about this shifted just a little bit, and in such an empowering way.
Tomorrow marks one year since my second son left on his mission. Now, this wasn’t any typical mission, mind you. It was a mission that he served during, what many have started to call, a “Crazy Time.” Yep. 2020. The year of the crazy… the year of Covid.
The MTC Drop Off
I remember September 11, 2019 VERY well. In some ways it feels like just yesterday. We stopped at our favorite breakfast place in Provo (Magleby’s Fresh). Our family went and took all the pictures at the Provo Temple. We cried, we hugged, we savored the moment, but all the while we felt the dread of what was about to happen under the ground, in the MTC Parking Garage.
So, we went through the light on ninth and down underground. I’m sure you remember the feeling… But, a couple quick good-byes, tight hugs and loads of tears, and then, the missionary turned on a dime and was gone.
And Then, He Came Home
Never in a hundred years would I have imagined that just six months later we’d be welcoming him home. I mean, sure… if he had been injured or had an illness. But, NEVER could any of us imagined a scenario where 30,000 missionaries would come home in a matter of weeks.
As I stood in that airport, waiting for his flight to arrive, fearing covid, fearing the crazy, pacing and staring at the monitors, waiting… I had flashback. The call that we got in the middle of our Australian Missionary’s night.
My Missionary was Scared
“Mom…,” he said. “I don’t really know what to do. I’m kind of scared.” And then, he recounted how the mission president had sent him and his companion to pick up another companionship. One of the Elders was having breathing problems. They took him to the emergency room… but, only two of the Elders could enter the hospital. So, there my son sat. Outside the hospital, on the grass, literally, half way around the world, at three in the morning. Was this covid? Was my son infected? Would he even be able to come home, if he was? So much uncertainty and so much fear.
Uncertainty and Fear
It was an uncertainty and fear that would last all the way through the call that came at 6 a.m. one morning, with him telling us that they were sending all of the Australian Missionaries home.
And the same uncertainty and fear that was still with me… in that moment, as I stood staring at the glass doors. Any moment, he’d be home. But, totally unexpectedly and with all of the uncertainty of the future.
The Five Month Intermission
My son was home for five months. Our oldest son came home from BYU, too. However, it was one of the most sacred and beautiful experiences that our family has ever had together. Bonus time, that we never thought we’d have. We laughed, we cried, we fought and also got on each other’s nerves. We experienced the entire range of human emotion. In other words, fifty percent positive emotion and fifty percent negative emotion. And I believe that it is the contrast and acceptance of the two, is what truly brings joy.
We Said Good-bye Again
I found myself back in that same airport just a couple of weeks ago, putting my son on a flight to New Hampshire. As we said good-bye and as the tears flowed again, from the entire member of the family… I couldn’t help but notice the little glass wall. It is a wall that separates the missionaries who are going out, from the missionaries that are coming home. On one side of the wall, we have experienced a whole range of emotions and just steps away, we have experienced another entirely different set of emotions.
The Glass Wall
On one side of the wall, we felt pure elation as my first son came home from his mission in Louisiana. And just a couple steps away, on the other side of the wall, we felt real sadness in having to say good-bye to another missionary son. On one side of the wall, we felt uncertainty in welcoming a missionary home from Australia, and yet… just back on the other side of the same glass wall… my family has been excited to board a plane to Hawaii.
I have said good-bye to my mom there, after she’d come to help with a newborn. I’ve photographed other missionaries arriving home. I’ve hopped on flights and headed to conferences where I as taught and felt uplifted, and I’ve also boarded flights to go visit close family who has had a loved one pass away.
What I Learned at the Airport
That little area of the airport is a little microcosm of what we experience in the world and what we experience within ourselves every single day. And what I’ve decided is this: This little coming and going piece of ground at the airport is actually a really beautiful and meaningful place, almost sacred, even. Not necessarily because of what happens, but because of the emotion that we get to experience while we are there. The ENTIRE range of the human experience.
The Full Spectrum of Emotion
When we choose to embrace the poignancy and gift of the full spectrum of emotion, our lives and the world around us can be really beautiful and meaningful in the same exact way.
For my missionary, beautiful and Meaningful time spent outside a hospital in Australia. And ALSO beautiful and meaningful time spent in home for five months.
Sometimes we might find ourselves looking through that thin glass wall. I know I did. Wishing that our missionary was home, or wishing that we were headed on a fabulous trip. Or similarly, wishing that we could serve in our original mission. Or maybe, wishing that we had an easier transition coming home from our mission. That somehow, having THAT experience would make our lives more beautiful and meaningful in some way.
Real Meaning Comes from…
What I’ve discovered is that beauty and meaning are in the contrast. It is found in the comings AND the goings. The uncertainty AND the excitement. The sadness AND the elation.
What truly makes life beautiful and meaningful… is just deciding that ALL of it is. No matter which side of the wall that you are on.
Does any of this resonate with you? As a certified life coach, I help Pre and Post Missionaries drop their internal struggle, so they can start living their lives from a place of calm, certainty and confidence. CLICK HERE for a free strategy session where I will show you how.