As I try to keep my mind clear of thoughts that bring me less than peace, I am struggling with the immense task of purging thirty years of a life together. We are planning a major move in the next few weeks and we are taking all that we have and translating that onto a 14-foot trailer. I keep looking at things and thinking, “Do I need this? Is it replaceable?” And when you think about it, just about anything is “replaceable.” But when it comes to some of the big-ticket items like mattresses, couches, flat screen TVs and the like, it is hard to just let it go for a fraction of what we paid for it, knowing we have to spend as much (if not more) to buy it again once we relocate. We are driving our car (selling the husband’s car) and towing a rented 14-foot trailer (we were going to just buy one and sell it once we get there, but my husband would feel better with a U-Haul trailer. For me, if the trailer and/or car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, whose trailer it is does not really matter – stuck in the middle of nowhere is still stuck in the middle of nowhere!!). The car will be crammed with our 14-year old son, two dogs, a very frightened cat, and all our stuff…in the car, on top of the car, and behind the car. The 2600+ mile drive, thankfully, will be in relatively warm weather, but the mileage alone is a little daunting. The inside of the car – well, that will be interesting. On our drive up to WA from CA, we had one less dog. This second dog is wonderful, but much larger – an English Springer Spaniel. Our car already smells like wet dog most of the time (she goes with us everywhere) and I really need to get it cleaned. It’s one of the tasks we did regularly, living in a southern climate. But up here, in the Pacific Northwest, cleaning your car seems ludicrous, with all the rain we get. But man oh man, the inside is what needs cleaning!! Anyway, this journey and the process of getting us on the road is filling my days and my nights. I had two really good nights of sleep this week and was able to shove all these negative thoughts away, but last night it just did not happen. I took melatonin; I took vitamin D; I drank warm milk and also took two aspirin; I feverishly prayed and asked Elder Thaddeus to intercede for me – nothing helped. I kept trying to load this trailer with my Christmas decorations, my grandma’s china, and all our photos, icons, and other wall art. Then I panicked about getting the dining and bedroom furniture on the trailer, not to mention all my pots, pans, mixers, daily dishes, towels, sheets, clothes, legos and micro-machines, hockey sticks, skates, bikes, and well, you get the idea. It is a challenge to undertake thinking peaceful and loving thoughts while you plan to move so many, many miles away.
And so I was thinking about what finding mental and emotional peace and tranquility is all about. Certainly, most of us are familiar with Scriptural references about men and their “things.” I know that it is just stuff and I know that somehow, someway, we will be loaded up and our journey will be upon us, and before you know it we will be living in a different state and I’ll be casually grocery shopping. It’s getting me from here to there that is causing me sleepless nights! And as I try to catch myself dipping into remorseful thinking and patterns I am trying to shake off, I keep reminding myself that I can choose to change; I can choose to be happier, less care-worn. I can opt to not allow these things to weigh me down and affect everything around me. Yes, I can choose to do that. But right now, I am a little frozen…I cannot seem to just do it. It’s the unknown that curdles my stomach and sets my teeth on edge and reality is, truly, much less frightening. Getting myself into production mode is what stalls me and gets my mind to whirling away.
This morning I realized that I was saying something Elder Thaddeus quoted the Church Fathers as having said, “If a thought is not a peaceful or good thought, it is from Satan. Get rid of it.” And because of that, my heart-rate is slowing and my unease is calming down a little bit. I find that I can motivate myself to dive into some of these tasks that are required of me, so we can get everything to fit on that little trailer, or in our roof-top carrier. And pretty much everything is replaceable. And I extrapolated from that saying, stretching it just a little bit, to say, “If that thing you are pondering, that item that you need to either pack or toss is not good, or a necessity, get rid of it.” Not that things are from Satan! A silly extra set of pots and pans my grandmother left for me are not inherently evil, but I need to let go of the extra “stuff” in my life to live more simply and more directly with God….God should be all that I need. If I was really good at this, maybe we could use a smaller trailer, but I think that purging down 30 years into 14 feet is pretty darn good!! And I am at peace with working all this out in my mind, trying to maintain the peace I felt at our original decision and to not allow all these details to bog me down. Like I said, part of the stress is the getting us from here to there….once there, life will be sweet yet again. And there is a huge lesson in that, as well.
Our lives are made up of the twists and turns in our journey. It is not so much the end point that matters (well, except that we intend to end in Heaven and Sanctification with God) but how we approach it and the way in which we choose to get there; the goal is Heaven. Period. The twists and turns created by the choices I have been given, and the decisions I have made when faced with those choices, those determine the outcome of my journey towards God. Even packing up a house and moving it 2600+ miles can be a religious exercise, if given to God, and if we allow it to be. It can be an incredible opportunity to choose to grow stronger in humility and obedience; stronger in faith and love, if we offer all of it to God. If we offer the work of each day to Our Lord in a spirit of humility and obedience, we dignify the work of man, and God accepts our efforts, resulting in peace and love flooding our hearts. So I choose to allow these sleepless nights, these moments of mental packing and panicking, let me grow in my spiritual life; to mature my love for God. He is teaching me. Just the other day, our oldest son said, “Mom, God is working and I can feel it.” What an incredible thing for our son to say. God is, indeed, working in our lives, and I can feel it, too.