This weekend my family had the precious opportunity to have a family reunion at a ranch in Idaho. We were pretty much unplugged from the world. No 4G, no cell service. Living as we do it is eerie to be unattached from everything that is happening all over the world. But as eerie as it is, it was refreshing. The beauty of the area we were nestled in was the definition of breathtaking.
On Sunday night we gathered as a family. My family have all lost two grandpas in the last year. My grandma’s husband, my Grandpa Jensen, and our Grandpa Anderson. Both were in my life my entire life up until this point, and both will remain in my heart forever and ever. That Sunday night we sat and reminisced about these two wonderful men.
My Grandpa Jensen passed away last June. He was a wonderful man. So kind and loving. I remember him saying “I love you a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck.” Going to his house was like Halloween because you could never leave without having eaten your weight in candy. He told wonderful stories and played amazing songs on the organ. His spirit was tangible. I knew he had a relationship with God. I miss him. I think about him a lot.
To say Grandpa Anderson was a wonderful man is more than an understatement. But honestly words can’t adequately describe the kind of man he was. He was all about the outdoors. I remember how he taught me to roast Pillsbury crescent rolls over a fire. He was a simple man, but the stories he told always put me in awe. He was a master storyteller. His heart was probably one of the kindest and sweetest on the planet. And his love for God was the most beautiful thing about him. I love that man so much. When life gets hard I just turn my eyes to Heaven and find myself talking to him. On more than one occasion since his passing I have felt him sitting near me.
Reminiscing over these amazing men yanked on my heartstrings. I have been blessed immensely to have them in my life. There was nothing bad to say about them. They left their mark on the world, and though to them it may have seemed insignificant or small to them it was truly larger than life to all of us.
After we ended our little fireside I got lost in thought. To have been touched by such wonderful men really made me think about my impact on others around me. What kind of effect am I having?
I got kind of down on myself a bit after thinking about this. I felt like I could never live up to the standards my family and ancestors have set with their examples. The way they lived refined and defined who they are. How could anything I am doing possibly make mention of who I am and will be in my life?
While I really love my life, life often makes us look at it through self-deprecating lenses. It’s hard at times to get past that. And it makes it hard to realize the good you’re doing. For a few hours after our little fireside I struggled trying to figure out who I was and what kind of person I’d really like to be. Looking back I realize how toxic it is to define yourself by what you aren’t doing.
One of my favorite quotes is by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
“This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation–worlds without end–within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.”
After much reflection and prayer the last few days I have come to realize that God has given us a gift for greatness. Not the greatness that so much of the world sees. It’s not about the grandeur of being renowned and adored. It is a greatness that is so special and specific to each of us that it takes a lifetime to discover.
I think both of my grandpas understood that. They were common men, and yet my whole family thought them to be some of the greatest men that ever lived. I am certain they had times in their lives where they didn’t know if they were good enough, or if they were doing all they can. But I think through their lives they realized that God had bigger plans for them than they had for themselves. And it was because they lived humbly and kindly that they discovered that.
I am unbelievably grateful for my grandpas and their examples to me. If I could do anything with my life, it would be to love like they did. And honestly, I am beginning to realize how it really will likely take a lifetime to get there. And I don’t mind so much anymore. If that journey was good enough for my dear grandpas, it is good enough for me.