Sunday, January 26, 2014

Spiritual Sunday - My life is like a bag of Skittles

It's been a while since I've done a Spiritual Sunday post.  In fact, the last one was almost a whole year ago!  What the crap!  I'm a slacker and need to be better.  Certainly not a lack of spirituality in my life, but as I was digging back, it's clear that I'm just not writing near as much as I used to.  I blog as my journal so that someday my kids, grandkids, great grandkids can have a glimpse into me, my thoughts and my personality.  I stay public so that if someone along the way can enjoy, learn, or have giggle at my scribbles, then okay.  Based on how long it took me to find the last spiritual post, I do indeed, need to write more.

But I digress.

According to the training plan my coach put together for me, I had 11 miles on the agenda for Saturday.  I layered up, filled my hand held water bottle, packed some Gu, and since I discovered that Pandora sucks all the data plan on my phone, threw my ipod in my pocket, my headphones on and last but not least, my uber cool pollution mask.  Not even a mile into my run, it was clear something was wrong with the ipod and the music was all jumbled and sounded more like static.  Crap.   I decided I couldn't deal with that for two hours and instead was going to be stuck with the thoughts in my own head.  It's been awhile since I've run with no music but really, I think it's a good thing to be doing every so often.  Good as a runner to concentrate on breathing, cadence, and form.  Good as a human being because we can just.......think.

A facebook comment came to mind posted from a good friend who, after I had expressed a hard day with another to follow, offered to pre sort my skittles so they would be ready for me to eat.  I smiled, even giggled a little and replied thanking him for the offer, but that would defeat my main purpose in eating skittles.

So how is life like a bag of Skittles?  What's the point mCat, you take forever to get there! Well hang on, I've gotta give a little back history first.

I love Skittles.  Any kind of Skittles.  They have so many variations available now, that I never get sick of them.  In fact, I found a NEW one, the Desserts Skittles.  Huzzah!

My approach to eating Skittles is very particular and has been my entire life.  If I have a single serving bag, the bag gets dumped out so that all the colors are jumbled together.

I then proceed to enjoy them by sorting and eating by color.  However, I don't first sort them all and arrange them into their color groups, I leave the jumbled mess and carefully pick two of the same color (the one I am starting with) and enjoy them.  When that mouthful is done, I repeat.  Again never adjusting the jumbled mess that flew out of the package.  Just sorting out of the mess.

Life is often the jumbled rainbow that flies out of the package.  It's up to me to decide how to approach that mess.  Each color is a different experience in our mortality.  Some colors are more delightful tasting than others.  Some are just necessary flavors to be dealt with in order to complete the process.  Some experiences in mortality are sheer joys.  Happiness in our children, our families, our faith's, our friends, our hobbies etc.  Other experiences are the exact opposite:  heartache, sadness, loneliness, loss of the Spirit, hopelessness, tragedy etc.  I can no more throw away the less desirable Skittles than I can ignore the hard challenges of life.  It would skew my whole process into tackling that chaos and leaving me feeling like I didn't complete the job I was given when I chose to open that package of Skittles.  I would feel like things were left undone.  I would have started a job, and then when it got distasteful, I would have quit.  As in life, we have to accept and take the less tasty parts of the package just as much as we do our favorite flavors.

My sorting process does not go by flavor as many would think.  I am a strict one when it comes to this.  It goes by color.  More exactly, by rainbow color.  Lightest to darkest.  It doesn't matter what version of Skittles I have, it's going to be the same.  Lightest to darkest.  Regardless of taste.  So often, I may start with something not as yummy and end with pure delight.  Sometimes vice versa.  Most of the time, it's a mixture.  Some good, then we move to a different color, maybe not as tasty, then on to another color and it's back to yummyness again.  Isn't life so like that?  We have up's, we have down's we have good, we have bad and it's generally a roller coaster with variations inbetween.   Sometimes we even have trials that are downright heart rending.  They knock us to our knees, sometimes into a fetal position, and usually crying for help and relief.  It's a distasteful Skittle.  But in order to get back to the good flavors, we have to chew 'em, swallow and get through them.  And please don't misunderstand me and feel like I am making light of those challenges.  Lord knows, I have had my share.  I've been in the fetal position, burrowed under my covers, and begging for the distasteful Skittles to be gone (all while still in the chewing and swallowing of them process).

Sometimes the flavors end up getting intermingled.  I eat by twos.  But if I'm down to one yellow, I then pair it with one of the next color.  Sometimes that next color is my least favorite so I've got some yum with yuck.  Life hands us opportunities to find the good in every trial.  To savor the blessings that come from adversity.  To taste a new flavor combination (experience) that adds to our adventure here in mortality.  It's all part of the package.

When I open a bag of Skittles and dump them out, I have no idea how they're gonna land.  I don't know what mixture I'll be looking at, but I do have control over how I eat and enjoy them.  Such is life.  We have no idea what we are going to be handed.  But we have every bit of control and ability in how we handle the jumbled "chaos" that is ours.  For me, using an approach of order works best.  Creating structure is soothing.  It establishes a clear path in my brain and soul that allows me to tackle each experience with a plan.  I can go through each day knowing that there is going to be good and bad.  Sometimes the good lasts for a long time.  Sometimes the hard trials feel like they are forever, but in looking at the package of Skittles laid out before me, I know that if I just hang on, keep plowing through them, they'll be done and I can move on to the next color.

Mortality is hard.  It is meant to be.  We are here to learn, be tested, prove our loyalty to our Savior, serve others, and show that we will choose righteousness.  But it doesn't have to all be distasteful.  We also are blessed to have so much happiness surrounding us.  We just have to look for it, acknowledge it, and then soak it up for all it's worth knowing that inevitably we are going to move to another color (stage of life/experience) that won't be as enjoyable.   In the end, all of them are meant for our good.

One day my little mini schnauzer who NEVER gets into trouble, happened to be left alone for a long period of time and managed to get into an open package of skittles that had not been dumped out to enjoy yet.  I only knew what had happened by the rainbow colored vomit on my stairs.  Bless her heart, she was sick.  Her momentary delight in a treat that is forbidden from her ended up badly.  As much as I cleaned, scrubbed, soaked and then scrubbed some more,  there is a red stain on my stairs that I alone cannot remove.  One stair to be more exact.  The rest of my stairs are fine, just that one that is evidence of a very poor choice made by my four legged child.

There is where the Atonement steps in.  We are promised by our Savior that with repentance and doing all we can to fix our mistakes, He will step in and make up the difference.  I've done all I can do with that stain.  The only way to have the eyesore completely gone is to replace the carpet.  I'm going to have to call in a professional, rip out the old and have the pro lay some brand new beautiful carpet down.  When the Savior atones for us, it's much the same.  After we do all we can possibly do in our power, He comes in and removes it from us.  However, we have to call upon Him.  A carpet man isn't going to magically show up at my door with tools and new carpet.  I'm going to have to be ready to suck it up and pay the price to have it done.  I've done my part, the stain has served as a reminder for many years now.  When I'm ready I can then allow the healing power of the Atonement do it's job.  For each of us, the process may be on a different time table.  Someone else might not have been willing to live with that stain and immediately replace the carpet.  Others might even be okay to just leave it and after awhile not even notice it any more.  The important thing to remember is that the stain CAN be removed when we are willing and able to.  As with any trial, mistake, sin, challenge, or heartache in life, the Atonement of the Savior is available and will heal when it's time.

So to my dear friend who offered to pre-sort my Skittles for me:  I thank you again for the offer, but as you can see, it would take away my experience of the process and in the end I would be shortchanged and would have missed the opportunities that the sorting allows.

I often call my process of Skittles the "sort-n-soothe".  It IS soothing somehow in my head and heart to go through the steps that I outlined.  Why?  Is it because I can take a jumbled mess and make some kind of order and control of it?  Most likely.  I think that's what most of us yearn for in life.  Some sort of control of the chaos that surrounds us.  It's not always going to be as easy as opening a package of Skittles and eating by color, but I testify that when we follow the order the Savior has outlined for us (the commandments, the scriptures, the words of the prophets both of old and the living and staying close to Him) it does make the package doable.  We can look over the jumbled colors and start slowly, color by color until we're done. We can take each color as it comes, find enjoyment where we can, endure where we must, and learn from unanticipated mixtures we are sure to encounter.  We can know that no matter how distasteful a particular color may be, we won't throw it away because it would leave our experience incomplete.

And when our package of Skittles is completly consumed.  We can know we did our best, we tackled them all, we put in every effort at every color phase we encountered and can rest assured that even if a mishap occurred along the way and a stain may have resulted, our Savior's Atonement will fix and cover everything, even after we have done all we can.

Of this, I know.  I know first hand.  I know it on a very personal basis.  It's something that I will know forever and only hope to live in such a way that I can help others to know it too.  It's not just something I believe.

I.  Know.  It.


Kristin Klein said...

That was really excellent - I like how all the colors get eaten at one time or another, we have to pass through each experience in this life to become what we were meant to become. Pretty profound those Skittles :)


Shantel said...

This is Fab! Thank you!

Richard A. Costigan said...

Thank you very much for your insights... i now know it also... and i am not alone...

Pedaling said...

a personal and very creative explanation and testimony to which I want to add my own..... I. Know. It.

tammy said...

I will always think of this whenever I see a bag of Skittles now.

Michele said...

I love this analogy and would like to share your story at our girls camp this summer with your permission of course. I will be reminded of this every time I see or eat skittles now. I may even have to adopt your way of eating them! Thanks so much for sharing.

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

Leave it to you to make me cry over Skittles.

I just love you.

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

Leave it to you to make me cry over Skittles.

I just love you.

DesertHen said...

I will never look at a bag of skittles the same way ever again.

I needed to read this today! Thank you!

karen said...

I like your analogy. I will come sit in your Sunday School class anytime. *can we eat Skittles?*