I have occasionally mused in a Marriott: Tokyo, New York City, Honolulu, London, Paris, Orlando, Washington D.C., St. Thomas.....
You see, last year (a typical year in this regard), my honey-man spent 180 nights in a Marriott. That’s 180 days out of 220 work days. As exotic or luxurious as that may sound to some, the reality is that a hotel room is a cold place. It’s unfamiliar. It’s lonely. It’s too quiet. It’s not home.
The pain involved in our good-byes has never eased. I am traumatized every single time. It has been over eleven years of airport runs, love letter emails, and panicked-mommy text messages. It’s sleepless nights when I know he’s flying over the Atlantic. It’s clutching his pillow while I cry over romantic movies. It’s hiding in the closet to bury my face in his shirts.
Reunions are sweet to be sure, but I would gladly trade passionate kisses at baggage claim for the mundane-morning type.
However, my journals are full of family adventures, hither and yon, because of our daddy’s miles and points; experiences we never would have had otherwise. They are part of our family treasure-trove and have contributed to who we are. In a very real sense, these opportunities to travel and learn from our travels have also been opportunities to strengthen our family through shared memory. And this, in some measure, compensates us for Dale’s absences.
The concept of compensatory blessings came to me this week as I waited for Dale to finish his Seattle business meetings. Marveling at our beautiful room, I wandered to the picture window framing the Puget Sound. The sky was spectacularly blue – a rare March phenomenon. Knowing we would be riding the ferry later that afternoon and strolling through Pike Place Market, I could hardly believe the charmed weather. But even if the day turned gray and damp, being with Dale was tender mercy enough.
As I opened the sliding glass door to the balcony and inhaled the sea air (my favorite smell in the whole world), I tried to remember Elder Scott’s landmark talk on JOY ("Finding Joy in Life"). I knew there was something in there that articulated what I was thinking. He said:
“Simple, rejuvenating experiences surround us. They can be safety valves to keep the tension down and the spirit up. Don’t concentrate on what you don’t have or have lost. The Lord promised the obedient to share all that He possesses with them. You may temporarily lack here, but in the next life, if you prove yourself worthy by living valiantly, a fullness will be your blessing.”
This train of thought prompted me to make a mental list of the “imperfect” situations in my life; desirable or ideal circumstances that I “don’t have, or have lost.” These are conditions I endure (or have endured) because they just are. And I am sad when I think of them. Usually.
On this morning however, as I watched sailboats and barges from the hotel balcony, I felt something different. A gust of wind blew my curly hair into tangled ribbons, but I stood still, feeling the Spirit organize and crystallize my thoughts.
Yes, you have a daughter with severe disabilities, but she is precious, you have learned so much, and God sent you another daughter who has been your closest ally in that struggle. Yes, you were not reared in an active-member home, but your testimony is actually the stronger for it, and God gave you a loving ward who taught you what you needed to know. It’s true that family members do not embrace the gospel, but you better comprehend charity and God presented you with in-law and extended family who are valiant and exemplary.
And so it went: the listing of compensatory blessings in my life just piled up until I wept.
Elder Scott: “Find the compensatory blessings in your life when, in the wisdom of the Lord, He deprives you of something you very much want. To the sightless or hearing impaired, He sharpens the other senses. To the ill, He gives patience, understanding, and increased appreciation for others’ kindness. With the loss of a dear one, He deepens the bonds of love, enriches memories, and kindles hope in a future reunion. You will discover compensatory blessings when you willingly accept the will of the Lord and exercise faith in Him.”
As the breeze grew colder, I decided to retreat inside. And what an “inside” it was! Because of Dale’s “status” with Marriott, management had surprised us with a complimentary “upgrade”. It was beyond delightful when we discovered our electronic key opened the double doors to Room 736: The Presidential Suite!
Though our family situations are not ideal, though our righteous ambitions seem impossible now, though rewards enjoyed by others appear to have passed us by, the Lord promises that the faithful will enjoy the ultimate “upgrade”: a “place in the mansions” of our Father. (Ether 12:37) Omniscient forces are constantly at work, turning our imperfect circumstances into "perfecting" experiences. (Romans 8:28)
And don’t you know a celestial mansion trumps any Marriott!
Muse with me: what compensatory blessings do you see in your life?
Tour the Presidential Suite....