I will be the first to admit that I resemble Veruca Salt in far more ways that I would like. I often forget to be grateful. I focus on what I don't have and not what I do have. I often get so focused on not having the job I want now that I forget how blessed I am to be employed at all, and to be able to mostly support myself on the wages from that job. I also have the opportunity to occasionally substitute at a middle school, which is great. But I focus on what I don't have that I want.
Lately, I've had trouble of a different sort. I've started not to be able to celebrate others' successes. I see people moving forward in their lives through a myriad of ways like career advancement, marriage, having children, buying houses, etc. and it is getting increasingly difficult to wish them well in their happiness. Some of it is the envy that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke of in his talk in General Conference this month. Some of it is simply feeling left behind. It has been fifteen years since I graduated from high school, ten since I graduated from BYU. I've watched successive generations of friends move on with their lives that I still haven't. They have careers, families, foundations. I'm still working dead-end jobs that have nothing to do with my degrees, single, and nomadic as ever. I've learned that my friends' successes, while amazing for them, mean a separation for me. Our friendships don't end, but they move on, move forward, move away, move into demanding spheres of responsibility that have less room for me. Our lives simply don't overlap as much. And while their moving forward brings them into contact with a widening social circle, mine seems to shrink and require me to go out and work to build new friendships. None of this is bad, but it is difficult and somewhat lonely. I'm not an extremely social person by nature, so I find the work it takes to build new relationships rather exhausting and not a little unfair.
This is where my Veruca Salt-ness directly confronts my faith. Do I believe in the blessings of eternal life? Most definitely. I'm grateful for it everyday. I'm grateful for it every time I think of my mother, every time I wish I could her on the phone, every time I think of my grandparents and aunts and uncles who are no longer with us. I'm grateful when I think of my brother, when I see my niece's disappearing scar from open heart surgery, when I think of my nephew who will be joining our family this summer. That is not in question. Rather, do I have the faith to endure if all the blessings I want in my life don't come until eternity? I was reading in Isaiah today during the Sacrament and came across this verse in chapter 51:
For the shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the of the ; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
These words are full of comfort to those in midst of figurative and literal waste places, wildernesses, and deserts. They are to inspire hope. As I pondered them, my Veruca Salt-ness came raging back, asking if I was prepared to wander in those waste places, wildernesses or deserts if the blessings I want don't come til eternity. I want to say yes. I want to conquer my inner Veruca. I want to be grateful for everything in my life, not just focused on what I don't have. Yet there are days when I can't help but envision a future of watching my friends and loved ones move forward and, often, away while I am consigned to watch like a starving Dickensian orphan peering through a window at a Christmas feast. And that just seems impossibly hard.