Last week my two-year-old taught me a profound lesson, as our little offspring tend to do. In an effort to get Milo to fall asleep, I laid down next to him, closed my eyes, and pretended to be snoozing. Milo is convinced that if there is even a sliver of light creeping through the blinds then it can’t possibly be nighttime (it was 8:20 PM). Despite his continuous jabbering, bouncing, and climbing all over me, I nearly fell asleep for real (because I was just that tired).
Then, perhaps in a final effort to get my attention, Milo got about an inch away from my face and shouted, “TURN ON YOUR EYES, MOM!”
Yes, I know he was just trying to wake me up, but those five words contained a powerful sermon that I desperately needed to hear. Milo’s demanding little phrase suggested this need for an attitude shift and it was, quite literally, the wake up call I needed.
Things have been hard and uncomfortable lately. It seems every genre of hardship—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—has been applied simultaneously to my life. When things feel overwhelming and hopeless, I tend to view my circumstances like I might my face in one of those horrific magnifying mirrors that highlight every single flaw. You know what I’m talking about. The ones that make your pores look enormous and draw attention to blemishes you didn’t even know you had. Until Milo’s tutelage, what was “wrong” about my life slipped into the foreground and I became utterly blind to the countless blessings God is merciful enough to grant.
But this past week, per Milo’s request, I have “turned on my eyes.”
And the scene before me is truly something breathtaking.
I’ve turned on my eyes to the truths I was blessed to find early in life—the very answers to the questions of the soul that so many spend a lifetime seeking.
I’ve turned on my eyes to the knowledge that I can be freed from all pain and guilt because the Savior of the World gave His life for me. I’ve turned on my eyes and opened my heart to His mercy and all-encompassing love.
I’ve turned on my eyes to the comforting truth that when I feel alone or when I need answers to the most difficult of questions, I can speak to my all-knowing Father in Heaven. I’ve turned on my eyes to the assurance that though He may not immediately remove a trial, He will always offer peace.
I’ve turned on my eyes to the needs and suffering of those around me, and as I’ve shed my selfish skin long enough to reach out in sympathy and love, I’ve found healing.
I’ve turned on my eyes to the fact that every experience in this mortal journey, even the bad (perhaps especially the bad), has a grand purpose.
I’ve turned on my eyes (and ears) to the way Milo belly laughs when you pretend to eat his toes. I’ve turned on my eyes to how lucky I am to raise this little person bursting with life and spirit and enthusiasm for the most simple of things. I’ve turned on my eyes to the sobering truth that he won’t be this little forever and that I need enjoy every moment while I can.
I’ve turned on my eyes to the pure goodness radiating from my husband. I’ve turned on my eyes to the covenants we made years ago that bond us eternally.
I’ve turned on my eyes to what future happiness awaits, including this little baby boy inside of me who will join our family next month.
I’ve turned on my eyes to the promise that the relationships that make this life meaningful can last forever.
And that all suffering, sorrow, and pain will permanently end.
Too often I fall into this trap of living my life as if it were unextraordinary, when really the Plan of Happiness is at my fingertips. When I see the world around me through a lens of gratitude, everything changes even when nothing changes.
Gratitude and joy are synonymous.
I don’t think it’s so much about God wanting credit for all that He does for us. I think it is more so about a perfect Father who yearns for His children to be happy—really truly happy despite the bad, the sad, and the ugly that inevitably come.
President Nelson has said, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”
I think our dear prophet is, in essence, telling us to TURN ON OUR EYES.
It is empowering to live life this way. It makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning, and not just because I’ve got this pregnant bladder working overtime. The notion that our children teach us far more than we will ever teach them is the oldest cliche in the book, but it’s the truth. So thanks be to Milo for teaching me to turn on my eyes and really see the blessings and miracles that are mine for the taking.