Last week was a sad one for me. A woman who had been a great friend and close family member passed away. I don’t blame her, though. She was 91 years old and ready to go. Her husband had been gone seven years and she was tired. I’m sure the welcoming of her arrival into the next world was a happy one. It’s those whom she left behind who suffer from her departure.
This cousin of mine was an angel. Besides sending Christmas cards every year, she always sent me a birthday card and an anniversary card when I had one. She had nine children herself and much to do in her busy life but she took the time to write not only me but many others. She is one of the nicest people I have ever known.
In 2002, the Steimle family got together for a reunion in an old pioneer town where our ancestors had traveled through as pioneers called Nauvoo in Illinois. It was built right on the banks of the Mississippi River. We all pitched in to rent the old Nauvoo house, (as it is called) where we all stayed for the week. In the room famously known as Emma Smith’s bedroom, some of the women visited each other. We talked for a while and then this cousin gave me a nice bath towel of her own to give to my son, Isaac for his mission.
Heaven received a great angel the day she passed and she will have so many wonderful family members to greet her including her husband, Frank. We had a connection as we both had 9 children and lived a similar life. I consider her life exemplary. She had a high moral character and I would love to be more like her.
We all have our modern heroes after which we would love to pattern our lives. I read quite a few blog posts from all over the world. And I am amazed at the life stories of so many good people; people with great character. One in particular stuck out in my mind. It’s about a Mom who lives in China. She is an American who is there with her husband and children (also a Steimle cousin) for employment and I just loved what she had to say about raising children and motherhood.
“Here’s how it goes…. I read a parenting book. I vow to be kinder and more patient with my kids. Then something happens where my expectations are not met, and I’m tired and overwhelmed by something else, and my emotion gets the better of me. I do or say something unkind. And then I get upset at myself. And after a few days of this scenario happening, again and again, I give up, thinking I’m just not capable of being the kind and patient Mom I want to be.”
I have felt this way many times. I’m motivated to be kinder and not so emotional with my children. But then I get overwhelmed and all my plans go out the window. I’m sure my just-recently-passed-away cousin had that part of mothering under control. It showed through in the way she cared about others even when her own life was busy. But I feel that I’m not alone in trying to improve the virtues of life while using my motherly influence over my children. I think many mothers could relate to this same situation.
Church leader, David Bednar, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), talks about how we can recognize a Christ-like character:
“Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering; in the ability to detect the hunger of others when we are hungry; and in the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress.
Thus, Character is demonstrated by looking and reaching outward when the natural and instinctive response is to be self-absorbed and turn inward. If such a capacity is indeed the ultimate criterion of moral character, then the Savior of the world is the perfect example of such a consistent and charitable character.”
This kind of understanding for our fellow men is a challenge at times, especially when we are dealing with difficulties. Looking outside ourselves is the ultimate in unselfishness and the example which Christ has given us will always be a shining ray of hope. Especially for me when I need to think of others more than myself. Just like my angel cousin.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.