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House of Cards

By Justine Dorton

Back in college, I’m sure there were sad and terrible things that happened around me; I was oblivious to it. I was filled with what many bitterly call the “arrogance of youth”. I saw pain and suffering from a well-buffered distance. A girl in our apartment complex was killed in a car accident, and I saw the unfolding sadness with a detached regret that I didn’t know her better, but mostly I somehow felt buoyed by the feeling that, “Whew. It’s a good thing I’m me, because things like that don’t happen to me.” The greatest loss I’d had in my life was the loss of a grandfather that I had met four or five times in my childhood.

I married a year or two after college, had healthy children, a supportive spouse, and continued to live in my bubble. Somehow, life’s most painful lessons evaded me (or I evaded them, so I thought).

Then 2008 came. It doesn’t matter what the details are, because the details are only dressing on the story of everyone’s lives. I was forced to realize, as 2008 came to a close, that I’m standing in front of a large pile of cards precipitously clinging to each other as they soar to the sky. Oh sure, several smaller cards have been knocked over during the last 38 years of my life, but I’m now wondering how many more can be taken out before the entire structure collapses. This delicate structure has certainly been with me my whole life; it’s only now that I’ve noticed it, emerging from a self-induced fog of denial. As I face down the reality that I am actually getting older, I’m actually susceptible to diseases, people I love are actually dying, I wonder how it was that I lasted this long with the comfy illusion that bad things happened to other people.

And the pace seems to be speeding up. Cards are starting to waver all over my house. It’s as if I’ve noticed this house of cards just moments before the entire structure gets picked up by the wind and tossed in my face.

People I love are crying themselves to sleep every night because of divorce, death, disease, loss. I am facing my own set of circumstances that I’m sure I didn’t believe could happen to me. We’re all facing the reality of a life we didn’t plan, pain we didn’t want, bodies that didn’t listen to our best laid ideals for them.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to realize that I am not immune to the realities of passing through this life. Perhaps I thought I was strong enough to learn life’s lessons without being actually touched by life’s lessons.

My blinders are off.

My fragile house is still standing, but the wind is picking up. I’m glad I can see it. It’s more gratifying to smile at this faulty structure that wobbles before me than it is to smile in the face of nothing.

And smile is exactly what I’m going to keep doing. Smiling seems to calm the wind and stop the trembling cards just a bit.

How’s your fragile house? Have you noticed it yet? What did it take to bring it out of the fog? And most importantly, are you still smiling?

About Justine Dorton

Justine is a mother to five children, and has a husband lodged somewhere (probably in the den). She is not very fond of speaking of herself in third person.

43 thoughts on “House of Cards”

  1. Great post Justine. I used to hear myself saying "My life's a cake walk," feeling so blessed to have escaped tragedy and woe. And then one day I stopped and took stock of the pain and losses that had really been with me since childhood (which are simply the details of my life) and I realized that smile was the thing that let me see a cake walk when I was on just as mortal a path as those around me.

    I'm bent on keeping the smile, no matter what. I recognize it's a gift from God and it's probably one of my favorites of his gifts to me.

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  2. i lived in that bubble too, and then my first year of marriage had a car stolen, two miscarriages, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer. it was a good but very thing to have a reality check like that. but life goes on, and it isn't a deck of cards that falls. life is just richer and deeper and harder and sadder and more joyful as you gain experience and then empathy for others.

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  3. Lovely post, Justine. And can I just tell you how much I love that you keep smiling?

    Because of a series of unfortunate events in my early life, including the deaths of my beloved grandmother, my father, and my oldest brother all in one year, I've always been very much aware of the precariousness and fragility of life. I'm always pretty much sure that bad things *will* happen to me, and I'm surprised (pleasantly so) when they don't.

    Here's the deal though. No matter how high or how shaky our house of cards, if it's built on the solid foundation of the rock of Christ, we will be okay, because even if it all comes tumbling down, that foundation will save us. It will be our anchor, our mooring, our stronghold, our safe refuge from the storm. A mighty fortress is our God.

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  4. "Perhaps I thought I was strong enough to learn life’s lessons without being actually touched by life’s lessons."
    I'm very intrigued by this statement. And so curious about what your thoughts are about it now–after facing some of life's toughest. Why do you think these are given? Do you think God's in charge of handing them out?

    I really love this post…and for myself? I've faced my difficulties FIRST with a sense of humor then faith, rebellion, I look for what it is teaching me, acceptance, and renewal.
    I guess, if I'm being honest, when one more thing comes along to teach me…I smile on the outside, struggle on the inside, until I can find a good balance to deal with it.

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  5. At this point I now notice the calm before the storm. When everything is going smoothly, I try to sit back and enjoy. I try to give a little more service because I have the physical and emotional energy to. I know that at any point we could be hit with another challenge.
    Sometimes we are the before picture, sometimes the after picture. At some point, the after picture is a happy place and it becomes a before picture, before the next challenge.

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  6. b., I think I've always thought I'm just clever enough to figure out everything there is to figure out without having to suffer in any way. Silly, huh? And I don't know that the Lord hand-picked every hard thing in my life, or if He created a world where chaos happens so we could just roll with the punches as they came. I'm more inclined toward the second because it feels more 'organic', and less 'micro-manager'.

    And I think the only thing that allows me to smile through it is my faith, Sharlee. You're dead on. I think B.'s right, too: smile on the outside while you're figuring it out on the inside. I know you're there, dalene, and I love you for it!

    Anita, I love what you said about living a rich life. I think I've felt more deeply now that my blinders are off. I've lived a richer life because I've now felt more at the extremes. It's made happiness better.

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  7. I love this post Justine. I lived in a bubble for quite a while myself, and when the bubble burst (oh, and how it burst!) I realized that EVERYONE has something crappy and hard they have to deal with EVERY DAY. It's made me a more compassionate person (some days…). One of the things I've struggled with is the feeling that I somehow don't deserve this because I've served a mission, married in the temple, pay my tithing, serve in the church, etc. A hard lesson to learn has been that righteousness doesn't mean freedom from problems and the real test is to hang on to the scraps of your faith after your house of cards come tumbling down.

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  8. I lived in a house of cards down your block, I think, for many many years. Maybe I was even next door.

    I think the first time I faced a true tragedy, I kept thinking everything would quickly get better if I had enough faith, fasted enough, prayed enough, gave enough service. I thought that the Lord would do what I thought He should do, what would make a good Ensign article. He didn't do that for me.

    But he kept my house standing. He gave me strength to hold up the house and understanding to make it stronger and peace to handle the burden. It was often awful and terrible and there were times I wanted to break the whole house apart myself, but I got through it with His help. The smile? It was a gift from His grace.

    And I'm still smiling. It's easier now. I'm in the middle of an oasis. Life does get easier sometimes. I wasn't sure it would, but it has, and I am trying to be grateful for that every day.

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  9. I love all of these thoughts. The rug was pulled out from under me in my mid-teens with my parents divorce and the subsequent spiritual and emotional wrestling with my faith and family. Although I wouldn't wish those experiences on anyone, I can see how crucially necessary they were in making me grow. That's the purpose of life, otherwise it's just a waste of time, right?

    I have come to believe that, while God is loving and attentive, His purposes for us are much bigger than a life of comfort and ease. He cares more that we become the best version of ourselves than that we get what we want. And sometimes that hurts.

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  10. Kerri, I sometimes listen to the darling newly married couples in our ward, and they bear these great testimonies of trials in their lives that were resolved after a 'whole week of really hard stuff'. I remember so clearly watching each episode of my life wrap up so neatly and nicely into a lovely Ensign article.

    And now, as I (we all) face down realities that involve phrases like, "for the rest of your life", my smile has been sorely tried. Still hanging on though!

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  11. Why do I keep smiling?

    Because my non-active husband still loves me and cares for me. I'm so blessed because of him. The world may be crap almost all the time, but I have that bright, shining ray of hope, my husband. It may sound corny, but he is the one thin in my life that keeps it all together.

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  12. I loved this Justine.

    My experiences are similar to Sharlee's– I saw so much pain as a child that I am always, shocked, AMAZED! when the worst doesn't happen to me. But that hasn't always been a good thing– only in adulthood did I realize that EVERYONE has struggles. Sometimes I lack compassion.

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  13. I remember watching the ball drop in New York on New Year's Eve 2006 turning to 2007, and just breaking down in tears. I was absolutely terrified of what would happen in 2007 and felt sure that it was going to be much bigger than I could handle.

    I'm still standing though. A big part of my house did get knocked down, but with faith in God and the help of others, the house got built again better and stronger than it was before. I'm grateful that part got knocked down, I didn't like how it looked anyway. And that's why I can still smile.

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  14. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose 🙂 ) I have never lived in such a bubble. At the tender age of 10, I met the non-discriminating face of death in the passing of my 5-year-old cousin; at 11, it was my grandmother; at 12, it was my 5-year-old brother. Several more cousins and my favorite aunt have followed over the years. At 16, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that is slowly destroying my body, for it will be with me "for the rest of my life". At 24, I was told my husband and I would never have children due to infertility.

    For a while, there was a season of peace and many blessings. Two beautiful sons came to our family through the miracle of adoption and they are sealed to us forever.

    Then 2008 came…oh, how I identify with those words, Justine. Our 3 year old had a seizure one night, completely out of the blue and with no predisposition to epilepsy, or any health problems, period. Now it is a 'good' day if he has only 25 seizures in the day.

    My point is NOT in the details; my point is that my house is still standing, but only through the grace of God and my faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. The knowledge of his Atonement is so very real to me and is the only thing that allows me to 'keep smiling' when the wind picks up.

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  15. "What did it take to bring it out of the fog?"

    Fragile – it became our new normal. We were comfortable living in the cards, at least we thought we were. We thought we'd seen everything life has to throw at us, and we were wrong. The last three years has only shown us that baby, we ain't seen nothing yet. I almost prefer the wind picking up to no breeze at all.

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  16. You beautiful women are so wise and wonderful. I remember a month or so ago, when someone saw me physically struggling and said something like, "Hope you feel better soon" or "Hope this passes soon and you can get back to normal" – something kind and innocuous, but it sent me over the moon.

    There wasn't going to be anymore normal for me, this wasn't going to pass like a cold slips away after a few days. That was a hard thing to accept.

    But it made me rely so much more on the Lord, which I suppose is the whole point of it all anyway, so I'm ok with it. If that's what it takes to make me pay attention, I'll take it. If only I was like those darned people in the B of M who were humble not because they were compelled to be humble. Darn, I wasn't that good.

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  17. My dad was 'our age' when he was a bishop and saw more first-hand and in-depth how much life is about struggle. And he coined the phrase 'to struggle is the program' — but it wasn't really until this last year that I have really started to internalize that reality.

    This last general conference has been an anchor for me…so many messages about what faith is about, and how it's often through difficult times that we can discover more about our faith, God's power, and what true, eternal happiness looks like.

    The other thing I have learned is to not be afraid to say, "It's hard" or "I need a little help." I had a significant turning point recently in part because a leader encouraged me to seek for help. It was really hard, and I felt really vulnerable, but it was important — for me and for the people I asked for help.

    The kinds of challenges that don't go away are hard because the 'healing' comes not in relief of the trial, but in strength to face it. I hope you continue to find that strength, Justine. I have caught some glimpses of that lately, and it's sweet…something that 'normal' would not have taught me.

    Is there any of us who isn't compelled to be humble at some point and in some way? I remember Elder Maxwell talking about the refining experience of his cancer. Maybe *none* of us is that good, simply because we are mortal.

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  18. Great wording on this Sharlee. I wish all our nursery kids sang the Wise Man song with the frequency of the Popcorn song. And all of us sing the Martin Luther Mighty Fortress one more often too.

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  19. So how do you trust God about your future, now? If all the promises of support seem postponed until the next life, how do you keep praying in the present?

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  20. I love this: ‘to struggle is the program’
    Another teacher I know answered complaining with the phrase: "looks like life is in session."

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  21. Justine, I have pondered several times your posts entitled "Alone," "Be Still My Soul," and "New Year's Resolution" in which you touch on your unnamed illness and your resolve to submit cheerfully to this and other challenges. (Can someone tell me how to hyperlink to these?) While you must still have awfully challenging moments in private, please know that you have succeeded many times over in sharing strength with us faceless sisters in your online community. You have witnessed repeatedly of God's goodness IN trials, and I'm sure there are many, like me, who, not knowing what to say, never commented on those blogs (and others like them) but were nevertheless touched by them.

    My mother died when I was 10. Grandma at age 12. I haven't faced a close death or illness in the last 20 years since, but the early ones were so real that I've lived for years in dread of the the "card house tumbling." I've grieved over my husband's death in imaginary form several times over (he's perfectly alive; won an intermural championship yesterday…)

    When real cards fall and people cry themselves to sleep, how do you make your smile real? Will you keep talking about this? Thanks…

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  22. Thanks for your encouragement. My house is pretty fragile right now…you couldn't tell from the outside, but the inside is just barely staying together (which makes for a great deal of silent suffering).

    I needed the smile reminder today.

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  23. This was so me! I always thought bad things happened to other people, too!
    I had even had friends tell me that. "You are the type of person that good things happen to." A very dear friend told me that in mid-October 2007, just as I was about to deliver my fourth baby. Two weeks later, he was dead. I was left to face what I never dreamed even happened anymore, the burial of a perfect, beautiful little baby. I had always been grateful that I wasn't having babies as a pioneer, because nowadays babies and moms survive birth. Usually.
    I like what you said about realizing that heart-wrenching challenges are common to us all. The details are just the "dressing." That has been a very important thing that I have learned through this. Yes, I have been agonizingly, overwhelmingly sad. But so have a lot of other people. And if they haven't yet, they surely will. It is part of why we came here. To gain experience.
    I love Elder Holland's recent CES fireside (or BYU devotional?) about Joseph Smith's Liberty Jail experience as a "temple experience." I highly recommend it.
    Thank you for this post.

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  24. I saw the house of cards when I nearly lost my hubby to a ruptured appendix. I saw it again a few years later for many different reasons. I am well aware it's there, but I try not to focus on it because if I did, I'd be paralyzed and I don't have that option as a mom. I'm not saying it's denial, more like trying not to live in fear. I try to remember to be grateful to God for everything, and I hold my breath so as not to disturb the house of cards and I keep going on as if it was more solid.

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  25. The first time my mom got cancer was no big deal.

    The second time my mom got cancer and I laid off half of my employees in the same month (unrelated but also emotionally devastating,) I saw the house of cards.

    And to tell you the truth, I'm still kind of picking them up; it's all felt fragile ever since.

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  26. My husband has lived with a house of cards ever since he was a child, dealing with the ever-present reality of his mother's potential death from diabetes-related complications. It has been good for me to learn from his be-prepared-for-your-world-to-totally-change perspective.

    I love you, Justine!

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  27. I don't know what or how to feel about God's role in all of this…I just know my life isn't anything like I was taught in primary or even my RS lessons today. I have to make sense of things the best way I can.
    What the Lord DOES and HAS DONE for me is much like has been said before…He takes care of my kids when I've fallen short, He's placed people in my life that have made all the difference, He's shown me small glimpses of understanding that carry me through the current crisis…and most of all…if I was given an opportunity to trade what I have learned through divorce, poverty, abuse in its worst form, car accidents, death, addiction….if it really came down to trading…I wouldn't.
    At my very core (doesn't mean I don't whine about it)…I believe it is all (I'm coming up empty on words) imperative to my eternal glory. I don't know if that comes across right, but…there ya go.

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  28. Shalissa, I have to smile. There is a part of me that can't bear the idea of not enjoying my life. So in that sense, I am feeling genuine. Maybe it's stoicism, but laughing and smiling through everything makes it easier for me. So while the smile might be compelled in the beginning, it isn't forced for long. I see so many unhappy people around me and it makes me feel so badly that there isn't any joy in their life.

    I've realized that since every one of us is suffering, we all have reason to be grumpy. But how horrible would that be if everyone was crotchety all the time? That alone keeps me smiling – knowing that I'm choosing to do so in the face of my stupid trials. So, I guess it's selfish – I want everyone to buck up and give each other hugs instead of wallowing. We've all got excuses to wallow, so let's just get through this together instead of yelling at each other. And in my sick and twisted way, if I come across someone who is particularly grumpy, it makes me smile all the more, trying to cheer them up and reminding me that I don't want to be that miserable. It's ultimately almost the only thing I have any control over, so I'm going to seize it.

    President Hinckley said that the purpose of man is to have joy – I believe him so wholeheartedly that I reach as far as I must to have it.

    Wondering – I trust God because He has given me reason to trust Him over and over. I have witnessed His mercy and love for me, even in the small details of my life. I have, on occasion, not trusted in Him and felt the consequence of it. I have to remind myself of these experiences sometimes to keep myself afloat, but thankfully, I have them to treasure.

    B., I wish I knew the answer. You bring up a painful issue – the Lord's direct role in our suffering. I'm quite certain I've brought on plenty of my own suffering, but there are so many trials we deal with that we have little to no control over. All I know is that, whatever the cause of them, the Lord does heal me – spiritually and emotionally and even physically sometimes. But I've got to remind myself of the perspective I don't have. And I know it's imperative for me.

    I would cease to be who I am if I stopped smiling. I feel it is a part of me that I cannot extricate.

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  29. I too have always lived in a house of cards; which is even more disconcerting when you realize as a child that you can't even touch the cards, they are in your parents hands. We moved around a lot and my Dad was not happy very often- I think that is the best way to summarize it. I longed to grow up so I could make my life what I wanted it to be, to get my hands on those cards! Now I know all too well that even if the cards are in my hands, it is still a house made of cards that I'm building.

    Something this life-long experience has given me is perspective and resiliancy. My husband had a more ideal childhood and laments more over the loss of perfection, while I just know that this is how the program works. If something is going well, hold on to your bootstraps because that's about to change. The only thing that keeps you moving is hope, and precious moments of joy and love.

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  30. My house was blown away when I found out about someone else's lies… They touched me and my life in too many ways. Standing in the house as it fell I learned the truth of the scripture (can't remember where, BoM I think) that talks about staying close to the Savior in the whirl winds and as we stay close to him, he will hold us close. My sister had an experience… she said she saw herself holding close to the Savior through the things she could control (prayer, scripture study, etc) and as she clung tighter to him, he was able to hold her tighter and the winds, while there, were not really felt, heard, or even experienced – even though she KNEW they were there.

    This makes perfect sense if we believe that our burdens can be relieved even though they be NOT removed; as with the people of Alma!

    So, I continue to TRY to smile even when my hold on the Savior is not as tight as it should/could be (and how I would like it to be). It's within my control. I just need to make different choices.

    Also, the Master's Hands come to mind. There are any number of representative stories that relate, but the one that is most appropriate is the one about the house. I'm sure you've heard it. Someone was building a house and thought they had something really great. When all of a sudden some walls are knocked down and all sorts of other changes occur. When the renovations are finished, the person who thought their house was done, stands back and finds a mansion in place of the bungalow they were initially so pleased with. A result of The Master's Hands.

    He knows the fire we need to pass through to become pure Gold. Did you know that completely pure gold is actually NOT yellow, it's clear!?? Perfect since virtue is gold now. ^_^

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  31. o, I guess it’s selfish – I want everyone to buck up and give each other hugs instead of wallowing.

    So, Justine, do you think there is a middle ground in there somewhere? I certainly hope I'm not the wallowing type, but sometimes it helps me to be able to ask for help or support and be honest about what's up. IMO, if we all are so "bucked up" that no one really knows what's up, how do we really know when and how and where to serve? Is there a way to be genuine and honest about our trials while still being faithful and optimistic?

    There is a tension there, imo…. Either extreme can be a negative.

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  32. My sister and I call the "bursting of the bubble" that you speak of here the "death of the dream" experience. We all go through it eventually, that moment when we realize that there is no "King's X," that fairy tales don't come true, and that life is and was meant to be a hard job.

    I think all of us eventually come to realize (one way or another) that there is no "getting back to normal," because struggle and tribulation ARE "normal." And that's a hard transition to make, but a necessary one. Because it isn't until the "death of the dream" experience happens that we really begin to do the work we came here to do.

    Life is interesting…and hard….and wonderful. Just as it is supposed to be.

    "For now we see through a glass darkly…" (1 Cor. 13"12).

    But the Lord sees the whole picture.

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  33. This beautiful entry reminded me of a passage in one of my favorite books by C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed. This was a journal he never meant to publish he kept after the death of his wife. In it he states:
    “The case is plain. If my house has collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards”

    later he says

    “…if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better”

    I am grateful God has allowed the spiritual wind to be knocked out of me to bring me back to his love and grace.

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  34. M&M, I think you're right that there has to be a middle ground. I'm quite certain I don't know where it is exactly, but we're probably all just feeling our way around this issue. I still break down in tears when I think of the sacrifice my wonderful R.S. sisters made for me last summer after my accident. I was 'forced' to allow them to serve me, and I was so richly blessed by the experience – watching women who I knew were suffering themselves come into my home to serve me.

    Our entire neighborhood grows closer together every time we come together to take care of one of us.

    But there are indeed those who abuse and suck from the generosity of the R.S. on a weekly basis. I think there's a genuine and important difference between being honest and genuine, and being grumpy and unkind. It's gotten easier for me to be honest without dropping the ability to still feel joy.

    And Amy, that was a wonderful C.S. Lewis quote. And it's an important point! I've learned a lot in a lot shorter time than when life was sailing by. I just need to keep a good perspective about it all.

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  35. I feel like I've always seen the house of cards, and my vision gets more focused as I get older. I've always lived in fear of that wind–but I don't think that's any 'better' than just now realizing how precarious things are and the fearful vision of instability doesn't make me or the house any stronger–just makes me a little more paranoid. I'm so sorry for the struggles you're facing, sometimes life just sucks. The good news is that a few cards stragically placed can hold up a lot of the crumble, AND should they fall completely, there will be one hand outstretched still.

    Good luck. Meanwhile, try hard to enjoy the good things. Easier said than done, I know, but there are times it can make all the difference. Hugs and prayers.

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  36. I had a very idyllic life for many years, after a few experiences I really saw the fragility of it all. After my own years of many miscarriages I saw it even more- After having been through tenous times- When things feel solid- I can't help but worry. I feel like it is only a momentary reprieve before some experience will shake me even harder than the last.

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  37. Long ago a woman who had lived long and suffered much told me and my visiting teaching companion that life never gets any easier. You just have to learn to roll with the punches. Time has taught me that is true.

    In my trials scripture study combined with prayer, meditation and journal writing have been my way of rolling with each punch. It seems like each waves is more difficult than the last. So I know she was right and I remember her words often.

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  38. What beautiful things you all have to say! I, too, have gradually come to understand the house of cards we all inhabit. Actually, everyone, member of the Church or not, inhabits one. We are all subject to the lessons of earth life. The gospel is just the tool to deal with them. I have a close family member who is quite aged, but still stubbornly persists in thinking that life is supposed to be perfect, and that she has been punished by God because her life is not. So, she's lived her life in perpetual unhappiness.

    There will always be those around us who are suffering, and sometimes we will be the sufferers. Having compassion and love for ourselves, as well as others, is the whole point. The details don't matter, as you have pointed out. We serve when we can, and we try to bind ourselves closer to Heavenly Father to make it through.

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  39. from Jane Smiley (who writes emotion so well)’s novella The Age of Grief:

    “I am thirty-five years old and it seems to me that I have arrived at the age of grief. Others arrive there sooner. Almost no one arrives much later. I don’t think it is years themselves, or the disintegration of the body. Most of our bodies are better taken care of and better-looking than ever. What it is, is what we know, now that in spite of ourselves we have stopped to think about it. It is not only that we know that love ends, children are stolen, parents die feeling that their lives have been meaningless. It is not only that, by this time, a lot of acquaintances and friends have died and all the others are getting ready to sooner or later. It is more that the barriers between the circumstances of oneself and of the rest of the world have broken down, after all—after all that schooling, all that care. Lord, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me. But when you are thirty-three, or thirty-five, the cup must come around, cannot pass from you, and it is the same cup of pain that every mortal drinks from. Dana cried over Mrs. Hilton. My eyes filled during the nightly news. Obviously we were grieving for ourselves, but we were also thinking that if they were feeling what we were feeling, how could they stand it? We were grieving for them, too. I understand that later you come to an age of hope, or at least resignation. I suspect it takes a long time to get there.”

    When I read this a few years ago, I was so struck by its truth, and read it to everyone who came to my house for weeks. I was so in the midst of my age of grief. I just checked the book out again (picked it up this morning, on hold at the library) for a revisit, and am trying to analyze if I'm at the age of hope yet. Much closer (though 2008 was a doozy here, too….)

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  40. vfg, that was so beautifully written, thank you for sharing it. I'm going to have to read the entire thing. Because how she captures it feels so genuine to my own experience. Thank you.

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