Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Parable of the Popcorn

I had an experience the other week which I shared in testimony meeting at church. It had a big impact on me and many others, and I thought I would put it in here so that I always have a record of it for our family.
One Friday afternoon I made Eadith and Anabel a popcorn snack in the microwave. Eadith and Anabel each carried their bowl over to me eagerly to fill. Eadith held up a large plastic cereal bowl in which I placed two large handfuls of popcorn. She walked away happily grinning at the popcorn filling over half of her bowl. Next Anabel walked up and handed me her small toddler-sized bowl. I took one handful of popcorn and gave it to her. It filled the bowl and even cascaded over the top! “Wow Eadie!!” exclaimed Anabel. “Look how much popcorn I get!” As she balanced her way carefully towards her sister, Eadith looked from her bowl to Anabel’s and back to her own. Her smile quickly turned to a frown as she complained, “Mum, Anabel got more popcorn than me!” I explained that this wasn't the case, but since Anabel’s bowl was smaller it made her amount look bigger. “But her popcorn is filled to the top and mine isn't!” she cried. Despite my explanations I could not convince Eadith that what she was looking at, in reality actually worked in her favorShaking my head with a smile I watched them walk away together. 

I then found myself comparing this experience with similar situations we face in mortality.  It made me reflect on how we may make comparisons of our own lives, with others’. How often do we look at our life with a contented smile, only to look over at someone else and notice areas where we appear to be lacking, and they appear to be at an advantage? This experience reminded me that such comparisons not only steal away our own feelings of joy and contentment, but the comparison could possibly be judged upon unrealistic appearances. If Anabel and Eadith had sat down and counted all of their popcorn, Eadith would have realised she had a lot more than her sister, and I'm sure she would see how lucky she actually was. Likewise, in our own lives, it’s easy to look at others and compare what we see, rather than counting our individual blessings and acknowledging how much we have to be grateful for.   President Thomas S. Monson said, “My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love… We have all experienced times when our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” (General Conference address, 2010). 

I am grateful for this little experience with my girls. At the time it appeared to be such a normal day-to-day occurrence, but as soon as it happened I felt the spirit work within me and lead my thoughts to this perfect parable of being sincerely grateful for the blessings in our lives and not allowing ourselves to compare what we have with what we think others have. I am so blessed in my own life. I look around at what I have and I feel at peace that Juan and I are on the path that we are meant to be on and doing what we are meant to be doing. Having said this, we sometimes talk about 'regrets' we have; choices we would have made different as a married couple if we could do it all again. Hindsight is such a blessing and a curse ;-)  But then we stop and look at our life and can't help but be so grateful for what we do have and the decisions we have made that have led us here. 

I hope that I can instill an attitude of gratitude within my children as my mother did in me. She used the phrase an 'Attitude of Gratitude' often, and through her example I saw that she was grateful for the possessions and blessings that she had in her life. 

I love this little parable and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to experience it. :-) 

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