Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Amazing Bell Collection

When I was really little, I had a bell collection.

It all started years ago, in a random little gift souvenir shop in West Yellowstone National Park. I felt the need and desire to buy SOMETHING. Something that would forever remind me of this, in my little 8 or 9 year old mind, best trip ever. I walked up and down the aisles, searching and observing.

And that's when I saw it.

It was big. It was white. It had paintings of buffalo and deer and an eagle. "West Yellowstone" was printed nicely in yellow. The glass was thick. And I could even hear the jingle when I rang it.
It was perfect in my eyes.

In my excitement, I ran up to show my Dad. He could see how excited I was, and suggested that I start a collection. Anywhere that I go in the world, I would buy a bell, as a token and memoir.

Pure genius!

And thus, my amazing bell collection began! Anywhere we went that was outside of Pocatello, Idaho, I would buy a bell. Big ones, little ones, tall ones, small ones. Ones that rang, and ones that clicked. Ones made of metal, and ones made of glass.
The list could go on.

Soon, my whole family knew about it! Everyone was in on it. Grandmas and Grandpas knew, aunts and uncles knew. Mom and Dad clearly knew. I would get them for birthday presents. I would get them when people would go on trips and bring me back a gift. The collection grew and grew. And I loved it so.

They all were placed on a little pretty wooden shelf that was placed on the wall. If I rolled over onto my right side right before I went to bed, I would see them there, standing tall and pretty.

I had one bell that I especially loved. It was one from my grandmother, my mother's mother. It was pure glass, with some flowery printing on it, that was pink (back when I loved flowery pink things). I can't remember why she gave it. (Probably because I'm her favorite granddaughter. Or maybe a present.) But, regardless, I loved that bell more than all the others, because not only was it beautiful, but it was also the only one that I received from her. It was placed on the shelf so that I could reach for it whenever I wanted to...

... Which, as fate would have it, was towards the right end of the shelf. Next to the book shelf. The very high book shelf, in my little 9 to 10 year old mind.

And, as it turned out, was also in my little 8 to 9 year old brother's mind.

One day, for whatever reason, he decided it needed something from the top of the bookshelf. (I'm assuming he either wanted a book, or that creepy furby that Mom had placed on the top of the shelf.)

(Sidenote: Yes. I did own a creepy furby doll once upon a time. It was blue.)

For a little boy who hasn't grown into his shoes yet, the only solution to reaching an object that was about 6 feet above him, just so happened to be to stand on the rocking chair and climb.
He didn't mean to do it right by the shelf, I'm sure. That didn't even cross his mind. He didn't plan for the chair to rock, and fall backwards, bringing him with it, and knocking the Amazing Bell Collection.

And. Well...

Surprisingly, not a lot of them broke. I hadn't even realized that he was climbing the chair. I was alarmed to hear clamoring and commotion. Then heartbroken as I realized, my shelf was no longer on the wall, but rather, in the floor. Mom came down, and we started gathering the bells...

And that's when I saw it.

A piece of glass. With a pink twisting flower.
Then, another piece.
And another.

It was destroyed. Not broken up. DESTROYED.

I was so upset. I was angry. Of all my bells, THAT one??? Seriously?? I remember feeling the anger well up in me.
And it was at that point, I looked over at Ian.
Oh, the look on his face...

It's seems good to point out, that at this point, Ian and I DID NOT get along very well. You know, one of those sibling phases where you push buttons to the limit, and walked along the edge.

So, when I saw that face...
I couldn't take it.
I remember I walked upstairs while my parents talked to him.

I went into the hallway, and paced back and forth. Over and over. I was so mad. And I wanted to be mad.
But that face of hurt was sewn into my brain.
But I was so mad.


There was a full length mirror. I liked to look into it when I was thinking. So...

I'm pretty sure I had a primary lesson in church about forgiveness. Or maybe it was a Family Home Evening lesson. It's been so long, I don't recall everything. But for whatever reason, the term "forgiveness" was in my little brain.
And I already knew what I had to do.

It was hard. I've never really done something like this before. (The littler version of me didn't realize that forgiveness, was another word for, "It's ok.") I remember praying, asking for help.

Maybe it's cliché, but even at a young age, I understood that my relationship with my brother was far more important than a pretty glass bell.

I walked out of the hall, down the stairs, through the door, and there was our piano.

And sitting on the bench, head down on his arms, on the keys, was my brother.

It was super awkward for me.
But I walked up to him.
Placed my hand on his shoulder.
I forgive you. 

The rest is history.


Sometimes, I feel that we get foreshadows in our lives.

Almost like Heavenly Father lets things happen, then say, "Hint Hint, you're going to use this way later."

I'm coming to find that life is a collection of moments sewn together to create of collage of memories. And those memories become our eternity.
The collage of memories somehow fit itself into the deepest pocket of our brain and stays there, hidden. We almost forget about them sometimes.
Well, maybe not forget, but we don't necessarily go looking for them. Maybe we take them for granted.

And then, something happens.

And it's like the memory jumps out of the brain pocket and says, "BAM! Remember that one time you did yada-yada-yada? Ya, you need to use this."

And, for some reason, this memory jumped out at me a couple days ago.
The memory of the bell.
The memory of my first actual, real life, non-primary lesson of forgiveness.


It's kind of hard when there is no actual source for the reason for your pain.
There was no mindless drunk driver.
There was no ax murderer.
No stop lights.
No warnings.

Nowhere to direct the blame.
Just dumb luck.

And. That. Hurts.
I want to blame someone. I want to place my anger somewhere. But I can't.
So, it's directed everywhere. Anyone. Anyone who crosses my path. I yell at someone. I hit something. I run away just for the sake of getting away. I cry into the pillow. I break a plate. A martini glass.
But, in the end, it doesn't take the pain away.
And I feel worse later.

Why do I still feel this way? Why can't I just get over myself? More people suffer worse than me. My life isn't even hard.
Yet, it is.
No, it's not.

I know this is normal. I know there's no limit in the grieving process.
Happiness is a choice. I GET THAT.
But that doesn't mean that I won't have hard days. Or angry days. It doesn't mean that I won't get frustrated.
I hate the feeling.

So. Why the bell memory?
Perhaps, it was a foreshadow for later? Or maybe it has nothing to do with foreshadowing. Maybe it's a lesson I need to remember.

Forgiveness is just better. Maybe not necessarily easier.
But better.
You are happier.
Because, some things are just not worth the grudge.

Confliction will come up. Your mortal nature will fight with your spiritual nature.
It's kind of interesting how opposite they can be.
But also, how similar they can become.
And in the end, you can decide.
Over time.

Some things just take time.


  1. I love your testimony. I love your strength (even when you aren't feeling strong). Thank you for writing out your thoughts.

  2. Jensen, I love reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your feelings and glimpses into your moments. It is ok to have those moments, to be less strong, and to show your feelings of loss. The loss of our loved ones takes time, and you will never get over it, but will continue to move forward towards the day when you will be reunited with them. Thank you for strengthening my testimony. Love you.

  3. When my mom was killed by a double tanker truck, I decided I had to forgive that truck or I would cringe seeing any tanker truck for the rest of my life. It worked.

    Also I think of people wearing Jesus' cross to remember him by. I wouldn't wear a tanker truck necklace to remember my mom....