Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trial by fire... When our house burned to the ground.

The next big item I think I should write about in my life was when our house in Taylorsville burned down, and we pretty much lost all of our worldly goods.  There have been a few times in my life where I have lost most of my worldly possessions, this is the first I remember.  I will also touch on another as I write this blog entry.

When I was around 9 years old we lived in a house in Taylorsville Utah.  I have more of my memories of my youth in this home than any other.  I will write an entire blog entry at some point on some of the memories of this home and the multiple experiences I had there, but for now I will just touch on some I didn't plan on putting into that post.  My mind is flooded with memories and they vary from catching dragonflies and spiders and mice, to stepping on nails, to blowing up watermelons, hanging out in the root cellar behind our house, skateboarding down the hill by our house, sledding, catching catfish in the Jordan river...  It seems I could likely write a full post of memories just looking back.

That being said Some of my greatest memories were that I excelled in scouting and earned every award I possibly could as a cub scout.  We had many pictures, and all the things that come with having lived in a home for years.  So back to the story...

One Summer day as we were out playing we had started the BBQ grill and it was getting hot and ready to cook with, while we played.  We had a back storage area behind our house that we filled with excess papers from our paper routes and would take them to be recycled from time to time in order to make a little extra money, we probably had at least a few truckloads at the time of the fire.

We had some struggles with some of our neighbors over animals and other disagreements.  Some that stick out the most is our horse getting out of it's corral, and people being annoyed at us (the children in our family) being all over around the neighborhood.  I am sure there was more than this, but these stick out to me.  I also remember one of my uncles came over to our house to beat up my father, and my mother hitting him with the broom until he left.  At a minimum it can be said there were hard feelings going around. 

The day the fire happened, I saw one of our neighborhood boys jump our fence and run to his house.  I headed into the yard wondering what was going on and the BBQ grill was tipped over onto the newspapers behind the house.  We tried frantically to put out the fire but it spread far too quickly and the home burned to the ground, before the fire department showed up and put it out. 

We cannot say for certain that the neighborhood boy had tipped over the grill, and at this point it doesn't really matter.  There was a breeze that day, and we determined that day that whether there was malice or not we were not going to push after it.

On the downside, I lost almost all pictures of my youth and everything we had as a family.  For a while it was pure shock.  I just didn't know what we were going to do and everything was gone.  We moved to another home and moved on with our lives, and from the experience I truly learned that you can lose all of your worldly possessions and still make due.  We were very grateful that all of our family was safe and nobody was injured or harmed.

I also learned that people are generally good and want to help those that are struggling.  I believe we received most of our needs through the kindness and donations and help of others during this time. 

I will write shortly about one other time in my life when I lost everything as far as worldly possessions are concerned.  This is not nearly as dramatic and was at least to a degree my own fault.

I was around 18 or 19 at the time and had amassed quite a large video collection as well as  many other items from my life.  Some of the most precious were my trophies from martial arts competitions and the electronics I had bought.  That being said I was in a rather precarious situation in my life and was living in Georgia.  I had fallen back into some of previous struggles and was not the man I needed to be to put it simply.  I had at least in part returned to church activity, but was with the wrong crowd and still really struggling.  I will write a few posts about this period of my life at some later point.

To make a long story short I was contacted by my parents who were living in Arizona at the time and they offered to take me in.  I couldn't take all my belongings with me across the country, so I ended up leaving them with friends, and by the time we could go back for them, many months later they were no longer where they had previously been.

There are a number of things I learned from these experiences, and the first is that worldly possessions hold very little to no importance when it comes to the grand scheme of things.  It is very hard to lose them especially at the time, and often I would wonder how I would ever recover.  However now both experiences are just memories and there is very little I miss from the possessions.  In the place of those items however is a strong understanding that it is more important to be kind and loving and patient than to have nice things.  That it is far more critical to learn to be humane than to seek revenge or to let hate fester and destroy happiness.  I learned that often times we put our trust in the things we have, rather than the people we are and can become.

I have often heard elderly people say it's just stuff, when a beautiful object is broken or damaged by a child, and I know that perspective came at a cost.  I am grateful to have gained these perceptions earlier in life than some.  They have blessed and strengthened me and others when hard times come, and have built an appreciation for the people in my life that mean so much.  I am grateful for the chance to lift others and help them in their times of need.  I have learned more of the perceptions of a loving Heavenly Father that only wants to build us up and help us become like him, and help us attain his attributes in our lives.

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