One-upping Forrest Gump
Written by Donald Hughes, Feb 2018
Google-search: “life is like…..”, and you’re likely to see the first thing to come up is the famous line from the 1994 film, Forrest Gump: “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” As simple and true as that may be, I recently heard a wonderful analysis of life that takes that a bit further.
During church services recently, a woman shared a dream she had late one night during a time when she was fighting depression, and recounting experiences that left her emotionally scarred from when she was young. This is, I think, a common occurrence with all of us at one time or another. We have all had experiences that have shaped us, and made us who we are. I really thought her dream was something that should be shared.
She dreamed the Savior spoke compassionately to her in a dream. She understood that life is like a Trail Mix. That’s right, a trail mix. This was in and of itself an interesting approach, since this particular child of God enjoyed, among other things, the great outdoors and hiking. It gives great insight to how well our Heavenly Father knows us on such a personal level. She understood further:
A standard trail mix is made up of those wonderful little chocolate M&M’s, a good mixture of nuts, and of course the raisins. We all like the M&M’s the best, admit it. We also like the various nuts and their wholesome addition to the mix, providing the protein and energy any good hiker needs. But the raisins always appear in a handful and have to be dealt with.
Her understanding of the metaphor was clear. Each of us are born into this world with an empty bag for our personal trail mix. All of the good, happy and wonderful experiences are represented by the M&M’s and go into our bag. The crazy events of our lives, and the crazy relationships, and the unexpected events are the mixed-nuts. Some are good, some not-so-good. The bad and sometimes terrible events are the raisins. But they are always in the mix. The challenge is to look at those particular moments in a different way: those raisins are actually a little sweet, and offer their own nutritional value to the mix. If we look at the bad things in life as learning moments, or times when we needed to rely on our faith and on God, or when a new open door was discovered, or a relationship strengthened, we can often find the sweetness in the event. She understood that the Savior’s grace for us is sufficient to hold us up and sustain us not in spite of the mix, but because of the mix of good and bad. She also understood that the Lord loved her no matter how the ratio of M&M’s to raisins might be, but to strive for adding more M&M’s by experiencing more good things, like love and humor, acts of service and generosity, faith and courage. These are all things we can control and add ourselves.
I will never look at a simple trail mix the same as before. To me, it will now always remind me of just how mixed up our individual lives are, but also how unique and full of experiences our bags are. And, as each new day brings both M&M’s and raisins into my life, too often than not there are an abundance of nuts too. When my life is over on this earth, I hope my bag is so rich and full that it spills out to fill other’s bags and in turn enrich and strengthen them too.