I recently ran across a quotation that I have been thinking a lot about. It is from the book "All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience" by Neal A. Maxwell. As with most anything written by Maxwell, it takes some brain power to digest what he is saying, but! it always well worth the effort!
Anyway! Back to my quote. I have a friend who was complaining to me about dating (what an all too common occurrence) and after a few less than pleasant experiences, declared to me that he was "done with dating" and that he was "giving up".
Don't get me wrong, I sympathize. As a general matter, dating usually ends up being the worst. Expanding this out to many more facets of life, I think that there is something for all of us that we want to "be done" with, probably on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes, I would like to be done with work. Sometimes, I wanted to be done with school. Sometimes, I even think that I want to never have to go to a church in a congregation full of single people again in my life, for the love, would someone just let me go to regular church like a normal person... :)
So! Before reading my magical quote, I would like you to think about something in your life that you want to be "done" with. Got it? Keep it there - and read this:
"John Taylor spoke of learning through suffering, calling it "a school of experience." [He] also observed of one Church member who had been mobbed -- driven from a fifth home in less than two years: "I have seen men tempted so sorely that finally they would say, 'I'll be damned if I stand it any longer.' Well, you will be damned if you do not."
Wow, right? I read that and thought, "shoooooot I need to change my attitude!"
I love what President Taylor said. So often, we underestimate our ability to "handle" a situation. We get tired and do not want to go through the requisite stretching and expanding of our souls that is necessary to become more like our Savior (which, hint: is our whole purpose for existing...)
If we limit our experiences to only those that are "comfortable", we will never progress. We are literally, damned. Or stopped from any forward movement or progression.
Those experiences often fall into the category of "not fun." While pondering this, I remembered back on the good ol days of high school basketball. When I was a freshman, I made the jump from playing with all people my age to all girls who were older than me. Subsequently, practice became a lot harder. One of my coaches had played college basketball (to this day, I have never seen anyone shoot as well as she did) and she pushed us. HARD. We ran. And then we ran. And then we ran some more. Frequently, trash cans were put out during practice so that we'd have easy access to them when we inevitably got sick. I can still so vividly feel the hate in my soul for the person blowing that stupid whistle that meant I had to line up for more up-backs. I also can vividly remember thinking, "I might seriously die if I have to run one more of these. I mean it. I am just going to stand here. Because I will pass out if I move." And somehow, miraculously, one foot managed to move in front of the other, and I am still living to tell the tale :) When we finally started playing games against other teams, I was blown away by how much faster we could push the ball and how much longer we could keep it up than everyone else. What would have happened if I had chosen to not "stand it any longer?" (I mean besides probably no longer being on the team) I would not have been in the same shape as my teammates and would have been a hindrance rather than a help. I would have also missed out on a shared misery experience that tends to really bond people :) I would never have known how far my body could be pushed and would have missed out on the gratitude of having a body that could perform what it needed to. What if my coaches had let up on us? They knew what was coming and had a vision for us. They had been there before and knew what we were capable of. And! They had the courage to help us achieve that!
Life is tough. There are a lot of things that make us want to give up or ignore or never push up against because we know it might be difficult, and potentially cause us pain. God can't force us to learn and grow. He can't force us to keep going when it's hard. That is all within our choice. And when we choose to keep going, we are effectively choosing Him, because we are showing our faith in Christ. We are showing that we understand that all our experiences will work together for our good and that He is faithful in giving us the aid and guidance that He has promised.
This life is so beautiful. The fact that we get to run the gamut of emotions and experiences we do is a complete privilege. Whenever I take a step back, I am always in awe of how incredibly beautiful life is, with ALL of its components.
If there is one thing that I would wish, it's that the next time you want to give up, you think about the ramifications of that decision. You are stopping yourself from experiencing something that will benefit you. You are limiting the way that God can teach you. He knows you better than anyone else. He knows your capacity better than anyone else. And unlike anyone else, He helps you to reach it.
I love you too much. I'm grateful for people who help me on my way and encourage me to keep going! If I can ever be more of help in reciprocating, please let me know :)
A few Saturdays ago, I needed to stop by Wal-Mart. I asked my husband if he wanted to go with me. Because what guy wouldn’t want to stop watching college football and go to Wal-Mart with his wife? We put on our shoes and headed out the door. While stopped at a stop sign waiting to turn left on a major road by our home, we watched another car run through a stop sign and get t-boned by an SUV. It was quite the surreal moment. It felt like slow motion as we watched the two cars collide.
What happened next we didn’t expect. The force of the collision propelled one of the cars in our direction. We braced ourselves for impact. Thankfully neither my husband nor I was hurt and our car had minimal damage. We stayed at the scene of the accident for over an hour as police took our statement and wrote their report.
That night we had the responsibility to volunteer at a church dance for the youth in our church congregation and from surrounding congregations. Because of the accident, we were tight on time. We headed to Wal-Mart, stopped by home to change our clothes, grabbed some Wendy’s for dinner, and headed to the dance.
While sitting at the registration table at the dance, I told my husband how much I really wished we weren’t at the dance. I don’t mind volunteering one bit, but because of the accident, there were things I needed to get done that I wasn’t able to complete. We were headed out of the country in two days, and my time to get things done was finite.
He seemed surprised by my statement. He then wisely and gently reminded me how fortunate we had been that the accident had not been any worse for us. Suddenly, I felt ashamed. I thought of the other individuals involved in the accident and the pain they were likely still experiencing at that exact moment. I felt so selfish and self-absorbed. Even after being in an accident that had significant negative consequences for others, I was still focused on myself and the “inconvenience” it had been for me.
I thought of how blessed we had been just a few hours prior and silently said a prayer of repentance. I apologized to Heavenly Father for my ingratitude. It’s so easy to make life “all about me” – especially when there is a lot going on.
As I think back on this experience, my mind is drawn to a scene on Calvary’s Hill nearly 2,000 years ago. There Jesus Christ, while in extreme pain and anguish, thought about others. He turned to his disciple John and asked him to care for his Mother Mary (John 19:27). He also turned to God the Father and asked Him to forgive those who had persecuted Christ because Christ knew that these individuals did not fully understand the significance of their actions (Luke 23:34).
My challenge to each of us, especially to myself, is to think more of others in the good times, the blessed times, the hard times, and the dark times. I know for me that when I have done this that is when I have felt Christ reaching out to support me and help me.
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