My friend Shirley said something on Sunday that has stayed with me this week.
She was giving a lesson on peace in relief society and told a random little side story about a time when she was walloped with trials in her younger years. Prior to that time, she said, she saw challenges as merely “things to get through.” It wasn’t until this intense period of multiple trials that she began to see them as transformative.
I keep thinking about this because it’s an amazing lens for viewing the hard stuff.
The most difficult things we face in life have the very real ability to refine us. Refine us. Yes, please. They can make us better, kinder, wiser, stronger, more tender, and more focused on the vital things. They can also harden and embitter us. I suppose we decide the outcome.
It’s kind of embarrassing how many years of hard-core special-needs parenting it took me to understand this principle. To my credit, I’m finally figuring it out. I went from looking sideways at the differences in our family compared with other families, to trying to stay focused on looking inward, upward, and forward.
It is better to pass through sorrow that we may know the good from the evil.
When my paradigm shifts from “holding on” or “getting through,” to experiencing, learning, and changing, suffering becomes a tool for growth. A means of becoming. Suffering is usually misery, but it can enlighten.
If we wanted to avoid conflict or challenge, we would’ve stayed in heaven, or in the garden. I really think we knew exactly what we would encounter in mortality and we still yearned for it and celebrated when it became a reality.
I used to wonder if God was watching me from a distance, disappointed in my lackluster performance. Now I feel more as though he is close by, orchestrating the development that I myself requested, that we worked together to plan. The veil is an awful thing, at times. The forgetting makes us stupid, but I guess that was the point.
I’m feeling less afraid of what is to come, of what might happen. I’m not focused on worst-cast scenarios. Life’s supposed to be hard and unpredictable.
Now I’m fostering a neutral sense of being open to whatever may come my way in this crazy mortal realm. Of course I have to remind myself this all the time, because fear seems to be a default human state.
It’s that old faith versus fear showdown. My family life is hard. Really hard. But my faith is deeper now.