June 02, 2015

When Life Hurts

pioneers and angels in snow
I had a bishop in my youth whose children struggled.  He ended up leaving the Church saying that it didn't work.

The past few weeks, I have had Duggars on my brain.  But, more than that, my heart has been overflowing with so many real to me (not reality tv) families who are struggling through some major challenges.

To you I want to say--  HOLD ON!!!
We do not fail because we have BIG challenges.
I love the talk, "Greater Expectations" by Bonnie Oscarson where she says,
"We often refer to the scripture that where “much is given much is required.”1 I believe that a close corollary to this is that where much is required, much more will be given."

My favorite poem, since I was in high school, is Good Timber.
I love big trees and wise people.
 Good Timber

You are not failing because your life is hard.
My husband reminds me often, Satan can't get you to stop unless he convinces you that you are doing it wrong.  You're NOT failing because it is hard, you're climbing.

You are not failing because your life is hard!
You don't fail when you get divorced.
You don't fail when your kids struggle, even if they make really big mistakes.
You don't fail when you mess up.
You can't FAIL if you are still in the race.
You might be playing a pretty tough team, he might have scored a few points, but you haven't lost.

Obviously, the football offense that is still getting slammed IS IN THE GAME!!
You will not be slammed if you are sitting on the bench.
Don't give up-- look forward to your goal, and keep doing your best.
This is only an inning in your life.  I promise half-time will come.
Stand strong and look towards the goal line, listen to the coach, and remember you are not alone.
We are a team and we are strong.

I absolutely believe in God and I believe in Satan.
I once heard of a vision where a prophet was shown a wicked town, he saw a man in the town that was surrounded by seven or seventy devils.  The prophet asked if this was a wicked man.  He was told, no, that was the last righteous man in the town.
Satan attacks the quarterbacks.

Really, really, really good men are tempted by some really bad things.
Really, really, really good children are pulled by strong and dangerous tides.
Really, really, really good parents have children that struggle.
Really, really, really good marriages take A LOT of work.

OK, I am NOT God.  You know that.  But, if I were an elementary school principal, I would look at the teachers in my school and I would analyse their specific gifts and talents.  Right?  I would give the easiest children to the teachers with the ability to handle easier children.  I would put the kids with the most needs in a class with a teacher who I knew would do everything in her power to help that child. Throughout my life I can see that God does the same thing.

SAINTLY parents are raising kids who are BEASTS.  I love it.  I really, really, really love looking at families from the distance to see how perfectly and divinely designed families are.  I just don't think that life and death are accidents, I also don't think families are accidental.

I know that God has blessed you with the very family you have now because he knows that you need each other.  God has also chosen a life of hard over a Garden of Eden existence because He KNOWS that these experiences of life will refine and purify us.  As difficult as it is to watch someone we love suffer-- suffering is HOLY.  God's plan is not something I have always agreed with.  I have learned first hand that the opportunity suffer, to grieve, to love, to plead, to ache, and seek... these opportunities are GIFTS.

Writing this, I feel it so strongly that tears make it hard for me to type.
You have NOT FAILED if you are raising a child that is difficult to raise.  You haven't.
And honestly, MOST of the people who know you and see you, can SEE and FEEL your goodness and strength.

When was the last time you saw from a distance a mother with a severely disabled child?  Have you watched that mother pushing a wheelchair, wiping a drooling face, trying to comfort or understand a child who is hard to comfort?  You may have felt the mothers exhaustion in her frazzled hair, tired eyes, or unmanicured nails.  Did you judge that mother?  Yes, of course you did.  Judgement is natural.  Did you think that she was a failure?  Did you think she wasn't doing enough for her child because she hadn't yet taught her child to walk or talk?  You may have children that are able to walk and talk and read and play sports... and so then, do you judge the other mother as LESS THAN you because her child can't do any of those things?  OF COURSE NOT!!!!!  Chances are, you looked at that mother as a GIANT of goodness and compassion and skill.  Even if her home was not meticulously clean, you could FEEL her meticulous ability to love and nurture.

People in general are MUCH more compassionate and wise than we give them credit for.
You are SEEN, your efforts are noticed, and you are loved more than you know.

There may be some people in the world, I would call them young, defensive, or ignorant, who think you are a failure as you struggle.  But, MOST of us SEE strength in struggle.  Most of us feel your climb and cheer you on.  Remember that as you climb!  You are NOT alone.  You are loved.  You are NOT failing, you are just on the field, playing your position, and you are tired because you are ESSENTIAL.

I know something else.  On those days when we feel defeated, when we can't take one more step, when we feel alone and we think that NO ONE understands what we are going through... On those days, we are bouey up by family and friends who have passed on.  It is EASY to imagine devils fighting against us.  But, we MUST remember the angels that we have by our side.  Our angels are seraphim-- they are strong, they are good, and they are with you.

I come from a long line of POWERFUL women.  I have felt them surrounding me during my moments of greatest trial.  I know they pushed me up when I couldn't stand.  Even today, when I wonder if I can possibly do what I need to do, I feel the army of women that I have marching forward with me.  "We've got this!" they whisper and I know it is true.  We CANNOT FAIL, because we are on the winning team.  Light always defeats darkness.

"Elisha the prophet was surrounded by the whole Syrian army determined to kill him. He reassured his worried and only companion, who was busy counting Syrian heads, that when we are on the Lord’s side, regardless of numbers or worldly power, we are in the majority. I testify that the consoling words of Elisha to his young friend are still true today: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord will surround and protect our young people with chariots of fire, as He did for Elisha, in the form of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, leaders, and friends who will vigorously love them and lead them."
(From this beautiful talk "Fear Not; For They That Be With Us Are More")

I am not God (we have already established this) and yet my heart loves you good people who are trying hard to be the best you can, despite the normal, hard trials of life.  I love you and I know He loves you more.  Chances are YOU ARE ONE OF HIS FAVORITES.  His compassion is greater than mine-- and HE KNOWS.  He also loves your family members MORE than you do.  He cries with you.  He is guiding you and He is guiding them.

The problem is that we think of life like the Wizard of Oz-- follow the yellow brick road and we will be happy.  The problem is, life is a little bit like the Wizard of Oz.  As we follow the yellow brick road, we will hit ups and downs, attacks and poppy fields.  God never promised that if you had faith in Him and lived what you knew to be right, that life wouldn't be hard.  In fact, He promised quite the opposite.  He promised that in this life we would have heartache, but that He would be with us.  At the end, we will wake up at HOME, with Him, with them, and we will be wiser and better because of our journey.

A hard life doesn't mean that religion doesn't work.  JUST THE OPPOSITE.  Read scripture... God is trying to show us that He helps us UP THE HILL, not that following Him means we won't have a hill.  God teaches us how to deal with imperfect people, He doesn't zap every problem away so that we spend our afternoons on the beach.  Read the book!  Good people are TIRED.  The "choosen" people are the OXEN not the poodles.  Sorry about that.

Don't you think it is funny that the "promised" children of Israel were freed from a life of slavery, where "The Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour." Exodus 1:14, to wandering in the wilderness "And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?" Exodus 17:2.  Why?  Why did he let them be slaves, why did he let them thirst?  Because, they thirsted, and they turned to God.  Then God told Moses to strike the rock with his staff and the people got water and were FILLED.

He will find water for you to-- if you ask Him.

Oh Moses, wasn't he a prophet with a heavy heart.
Don't you love the story that comes right after the rock story in Exodus 17.
When they were in war, if Moses kept his hands up, the children of Israel survived, but when his hands dropped, they were killed.

11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

I guess this little blog of mine is my effort to help hold your hands up.
I wish I could place a rock under you and steady your hands until the going down of the sun.
I promise you that there are those seen and unseen nearby that are helping you hold your hands up.

You can do this!!
You can do exactly what God has asked you to do.
Success might not look as pretty as you wish it did, but it is still success.
We WILL NOT FAIL, because we are still in the middle of the game.
When the game is over-- we will be victorious.

You know this story-- it is one of my favorite.
(From here)
In 1856, Francis and Betsy Webster had enough money to travel to Utah in a wagon, but they donated their money to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund. Their donation allowed an additional nine individuals to travel by handcart. Brother and Sister Webster, who were expecting a baby, traveled to Salt Lake City with the Martin handcart company and suffered along with the rest of the company.

Years later, as Brother Webster sat in a Sunday School class, he listened to some Church members criticize Church leaders for the handcart tragedy. Unable to constrain himself, he arose and testified of the blessings of being in the Martin handcart company:

“I ask you to stop this criticism for you are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the handcart company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it. … We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation. But did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? … Everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities [extreme needs].

“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I said I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull my load through it. I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor one moment of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come to Zion in the Martin Handcart Company” (in William R. Palmer, “Pioneers of Southern Utah,” The Instructor, May 1944, 217–18).

"The person I was before would probably never hang out with who I am today.  I thought people were lucky to get to talk to me and I was a jerk.  I feel a lot of responsibility to show people that you can turn anything into a positive."

Oh friends--
I can't tell you how much I LOVE YOU.
I can't tell you how much I know that God loves you.
I know that life hurts sometimes.  I know it is hard to watch someone you love who is hurting.
I know that sometimes you feel like you are in a war in your own home and that you aren't sure you can pull yourself out of bed for one more day.

If I were lost in a city, I would pick people like YOU to find me.  Because I know that you wouldn't stop until I was found.
God knows that too.
And He blessed them with you-- because He KNEW you would find them and help Him bring them home.
He is with you.
You are not failing, you are fighting the good fight.
You are not alone, you are surrounded with chariots of fire, you are loved by many unseen and seen.
We are judging you and we put you on a pedestal where we put all of the wise veterans.
The eternal Hall of Fame might have some pretty scraggly looking wax statues.
We will be there together with Harry Potter scars on our forehead, because we fought and we survived.

Life is really, really, really good.
If it is really hard right now... hold on!!  Spring is coming!!
This is a season and seasons ALWAYS change.
God has a plan for you.  His plan is the Great Plan of Happiness.
I know it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, sweet Jenifer, for being such a light to the world! You testify so beautifully of eternal truths! I love you and your sweet family and marvel at your courage and fortitude to do all you can to serve the Lord! You are a tremendous blessing to me! Thank you!!!

Catherine Andrews said...

I so needed to hear that today! Why do we always feel like we are failing when things are not perfect. That is such a downfall of mine. Your words today were what I need to hear. Now I need to read them everyday and get my self to believe them. Thank you!

Catherine from Wyoming

Debbi said...

Thank you for this. I loved it. I know it is truth. Your blog always inspires me to be better.

sandersclan said...

I often screen shot your blog for quotes I want to write down later. I want to save this entire post!

cheryl cardall said...

Thank you for that quote from the handcart pioneer! I have been searching for it and hadn't been able to find it. We are taking the teens in our stake on a pioneer trek in three weeks and I need that quote, so you were an answer to prayers today!

Christine suldinger said...

Thank you for that wise friend..so many wise words and quotes in there I should hang up

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