The following short story is my own, but it is not uniquely my own because we all have these situations occurring all around us, and at times within the confines of our own home.
Just to preface though, this is not simply within our home but it is with different people within my circle of loved ones.
Week 1 cancer
Week 2 cancer again
Week 3 job loss… right before the birth of your first child
Week 4 falling away from the church
Now this isn’t the first time I had witnessed hardship, neither my own nor for the loved ones around me. This was however a lot all at once. It was how we shortly began off the year, and it was definitely enough to set me off into a very pensive, reflective state.
When these times hit, I always try to remember two things.
The first thing I try to remember when things start getting crazy is that even though ‘men are that they might have joy,’1 this is not our core purpose in life. Instead just like our God’s purpose is the ‘immortality and eternal life of man.’2 So is our goal to live a life worthy of one day being resurrected and returning to our heavenly father.
The second thing I try to remember is Faith, not just in his power, but also in his will. And while we have countless stories about the Lord’s power, no story I feel truly personifies the Lord’s will quite as well as the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego when they stated, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image.”3 Our desires and his will may not always align right when we wish they would, but it does not change nor diminish the power and truthfulness of our God and our Savior.
Now these two principles are great while going through hard times, but since I was slightly removed from these hardships, more of what I focused on while in this pensive reflective state was how could I prepare myself to be ready when it was my turn. How could I live at peace in this wild and crazy world today while being ready to endure well tomorrow when the hardships would come knocking at my door. Whether my next test would be a hardship of health, or a trial of faith, I wanted to be ready.
Following this time, I continued to do a bit of reading and pondering on the idea. Alisha and I would occasionally talk about it. Then this month things started to come together. First I read the First presidency message by President Eyring on “The Reward of Enduring Well.” Then a couple of days later I read a conference talk from Elder Scott titled, “For Peace at Home.” The two pieces really connected with me, and I was instantly intrigued. First of all the two talks were regarding two seemingly different purposes or blessings. But the intriguing thing was that once you started to look at the path to achieve either blessing, the roads converged. Even though they were for two different blessings, the paths were the same. It was like those shoe sales we always see, BOGO buy one get one free, but instead of BOGO, this was DOGO, Do the work for one blessing get the second blessing free.
Both articles gave three basic steps interestingly enough in the same order as well. The first two were largely what you would expect to see. First is daily, personal and family scripture and prayer. Second is obedience to the Lords commandments. The third is what surprised me a little as it isn’t always what we see included in these lists, which is what really caught my attention as both of them did include it. The third is service.
Now service holds a special place for me, and I love to serve others, so this really intrigued me. Eyring stated that. “In the Master’s service, we come to know and love Him. We will, if we persevere in prayer and faithful service, begin to recognize the hand of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life. Many of us have for a period given such service and felt that companionship. If you think back on that time, you will remember that there were changes in you. The temptation to do evil seemed to lessen. The desire to do good increased. Those who knew you best and loved you may have said: “You have become kinder and more patient. You don’t seem to be the same person.”4
And Scott explained as follows, “I have learned a truth that has been repeated so frequently in my life that I have come to know it as an absolute law. It defines the way obedience and service relate to the power of God. When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God—power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord. His power is a fundamental component to establishing a home filled with peace.”5
Now in my quest to answer the question of finding peace today and endurance for tomorrow this sounded like a good start, but not the complete answer. The problem I had and one that Alisha and I had discussed at times before was that we talk of these ideas like we are always living life on an emotional and spiritual high. If that’s you than good for you, my experience and one that I’ve perceived from most others as I look around is that life is more of an emotional and spiritual roller coaster. Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down, and oft times we’re somewhere in-between. Now when life takes a swing when we’re up it’s usually not as bad and there’s a good chance we will weather the storm well and come out ok on the other side. How do we survive however, when we feel like we’re in a particularly low point, and suddenly life decides to take a particularly hard swing at you?
Alisha shed some light on this thought and pointed me in the right direction when she explained how she views the problem. She said, “I see it like you’re climbing one of those old gym ropes. You rely on your personal strength to climb the rope and ascend higher. But when the storms pick up and the winds start blowing you find one of those big knots in the rope and you cling to it to keep yourself from falling.”6 Your personal strength in this situation is derived from the list we discussed before; daily scripture and prayer, obedience, and service. The knots however are our spiritual, testimony building experiences. It is those moments when the spirit spoke not just to our minds but our hearts also, and our testimony was strengthened because of it. It is these spiritual, testimony building experiences that we cling to when life gets tuff, especially when we’re already feeling down, that help keep us from falling.
President Eyring further helped me understand this idea in a different talk when he said, “You will at times have your faith challenged by Satan; it happens to all disciples of Jesus Christ. Your defense against these attacks is to keep the Holy Ghost as your companion. The Spirit will speak peace to your soul. He will urge you forward in faith. And He will bring back the memory of those times when you felt the light and the love of Jesus Christ.
Remembering may be one of the most precious gifts the Spirit can give you. He will “bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever [the Lord has] said unto you” (John 14:26). The memory may be of an answered prayer, of a priesthood ordinance received, of a confirmation of your testimony, or of a moment when you saw God’s guiding hand in your life.”7
This two fold approach of personal strength and safety points made me think a lot of rock climbing. When rock climbers lead climb a cliff, they obviously rely largely on their personal strength and talent, but they also place anchors into the rock as they climb. These anchors will catch them should they fall. These anchors will only work however if they are placed properly and securely. They also won’t do you much good if you place one or two when you first start climbing and then don’t add any more. So it is with our spiritual anchors. If you read the book of Mormon, prayed, and were baptized, and then haven’t really set any new anchors since, you may want to give it some serious thought.
When I came to this realization I started to personally reflect. I also grabbed my old journals and started to go through it. I found experiences I didn’t even remember any more. I found some that I remembered happening, but couldn’t recollect any real details or emotions, simply that they happened. Then I started finding some that were more recent, or stronger. These were the ones that I had used in recent years to rely on as I passed through difficult times.
So the question I would like to end with is “when was the last time you anchored yourself to the rock8 that is our Savior, Christ the Lord?” If it’s been a while, or if your anchors are overly worn and getting loose, maybe it’s time to set some new ones. Maybe you already have an idea for you to set a new anchor point, but if you don’t, an easy place to start would be to take Moroni’s challenge9, and renew your testimony of the Book of Mormon. Begin reading it with purpose and greater intent. Begin to pray for that fire burning confirmation again until it comes. Put your life in place to be in tune with the spirit. Maybe listen to Sunday music on a Tuesday. And when it comes you will have a renewed, strengthened testimony that Christ is your savior, and that this is his church. You will be able to have a new, fortified anchor point so that when life is crazy, and whether you’re up or you’re down, the spirit will be able to bring to a remembrance this moment and you will be able to get through without falling. You will be able to have peace today, and be able to endure well tomorrow.
This I leave in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
- 2 Nephi 2:25
- Daniel 3: 17-18
- Moses 1:39
- Personal conversation with wife.
- Helaman 5:12
- Moroni 10:3-5