Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Illusion of Control and the Need for Spiritual Preparation

As human beings, we work hard to be in control. We plan our schedules and our lives, we save our money for a rainy day. We (try to) exercise regularly eat our fruits and vegetables to maximize health and prevent disease. We wear our seat belts. And the list can go on.... We do myriad things because we believe they can protect us from harm, prolong our lives, reduce our pain.

And sometimes, they can.

But sometimes, nothing we do can protect us from horrible, painful, difficult things that can and do happen. The recent events in Japan are a deeply sobering reminder of that fact.

It's unnerving to realize that at any given moment, any number of things could change -- or end -- our lives.

As such, it's easy to feel fear. I know it is for me, anyway.

How grateful I am for my faith in such times -- reminding me that there is a purpose to life, and it goes beyond temporal, temporary protection and comfort. Opposition and trials and even death are part of a larger plan of God for our growth and salvation.

I don't mean in any way to minimize the horror of things like this tragedy in Japan. We should never stop caring about the proximate problems that face us, never stop seeking to serve those in need, never stop doing our part to do good and make our world better. But in the midst of all of this, I think it's important to remember our mortal limitations and remember our ultimate reliance on God. For me, times like this are times to regroup and assess my spiritual storehouse and preparations for whatever life may throw my way.

I love this from President Henry B. Eyring:

“Most of us have thought about how to prepare for storms. We have seen and felt the suffering of women, men, and children, and of the aged and the weak, caught in hurricanes, tsunamis, wars, and droughts. One reaction is to ask, ‘How can I be prepared?’

“And there is a rush to buy and put away whatever people think they might need for the day they might face such calamities.

“But there is another even more important preparation we must make for tests that are certain to come to each of us. That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time. What we will need then can’t be bought. It can’t be borrowed. It doesn’t store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.

“What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Close to the surface

Had an amazing evening Thursday. Don't have time to explain much, but I talked to a couple of women after a dinner/speaker meeting I attended. One was a mom of seven and the other was a mom of five. A mom of eight came up a few minutes later.

We were talking about what a blessing it is to have children, to be mothers. I was so grateful to feel of their spirits and their faith.

And I shared with them, as is not uncommon for me, about how we have wanted more children but haven't been able to because of my health. (I don't feel like there is any benefit in holding that close to my chest -- I think we can benefit from sharing a little of our hearts and lives as women, and I also want people to know where my heart is on this. It pre-empts the comments like "Oh, yes, three is the new six.")

I still am mourning that reality. Tears were welling in my eyes as we talked. They were so kind and gentle and encouraging and I'm grateful. It's wonderful to me that perfect strangers can be such good sisters in a moment like that.

It's hard to have that ache and not be able to fill it.

I know it's not the same as infertility. I know I'm incredibly blessed to have the three I have. But that doesn't take away the reality of the longing I still feel.

I take comfort in this comment from Sister Beck. (Again, I know my situation is not the same as those couples who are infertile or those women who aren't yet married and have a double-whammy ache in their hearts. But this still helps my sometimes-aching heart.)

I know of many couples who desire to have children and aren’t given that blessing. Their challenge is the challenge of not having children, and we need to be listening and supportive and encouraging toward them. And I also believe that the desire to have children in the single sisters and in these couples probably won’t go away if they’re righteous, because that is a God-given desire. It speaks to their very natures and the training they received in the heavens. So that longing will not go away. But the Lord will bless them.