Friday, April 11, 2014

It's That Easy, and It's That Hard

I went out to lunch with a good friend the other day.  It was really bizarre how it all worked out and the fact that we ended up with just the two of us.  Two other friends were going to come and at the last minute were unable to.  Another friend met us after we had already ordered and started eating.  But she had to leave early and so it was still just the two of us.

As I was taking her home, she opened up to me about some things that had happened in her life.  Some hard things.   She said she has been wanting to tell me for a very long time but things always kept interrupting the timing of it.  Maybe it wasn't bizarre how it ended up with just the two of us, and I know it wasn't a coincidence.  I believe it was a tender mercy.

I have always just loved her.  She is such a good person and has always been so real and one of those rare true friends.  We have known each other for over 30 years and have been good friends for over 20 of those years and for me to see her in so much pain and agony as she opened up over what was going on in her life right now, and had been for some time, made me just love her even more.  It was really hard for her to tell me.  And she didn't need to tell me, she just felt like I should know since we were good friends.  My heart just hurt so deeply for what she had been through.  Neither of us could hold back the tears.  I felt nothing but love and compassion for her even though I could have easily judged her based on some things or given her advice or done a number of other things that I wonder if I would have when I was a younger, less experienced me.  But instead, I just hugged her and told her I loved her and that it was going to be okay.  And I meant it.

We both cried and tried to make sense of this sometimes crazy life we are asked to endure and wondered why things happen as they do.  I felt so bad for the things she has had to deal with for so long and admired her strength through it all.  It also made me think that maybe I wasn't a very good friend because I didn't go to her sooner and ask if she was okay.  My justification was that I didn't want to pry or come across as a busybody.  But what I learned today is that I should have just gone to her as a friend and told her I came to give her a hug because I had her on my mind.  Maybe that would have provided the opportunity for her to tell me sooner because she said not telling me was a burden she had been carrying for a long time.

I also learned once again that no matter what people look like on the outside or the persona they project or the smile on their face, there is always a struggle and pain underneath it.  She had been dealing with some of these issues for over 30 years.  The thought: "be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle", kept coming to my mind.
When I was in the Relief Society presidency a number of years ago,  I remember our president saying that if she could tell us all she knew about the struggles in our ward, we would be very surprised.  She said as she pictured each home in our ward, she could not think of one door that didn't have some kind of struggle or trial going on behind it.

And so it is with life.  We all will, or do currently, have hard things going on.  Most of us will have something hard to deal with all of our lives.  And that is how it is supposed to be.  We are not here to sit on our duffs and be fed sweet juicy grapes while we become fat and happy.  Life IS about struggle.  Because plain and simply, that is how we grow and become strong.

I think once we understand that trial and adversity is going to be a part of most, if not all of our lives then it is somehow easier to accept each trial as they surface.  Maybe not easier to deal with, but easier in the fact that we can stop asking, "Why me?".  Trials are not just given to you or to me, but to everyone universally.  And if you don't believe that, just live a little longer.  Everyone has their fair share whether you can tell or not.  No one is immune. They may not be the same kind of trials as yours or mine, or given at the same time, but they are trials just the same.  My husband always says that there is great equality in what we are each given even though it doesn't always appear to be.
I have always been a firm believer that we are not given more than we can handle.  I am not sure if that means that some of us are stronger and better able to handle harder things or if it means we will learn HOW to handle them as they are given which makes us stronger.  Oft times the ONLY way we can handle them is by handing them over to the Lord and asking for His help to lighten our load.  He won't usually take AWAY our trial, but He will strengthen our backs so we can endure them better.

Mosiah 24: 13-15
 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

My favorite part of this scripture is the end where it says, "and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

I honestly believe that is the key to enduring our trials. To quit fighting them.  But instead to accept them.  Cheerfully.  Maybe even embrace them.  That is a crazy statement I know, but I have found if I submit my will (and my will is pretty strong!), but if I can give up my will (without doing it begrudgingly, but happily) to His will and leave it in His hands to do with what He may, then my trials become much less burdensome.

Is this an easy thing to do?  Heaven's no!  It is one of the hardest things in the world to do.  To let go of what I want and what I think is best and what I really want to hang onto, is sometimes excruciatingly painful!  But... (there's always a but), when I am able to do it, it's amazing how things go so much more smoothly with much less pain and suffering on my part.     
God is all knowing.  Why is that so hard to accept?  At least when it comes to ourselves.  Sure we believe He knows what is best for everyone else, but do we actually believe it about ourselves?  Or do we only think we know what is best for us?  When we let go and lay it all out on the altar for Him to do with what He knows is best for us, things just work out better.  It's scary to do.  But it always works out best in the end.
If we put our trust in God then we will always be taken well care of.  God only wants what is best for us.  That may not always seem to be true, but we are His children and He loves us more than we can even comprehend.  It comes down to a matter of faith and trust.  And a willingness to let go and let Him carry out His plan for our life.  He knows us much better than we know ourselves and He won't let us ultimately fail and falter.  He will however, give us trials and hard things so we will grow and become stronger.  He will allow us to suffer.  He will allow us to be refined.  Because He loves us.
As I think about my dear friend and her desperate struggles, I have to admire her for her courage and ability to endure what she is going through right now.  I know Heavenly Father loves her and He loves us even when we don't feel like we deserve His love.  There is nothing that we can do that will ever change the love that He has for each of us.  This I know.  I also know that no matter how hard our life's difficulties become, that He is there waiting for us with open arms to heal and to bless us.

We just have to take the first step and ask for His help.

It's that easy... and that hard.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Beautifully said! So Easy yet so Hard! You are a wonderful friend! You were there when she needed you!


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