You know – Sometimes we must “break” a little so we can get a look inside ourselves to see what AMAZING POWERHOUSES WE WERE MEANT TO BE! Sometimes mistakes must be made so that wisdom can be gained! Sometimes our background/history leaves us feeling fragile or weak and (for our greatest happiness) we must tackle those difficulties - after all, we were created with mighty powers of renewal (see previous blog post, “Barriers, Hindrances, and Other Difficulties…"). We – each of us - were provided with the ultimate healing and renewing power of our Savior’s atoning sacrifice. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in a recent General Conference address:
“In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng
I’ll share thoughts a little later in this post on the trials we face that are not of our own making. But first I would like to write a little about weaknesses and imperfections – and I’d like to say that, more and more, we are hearing the concept of imperfection being referred to as “incompleteness” (perfection = complete; e.g., see https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/wanted-hands-and-hearts-to-hasten-the-work?lang=eng).
We are all very likely painfully aware of our weaknesses and imperfections. And according to Kari Archibald, professor of Recreation Management at BYU-Idaho, this is actually the first step in spiritual renewal! She said, “A resilient person recognizes [her/his] weakness.” And she expanded along these lines by saying that we will make progress if we have “humility and awareness of aspects of our lives that need some work.” Heavenly Father strengthens us through this awareness of our weaknesses:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)
So . . . . Stretch this thought a little further and recognize that our aim is to VIEW OBSTACLES AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH.
The trials of this life will ultimately lead to renewal, to greater resilience, to a closer relationship with our Savior, and indeed to joy if we patiently trust in God’s plan and discover how to use weaknesses and adversity to grow stronger.
As we grow, let’s you and I keep these things in mind:
*Celebrate your efforts!
*Yes, weaknesses can be painful to acknowledge and to work through, but the alternative option is to stay in our comfort zone – and while a comfort zone is a beautiful place, nothing ever grows there!
*Love yourself now, even in your incomplete state. Believe in yourself and who you have been empowered to become. Heavenly Father does.
A Way to Deal with Life's Challenges
In an excellent article entitled “Raising Resilient Children,” https://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/03/raising-resilient-children?lang=eng, Lyle J Burrup noted: “As children become resilient, they understand and accept these two facts. They see life as challenging and ever changing, but they believe they can cope with those challenges and changes. They view mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn, and they accept that losing may precede winning.
Further he stated, “As children develop resilience, they believe they can influence and even control outcomes in their lives through effort, imagination, knowledge, and skill. With this attitude, they focus on what they do rather than on what is outside their control.” This is a great approach for all of us!
Difficulties Not of Our Making
Yet some things are outside our control. Which brings us to another point: What about those who have been dealt very difficult lives? Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency addressed this in a General Conference talk as he said, “…our lives may seem to be touched by, or even wrapped in, darkness. Sometimes the night that surrounds us will appear oppressive, disheartening, and frightening. My heart grieves for the many sorrows some of you face, for the painful loneliness and wearisome fears you may be experiencing. Nevertheless, I bear witness that our living hope is in Christ Jesus! He is the true, pure, and powerful entrance to divine enlightenment.
"I testify that with Christ, darkness cannot succeed. Darkness will not gain victory over the light of Christ.
I invite each of you to open your heart to Him. Seek Him through study and prayer. As you walk toward the hope of God’s light, you will discover the compassion, love, and goodness of a loving Heavenly Father, “in [whom there] is no darkness at all.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/the-hope-of-gods-light?lang=eng)
Coming up – ideas for next steps in spiritual renewal . . .