Family First Friday #16 (on Saturday…again) Growth and Development? Really?

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

 As you know, this week has been really full for me.  My friend (25) lost her husband on Easter Sunday.  We have been planning the funeral and taking care of the details.  She has had so many decisions to make.  I am sure I am not aware of even half of them.  Her family and his have rallied around her and those little boys to support them during their time of need.  Brothers and sisters have taken 2 weeks off of work and out of their lives to be here for their mourning.  One week down, one week to go.  Today is the funeral.

But then what?  Yes, she and the boys will have support during a very difficult time, which is wonderful and not to be negated.  But when everyone returns to work and their homes and their lives, what then as my friend tries to return to normal life, that suddenly isn’t normal anymore and isn’t what she planned?  Then what?

Those are tough times, places where the grief strikes without warning, where frustrations mount, and loneliness and despair can set in.  Those are the times where the ‘usual’ people in her life will need to be more sensitive and more aware and more capable of helping.  Unfortunately, the ‘usual’ people don’t usually do that.

copyright: Karen Larsen photography

These will be the times when my friend enters her own personal Garden of Gethsemane, where she has to reach deep into the recesses of her soul and connect with her Father in Heaven.  If she is willing to pay the price and do the work, these times will be precious and hallowed ground for her.  If she does not, they will be remembered as times of bitter sorrow and anguish, when she felt no one was listening or even cared.

It is so very interesting to me that when we have trials in our lives, we tend to turn one of two directions—-either to God or away from him.  Our reactions speak volumes about where we are spiritually and how we feel about God.  Those who are humble and seeking understanding turn their hearts to God and become sanctified through their grief and sorrows.  Like the Savior, they submit their will and their attitude to what they feel ‘God has allowed to happen’ in their lives and they reach for understanding and open their hearts to learning about His love.  The flip side of that, is turning from God, or worse yet, cursing Him because life has not dealt with us the way we think it should have happened.

copyright: Karen Larsen photography

I kind of liken it to my two-year-old.  Most of the time, he is pretty upset that life is not going his way.  He yells, he stomps, he throws things, including throwing himself, thrown on the floor screaming and crying.  Luckily, he is still only two, and when he comes to his senses, he apologizes, changes his heart and his attitude and will submit to the things ‘I,’ as his parent, choose to inflict upon him (Mosiah 3:19).  Little children will do that—change on a dime, relinquish their desired heart agenda and submit, eventually, which I suppose, is why we are commanded to become as little children.  Adults?  Not so much.

The more attuned I become to my emotions in a current situation and circumstance, the more I recognize that I still behave a lot like my two-year-old.  I don’t throw things, or kick people, but there is A LOT of internal yelling going on and some serious attitude about why my life is looking a certain way.  Luckily for me, I also behave like my two-year-old, in that I eventually submit my will.  My head knows that submitting is the right answer and the proper course of behavior.  It usually takes my heart quite a while longer to agree with my head, and that is when I am having an attitude problem, but at least I know that is the issue.

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

I have to pray for strength and desire to change my attitude.  It is not an easy fix.  Sometimes I have to pray to love someone I think has wronged me.  Sometimes I don’t pray for love, I just pray for tolerance, and sometimes I just pray for understanding and to treat them properly when I bump into them.  (I certainly don’t want to add more sin to my plate by behaving badly.  Fixing my attitude is enough!!)

It is interesting to me that you can see these very attitudes in children and adults at any point in their lives.  When you really ask them how they are feeling, you can measure their attitude and usually tell how they are responding to the situations in their lives and if those difficulties and tragedies will be for their growth and development, or whether they will succumb to the natural man or woman within. 

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

I am grateful that the gospel teaches us that God is not some obnoxious creature out there messing with us mortals to gain pleasure.  Wouldn’t that be miserable?  But that is not who He is.  When we understand that He is our Father; that He loves us, more than we can even possibly love our own children (3rd Nephi 10: 4-6); that He knows us, strengths, weaknesses, desires, all of it; that His purpose is to ‘bring to pass the immortality and eternal life’ of us, His children (Moses 1:39); that He does not give stones and serpents, but only bread and fish (Luke 11: 9-13); that He is perfectly just, perfectly merciful, perfectly loving, perfectly honest; that He has ‘sent forth the winds and the waves’ that will drive us to our promised lands (Ether 2:24-25); and that He ‘has prepared a way’ for us to accomplish the things which He has commanded us’ (1st Nephi 3:7); when we know those things about our Father in Heaven, we can know that in our times of trial, our Gardens of Gethsemane, we can turn to Him!  We can submit our will to His and ‘all these things will be for [our] growth and development’.

He is our Father.  He loves us, warts, baldness, bad attitude and all.  We do not have to pretend for Him, He knows us already.  There are no secrets, no closets, no skeletons.  No hiding!  Hide and seek with God is useless, so don’t try.  Give that up right now!

I hope my dear friend continues in her submission.  For now, her heart is pliable and God’s plan is working.  She is changing and growing, even though this time is very painful. 

My greatest hope, however, is that my heart remains pliable.  I have not been too keen on the ‘growing experiences’ the Lord has planned for me.  They hurt!  (And you already know about my attitude…………..’nuff said about that.)

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