When bad things happen

I know!  I missed my Family First Friday blog.  Oh well.  I guess that happens.  When all is said and done, I wanted to have 52 Family First Friday posts.  So far I have 37.  So I won’t hit the mark, but I will be so much closer than last year, when I think I had seven.  Maybe next year I will have all 52!!  But that is not what my post is about today.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the temple.  It was amazing.  We didn’t get to attend a session for endowments because two stakes were having their stake temple day.  The locker room was packed before we arrived and when we were leaving–standing room only, in the locker room!  Crazy!  But it was great to see so many people there worshiping together.

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

While we were coming home from the temple, my family was having another adventure.  We live on a very busy intersection.  (Not busy by big city standards, but very busy by super small city standards.)  Our intersection is the main place to turn to get to the church building and a major route to the only hospital in town.  Because it is busy, we probably have about four accidents a year at our intersection.  Most are fender benders and people just not being very careful.  We usually hear the accident and then we (all the neighbors included) run out to see who needs help and what we can do, call the ambulance, or police, or whoever needs to be notified.

Around 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. yesterday, there was a major crash at our intersection.  My husband went running out to check on the vehicles and passengers.  His adrenaline went through the roof when he saw that the car which was hit had four elders in it (missionaries) with blood everywhere, and three were unconscious and unresponsive.  Various emergency vehicles were called.  The sisters were just a few car lengths in front of them ahead of the accident after they had made the turn to the building, so they pulled over, and called their mission president and the zone leaders.

Two missionaries eventually walked away from the accident.  Two were taken to the hospital.  One was released last night after eight staples in his head (I think that is where all the blood came from).  The other was flown to a larger hospital down south.  I think he will be alright, but obviously his injuries were bad enough that our hospital didn’t feel like they could manage his care.  Please add your prayers to our and pray for those boys and their families, include their companions too.  Because even though they are physically alright, it doesn’t mean they are emotionally and spiritually alright.

Today I have been pondering how we manage life when hard things happen to us.  When we are struggling with our emotions because we are hurt, afraid, sad, depressed, embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, disappointed, when our spirits are low and life seems dark, how do we manage?  Where do we turn?

In my life’s experience, it seems to me that we turn one of two ways.  We either turn toward God, or we turn away from him.  If we turn away, we may turn to alcohol, drugs, pornography, anger, apathy, food, or any number of other avenues we may try to use to soothe our negative feelings.  Unfortunately, these things do not take away or fix our negative feelings, they simply mask them so we don’t have to feel them right now.

The only way to truly manage them properly, to eliminate them or help manage them while we are working through them, is to turn to God—to give them to Him, through the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Read this story to give context for the next part of our discussion.

It took me a minute or two of pondering to put some concepts together in my head and help me gain a clearer picture.  I struggled with how the Savior has paid for all sin, when the scriptures teach us, in D&C 19: 15-18:

 15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

 16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

 17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

 18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
It seemed to me that it wouldn’t be just, for justice to be paid twice, once by the Savior and once by those who do not repent.  That didn’t seem right.

But if you look at it as each sin needing to be paid for twice, once for the one who committed the sin–the driver in Joe’s story, and once for the person who received the pain and suffering of the behavior (Joe), then it is easy to see how the Savior has paid for all sins, at least on one side, or both sides of the equation, while still requiring the unrepentant perpetrator to pay for his own sin.

When bad things happen to us, especially due to no fault of our own, the only place to turn to that will adequately mend our souls, is to the Savior, who has paid the price already for all of our pain and suffering.  He has felt it all and is intimately acquainted with our grief and sorrow and pain.  When we choose not to turn to Him in those moments, we are denying the power of the Atonement and the Savior’s ability to succor us in our moments of trial, hardship, and despair.

Lest you think I am on a soap box and preaching at you, the truth be told, I don’t know exactly how to do that myself.  Intellectually, it makes total and complete sense to me.  Application wise?  I am still learning and struggling through my mortality as much as you are.  I don’t know the how of it, I just know that I need to do it.  In our times of emotional difficulty, we can and must turn to the Savior, if we are going to manage it properly.  I know He has suffered for my sorrow, my grief, my pain, my anguish, my guilt, and even my sin, if I am willing to do what He asks of me and repent.  If I have done no wrong, I still know He knows my sorrow and pain.  He felt it.  He understands.  He knows what I need to do to get through it and learn from it.  He will never leave me, if I turn to Him.  But that has to be my choice.  He will not force me.  He will only reach after me.  The choice to come unto Him, is mine, and mine alone.

I read this article by President Uchtdorf this morning.

Instead of thinking about it in terms of gaining my testimony, I though about it in terms of strengthening my testimony, of shoring it up, gathering the oil of conversion in my lamp of testimony, so when the storms of life come at me, because they will, I have enough in there to give me light through the dark night of trial and adversity, the storms of life.  I think this post is more for me.  I feel a storm brewing on the horizon.

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