Friday, April 26, 2013

What I’ve learned from [your] trials.

Sunday in Relief Society the teacher taught that lesson on trials that I’d prepared for the last month.  I was already very primed for it and it was a great lesson. 

Throughout the class several people made comments about the importance of not being angry with God during trials, not asking why, continuing to have faith, being grateful for growth experiences, etc.  In short, everything I did not succeed in doing during the last year.  I was grateful when one woman, who had been asked to talk about what she had learned from her trials, said that during one particularly difficult time she knew that she had been unable to hear the spirit because she simply was in too much pain.  Yeah.

As I sat and thought about all of the comments and ideas that were swirling around me I realized something.  It certainly would be great if we were able to learn from all of our trials as they were happening, feel God’s love, have our testimonies strengthened, etc. 

[If it’s worked that way for you, that’s wonderful.  Just please don’t tell me that’s the way it should be for me too.] 

In the last year and a half the pain and loss I have felt has been so intense that I haven’t been able to see or feel much of anything beyond my pain—I have done well to survive and do the things that had to be done.  Even the experiences that I had that were spiritually strengthening were difficult to remember in the moments of overwhelming grief.


I realized as I sat there in Relief Society that while I didn’t feel like I had learned much (yet?) from my own trial, I felt like I had learned so much from the trials of people around me.  Not being completely immersed in the pain of the situation means that I have more clarity and perspective on your trials sometimes than I do with my own. 


Last summer the kids and I stayed with some friends who had just experienced an enormous tragedy in their family.  As I listened to my friend talk about the situation it was crystal clear to me that even though the Lord had not kept this tragedy from happening, He had intervened in their lives in several important and specific ways to provide support for them during this incredibly painful crisis. 

Just before Christmas I (along with many of you) was shocked to learn about our friend Brian’s heart attack.  Within 24 hours of hearing the news I also started hearing about the many tender mercies that had preceded and accompanied this terrible event.  As Lindsay blogged the next month about all of the miracles that she had seen my heart was so touched and I felt my testimony of Heavenly Father’s love and concern for us increase.

As I’ve watched your trials and listened to you talk about them I have (sometimes) been able to have a better sense of perspective about what I’m going through.  This is a tricky one—I firmly believe that there are moments when we need to look around and see that, as Cindy Lynn put it, our handcart isn’t the heaviest one out there.  But there are other moments when I think it helps us to understand that whether or not this is the “worst” trial, it is our trial and causes us grief and pain.

On Easter Sunday the Sunday School teacher talked for the last few minutes of class about the story of Lazarus’ death.  I can’t remember what he said about it, but I do remember the new thoughts I had.  This time I thought in a new way about how Mary and Martha had wanted one thing (Christ to come and heal their brother), but, knowing that was not the plan, Jesus did not give them what they wanted.  He allowed Lazarus to die, knowing that this was a necessary part of the bigger plan.  And more than ever before I was struck by the idea that Jesus Christ cried with Mary & Martha, that he grieved for their sorrow even when he knew that it would be turned to joy in just a short time.  This realization that Jesus isn’t ever telling us to “get over it” or “buck up because it’s all for the best” or “you can choose how to feel about this” or even “don’t worry, it will all be ok” meant so much to me.  Seeing again the depths of his compassion for them, (and therefore for us) touched my heart and gave me such comfort.


I sincerely & fervently hope that with time I will be able to look back on the last year and a half and see that it was a growing & strengthening experience.  I hope that at that point I can be grateful that God had a plan for our family and that he supported us through it.  But until I reach that point, I’m glad that I can learn these things from your trials.

1 comment:

  1. I think that's a gift... being able to truly learn from others' experiences. I think so many of us just close our eyes to the hundreds of thousands of lessons that really are being taught to all those around us because they're not specifically directed at us. I also think it's perfectly fine to not be able to learn anything through the middle of a trial. I wonder what the difference is between trials that I've been able to learn through the middle of, and those that I have not. I don't think it's only pain because the pain has been intense on both sides of the spectrum... I wonder if sometimes 'not learning' is just part of the trial... Because, when your faith is being strengthened, the suffering is so much duller, don't you think? But when you can't actively feel the Lord in your life through an intense trial - that's what true suffering is. I think, anyway. Maybe it's part of the plan.

    But, I'm willing to bet that through the years you'll be able to look back on these things and pick out the lessons that you're just too hurt to see right now.

    (Yep - catching up on blogs again!)