Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thoughts on the Strait and Narrow.

As I have walked down this path I am currently on, I try to see the relation to what I am reading to what I see with my own eyes. I found myself remembering Christi urging me to see this on many occasions, but not until recently had I had an open heart to see them.

As I read, 1 Nephi chapter 8 was speaking of a vision about the tree of life and partaking of the fruit. As people were partaking of the fruit, a building high in the sky was full of people scoffing at the ones partaking of the fruit and people were embarrassed that they were making fun of them. As the embarrassed ones left the tree, they strayed off the strait and narrow path. This spoke so clearly and straight to my heart I had to stop for a minute to catch my breath.

This is happening to me now, I feel like I have finally found the strait and narrow and people are questioning my every move and thought. It is also very much a part of everyday life for many members of the church, no matter how old a rumor is or a joke people poke fun at the church.
I keep remembering a talk I had with some missionaries awhile back about this, I then realized at that moment as well that the further we go down this path the days may be difficult, but if we remember what the ultimate goal is it is so worth it. The ultimate goal its to return to our Father in heaven and we must remain steadfast and true to what we know to be true within our hearts, souls, and minds. It may seem easier to just walk away from the path, but if you are quiet and open your hearts the Spirit will never let you down and the Spirit will help you every step of the way.

As a younger person, I read of the strait and narrow and I always thought straight, as in a straight line. Never did I realize it is actually spelled strait, as in rocky and not smooth at all. When it was pointed out to me recently, it hit me like a board to the side of my head. I always thought if I go to church and do all the things I am supposed to do, then life is cake. Never did I think it's supposed to be full of trials and moments of sadness and frustration. These are the things that help us grow. When I finally realized this, I was promised it was worth it.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lessons Learned: The Snow Blower

The air is cold today. My little fingers are freezing as I write this, despite having both my space heater and the regular (house) heater going. We’ve had quite the storm going on in our little part of Utah, one that has been consistently dropping snow on us since Christmas Eve.

I’m grateful for the snow (deep down), grateful for the water that will come from it during the dry months this summer. It’s heartbreaking to see once robust creeks and rivers dwindle to nothingness in drought years. I hate it. I hate to see dry rocks and a tiny trickle of water where there used to be big swells and rapids. It makes me sad. I know, I know. Sadness because of dry creeks and riverbeds? Silly. I just hate seeing nothing where there should be something. Our spiritual riverbeds can dry up just as easily, if not fed by the snow of scripture study and prayer. This is something I am (unfortunately) all too familiar with. We need to feed our rivers and creeks with the rejuvenating power of a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father. In fact, Heavenly Father taught me a powerful lesson just this morning, using snow and a finicky snow blower as His tools. I feel like I should share it, because the lesson learned is one that is all too easily forgotten.

Let me just start by saying that I LOVE Utah, but I HATE snow. You can’t have Utah without snow, so I just have to pick my battles. I woke up to about 7 inches of snow on my driveway this morning. This after having snow-blown (is that a phrase?) approximately 5 inches last night. It’s hard to be grateful and remember those empty riverbeds when you are faced with an hour’s worth of snow blowing. So, as the grumpier version of myself, I hitched up my big-girl panties and my snow gear and went out to face the dreaded white stuff. Now, I understand that snow blowers make our lives infinitely easier. I’m also keenly aware of the fact that not everyone owns one. We didn’t have one in the last house I lived in, and that was a nightmare (we lived on the side of a mountain. I’ll let you fill in the gaps). While I am grateful for this piece of modern machinery, in all my first-world problems existence, I wish they were easier. I want to turn a key and have it start like a car. I don’t like all this pull-the-choke-out-and prime-then-pull-ridiculously-long-string-to-start business. Oh, and as an added bonus, I needed to add gas to the thing.

Although the grumpier version of myself, I went out with youthful positivity that I would be able to start it, get it done, and move on with my day. I had grand plans to get myself a new tire, since I shredded one last night on my way to pick up a gift card that I purchased but never received. And then, I pulled the cord. And pulled. And pulled. Pushed the primer again. And pulled. Shouted “Are you kidding me?”. And pulled some more. Whined something about my knight in shining pick-up truck, and where the heck is he? And pulled. Then, I prayed. Just a little guy prayer. A quick couple liner asking for help because I needed it. With renewed confidence that the Lord would help, I resumed the task at hand and pulled with all my might. A stutter, a whiff of gas, and…..nothing.

With a huff I stomped off into the house, throwing off snow gear as I stomped to the living room. A pouffy coat here, a beanie there, gloves everywhere. As I sat on the arm of my couch, grumbling in frustration, I saw a picture of the Savior on my mantel. “Why aren’t You helping me?” I said to Him out loud. I am (usually) grateful for lessons, but was frustrated and wondering why today had to be the day I learned one. Then, softly, I heard the Spirit whisper to me “Try one more time”. I hurriedly put all my snow gear back on and went out the garage where my nemesis sat in all its red glory. It had now been an hour since I began trying to get this thing to work. I put my gloved hand on the handle, reached down, and pulled that stupid string with all my might. Fully expecting it to roar to life, I looked up happily, and then realized it had not. There it sat, with my hand on the handle, stupid string in my other one, not doing a dang thing. Just as I was about to have a Clark Griswold style freak out, I saw it. The ignition, turned to the “Off” position.

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

I had forgotten to turn the thing on before I did my whole pull-the choke-and-string process. You have to turn it ON before it will START. Imagine that. I had just spent over an hour of my life trying to get this thing going, and it wouldn’t simply because I had overlooked the obvious.

And then it hit me like a train. The Lord wants to help us. He wants us to succeed and come back to Him. He wants to help us when we need it, even with seemingly small things like starting a snow blower. But our Heavenly Father also gives us a brain for a reason. We are here to grow and learn eternal principles before returning to Him. But He won’t give us the answer right away if there is something to be learned from guiding us in figuring it out ourselves. I felt ashamed for asking why He wouldn't help me, as I realized that I hadn't done everything I needed to do in order for Him to help me.

In Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8, we are reminded that we must first figure it out, then go to our Heavenly Father and ask if the thing we have decided on is right:

7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must astudy it out in your bmind; then you must cask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your dbosom shall eburn within you; therefore, you shall ffeel that it is right.”

He could’ve fixed it right away for me. He could’ve turned the key to on when I was in the house so that the machine would rumble to life when I pulled the cord that last time. If he had, I wouldn’t have been reminded of this valuable lesson. We always need to make sure we have our ducks in a row, and that we are doing everything we should be doing in order to increase opportunities for our Heavenly Father to work miracles in our lives and teach us things we wouldn’t know otherwise. We need to make sure we have our ignitions set to “On” in order for Him to do even more in our lives.

After I switched the ignition, my nemesis the snow blower quickly rumbled to life and I was able to clear my driveway and get my chores done. The tire on my car remains, but there will be time for that later.

I am grateful for snow, a loving Heavenly Father who knows me better than I do. A Heavenly Father who wants me to be the best version of me, and is guiding me in the journey to get there.

What lessons have you learned recently that have had an impact on your life?