Sunday, October 26, 2008

Adversity--or, why I love Elder Wirthlin


Dan and I gave talks at church today and since I stayed up until 3 am working on it, I think I'm gonna post it. I know it's super excruciatingly long, but if you read fast and act kind of nervous you can get through it in 13 minutes, even if you cry at the end and don't stop to get a tissue (I did). We were assigned to talk on Adversity. I studied several talks by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin and I just love that man. He's related, so maybe that's why I think he's so cool. Plus, when Maggie was born, Cam said she looked just like him. Anyway, the fonts get a little weird in there, but I don't know how to fix it. Without further ado here's my two cents on adversity:

I was wrestling to get our screaming twins into their pajamas with Maggie pulling on my arms and asking me to refill her sippy cup with juice when Dan informed me that we had just been asked to give talks on Adversity. It’s a topic I know all too well. Just kidding.

Before I begin my talk, let me introduce you to our family. Dan and I have been married for 3 and a half years. We met at an institute dance when Dan was impressing all the ladies with his dance moves he learned from a Donna Richardson aerobics DVD. We fell in love soon thereafter at a BYU/Utah football game. The only problem is we were cheering for different teams. I was born and raised in Provo and graduated from BYU, while Dan grew up in Woods Cross and is finishing his Masters Degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Utah. We get along great, except during football season. Tensions can run high especially during the rivalry game. But it gives me hope that the Bishop and his wife are in a similar football situation and they’ve learned to cope. Before moving here, we lived in Provo, Lehi, and Woods Cross, and now we’re in Lehi again. Hopefully we’re done bouncing up and down the Wasatch front--I think we’ll be here for a long time. Dan is working as a geotechnical engineer in Bluffdale(I’m not exactly sure what he does, but it involves dirt and rocks, auto-cad, and the occasional hardhat). I taught Kindergarten for two years, but have put that on hold while I stay home with our gaggle of babies. We have 3 kids; Maggie just turned 2. She enjoys eating candy, dancing, doing puzzles, and jumping. Though she is very bad at jumping it is definitely entertaining to watch. Our twins Will and Coleman are 3 months. They enjoy drinking milk, crying, smiling, and sleeping. Those are really the only activities they involve themselves in at this time. But Dan can’t wait for them to be able to play football. He has told me that the only way he’ll cheer for BYU is if the twins make the team in 20 years. So I’ve got my work cut out for me to raise these two little linemen. Wish me luck.

As I mentioned before, our assigned topic is Adversity. Adversity is generally defined as trials, troubles, and distress. With that definition in mind, I feel comfortable in assuming that most of us see some measure of adversity every day. I know I do. Adversity is a major part of life.

In 2 Nephi 2:11, we read, “11 For it must needs be, that there is an aopposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”

In D&C 29:39, it says, ”And it must needs be that the adevil should btempt the children of men, or they could not be cagents unto themselves; for if they never should have dbitter they could not know the sweet.” These scriptures illustrate the importance of adversity in our lives. We must have opposition in our lives. If we never had trials and hardships, we wouldn’t recognize our blessings. Adversity is a teacher. Adversity helps us to grow. Because we have agency, we have times of distress and difficulty. But adversity prepares us to enjoy times of joy and peace.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “Be of good cheer. The Man of Galilee, the Creator, the Son of the Living God will not forget nor forsake those whose hearts are drawn to Him. I testify that the Man who suffered for mankind, who committed His life to healing the sick and comforting the disconsolate, is mindful of your sufferings, doubts, and heartaches. “Then,” the world would ask, “why does He sleep when the tempest rages all around me? Why does He not still this storm, or why would He let me suffer?” Your answer may be found in considering a butterfly. Wrapped tightly in its cocoon, the developing chrysalis must struggle with all its might to break its confinement. The butterfly might think, Why must I suffer so? Why cannot I simply, in the twinkling of an eye, become a butterfly?  Such thoughts would be contrary to the Creator’s design. The struggle to break out of the cocoon develops the butterfly so it can fly. Without that adversity, the butterfly would never have the strength to achieve its destiny. It would never develop the strength to become something extraordinary.”

And so it is with us. Just as the adversity of breaking out of a cocoon prepares a butterfly to fly, overcoming adversity in our lives by drawing close to the Savior allows us to be molded by Him so that we can reach our full potential. Elder Wirthlin continued, “Adversity can strengthen and refine us. As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people. Even when we are called to sail through troubled waters, we need to know the place of adversity in shaping our divine potential. If only we would look beyond our present suffering and see our struggles as a temporary chrysalis. If only we would have the faith and trust in our Heavenly Father to see how, after a little season, then we can emerge from our trials more refined and glorious.”

Although trials and troubles are difficult for us to pass through, if we are wise we would not wish to live a life without them. At first the idea of living without setbacks or hardships sounds really nice, but if you never had struggles that would mean you would never progress, you would never learn, you would never grow.

Elder Wirthlin taught,  “What parent would say to a child, “Learning to walk is such a painful and difficult experience, you will stumble, you will most likely hurt yourself, you will cry many times when you fall. I will protect you from the struggle”? I have watched our youngest grandson, Seth, as he was learning to walk. Through this process of gaining experience, he now walks with confidence. Could I have said to him, “Out of my love for you, I will save you from this”? If so, because I could not bear to see him take a tumble at times, he may have never learned to walk. That is unthinkable for a loving parent or grandparent.

The child, if he or she is ever to walk, must pass through the stumbling and often painful process of learning. We encouraged Seth to learn through his experience. Yes, even knowing that the process would be difficult, we knew that the freedom and joy of walking would outweigh any temporary pain or adversity. What is mortality if not a long process like learning to walk?”

We know adversity is an integral and necessary part of our earthly experience. But that does not mean it is easy. However, there are many things we can do to make overcoming adversity easier. In his conference address at the beginning of this month, Elder Wirthlin outlined several things we can do to get through times of testing and trial.

The first thing is, Learn to Laugh. When I was a child, I was a horrible sport when it came to playing games with my older brother and sister. We loved to play a game where we took turns placing blocks on a block tower. We would carefully put blocks on and hope that the tower wouldn’t topple over. If the tower fell, the player who caused it to fall would receive a letter to spell the word “PIG.” I was the youngest player in the game, and thus the worst when it came to having a steady hand. No matter how hard I tried not to, I made the tower fall nearly every turn. It was incredibly frustrating. I developed a strategy to help me cope, I would quit the game after I received the letters P and I. That way I wouldn’t spell PIG and I wouldn’t lose. My siblings would always get mad at me for quitting and then we would yell insults back and forth until we were all in tears. Then one day I realized that it wasn’t a big deal at all. Instead of being frustrated when I would lose, I figured that it really could be kind of funny. I completely changed my attitude and was able to joke with my siblings about how badly I was losing. We even came up with a saying that we use in my family still today, “Better a PIG than a quitter!” It has taught me that it is better to face hardship with humor than it is to quit and thus face failure. Cultivate a good attitude. A wise leader once told me, “if you’ll be able to laugh about something in ten years, why not laugh about it now?” Laughing is a strategy that Dan and I use a lot. Last week each of us were holding  and burping a fussy baby when Maggie decided to throw a tantrum as well. We looked at our children and at each other and broke out laughing. Sometimes if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry. We choose to laugh.

            The second suggestion to help you through adversity is to Seek for the Eternal. No one is exempt from feeling sorrow. Many people suffer privately from afflictions others know nothing about. Even great men and women from the scriptures endured enormous hardships. Last week during relief society, Sister Robinson asked us to list as many of the trials as we could that Joseph Smith had faced in his life. He seemed to face everything from taunting and humiliation to the deaths of his children and close family members. He faced extreme hardship with his health and was asked to accomplish amazingly difficult spiritual tasks such as translating the Book of Mormon. But he never wavered because he trusted in God. Through all of his trials, he leaned on his Savior. Keeping an eternal perspective and remembering that Christ suffered and overcame every trial, sin, and adversity we may suffer on this earth will help us to overcome. My mother is an example to me of someone who seeks for the eternal. With any adversity she or any member of our family may face, she first gets on her knees and prays. Every time I call her to seek her advice she asks me if I have prayed. Prayer is an important way that we can seek for the eternal and regain our spiritual perspective during our trials.

            The third thing that will help us to overcome adversity is to understand the principle of compensation. Elder Wirthlin said, “The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.” What a comforting thought that is! We will be compensated and receive blessings because of our struggles. Parents who lose their children to death, will be able to raise them to adulthood on the other side of the veil, those who have the unmet desire to marry in this life, will receive the opportunity in the eternities. While we will not always be compensated in the way we would like or in our timeline, the Lord is mindful of us. We will not always receive exact replacements of things that are lost, but we will receive Joy in place of sorrow and peace instead of struggle. As a missionary I was always enthused that if I had a bad week or lost an investigator, it wouldn’t be long before things would be so much better and we would find another prepared soul to teach. Often times we are compensated during our trials by the development of new skills, attributes, and attitudes that we gain from the struggle. I always come out of my trials and hard ache having learned something from the experience.

            Elder Wirthlin’s fourth strategy to overcome adversity is to Trust in the Father and the Son. We may not understand why trials come our way, but we have to trust that our Heavenly Father is aware of us. He loves us. He will strengthen us and fortify us. As it says in the scriptures, he will make our week things become strong. In D&C 123:17, it says, “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us acheerfully bdo all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the csalvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” If we patiently and faithfully seek to submit our wills to, and trust in our Heavenly Father, we will see his hand in our lives.

I had the experience on my mission in Hungary of meeting an amazing woman named Margit Neni. She was 83 years old and had outlived her husband and all three of her children. She told us that for years she had lived in a very dark depression. She often contemplated suicide. She wondered every day why these hardships had come to her. One day, as she was tearfully making her way to the cemetery to visit her husband’s grave she met a woman who asked her why she was crying. She said, “I’m crying because my family is gone and I wonder why I’m still here.” The woman wisely told her, “Well you’re here because there’s something you still need to do.” A few weeks later, my companion and I met her and taught her the gospel. Margit Neni’s life completely changed as she realized that Heavenly Father was aware of her and that he had a plan to make it possible for her to be together with her family again. She understood why she was still here—to learn about the gospel for herself and her family. As we taught her, the veil was very thin, it was a very sweet experience for us and for Margit. I know that if we will lean on the Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ, we will gain eternal perspective, hope in the future, and peace of mind. I am thankful for a wise Father in Heaven who allows his children to struggle so that they may grow. I am thankful for the broken hearts, failures, bumps, bruises, and struggles I have encountered in my life. They have given me a greater appreciation of the gospel, increased my faith, made me a better wife and mother, and helped me to take myself less seriously and laugh. I know that Adversity has a purpose and that we will be blessed by facing it with faith and optimism, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

7 comments:

Tiffany said...

Loved reading your thoughts Megs- You're a good example to all!

Jennifer said...

That was fantastic! Thanks for posting that!! :)

Byde and Mel said...

Megs-I love Elder Wirthlin as well. What great talks...both of you. You are amazing. Thanks for the reminders:)

Rachel said...

Thank you SO much for posting your talk. I really needed to hear/read it. Things we all know but at certain times forget and a good reminder at just the right time is soothing to wounds.

Ginna said...

well that was an enjoyable enlightening read! It's almost as good as really being there to hear you give the talk yourself.
It was great.

Dan said...

megs! ThAt was so awesome! It was so good to read it. Sorry I was so nervous that I wasn't able to listen very intently. You did a great job and are a wonderful wife and mother. You're an ispiration to everyone!

Nick & Jennie Mabey said...

Beautifully put. . .you and Daniel have a way with words.

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