Sunday, February 14, 2010
Lifting up my eyes on Valentine's Day
In the midst of trials, it is easy to get caught up in the things going on in our lives. It is easy to see the stress, fears, pain, or even to get caught up in the joy of a moment, without really looking beyond our own bodies and minds. Sometimes I think that comes from being overwhelmed, or underwhelmed, by the circumstances we find ourselves in. I know that too often I focus only on surviving in the moment, and not on the bigger picture of life.
The gospel teaches us that all experiences we have here on earth are for our benefit. This is a time of learning, and testing. We know that there are things we could not learn as spirit children, that for full growth and development that we needed to gain bodies, and to gain experiences with those bodies.
Some of those experiences are pretty straightforward. For example, we need to be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, receive the knowledge and covenants of the Temple, and take the sacrament every Sunday. Our bodies need to learn the physical acts that go with these spiritual blessings. For many of us, we will learn the joys and sorrows of having children.
We will learn free agency, and understand that while we are free to make choices, we are not free to choose the consequences of those choices. We learn this first as children, making wrong choices, being corrected by our parents, learning to apologize and make restitution where we can, and having our parents teach us how to make better choices the next time we have a similar situation. As adults we continue to learn from our mistakes, hopefully, and to take responsibility for those actions of ours who hurt others. We learn that we are hurting ourselves by those actions, as well as our Savior.
As children we often start out by simply learning what is right and wrong. We learn how wrong choices affect us first, and then how they affect others. As adults we are expected to move beyond that simplistic view, and begin to make right choices because that is what we need to do to be more like the Savior. We learn to love the Savior more, as we realize that He not only atoned for our sins, but that through the atonement He is able to heal the hurts and pain that we cause, or have been caused to us, that we could never heal or make right ourselves.
It is only in experiencing the pain that is caused by our own sins, and the sins of others that we can understand the joy that the atonement brings. We are taught that there must needs be opposition in all things. It is fairly easy to understand that we must taste bitter to appreciate sweet, and physical pain so that we can appreciate good health. Maybe harder to understand, but just as vital for our spiritual well-being, is that we must experience sin to understand the joy of the gospel and the atonement.
This is part of the reason why the Fall was a necessary part of our experiences here on earth. If it were possible for us to live a perfect life, never making a mistake, and never truly being tempted to commit sin, then we could not appreciate the gospel and the joy that comes through repentance and being cleansed of sin. It isn't that we should sin on purpose, just so we can repent, that is willful rebellion, but that we should recognize that part of the physical experiences on earth are that we sin, and that we have the blessing of repentance.
Which brings me back to this week. Between sick me, sick kids, my husband feeling bad because his feet were blistered up after starting a new exercise program, a crib that broke again (and we then realized that it had been recalled), Maddy growing out of her car seat (how did she get so long all of the sudden?), lice going around the 1st grade and nits showing up in Sarah's hair, and cramping from an especially bad period, it might be tempting to simply focus on surviving the week. It might be tempting to not read my scriptures, because I am tired, and to forget about my visiting teaching sisters, just for this week. It is tempting to grumble about waking up five times tonight, between Maddy needing comfort and my body cramping, and to ignore the promptings each time.
However, I am a spiritual daughter of God, who is on the earth having a earthly experience. I need to remember to look up after I say my prayers, and be grateful for the inspiration that rains down on me. If I am going to pray for my visiting teaching sisters, it would be ungrateful of me to not follow promptings about them, even if I am cramping at 4:00 am, and really just want to take more ibuprofen and go to bed. So, instead of falling back to sleep as soon as I could, I made truffle centers, so that I can deliver them to my visiting teaching sisters after stake conference today. I am not sure why it is that important, but after the third time having the prompting in as many hours, I know that it is. Maybe the cramps were just the Lord's way of getting my attention, and reminding me to look up to Him, and to hear the answers to my prayers. (Now that I made them and they are cooling in the fridge, can I go back to sleep Heavenly Father?)
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope you take a minute to reflect on your loved ones today, and that your reflections include Heavenly Father and Christ, who love you, pray for you, watch over you, and so often are just waiting for you to look up, and see the blessings they are pouring down on you. After all, what is Valentine's Day if we don't send and receive messages of love? I testify that no matter how physically or emotionally challenging life is, that our Heavenly Father is sending you messages of love. If you aren't hearing or seeing those messages, maybe you need to join me in taking a moment to be still, and look up. I love you, and I know that He does too!