Friday, October 17, 2014

Well Enough -or- Is Enough

Tonight I found myself pleading with the Lord to help me find the person who has the answers/medication that will heal and balance me to be "well Enough" to care for my loved ones the way I long to. Well enough to care for them consistently without the crashes and lows. Just a steady well enough.

And then I pondered the fact that it could be the plan for me to struggle so deeply, so much, and so often. This is incredibly hard for me to fathom. Hard for me to even begin to piece together why it is meant for me to have a mind that is so unbalanced and fuzzy. To have a body that is so exhausted. To be well enough just long enough to get on track and then be thrust down again. Why I would be held back from doing good. From serving. From acting on desires to serve. But the truth is, it could be the plan. And so I was led to pray for answers. With a hope that My will is HIS will, but a painful knowledge and experience, that sometimes it is not. I began to pray again...

The prayer continued and turned to a plea for the feeling of Joy and peace with what is. What I do have, and what I Can Do. I just need to feel a consistent joy, and that can only come from Him. And then I asked a question to Him: HOW,  do I come to this Joy, even though...

And then the words came into my mind and heart: "Forgive HIM!" ....  And the shock! Forgive God!? (Is this blasphemy?)  But I knew it had hit home. Perhaps the right word is accept.  But truth be told, deep down I think I felt wronged. Like my spirit has been wronged by the fact that I can't fulfill what I see as my potential.

The dictionary defines the word forgive as: "stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake." And the word accept is defined as: "to be able or designed to take or hold."

And in reality, both of those words are exactly what I need to do. Carrying a belief that the RIGHT answer will always follow a prayer said in faith. I need to repent of the resentment and take hold of the gift that is my body, and my life. Believing that He, my Creator, has not made a mistake. And I am not disappointing Him in my weaknesses. They are, what they are, and if we apply faith to a weakness, He is able to make them strong in His glory and in His way.

This prayer and its answers were inspired partly after reading these two talks:

BUT IF NOT...  By DENNIS E. SIMMONS
Of the Second Quorum of the Seventy April 2004

As a young man, I returned home from an eighth-grade basketball tournament dejected, disappointed, and confused. I blurted out to my mother, “I don’t know why we lost—I had faith we’d win!”
I now realize that I did not then know what faith is.
Faith is not bravado, not just a wish, not just a hope. True faith is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—confidence and trust in Jesus Christ that leads a person to follow Him. 1
Centuries ago, Daniel and his young associates were suddenly thrust from security into the world—a world foreign and intimidating. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down and worship a golden image set up by the king, a furious Nebuchadnezzar told them that if they would not worship as commanded, they would immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” 2
The three young men quickly and confidently responded, “If it be so [if you cast us into the furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand.” That sounds like my eighth-grade kind of faith. But then they demonstrated that they fully understood what faith is. They continued, “But if not, … we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” 3 That is a statement of true faith.
They knew that they could trust God—even if things didn’t turn out the way they hoped. 4 They knew that faith is more than mental assent, more than an acknowledgment that God lives. Faith is total trust in Him.
Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego knew they could always rely on Him because they knew His plan, and they knew that He does not change. 5They knew, as we know, that mortality is not an accident of nature. It is a brief segment of the great plan 6 of our loving Father in Heaven to make it possible for us, His sons and daughters, to achieve the same blessings He enjoys, if we are willing.
They knew, as we know, that in our premortal life, we were instructed by Him as to the purpose of mortality: “We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” 7
So there we have it—it’s a test. The world is a testing place for mortal men and women. When we understand that it’s all a test, administered by our Heavenly Father, who wants us to trust in Him and to allow Him to help us, we can then see everything more clearly.
His work and His glory, He told us, is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 8 He has already achieved godhood. Now His only objective is to help us—to enable us to return to Him and be like Him and live His kind of life eternally.
Knowing all this, it was not difficult for those three young Hebrews to make their decision. They would follow God; they would exercise faith in Him. He would deliver them, but if not—and we know the rest of the story.
The Lord has given us agency, the right and the responsibility to decide. 9He tests us by allowing us to be challenged. He assures us that He will not suffer us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. 10 But we must understand that great challenges make great men. We don’t seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots can become remarkable blessings.
The Apostle Paul learned this significant lesson and declared, after decades of dedicated missionary work, “We glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed.” 11
He was assured by the Savior, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 12
Paul responded: “Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. … I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 13 When Paul met his challenges the Lord’s way, his faith increased.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.” 14 Abraham, because of his great faith, was promised posterity greater in number than the stars in the heavens, and that that posterity would come through Isaac. But Abraham immediately complied with the Lord’s command. God would keep His promise, but if not in the manner Abraham expected, he still trusted Him completely.
Men accomplish marvelous things by trusting in the Lord and keeping His commandments—by exercising faith even when they don’t know how the Lord is shaping them.
By faith Moses … refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. …
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. …
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land. …
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.” 15
Others “through faith subdued kingdoms, … obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
“Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight.” 16
But in the midst of all those glorious outcomes hoped for and expected by the participants, there were always the but if nots:
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, … bonds and imprisonment:
“They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about … being destitute, afflicted, tormented; … 17
“God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.” 18
Our scriptures and our history are replete with accounts of God’s great men and women who believed that He would deliver them, but if not, they demonstrated that they would trust and be true.
He has the power, but it’s our test.
What does the Lord expect of us with respect to our challenges? He expects us to do all we can do. He does the rest. Nephi said, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” 19
We must have the same faith as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from sickness and disease, but if not … . He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity, but if not. … He will deliver us from death or impairment of loved ones, but if not, … we will trust in the Lord.
Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not. … He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not. … We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not, … we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has. 20 I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

But if not...  LANCE B. WICKMAN
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy October 2004

Some of my richest memories are associated with weekend assignments to stake conferences as I have accompanied a stake president in visits to members of his stake wrestling with life’s challenges in courage and faith, especially those who have lost a child or who are struggling valiantly in nursing a sick or crippled or handicapped child. I know from poignant personal experience that there is no night quite so dark as the loss of a child. Neither is there any day quite so long and exhausting as the relentlessness of caring for a child crippled in form or faculty. All such parents can empathize exquisitely with the father of the child afflicted with a “dumb spirit,” who, when admonished by the Savior to believe, responded in anguish of soul, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (see Mark 9:17, 23–24).
And so today I wish to speak to all who are struggling in this laboratory of applied faith that is called mortality—and in particular to those bereaved, burdened, and grieving parents who beseechingly ask, “Why?”
First, please know that grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at his suffering or eventual death. The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning. Hence, what a grieving parent can expect to receive from the Lord in response to earnest supplication may not necessarily be an elimination of grief so much as a sweet reassurance that, whatever his or her circumstances, one’s child is in the tender care of a loving Heavenly Father.
Next, do not ever doubt the goodness of God, even if you do not know “why.” The overarching question asked by the bereaved and the burdened is simply this: Why? Why did our daughter die, when we prayed so hard that she would live and when she received priesthood blessings? Why are we struggling with this misfortune, when others relate miraculous healing experiences for their loved ones? These are natural questions, understandable questions. But they are also questions that usually go begging in mortality. The Lord has said simply, “My ways [are] higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). As the Son’s will was “swallowed up in the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:7), so must ours be.
Still, we mortals quite naturally want to know the why. Yet, in pressing too earnestly for the answer, we may forget that mortality was designed, in a manner of speaking, as the season of unanswered questions. Mortality has a different, more narrowly defined purpose: It is a proving ground, a probationary state, a time to walk by faith, a time to prepare to meet God (see, for example, Abr. 3:24–252 Ne. 31:15–16, 20Alma 12:24Alma 42:4–13). It is in nurturing humility (see Alma 32:6–21) and submissiveness (see Mosiah 3:19) that we may comprehend a fulness of the intended mortal experience and put ourselves in a frame of mind and heart to receive the promptings of the Spirit. Reduced to their essence, humility and submissiveness are an expression of complete willingness to let the “why” questions go unanswered for now, or perhaps even to ask, “Why not?” It is in enduring well to the end (see 2 Ne. 31:15–16Alma 32:15D&C 121:8) that we achieve this life’s purposes. I believe that mortality’s supreme test is to face the “why” and then let it go, trusting humbly in the Lord’s promise that “all things must come to pass in their time” (D&C 64:32).
But the Lord has not left us comfortless or without any answers. As to the healing of the sick, He has clearly said: “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48; emphasis added). All too often we overlook the qualifying phrase “and is not appointed unto death” (“or,” we might add, “unto sickness or handicap”). Please do not despair when fervent prayers have been offered and priesthood blessings performed and your loved one makes no improvement or even passes from mortality. Take comfort in the knowledge that you did everything you could. Such faith, fasting, and blessing could not be in vain! That your child did not recover in spite of all that was done in his behalf can and should be the basis for peace and reassurance to all who love him! The Lord—who inspires the blessings and who hears every earnest prayer—called him home nonetheless. All the experiences of prayer, fasting, and faith may well have been more for our benefit than for his.
How, then, should we approach the throne of grace as we plead earnestly for a loved one and place hands upon her head to give a blessing by priesthood authority? How do we properly exercise our faith? The Prophet Joseph Smith defined that first principle of the gospel as “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (A of F 1:4; emphasis added). It is that defining phrase—“in the Lord Jesus Christ”—that we sometimes forget. Too often we offer our prayer or perform our administration and then wait nervously to see whether our request will be granted, as though approval would provide needed evidence of His existence. That is not faith! Faith is, quite simply, a confidence in the Lord. In Mormon’s words, it is “a firm mind in every form of godliness” (Moro. 7:30; emphasis added). The three Hebrew magistrates expressed trust that the Lord would deliver them from the fiery furnace, “but if not,” they said to the king, “we [still] will not serve thy gods” (Dan. 3:18; emphasis added). Significantly, not three but four men were seen in the midst of the flames, and “the form of the fourth [was] like the Son of God” (Dan. 3:25).
So with us. It is common in our secular world to say that “seeing is believing.” Whatever value this little maxim may have in the mundane affairs of life, it is an alien presence when we turn to the Lord in the dark hour of our extremity. The way of the Lord is best defined by a different maxim: “Believing is seeing.” Faith in the Lord is the premise, not the conclusion. We know He lives; therefore, we trust Him to bless us according to His divine will and wisdom. This childlike confidence in the Lord is known in scripture simply as the “sacrifice” of “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (D&C 59:8).
I offer this as profound conviction born in the fiery crucible of life’s experience. Our second son, Adam, entered our lives when I was far away in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. I still have the joyful telegram announcing his birth. Adam was a blue-eyed, blond-haired little fellow with an impish personality. As he turned five years old, Adam eagerly looked forward to starting school. Then a common childhood illness blanketed our southern California community, and Adam contracted the disease. Aside from concern for his comfort, we were not worried. He even seemed to have a light case. Suddenly one morning he did not arise from his bed; he was in a deep coma. We rushed him to the hospital, where he was placed in intensive care. A constant cadre of devoted doctors and nurses attended him. His mother and I maintained a ceaseless vigil in the waiting room nearby.
I telephoned our dear stake president, a childhood friend and now a beloved colleague in the Seventy, Elder Douglas L. Callister, and asked if he would come to the hospital and join me in giving Adam a priesthood blessing. Within minutes he was there. As we entered the small, cramped space where Adam’s lifeless little body lay, his bed surrounded by a bewildering maze of monitoring devices and other medical paraphernalia, the kind doctors and nurses reverently stepped back and folded their arms. As the familiar and comforting words of a priesthood blessing were spoken in faith and earnest pleading, I was overcome by a profound sense that Someone else was present. I was overwhelmed by the thought that if I should open my eyes I would see the Savior standing there! I was not the only one in that room who felt that Spirit. We learned quite by chance some months later that one of the nurses who was present that day was so touched that she sought out the missionaries and was baptized.
But notwithstanding, Adam made no improvement. He lingered between this life and the next for several more days as we pleaded with the Lord to return him to us. Finally, one morning after a fitful night, I walked alone down a deserted hospital corridor. I spoke to the Lord and told Him that we wanted our little boy to return so very much, but nevertheless what we wanted most was for His will to be done and that we—Pat and I—would accept that. Adam crossed the threshold into the eternities a short time later.
Frankly, we still grieve for our little boy, although the tender ministering of the Spirit and the passage of the years have softened our sadness. His small picture graces the mantel of our living room beside a more current family portrait of children and grandchildren. But Pat and I know that his path through mortality was intended by a kind Heavenly Father to be shorter and easier than ours and that he has now hurried on ahead to be a welcoming presence when we likewise eventually cross that same fateful threshold.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, …
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design …
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. …
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, …
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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