I have not had my typical computer time lately. Largely this is because of my family / work / calling responsibilities, but it is also partially because we have had some internet connection problems on our home computer so I have had limited access. This causes quite a bit of frustration for me, as we have a perfectly good network connection on Ray ?s laptop and the home computer says it is connected with good signal strength. Everything we have tried has not worked to fix this problem. I miss my computer time because that is my current favorite choice for my personal down time, my rejuvenation time! My reaction to this minor glitch in my life ?s ease and comfort has given me pause. Along with some other far more serious and major issues that cause worry and stress, I have been thinking recently about the things in life that seem to throw me ? and many of us ? for a loop.
I am absolutely not the best person to address this topic, as I too often find myself overwhelmed and stressed out with the events of mortality. The only expertise I have is the abundance of opportunities I ?ve been given to try to learn to deal with these situations. However, it has been on my mind a lot lately as I have tried to more actively focus on my blessings, even in the midst of challenges. Delmar ?s recent post about what are we supposed to be learning from this? ? also prompted me to write down my thoughts ? because it resonated so deeply with me.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we know that we came to earth to gain a body and to be tested and tried. We knew we would face challenges; we knew it wouldn ?t be easy. But we still chose to come. We chose to follow the plan that included agency as a basic foundational tenet. We wanted to continue to progress and to eventually (hopefully) return to our Father ?s presence.
I have to admit that there have been times, especially over the past four years, when I have wondered just what it was I signed up for ? when I ?ve asked the question Delmar asked (“What are we supposed to be learning from this?”) ? when I ?ve thought enough is enough! ? ? when I couldn ?t help wondering when we would have a break ? just a small breather, please. PLEASE!
Often we find that we are far stronger than we ever thought possible. We truly can survive much that mortality throws our way! Our testimonies are strengthened. Our trust in the Lord is proven, time and again. We have moments of strength and happiness that give us the ability to continue to press forward and hold onto hope and courage. Those are obvious blessings and moments of joy.
But what of those moments when life is a struggle? When it seems that everything is going wrong? Sometimes we bring these situations on ourselves through bad choices. Other times we have no control over the things that happen to us. Either way, we still need to deal with these events. What are some positive methods we can use to combat these times of frustration and obstacles that we all face?
There are many things we can do. Most of them encapsulate what my teenagers and other youth call SMA ?s ? ? Standard Mormon Answers. These include prayer, scripture study, church attendance, family home evening, obedience to commandments, service, faith, hope, love, among many others.
What has helped me the most is having a few close friends who allow me to vent and cry on their shoulders when necessary, having a few favorite scriptures and songs that offer comfort and eternal perspective, reading my patriarchal blessing to remind myself of my potential, using Lamaze breathing for coping strategies (helpful for far more than just childbirth!), attending the temple, blogging about the process of coping with my ups and downs, and exercising just plain stubborn, old-fashioned grit ? I refuse to give up! One of the strategies I have used this year is writing a weekly list of blessings. There are some weeks that I have to check my calendar and actually look for anything good that happened, and some weeks when I see the blessings only in retrospect at the end of the week ? but I am learning to recognize the blessings as they are occurring.
I have found over the years that incorporating one of the great lessons in the Book of Mormon ? that of remembering ? has helped tremendously with my perspective, my attitude, and my ability to continue to endure to the end. Just remembering those times when I have been blessed, when I have received answers to prayers, when I have found peace, helps me regain my balance when I find life difficult and overwhelming. I have also discovered the gift of forgiving myself for those moments when I do struggle with the natural course of mortality, and have realized that enduring well enough for now is really quite acceptable in the arc of my progression.
We will face health, financial, mental, physical, and emotional challenges and frustrations ? it is a natural part of this earth life. We can become bitter and angry, or we can become stronger and more faithful. The difference is in how we choose to handle these situations and how we allow these events to form our views and attitudes. It ?s all about perspective and letting ourselves be molded into the fantastic people our Father created us to be ? and allows us to become, step by incremental step. For me, the biggest frustration is that the process of becoming better ? seems to be so slow! However, I am becoming more grateful for the numerous chances to learn to be more Christ-like, and am beginning to recognize my frustrations and challenges as the learning and strengthening opportunities they can be.