Life is hard. It was never meant to be easy. It's full of humbling experiences that are meant to strengthen you and make you discover things about yourself and what you're made of. Life is not meant to be floated through, and it's not meant to just be survived. But if that's all you can do, then survive.
One thing I've learned about myself as of recently, is that when the going gets rough...I wimp out. I get angry, resentful and pessimistic. I fall into the classic “life isn't fair” syndrome and shut down. I then try to grab hold of anything that still makes sense to me and control those things the best I can since everything else seems dreadfully out of my control. Sometimes this leads to excessing cleaning, ritualistic behaivior, and stressing over imperfections big and small. All these things are very unhealthy and won't make me happy long term. Something that I am in the process of learning is that the only thing I should really be trying to control, is the way I react positively to the unfair situations that present themselves. This is much much easier said then done, but I know that it is the only way to get through rough times and come out on top.
A talk from General Conference October 2008 came to mind when I was really struggling with keeping myself positive while dealing with some recent unfavorable circumstances. It's by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin and is called “Come What May, and Love It.” This message has stayed with me and helped me in times of need and will continue to throughout my life I'm sure.
In the talk Elder Wirthlin says, “The way that we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.” This is so true. I know that on days that I allow my bad attitude to comsume me, nothing will go right. And I also know that on days that I stay strong and accept whatever happened and move on past it, good things can happen again.
The four points Elder Wirthlin makes to help us approach hard things with a good perspective are to learn to laugh, seek for the eternal, know the principle of compensation, and to trust in the Father and Son. The first being to learn to laugh to me, it so important. I feel that in our most desperate times, we are still in need of smiling and laughter. A great example of this is Jonny Kennedy. In the documentary called “The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off” Jonny was born with a rare skin disease which affects the connective tissues in the skin and cause extreme blisters even at the lightest touch. He lived in terrible pain his whole life and was always covered with sores and open wounds but radiated with the most amazing attitude. It struck me so hard listening to him talk about his lifelong struggles and still being able to maintain a smile and laugh and joke constantly. He died at the age of 36 but filled the years he had with happiness through acceptance and the medicine of laughter.
When seeking for the eternal, Elder Wirthlin said, “Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others.” This principle is probably the hardest thing for me to accept but I know is true. Hardships and trials are guaranteed in this life and can be good for us and our growth. Since I all too quickly say things like “Why me?!” it is easy to forget the big picture and what positive things a hardhip can do for me. I even have a personal experience of this that I try to remember when I would rather sulk. When I was in 9th grade, my family and I moved out of state and started our lives over. I had an especially hard time adjusting to the move because I was insecure and scared of having no friends at my new school. Having gone through an experience where I had to step out of my comfort zone and learn how to meet to people and make new friends helped me be more outgoing and especially more empathetic toward others in similar situations. This has helped me learn that out of any hard situation, you can pull something away from it for your benefit and possibly the benefit of others. I've learned and am continuing to learn that when a tough situation is handled in the right way, it'll always make you a better person in the long run.
The principle of compensation is described by Elder Wirthlin in this quote : “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.” This was very hard for me to understand when I first read it. Many memories of difficult times in my life flooded back to me and I found myself asking in my head, “What good came from that?” I also thought about a few people I know who have dealt with unimaginable trials and have not always come out on top from them. I was discouraged at first when I thought these things and tried to understand how the Lord doesn't forget about us and our endurance through the hard times. I wasn't sure how we would ever get back the things we lost in the midst of darkness. But then I realized, I already knew and understood. I believe in life after death. It's so simple but it brings me back to how God knows all things and as long as we do our part to live this life the best we can, then we can return to Him to live forever in His presence. I must keep faith that even if we may not get the compensation completely in this life, we can receive it in the next life a hundredfold.
Trusting in the Father and the Son may seem pretty self explanitory. But it is not always that easy. I know that when I feel like I've hit rock bottom, it feels like nothing will ever be right again. But in time, things always have a way of working itself out. Even if whatever was broken doesn't ever completely get fixed, I always end up alright. Sometimes I can bounce back quickly, other times it may take years, but I know that whenever I decide to do everything that I can and then leave the rest to Him, I end up learning lessons I never woud've otherwise and I grow stronger as a result. Being able to rely on Heavenly Father helps me keep faith that all will be well in the end. Another quote from the talk goes, “He who descended below all things will come to our aid. He will comfort and uphold us. He will strengthen us in our weakness and fortify us in our distress. He will make weak things become strong.” This brings me hope and comfort that no matter what trial life gives me, with the help of the Father and the Son, I can have the strength the go on.
So life is hard. But it was never meant to be easy. All I can do is trust in the Lord and remember that life is but a moment in eternity and enduring times of pain may earn me happiness forever. And to always, always keep laughing.
One last quote from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin:
“If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.”
Here is a link to the actual talk: