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Monday, February 20, 2012

Shafts in the Whirlwind

Woof. The atmosphere of my life right now can be summed up through the phrase I've been repeating in my prayers all week: Please let this be the last of it, God.

Now, I know we're always being refined in ways that try and test us, but the main test of this particular trial is the duration and repetition. Though the packaging changes, I'm very well acquainted with this trial, so much so that I surprise others by my familiarity with their mindsets and desires. I feel like I'm running my head against a wall and no matter how much I learn and work on coming out of the situation, I end up walking into another situation just like it. This time, though, things sucked a little bit more because I felt like I had a glimpse of what I'm supposed to be reaching for, and then things shifted. I feel like I'm at the end of my rope in this trial. I'm throwing up my hands and telling God to find me when He's ready to change course. I don't have the stamina to do it all over again.

However, my deepest fear is that I will do it all over again. And again. And again. There are some trials that we'll endure until we're stretched beyond what we think we're capable of. And then we'll surprise ourselves by our strength to overcome them... so that we can overcome something harder.

But I have to thank my Father in heaven for helping me prepare for this trial. I was at stake conference yesterday, all of the talks surrounded doctrines of the temple, and I realized in the middle of it all that this craptastic situation of mine isn't worth the stress and strife it's causing me. There are so many better circumstances out there. That's how the Lord motivates us. I've often felt the need to set this current trial aside because it's caused me so much frustration and discouragement, but the one thing that motivated me to stand up and move on for good was knowing the potential for something better. The Lord doesn't motivate us through discouragement, but, rather, through revealing our own potential to ourselves so that we'll stretch ourselves to reach it.

I would love to take this current situation and make it into my future, but there's that agency I was talking about in my last post that gets in the way of always getting what we want. Yet agency is a beautiful thing. It causes us anguish, and it also causes us the most satisfying joy. When we finally reach our best potential selves, we are even happier because we chose that potential and took the steps to get there. Eventually, we can become like God and we'll have chosen our path to get there, which will make us infinitely more joyous than if it were decided for us. It is such a blessing. (A good talk to look up on this topic is Neal A. Maxwell's talk, "Free to Choose.")

Neal A. Maxwell's other talk, "But For a Small Moment" is another source of guidance for me in this lowly time. He talks about several traps we can fall into when we're enduring trials. I'll share a few with you:

"a major [trap], is the trap of self-pity. One man has said that 'hell is being frozen in self-pity.' Indeed, at times when we think our lot is hard or when we feel our selves misunderstood, it will be so easy for us to indulge ourselves in feeling some self-pity."
I can tell you right now that the lowest moments in this trial are when I stop and think how sad I am. This does me no good. I cannot progress if I soak in the swamps of self-pity. I think that is why it's described as a freeze. We cannot move on if we keep focusing on our wounds.

"A seventh trap, brothers and sisters, is that some of us neglect to develop multiple forces of satisfaction. When one of the wells upon which we draw dries up through death, loss or status, disaffection, or physical ailment, we then find ourselves very thirsty because, instead of having multiple sources of satisfaction in our lives, we have become too dependent upon this or upon that. How important it is to the symmetry of our souls that we interact with all the gospel principles and with all the Church programs, so that we do not become so highly specialized that, if we are deprived of one source of satisfaction, indeed we are in difficulty. It is possible to be incarcerated within the prison of one principle. We are less vulnerable if our involvements with the kingdom are across the board. We are less vulnerable if we care deeply about many principles--not simply a few."

What great advice! When we depend on one thing too heavily, we are more injured when it does not succeed. This contributes to the broadening of perspectives I've mentioned in a previous post. When our perspectives broaden and are illuminated with truth we banish fear and sorrow, not because our circumstances change, but because we see them in an eternal perspective and can emphasize the important elements under our control. The more perspective we gain, the more we become like God.

"An eighth trap to be avoided, brothers and sisters, is the tendency we have--rather humanly, rather understandably--to get ourselves caught in peering through the prism of the present and then distorting our perspective about things. Time is of this world; it is not of eternity. We can, if we are not careful, feel the pressures of time and see things in a distorted way. How important it is that we see things as much as possible through the lens of the gospel with its eternal perspectives."

I have to remember through all of this that Heavenly Father is aware of my needs. He weeps with me and yearns for my happiness. He hears my cries and shares my heartache. He shares my frustration and pleads that I not belittle myself or become disheartened. Maxwell said, "A vague creed is fitted only for a vague God. We have a Father who loves us specifically and gives us things to do and, because he loves us, will cause us, at times, to have our souls stretched and to be fitted for a better world by coping with life in this world."

This is my shaft in the whirlwind right now. I would love to take a break from this life and just sit with my Heavenly Father. I would love to ask Him, "What else should I be taking from this repeated attack on my heart and soul? What lessons have I yet to learn? What am I supposed to be doing about it now? When will I receive the righteous desires of my heart?" But I know, even now, that my Father in heaven has great plans for me. It is that knowledge that motivated me to uproot my life as it was and have faith in something better. I cannot see it or feel it now, but I know it is there, and it will be a sweet release when I finally receive the answers to these questions.

I came across Helaman 5:12 today, and it has become my current motto. I know very little about the direction I'm headed in, but I know that if Christ is by my side, I will have peace, joy, and strength.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yeah, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

4 comments:

dana rose said...

You are strong. Don't you forget it.

Jordan Bobo said...

Thanks, Whitney. Andria and I have been going through the same kind of repeating trials. I think I really needed to read that quote about having multiple sources of satisfaction. I think I need to clear out some of the time-wasters in my life so I have more room for those multiple sources. I hope things get better--or at least that you get stronger!

grammy said...

Time to talk again, Whitney.
Love you.

Kayleigh said...

You are a superhero. You really are. I hope you realize that. You were a superhero to me when I really needed one, so wherever you a going in life, you're blessing lives while you do it. And I wouldn't say that if I didn't mean it.