Over the last few weeks, I’d been struggling with a few things and finally found my answer of how to make it through any trial. I was at a youth devotional that the RMs in my ward were invited to. We did a Q&A session where the youth could ask any question they wanted. The last one was “Is there anything in your mission that you wish you could redo?” My first thought was “Well, there were those times with my companions that I wish I could’ve reacted differently” or “Well, I wish that I could’ve been better at street contacting.” But then, the more I thought about it, the more that I realized I wouldn’t change anything. Why? Because those trials I went through, they helped me grow. They taught me how to be better the next time around. Without those trials, I wouldn’t have been able to become what I’ve become. And I wouldn’t be able to become who I can become tomorrow.
My point: I’ve learned to love trials, and honestly, I am SO looking forward to the trials that will come in the future. Call me masochistic or morbid, but it’s true. Because I look forward to changing and becoming more like God.
Blessings come to those who serve full-time missions and those lives that each missionary touches, whether on the mission or back home. There may be trials that come along that make you question whether you’re really doing any good anywhere, sometimes especially back home. But because you are serving the Lord, He will bless you and your family immensely to be able to withstand and endure. I believe some of our hardest trials come just before, while serving or soon after a full-time mission because that is when we are closest to the Spirit and that is when we are most open to receiving guidance from God. We are more susceptible to receiving counsel that will guide us through the trial that’s happening right then and through the rest of our lives. I’m not saying hard trials won’t come way before or way after a mission. And I’m not saying hard trials won’t come at all if you don’t serve a mission. I’m just speaking from my own experience and from hearing about the experiences of others. Hardships teach us how to be better. They shouldn’t make us wish that it wasn’t happening to us. They should teach us and help us come to the point where we love trials because we come to know that that is when we learn how to be strong and how to stray strong and endure.
I recently experienced a particularly difficult trial that was very painful. There were a lot of feelings that I felt. At the beginning, it was shock, dismay, then love, compassion, grief. Later, and thankfully these were not my first feelings, after I’d had a few hours to let it sink it, I started to feel angry and betrayed, but I guess not so much anger as it was more of frustration, pain, and sadness. So many questions ran through my mind as I tried to understand and make sense of it. It was terrible. It was overwhelming. I hated feeling like that. So I began to pray, pleading with Heavenly Father for the people involved who I loved so much. It wasn’t an immediate feeling, but when I woke up the next day, my thoughts weren’t overwhelming. The topic didn’t fill my mind anymore. It wasn’t distracting and it wasn’t as much of a burden. I knew that everything would work out the way Heavenly Father wants/needs it to and that I can play a small part in helping these people to heal. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. The choices made in this situation don’t affect me in the same way it does the others who are involved. In fact, if I never knew about it, I don’t think it ever would have affected me. I’m only a friend. Someone just watching on the sidelines. And yet, there was so much pain that came from this experience that it became a trial of my own. And I’m so thankful for it. I’m thankful that I’ve come to love trials because they help me know what to do better in the future. And this trial… Well, it taught me more about Christ’s love. And Heavenly Father’s. In each of our lives, they are more or less sitting on the sidelines, watching. Occasionally they might shout something to us – encouragement, guidance, etc. But mostly, they let us make our own choices. When we make a bad choice, they experience so much pain, and Christ – He took it on as His own. I believe that trials are hard and painful because we have to know a little of what Christ went through in order for 1) our faith to grow and 2) our actions to change. If things weren’t hard and painful, would we ever change or grow stronger? No. This week, I learned a very tiny amount of what Christ felt in that Garden so long ago. The pain I’ve felt because of this trial and still will feel on occasion, is not mine. I didn’t do anything wrong. Nothing hurt me in particular. But something did hurt those people who I love. So my pain is theirs, the way our pain is Christ’s. I can only sympathize because I don’t know exactly what it’s like for this particular trial. But Christ can fully empathize. And that is a miracle that can heal and change.
The Refiner’s Fire is real. The Atonement is real. And oh, what a blessing they both are.
This life is the time for us to prepare to meet God. Christ is here. He is aware of each of us. He loves you. His hand is held out to you, His arms open wide. He wants to forgive. He wants to heal. I know this with all my heart and soul. And because I know this, I am changed forever.