Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 27 - TFOT - Faith, Fortitude, and Fulfillment and The Race of Life

It's taken me a bit to get this lesson posted - not because it was not received well - but rather because the week(s) since have had me reflecting on so much that was involved in these two talks - Faith, Fortitude, and Fulfillment by Elder David S. Baxter and The Race of Life by Thomas S. Monson.

You have to know that while two talks were assigned, I felt real connection with Elder Baxter's and found myself relying primarily on this talk.  I would like to clarify that I don't feel a connection simply because he framed his words for single members - rather because as a woman in the church, there were many times through my life that I felt alone and his words spoke to me on that level.

In the general Relief Society meeting of September 2006, President Gordon B. Hinckley related an experience shared by a divorced single mother of seven children then ranging in ages from 7 to 16. She had gone across the street to deliver something to a neighbor. She said:
“As I turned around to walk back home, I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: ‘Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ‘Can you take me to the library?’ ‘I have to get some poster paper tonight.’ Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.
“I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, ‘Dear Father, I just can’t do it tonight. I’m too tired. I can’t face it. I can’t go home and take care of all those children alone. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? …’
“I didn’t really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: ‘No, little one, you can’t come to me now. … But I can come to you.’
Each of us at some point in our life has had an experience of feeling full up to the brim with life's needs and requirements and ache for respite and understanding to come from another source.  Quite often we forget to go to our Heavenly Father and instead become outwardly frustrated, resentful and angry.  Like the woman in this story - each of us at some point finds ourselves tearful and prayerful needing the warmth and comfort that the Savior's arms extend to us.

Elder Baxter reminds us:
Thank you, sisters, for all that you are doing to raise your family and maintain a loving home where there is goodness, peace, and opportunity.  Although you often feel alone, in truth you are never totally on your own. As you move forward in patience and in faith, Providence will move with you; heaven will bestow its needful blessings. Your perspective and view of life will change when, rather than being cast down, you look up.
I would challenge to address his remarks to all women in the church - because in fact we share our feelings of alone-ness and struggle regardless if we are divorced, widowed, spouse deployed, TDY, or mentally absent from our families or unmarried.

Pres. Monson shares:
Everywhere people are in a hurry. Jet-powered aircraft speed their precious human cargo across broad continents and vast oceans so that business meetings might be attended, obligations met, vacations enjoyed, or families visited. Roadways everywhere—including freeways, thruways, and motorways—carry millions of automobiles, occupied by more millions of people, in a seemingly endless stream and for a multitude of reasons as we rush about the business of each day. In this fast-paced life, do we ever pause for moments of meditation—even thoughts of timeless truths?
and in the same mindset Elder Baxter reminds us:
Whatever your circumstances or the reasons for them, how wonderful you are. Day to day you face the struggles of life, doing the work that was always meant for two but doing it largely alone. You have to be father as well as mother. You run your household, watch over your family, sometimes struggle to make ends meet, and miraculously you even find the wherewithal to serve in the Church in significant ways. You nurture your children. You cry and pray with them and for them. You want the very best for them but fret every night that your best may never be good enough.
This is not exactly what you hoped or planned, prayed for or expected, when you started out years ago. Your journey through life has had bumps, detours, twists, and turns, mostly as the result of life in a fallen world that is meant to be a place of proving and testing.
Meanwhile, you are striving to raise your children in righteousness and truth, knowing that while you cannot change the past, you can shape the future. Along the way you will obtain compensatory blessings, even if they are not immediately apparent.
With God’s help, you need not fear for the future. Your children will grow up and call you blessed, and every single one of their many achievements will stand as a tribute to you.
Taking the time to look up, look to the Savior and our Heavenly Father and accept their love and gift of the Atonement helps us to maintain an eternal perspective with hope.

Pres. Monson says:
Parents ponder their responsibility to teach, to inspire, and to provide guidance, direction, and example. And while parents ponder, children—and particularly youth—ask the penetrating question, why are we here? Usually it is spoken silently to the soul and phrased, why am I here? How grateful we should be that a wise Creator fashioned an earth and placed us here, with a veil of forgetfulness of our previous existence so that we might experience a time of testing, an opportunity to prove ourselves in order to qualify for all that God has prepared for us to receive.
Quite often I forget that this life is in fact a test, a time for us - like our children - to make mistakes, to fail, to struggle with feelings of worth, ability, and faith.  We are still learning and still proving. 

Pres. Monson promises us:
Our Heavenly Father rejoices for those who keep His commandments. He is concerned also for the lost child, the tardy teenager, the wayward youth, the delinquent parent. Tenderly the Master speaks to these and indeed to all: “Come back. Come up. Come in. Come home. Come unto me.”
Come back.  Come up.  Come in.  Come home.  Come unto me.  {printable available here}

Whereever we are in our lives, whatever we are facing - nothing is so big as to disqualify us from the infinite love of Christ.  He wants us to return to him.  He wants us to feel the peace and love extended by living righteously and uprightly before him.  He wants us to flourish using the tools and gifts he continually blesses us with.

Elder Baxter leaves us with his testimony:
I testify that as you do your very best in the most difficult of human challenges, heaven will smile upon you. Truly you are not alone. Let the redemptive, loving power of Jesus Christ brighten your life now and fill you with the hope of eternal promise. Take courage. Have faith and hope. Consider the present with fortitude and look to the future with confidence. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
May we take courage - don't wait for it to fall into our laps but be anxiously engaged in the journey, take courage and have faith and hope.  He loves us, He wants us to succeed.

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