April 7, 2009
Like many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I spent last weekend watching the church's semi-annual General Conference broadcast worldwide from Salt Lake City, Utah. I always anticipate and enjoy this weekend when I can hear the words and counsel of a living prophet who I know speaks directly from our Heavenly Father. I always walk away from the weekend wanting to be a better person and setting goals that hopefully help me to live more like my Savior.
This Conference weekend was no exception. I loved every single talk and learned so much. One talk that stayed with me the most, however, was given by Jeffrey R. Holland who spoke about Christ's suffering in his mortal ministry. Though Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, died, and was resurrected so that we could also conquer death and return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven someday, Alma 7:12 explains that He also took upon Him all the world's infirmities so that "his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." I love this scripture. Essentially, Christ's suffering also serves the purpose of Him being able to comfort us and help us through all the suffering that we will ever be called to go through. I have heard this message and read this scripture many times in the past, but as I was listening to Jeffrey R. Holland's talk on Sunday, I learned something slightly new that has caused me to look at my trials and my own suffering in a different way:
Fact #1: I want to be more like my Savior by serving those around me. When I was 13 years old, I wrote a "Life Goals" list in my Young Women's class at church with my #1 goal being to "spend my life in service to others". I still have the same goal. Garrett and I dream of serving missions for our church when we get older, we pray every night to be led to people who are in need of our help, and my desire to serve is a big part of what led me to become a nurse. Now, by NO means do I think I'm doing a great job or anything, but I'm trying to do and be better all the time (hopefully it's working).
Fact #2: The past year or so has been a little hard for me for multiple reasons. After careful preparation and hard work, certain things in our life have not gone as planned. Life has been hard in different ways, and sometimes I have hard a hard time not crying about it. I know that others suffer FAR more than I do and that I truly live a blessed life, but it has still been a little difficult at times.
As Jeffrey R. Holland recounted all the suffering that the Savior had to endure ALONE--without his friends, without his family, without even the comfort of his own Father in Heaven--all so that he would know how to best serve and comfort ME, the thought occurred to me: How can I daily ask the Lord to allow me to serve and help others who suffer if I never suffer myself? What comfort and help would I be to someone going through hard times if I had no concept of what "hard times" are? How can I expect to become more like my Savior through following His example of service without experiencing trials and suffering of my own?
Every "hard thing" that I have gone through really has served a purpose. For example, I spent a often-hellish and heartbreaking year working as a cancer nurse where I daily witnessed all the suffering of cancer on a very personal and intimate level with my patients. I spent many days crying in the break room or in my car on my commute home from work and I often felt like I couldn't handle all the pain and stress of my job. However, had I never experienced that very hard year as a cancer nurse, how could I ever show compassion, understanding, and offer help to those I know who are currently suffer from cancer (including my little sister)?
I have been praying for opportunities to serve and the Lord has simply been giving me these little (which sometimes feel like big) trials to prepare me to be the best servant possible. So I guess when I have a hard day/week/etc, I really should be thanking my Heavenly Father because I, quite literally, asked for it! I have found a new angle and approach to be thankful for my trials, because they really are blessings (not punishments) from my Heavenly Father that will help me to achieve my lifelong goal that I set for myself twelve years ago.
So thanks for that talk, Elder Holland. It really has helped me to change my attitude and thought pattern and to gain a greater appreciation and love for my Savior and Redeemer, especially during this Easter season. Thanks for that scripture, Alma. It has always been one of my favorites, but now I like it even more. And finally, thanks, Heavenly Father, for being so much smarter, wiser, and loving than I could ever be. Now my cup is filled and I am ready to live a better life!