We spent the weekend watching our twice yearly church conference on TV. Two sessions on Saturday, and two on Sunday. We Mormons take in a lot of church! I know many of my friends who religiously (no pun intended... or maybe it was...) take notes on each talk, but I never do. I can rarely remember who gave what talk - I just take mental note of the ideas that are new or just especially relevant to me.
One talk I took special note of dealt with the subject that we each have our own unique talents and abilities that we are able to use to tackle the problems - big and small - that inevitably come our way in life. If we're tempted to ask why we are afflicted with this or that problem or heartache, the answer is that, based on our unique makeup, we have it because we're able to deal with it, overcome it, and grow from it. I hadn't thought about it in that way before. We're not thrown anything that we're not able to triumph over. Similarly, we are placed in situations that challenge us, that help us grow into stronger, better people. Of course, we all have our freedom of choice. We can choose to take the easy way out of a problem, we can choose to not deal with it at all. But knowing that we are here on earth to learn, progress, and spiritually grow, it makes it easier to look at difficult times from that angle. With knowledge that we are never alone, and that we have a loving Father who is just waiting for us to study a problem, give it our best effort, and to also prayerfully ask for His help to supplement our own efforts. I know it's helped me feel less alone in times of need. It's been instrumental in helping me avoid a freakout.
I don't know of anyone who sails through life unscathed by worry, real problems or tragedies, or some kind of loss. I do believe that we are here to not only become better and stronger from these hardships, but that we are also here to help each other. I don't know of too many people who haven't felt alone and out of step with the world from time to time. Or even most of the time. I come from a family who is practical and organized. My brothers have all graduated from college, and have various successful careers. But not me. I could never figure out what I was supposed to do. I am a practiced procrastinator. I am not brave or outspoken, although my brothers are. But I'm nice. I play well with others. And I'm smart - although it took me a long time to realize that. But I've always felt out of step with my family. Not one of the gang, you might say. I was always the flighty one, the "artsy" one. It's almost like whoever was supposed to be in my place was somehow doing something amazing elsewhere for a minute, and there I was, lounging around, saying "Why not?" as I jumped in. People would say "Really...? You're one of them??" Sometimes I would take it as a compliment, but mostly I felt a bit lost.
I had my children, and love them completely, although even they are stronger, more substantive, than I am. More like their dad. I love them like nothing else, and yet they are hard for me sometimes, because they are so strong. And I'm a little wimpy, shying away from any conflict. But - the older I've gotten, I can see that they are exactly the children I needed to have. When I am around them I feel quite brave. They give me role models to emulate. They've shown me how to be strong, I've tried to teach them to be kind, and together we all try to be strong and kind. And as I get stronger, I'm better equipped to help them when they have problems - you see how that works? They have helped me and stood by me their entire lives. And now, when they've had problems - especially now they're grown and are subject to those horrible adult problems, I hope I have evolved enough that I'll be the strong one that they can lean on while they catch their breath.
There's been a divine plan all along, I can see that now. Trust me to get the life that's put together like a crazy quilt instead of an elegant tapestry, but I'm guessing it's exactly what I needed to improve. It's what I needed to force me to step up, to be brave, to quit doubting myself. I have my own, unique set of neuroses, and thank goodness, I've had the family who would stand by me (sometimes bemused, I'm sure) and not look away in disgust while I struggled. They've all had their own struggles, and with some of them, (because of my vast experience with Trouble) I've been able to offer my own help, support, and understanding. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Serving our families and friends, even in the midst of our own suffering. Because in doing the service, we can forget ourselves for a short while. It's almost a relief to not think about yourself for a time.
So that's what this weekend was about: self reflection, listening to good counsel, and figuring out where I can improve. It's good to do that at least twice a year. A little light housecleaning. I have my worries, as we all do, but I know that they are concerns that I can handle. I have the ability to resolve them in some way if I just stick to it, stay tough and prayerful, and endure to the end. I'm on my way to becoming quite the warrior.