Comfort in Trials

I have been working through a number of trials in the last few months.  Each of these trials, individually, would not seem to be daunting and overpowering, yet combined they have entangled me in a trap of emotional bondage.  2020 has proved to be aberrant, and does not show signs of slowing down in its ability to cause havoc to any semblance of normal we once felt.  If anything, the turbulence has become the new “normal.”  The hits continue to come, and I find myself less and less willing and able to fight against the trials I have been presented with.

My own struggles were amplified by a friend’s voice who wrote about her own personal struggles recently.  It was in this moment that I really began to learn as I shared with her some of my own feelings and thoughts.  (I find this is where I learn so much, when I am sharing with others.  Like giving a talk in Church or preparing a lesson for a class/quorum, I always feel I walk away with so much more than I shared with others.)

Here is some of what I shared:

“Why does God let bad things happen to good people?  Those people who are putting forth the effort to keep the commandments.

When I catch myself going down this path I try to turn the dial and focus on the good that I do have.  For me, service has been one of the best ways out of this hole.  Being able to lose myself for a few minutes and help someone else often gets me to a better place.  I also know that it is much easier for me to say, and much harder for you to experience.

While I empathize, I also recognize the uniqueness of your pain, and am sorry for that.  I know what I feel when I am where you describe you are and as “cheesy” as it sounds I find that when I can take a step back and see all the good that I do have, it makes the pain more manageable.

We often let all these things pile up and consume us.  When I step back I am able to silo these things, and begin to attack them and formulate a plan for the various items.  It is here that I can also draw correlations between some of these things, and prioritize and plan accordingly.

There is a snowball effect that can occur from a small victory.  Never discount the little wins.

It was in the moment of hitting enter that I remembered how much the little wins, the daily victories mean to me.  I’ve been struggling with even getting out of bed lately, and successfully getting up and beginning my day is a win.  I have not wanted to work out, and lacing up and sweating is a win.  These wins are tainted with the losses of wanting to sleep in and cracking open another pint of ice cream.  I must push to have the wins overpower my shortcomings.  Small, consistent, conscious acts in the positive direction.

It was also in this moment that it hit me that I was allowing multiple things to pile up on me.  These various things were working together to crush my ambition and desire to be a better version of myself than I was yesterday.  I had forgotten the version of myself that once wrote in my missionary planner, “Today I will be the missionary that my mom thinks I am.”

Asking for “Mountains to Climb”

I’ve heard the phrase “Don’t pray for trials because you will get them” many, many times.  If we desire to be tried and tested we will be.  There have been times in my life where I feel stronger and more capable of tackling trials.  These times are when my house is in order, I am keeping all the “primary answers” functioning in my life, and have the desire to become more useful to God and his Son.

Then there are the majority of the rest of my life when we are working to keep our ships afloat.  Over the last few months I feel like I am constantly bailing water out of my boat while also discovering new holes.  I am thankful that when these trials began that I did have my house in order, and have been able to leverage the strength of my wife and children as we navigate these turbulent waters together.  I don’t think I prayed or asked for “mountains to climb” but have been given the opportunity to exercise my spiritual muscles that I have been working out.

I’ve been saying a lot lately that we choose to make lemonade. (When life gives you lemons)  This has become a manta lately, and I hope to continue to keep a positive attitude.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am very blessed.  My wife and family are amazing, and I am thankful daily for what they do for me in my life.  I would not have been able to navigate the last few months without them.  My life is so much more than lemons, but we often find a way to focus on the pain, the trails, and the less than Instagram-perfect moments in our lives.  Perhaps that is why I find myself writing this post.  This writing is the answer to my prayers the last few days as I have asked in prayer for what I needed to be doing differently.  The answer I received was to study. Henry B. Erying taught me the following:

“When hard trials come, the faith to endure them well will be there, built as you may now notice but may have not at the time that you acted on the pure love of Christ, serving and forgiving others as the Savior would have done. You built a foundation of faith from loving as the Savior loved and serving for Him. Your faith in Him led to acts of charity that will bring you hope.

It is never too late to strengthen the foundation of faith. There is always time. With faith in the Savior, you can repent and plead for forgiveness. There is someone you can forgive. There is someone you can thank. There is someone you can serve and lift. You can do it wherever you are and however alone and deserted you may feel.

I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop.” – Henry B. Eyring

What does this have to do with diapers?!

Once again I sit here, padded and crinkly, working through my day.  I began to think about my diapers and what they did for me.  The answer I received came through the studying that I was doing.  The word comfort echoed in my mind as I read and heard it.  I continued studying and found a short clip that describes the Holy Ghost in that fashion.  I then made the connection to  Comfort Objects.  These objects are most often blankets or stuffed animals.  I linked to Wikipedia where additional information helped me see that:

“Adults may also use comfort objects. Many adults consider the comfort that security blankets provide as essential to their mental and emotional well-being.” – Do You Still Have a Security Blanket? Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral, 13 October 2010

One of my comfort objects is a diaper.  The warm hug of comfort that it provides me gives me the balance and patience to continue working through the trails that I am in daily.  I am not saying that diapers, or other comfort objects, replace or take precedence over my relationship with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Ghost.  I am working to realize their place in my life alongside my faith and alongside my testimony.  I am learning through experience that I can be me, the best version of myself, even while wearing a diaper.  I grow firmer day-by-day that I can still feel God’s love for me even if I want to wear an adult diaper.

So once again, here I sit in a diaper, feeling God’s love.  Feeling the spirit as I work to find myself in the midst of all the craziness of today.

The outcome of my study, the answers to prayers

I began my study as a result of a prayer I made a few days ago.  My studies then brought me to the place where I could ask for the strength to receive an answer to a prayer.  While it is something that I think I want, I want to know that it is also something that is okay with Heavenly Father.  I’m sure you’ve all been there.  We think we know what is best, but are afraid that we will not get the answer we want.  My studies today brought me to the place I felt at peace in hitting send to an email I was worried about.  Elder Eyring, in another talk came to mind, as I worried about the answer to the email I had just sent.

“Somewhat to my surprise, I found myself praying, “Heavenly Father, it doesn’t matter what I want. I don’t care anymore what I want. I only want that Thy will be done. That is all that I want. Please tell me what to do.”

In that moment I felt as quiet inside as I had ever felt. And the message came, and I was sure who it was from. It was clear what I was to do. I received no promise of the outcome. There was only the assurance that I was a child who had been told what path led to whatever He wanted for me.

I feel at peace in sending the email, and now will rely on faith as the answers come.  Even typing now I feel uneasy, after already receiving my answer.  That is life I suppose.

“If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing. In all conditions, we can choose the right with the guidance of the Spirit. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape and guide our lives if we choose it. And with prophets revealing to us our place in the plan of salvation, we can live with perfect hope and a feeling of peace. We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved in the Lord’s service because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up.”

“And He always keeps His word.”

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