Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mountains and Valleys

Once again, this week's devotional hit the spot. Elder Huntsman began emphasizing that "God did not put us here to fail." And that was only the beginning. Other highlights include:
  • Do not fear--believe in yourself and live your OWN dream!
  • Decide what you want and go for it; you determine your destiny, so don't cut corners
  • Self-pity is the worst folly of the human spirit, it hinders progression
  • "There is no education like adversity"--"Sweet are the uses of adversity"
  • Our character blossoms as we face affliction and exercise integrity even when it's hard
And my personal favorite: Elder Huntsman quoted Winston Churchill as saying something like "we receive our inspiration from the mountaintops, but our growth down in the valleys."

I love the profound wisdom that comes alive in this simple analogy. There is so much to be learned intellectually and even spiritually that can be received without direct experience that helps orient us and inspire us. This knowledge is certainly priceless, but how much more powerful are the lessons that we feel and experience first hand?

Indeed, life is unique precisely because we get to experience the diverse emotions and situations available to us only as we trudge through the muddy spots of mortality-- the valleys. It's one thing to tell yourself to get over an upset, and another thing entirely to actually be able to move on. Sometimes I wonder why we can't just decide to be done hurting, or missing home, or feeling alone, and just have it be done. Why can't I just choose how I feel? While I believe that we do choose our outlook and our attitude in life, we cannot simply rid ourselves of pain.

There is purpose in this though, and this makes it all worth it. Hardships and hurt truly define us and refine us. When we are brought low, we are required to exercise faith, be patient, and decide what really matters most. We learn who we are and what we are capable of. We learn to rely on God and come to know our Savior. This process is by no means fun, but who says that fun is the paramount object of life? We can experience true joy and fulfillment as we use hard experiences as springboards for progress.

So while I prefer the idealized mountaintop experiences, I wouldn't trade my valleys for anything. I wouldn't have depth of character without having had experiences that bring me low. And from valleys, the only thing to do is ascend!

As I struggle to figure out what I really want to do with my life and how to define myself, I am glad to know that my loving Heavenly Father is in control. This knowledge and the application of it (faith!) provide perspective, hope, and power. I love this adventure called life!

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