Monday, August 1, 2011

The Secret to Strength

I've had several friends ask about, or comment on my strength through these tough trials this year. I've heard "How do you do it?" a lot. It's really not a big secret though.


I could say it's that simple and be done, but I'm sure a lot of you would like me to elaborate.....

Here's an example of some of the comments I've received over the last several days:

-You are the rock that cannot be moved.
-You guys are strong enough, so you get the challenges and blessings that Heavenly Father has to offer.
-Only a wonderful person such as yourself could be faced with such sadness and still see the light at end of the tunnel.
-Keep your chin up and stay strong, you're good at that. Just keep enduring.
-Stay strong, you've been blessed with a sweet daughter, and you'll have more.
-You are such a strong woman and a testament of faith
-Your faith has inspired me and so many other, and most days, I don't know how you are so positive or can even get out of bed.
-You have amazing strength that I could learn from.
-Your amazing faith and understanding through all of this is a testimony builder for me.
-I love how you always keep an eternal perspective.
-You must have a reserve of strength to be able to handle things the way you do.
-You are such a wonderful example to me of faith in the Lord and his timing.
**And my favorite one from one of my cousins**
-If you get any stronger, I might suggest wearing a leotard and cape.

Anyways, the point of re-posting pieces of comments was to point out how many people seem to be amazed at us. And I'm definitely not trying to brag, I'm amazed that they feel that way!! There is nothing extraordinary about what we're doing! We're just regular people trying to get through life and the trials we've been given!

I've learned that nothing will get better if I throw myself into depression, become a hermit and quit trusting in Heavenly Father's plan for me. In fact, I know it would get worse.

My quickest explanation of how I get through things like this is easiest said in list form.
-I go to church
-I say my prayers
-I read my scriptures
-I count my blessings
-I put a smile on my face
-I don't deny my trials
-I cry because the loss is real
-I hug my husband
-I hug my daughter
-I spend time with friends
-I serve others
-I let others serve me

Basically I try to do the things I've already been taught to do my whole life. There are two things specifically on my list that I want to expand on a little. First, "putting a smile on my face". It's scientifically proven that just using the muscles that make a smile, even if you're actually in a bad mood, releases endorphins in your brain that increase happiness. You can be angry, grumpy, sad, whatever. If you put a smile on your face, even a fake one, your brain doesn't know the difference. It will help you feel better. I promise.

Secondly, the "serving others" part. We've always been taught that service makes you happy. On Friday I was skimming a magazine article at the doctor about how doing physical work with your hands, being productive, accomplishing things, and seeing the results actually triggers more "happy chemicals" in your brain. Our bodies are hard-wired to work. The author referenced "Little House on the Prairie", and how their family always seemed to be so happy and content with life. I know they're TV characters so they'll be whatever the writers tell them to be, but the point was, they worked with their hands. Our world has become so technologically involved that people hardly "work" anymore. So if you didn't believe what the Prophets and other church leaders have been saying forever, believe this scientific proof; SERVICE MAKES YOU HAPPY!!!

A couple weeks ago a friend somewhere referenced Elder Russel M. Nelson's most recent General Conference talk titled, "Face the Future with Faith". This weekend, I found the Conference Ensign and read his talk which can be found in full, here.

I picked out pieces though that I felt were really applicable and comforting to me. A lot of pieces....

"It is true. We live to die, and we die to live again. From an eternal perspective, the only death that is truly premature is the death of one who is not prepared to meet God"

"We do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith. Start with your children. You parents bear the primary responsibility to strengthen their faith. Let them feel your faith, even when sore trials come upon you. Let your faith be focused on our loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach that faith with deep conviction. Teach each precious boy or girl that he or she is a child of God, created in His image, with a sacred purpose and potential. Each is born with challenges to overcome and faith to be developed."

"Remember God's holy angels are ever on call to help us. The Lord so declared: 'I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.' What a promise! When we are faithful, He and His angels will help us."

"Unfailing faith is fortified through prayer. Your heartfelt pleadings are important to Him. Brothers and sisters, believe Him! God will heed your sincere and heartfelt prayers and your faith will be strengthened."

"Why do we need such resilient faith? Because difficult days are ahead. How you deal with life's trials is part of the development of your faith. Strength comes when you remember that you have a divine nature, an inheritance of infinite worth"

"Your rewards come not only hereafter. Many blessings will be yours in this life, among your children and grandchildren. You faithful Saints do not have to fight life's battles alone. Think of that! The Lord declared, 'I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save they children,' Later came this promise to His faithful people: 'I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children's battles, and their children's children's,... to the third and fourth generation.' "

"Our beloved President Thomas S. Monson has given us his prophetic witness. He said: 'I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments.' President Monson continued: 'My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.' "

"To President Monson's powerful declaration I add my own. I testify that God is our Father. Jesus is the Christ. His church has been restored to the earth. His truth, covenants, and ordinances enable us to overcome fear and face the future with faith! I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen."

My first Book of Mormon Professor at BYU-Idaho taught me a wonderful principle. Faith is not static. It's not something you can build to a certain level, walk away, and expect to find it the same when you come back later. Think of faith as being on a line between Heavenly Father and Satan. Satan will always be trying to pull us down. That's why if you're not working to grow it, it's shrinking. Heavenly Father certainly wants us to make the choices that will bring us closer to him, but he won't force us.

As we make the effort to strengthen our faith, it will become easier and easier. You cannot trust someone you don't know. Get to know your Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ. It's called the Plan of Happiness for a reason...


The Gatherers said...

Thank you for your precious thoughts. It is amazing how much strength and how many promises we are able to recieve through faith. The Lord will soon send down more precious children for your family, and it's through your faith and that of your family that this is possible! I hope you can take this time to take care and allow your body and mind to heal.

Isac and Jen Simpson said...

This is so wonderful Rebecca. You are such a wonderful, talented writer but even a better person :)