20 October, 2016

Submitting

I was driving up 81 to get home from a visit with a friend today, when I started pondering what it really means to submit our will to God's.

I thought about this quote:

Will, moments after his birth
"In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!"

and this quote:

 "Consecration, likewise, is not shoulder-shrugging acceptance, but, instead, shoulder-squaring to better bear the yoke."

Both from this talk by Neal A. Maxwell. I love this talk so much. 

Steven and Merit
Have you ever birthed a child? There is a moment for me during each labor where I am afraid. It's the moment when I realize that there is no other way. That the baby MUST come out of my body. And that it is going to happen soon. I have known this for nine months, and yet in those last few minutes of pregnancy, I feel so cornered by the simple and unalterable truth: one way or another, this child is coming. I have yearned to hold that baby, I have prayed for help to bring it into the world healthy, and then the moment comes and I either sob or shake or pray out loud, asking, "God, please, please help me." 

With Merit, I stood beside the bed, shaking and weak. Steven was holding me up, my nurse was pulling my hair out of my face, crying. I was praying out loud, "Father, please, please, help me. Please help me. Please help me." And then I said again and again, "Help. Help. Help." 


Oh, how my Heavenly Parents' hearts must have broken in that moment. I can imagine them sobbing beside me. I can imagine the angels that were in that room, strengthening Steven and I, bearing us up and giving us the strength to finish.

I wanted to be delivered, I wanted it to end. But it didn't. It couldn't. A baby had to be born: my baby being born was the will of the Father. How thankful I am, from the depths of my soul, that that has been His will for us four times: for each of our children to be born healthy and whole. 

If I had had my way in that moment, if it had all ended, then what? I can't stand to even think of it.

How many other women gave birth that day? How many other daughter's of God were praying to be delivered, praying for a break. Thousands, maybe even millions. 


The Savior in his moment of agony that I can't try to describe, said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." (Luke 22:42)

I know that God does not enjoy watching His precious children suffer. I know that He removes every pain that He can, that He paves the way for us as much as possible, and only leaves the trials and the pain that are necessary for us to experience for us to return to live with Him again. I am so grateful for a perfect God, who knows that I need, what each of us needs, to go through, so that we will be refined and humble enough to feel comfortable living eternally with Him and our loved ones, and ultimately becoming like Him. 

I have often agonized over what early Saints were called to do. When I was a teenager I thought that it was sick to put Abraham through such a rigorous, traumatic test. Kill your son, Abraham. Wait, don't. Just kidding. I was testing you. 

The Father gives us these tests and trials, He allows sickness, pain, heartbreak, tragedy... he allows mortality to happen to us, because He wants us to become. 

His will will happen regardless -- my babies will be born no matter how much I pray to be delivered in that moment. And in the end: I am given a beautiful, sweet, perfect baby. A gift that is a million times more wonderful than the experience was painful. 
Merit and I in the NICU

I do not know how those who came before me were compensated for the painful experiences that they endured. But I know that they were. God is so merciful and loving. He is kind and tender. 

My little sister is about to have her first baby. I don't feel excited for her, that is not the right word. I feel so dedicated to her. I feel so ready to pray for her, and to hear from her after her baby is born. To hear her on the phone describe the angels that she felt around her, and our grandmothers with her as she pushes her sweet baby into the world. 

It will be such a hard moment, but it will be so beautiful in the end. 

I do not need all of the answers now. I do not need to know how early prophets and their wives were compensated, what rewards and comforts they received after the intense trials of their faith. I don't need to know, because I know the nature of God. He allows us to taste the bitter cup, but He stays beside us and holds us as we do so, and then He compensates for every pain. 


Laboring with Kjel
The third thing we can do is understand the principle of compensation. The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude. 

From this talk by Joseph B. Wirthlin, another favorite.

Since my grandmother's funeral I have repeated this again and again in my mind and out loud:

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if it so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:16-18)

I have a feeling that Joseph Smith loved these verses. I do. 

When I had a miscarriage, my grandmother's sister, my great-aunt Fern, sent me a beautiful card that said, "We do not God's reasons, but we do know the nature of God." Such a beautiful truth. That is the rock of my testimony: that I know that the nature of God is good, gentle, the perfect father. I want so badly to learn to love His will, and to accept it with my shoulders squared and my head held high. 

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