You know how sometimes you go to church and one of the talks just hits you like a spiritual clothesline in your face? Well, it’s been quite awhile since that happened to me. But judging by what the topic was today, I needed it.
This is mine and Matt’s second week in our new ward, and I didn’t know the young couple who had been asked to speak. The topic was on Elder Christofferson’s talk, “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” which I miraculously didn’t really remember from the last General Conference (amazing how that happens). When the wife opened her talk with this definition of chastening–to inflict suffering upon for the purpose of moral development–I knew the talk was for me.
You see, as if everyone couldn’t tell already, both Matt and I are unemployed. Each day brings with it the hope of finally securing a full-time job for one of us and each day seems to end up with me being cranky, short-tempered, and worried. I have even started to make pitiful little comments as we eat like, “Enjoy this strawberry, dear. We probably won’t eat another one again for many a moon.” Yeah, so I can be a bit dramatic. But honestly, this trial has proven very difficult for me already, most likely because for the rest of my previous life, I have always been very financially blessed (and always, fortunately, employed).
But just as the photo above depicts how a rainbow brightens a storm-beaten sky, this talk really illuminated some things for me. I loved this short summary of 3 of the points that E. Christofferson made in his talk about why the Lord sometimes needs to chasten us: 1) to persuade us to repent, 2) to refine or sanctify us, and 3) to direct us to a different path. I felt deeply humbled–wounded, almost–as I thought of how faithless my prayers have probably been of late as I have pleaded and begged for this trial to be taken from me and for us to be able to find employment immediately. And when my prayers weren’t answered, I sulked in my circumstances and refused to be consoled.
Well, now I see things a little bit differently. Not that I’m suddenly an expert in hope after being reminded of just one talk, but today I had many flashbacks to my mission as I reflected on my blessings: I recalled an elderly woman who had no income whatsoever but who survived on what seemed to be daily miracles—a few pieces of fruit gathered here and there, a neighbor bringing by some rolls, a few pieces of found scrap metal that she could trade in for a few dollars. Her house was made of scraps of metal, wood, and concrete, and we found her every day sweeping the leaves from her dirt porch, her hair frizzy from the nearby fire she had burning. She always made time to listen to us, to give thanks to God for one more day of life. I thought of an older man and woman, both recent converts, who somehow found the faith to always pay their tithing on the few meager dollars her husband made by occasionally doing an odd job here and there. One day the husband joked that he had become an expert in fasting, but not by choice.
How selfish I feel I have been, when I personally know of many of my most beloved friends who are far away and often do not get enough to eat. I also think of a particularly hard chastisement in my family’s life when my nephew very unexpectedly passed away. Through the grief-stricken weeks that followed, one message seemed to ring loudly in my heart of hearts–the message to cherish our loved ones, and cherish the time we have been given to spend with them. I have had the pleasure of spending every hour of every day with my new husband these past few weeks and I feel like I have wasted nearly half of it in worry and complaints. But not anymore—regardless of what this next week or this next month holds, I will appreciate this time I have been given to grow closer to Matt, to develop my talents, and to get around to those projects that I have been putting off until the day when I “had more time.” Well, that time has come. And I’m not going to waste any more of it.