As I send my family out into the world each day, to school, to work, to spend time with others, I worry about how they will fare and what new challenge might walk through the door with them come afternoon and evening. And when the world does its worst and I draw them back into the haven of home, tend to their wounds, and keep them nestled under my wing to heal, I worry sometimes that I could be hurting them more than helping. Because, if there is one thing I have learned through the challenges that most families face, as well as a few that many don’t, it’s that challenges and trials and hard times and life lessons are what make us the people we are meant to be.
The expression, “when it rains, it pours” so often seems true—so true, in fact, that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to anticipate the flowers that spring to life in the wake of the storm. However, the more storms of life that I endure, the more hopeful and sure I am that the blessings—the ones I need and will truly make me happiest even if they aren’t always the ones I believe I want—will follow when the time is right.
Neal A. Maxwell, a former (now deceased) member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said “One’s life cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!’”(Ensign, May 1991)
Through the adversities of life I have learned that I cannot hope to fully share in the joy of the Lord without passing through grief, sorrow, pain, opposition and betrayal. A personal example of this has been the challenges our family faces through dealing with the multiple disabilities suffered by my oldest child. In the beginning, I spent years attempting to “fix” him. At one point I remember feeling extremely frustrated and complaining that “he gets in the way of everything!” As time has passed, I have grown to cherish him and his differences above and beyond that of a mother for her son. He is, in fact, not “in the way” but “the way”, because he helps me to become more like the Savior.
When I feel discouraged and incapable of enduring the trials ahead, I remember the line in Malachi 3:3 which states “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” Silver must be set in the middle of the flames where the fire is hottest in order to burn out all of the impurities. The silversmith must hold it in the fire and keep his eyes on it the entire time so as to pull it out before it is destroyed. He does this until the silver is fully refined and knows when the time has come when he sees his face reflected in the shiny surface. Like the silversmith, our Lord and Savior sometimes holds us in the fire to burn out the impurities. He does not leave us there alone; indeed, we are in His specific care as He watches to pull us from the flames when the time is right. We cannot know when that is but He knows it is time when He can see His face reflected in our own.
To have the Savior’s face reflected in my own is the desire of my heart. To be able to live with Him again and to fulfill the measure of my potential here in this life is a far greater reward than any honor or accolade bestowed by mankind. I know that it is through trials and challenges, as well as joy and blessings, that I can become the person I am meant to be.
For this reason, adversity is sweet.