I trudged on the treadmill, gritting my teeth, fighting tears. The workout wasn’t pushing me to my limits. Life was. I could almost feel physical sensations of my soul being stretched.
I reached up not only to God within my heart; I reflected on the faith of those who have gone before, a faith that strengthens my own.
Sometimes I will look at the photos of noble ancestors on my wall in times like this. But on this night, there were no faces in mind, just the whole of all the pioneer stories wrapped together. In remembering them, I felt could keep moving, keep walking, keep keeping the faith.
I have realized as I reflect on the lives and sacrifices of the Mormon pioneers that the specifics of our journeys don’t really matter — not because the details of our personal pain and triumphs are insignificant, but simply because we all have our trails to blaze, we all have our trials to face. Our stories may differ, but the principles that can help us all are the same.
I so often find myself hoping I can be as firm in my faith and as willing to endure well life’s difficulties as the early Mormon pioneers were. I feel a connection with them because their testimony in God is my testimony. Their knowledge of God’s plan, the foundation that kept them going, is what keeps me going. Their trust in the Savior’s Atonement, the source of their hope, is also why I fight the despair that sometimes seeps into my heart in hard times.
Even as the Mormon pioneers have long since passed on, their examples shine bright to me and help me keep moving forward in faith — faith in my Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ.
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This week, we will be celebrating the upcoming Mormon Pioneer Day (July 24) by reflecting on both early and modern-day people who have left (or are leaving!) a legacy of faith for others to follow.
This is my favorite quote from one of those pioneers:
“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company” (as quoted in David O. McKay, “Pioneer Women,” The Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, 8).
I am grateful, too, for their example, and for the reminder that when we are in trials and think we can go no further, God and His angels are there, round about us to help bear us up! (Doctrine & Covenants 84:88)