Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's all about how you look at it

Just as a preface, I'm starting out writing this with the intent of talking about something religious. It's not something that just happened. :) Oh, and this one's a little long. Sorry. I didn't do it on purpose, it just happened.

This morning as I was walking to and from work, it was snowing. And it wasn't just lightly snowing. It was coming down pretty good, and the wind was blowing it all right into my face, making it pretty difficult to see. So, I did as most others do: slumped over, hands in my pockets, head down, looking at the ground directly in front of me to try to find the safest way to get to my destination.

This got me to thinking. I heard a story once a long time ago about a farmer who wanted to retire, but he had no sons to give his farm to. So, he took his 3 favorite farmhands, and had them go out into a field with him. It was winter time, and the field was covered in a perfect blanket of untouched snow. He told them that whoever could walk in the straightest line to a certain tree across the field would be the one who would inherit the farm. The first decided that what he would do was to start facing the tree, and then watch his feet as he walked, making sure that he was walking as straight as possible. He did so, and when he got to the tree, he was astonished: his path weaved back and forth, not in a very straight line at all! The second farmhand saw the problem of the first, so he decided that he would watch his feet as well, but he would look up every so often to glance at the tree, to see if he was going the right way. But what he realized was, he couldn't stop looking at the path he made behind him. He would get so worried about whether or not it was crooked, so he would try to fix it. When he got to the tree, he turned around completely and saw the path that he had made. Although it was slightly straighter than the path made by the first farmhand, it was still quite crooked and zig-zaggy (if that's a word). The third, being the smartest of the bunch (he has to be, or the moral of the story would be pretty lame. It seems like they always save the wise one for last. Anyway.), decided that since the strategies of the first two farmhands hadn't worked at all, he was going to try something that neither of them had. He started out facing the tree, and he started walking. And he never took his eyes off of that tree. Nothing could distract him from that tree--not the path behind him, not how his path was going in comparison to those of the other farmhands. And when he got to the tree, he turned around to look at his path. It was almost a perfect straight line from the farmer to the tree. So, of course, he won the farm and everything that came with it.

As I thought about this, I made a connection to the situation I was in.

The snow was coming down, and often, we have the same reaction when it's raining. Especially if it's raining a lot. But even just a little, it's hard not to put your head down and watch the ground right in front of you. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when it's sunny, you don't find many people with their heads down, trying to keep from getting all that glorious daylight in their face. We walk tall, faces lifted to the glorious light of the sun, knowing exactly where we are headed, looking towards our destination with confidence.

Now for the connection to the gospel, if you haven't already guessed it by now. It seems when things are "coming down" around us, all we can do is focus on the ground in front of us. That big puddle in front of us seems huge, but if we would simply look up, we would see that there's a whole sidewalk worth of space that allows us to avoid the puddle, or to at least find the shallowest part to get through. But when it's sunny, we just soak it in. Sometimes, the rain or snow isn't such a bad thing.

So I decided to try something new. I walked like I would if it was bright and sunny out. I let that snow blow right into my face. It wasn't necessarily the best of experiences, but it wasn't bad, actually. Once I got over that it was cold and wet, I kind of enjoyed it. It was different. Not something that I was used to.

Our trials may not be like snow or rain falling. They may be like a hailstorm. While I don't recommend walking through a severe hailstorm unprotected, I do suggest that perhaps we should look at the storms of our lives in a new light. They may not always be the most pleasant. They probably aren't the most fun. But there's always an end to the storm. The sun will come out again. And what's the point in becoming upset over something you can't control? Why not just love it for what it is? Find something good about it. Anything. Sometimes it's not easy. Hailstones the size of golf balls don't have much nice about them when they pelt you on the head. But think about the miracle of the hailstone itself. How does something so solid (said solidity evidenced by the egg that is swelling up on your head) come out of something so ambiguous and intangible as a cloud? It truly is a miracle.

I suggest that we learn to love the situation we are in. Lately I've been in the midst of finals week, watching people around me stress themselves out of their minds about their finals. While, yes, finals is a stressful time, I think perhaps they overdo it. Relax. Take a breath. It's not as bad as you think it is. There is the light at the end of the tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, whatever example you want to use. Look ahead to your destination: a life of eternities with our Heavenly Father. Neal A. Maxwell said, "In the Apocrypha, the teachings of James, Jesus reportedly told an afflicted Peter and James, ‘If you consider how long the world existed before you, and how long it will exist after you, you will find that your life is one single day and your sufferings one single hour.’ How like what the Lord told the suffering Joseph in [Liberty] jail: ‘My son,…thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.’ One life, therefore, is brevity compared to eternity—like being dropped off by a parent for a day at school. But what a day!” How true. When we have an eternal perspective, our lives here are but a moment, a speck of time in a countless number of eternities. Why let something so small have such a huge effect on us?

Finally, as the best way to end this, I'll use a quote from a great man, Joseph B. Wirthlin:

"Come what may, and love it."

No comments: