This week, I was favored with an experience I only get once every year or two — I spent roughly 60 hours in bed sleeping off what my doctor had assured me was “just a cold.” While I’ve illnesses make me much more uncomfortable, I was surprised by this one. I did everything I could to “beat” the cold, assist my body in fighting it off, etc., but I was really, really sick.
Even more surprising was my reaction. In the past, I have whined my way through, wondering if God had forgotten about all the important things I needed to accomplish, and generally throwing a first class self-pity party. This time, I felt very calm. The coming week will be difficult as I try to make up for lost time, but I have peace that all will be well. I was able to view my discomforts through the lens of gratitude for all the hours I enjoy healthy and whole — and felt a total sense of my blessings even while I was ill. I also fully held onto the principle that we have to take our turns experiencing the ups and downs of life in all of their forms, because those experiences are essential to the development of gratitude and a Christlike character.
So, that’s the long excuse for why this post is late. I hope you enjoyed it. Today, I’m starting the journey of taking a deeper look at what I personally learned as I prepared to give a talk in my church’s worship service nearly a month ago.
The background material for this segment comes from:
- Wendy Nelson: Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be (click on the transcript link if you would prefer to read, rather than watch, her talk)
- Matthew 13:4-9
- Clayton Christensen: Decisions for Which I am Grateful
Sister Nelson gives so much to ponder in her talk, but the Holy Spirit drew me to the section where she talks about being motivated by desperation. It sounds almost evil, that we, as humans, need to be driven to a place where we are desperate, doesn’t it? Yet, that is exactly where I found myself when the Lord decided it was time for me to face up to being codependent — that, with His help, I was now strong enough to begin the journey to overcoming.
I knew that I was hurting good people in the ward because I couldn’t balance out friendship properly. I also knew that the problem ran deep enough inside me that I couldn’t do it with my will power, brain power, and grit. I needed something far more. I became desperate to be healed.
That’s what Sister Nelson points out in her talk:
- The woman who had suffered for 12 years with an incurable disease realized the Savior was her only hope and was desperate enough to risk societal backlash by reaching out to touch His robe.
- The man at the Pool of Bethesda who had waited for 38 years, but his crippled limbs could never get him to the water first recognized the Savior’s healing touch might be his only chance.
Desperation pushes people to consider and do things that they wouldn’t try without that extra motivation.
Fortunately, desperation can come in other forms. If we are willing to believe, then the Holy Spirit can create that desperation for us but filling our hearts and minds with the love of God. Our divine nature craves more. As long as we act on those feelings, we will be drawn closer and closer to Christ.
Then, as Sister Nelson points out, we become desperate to become the people we were born to be. We become desperate to become true disciples of Christ. That’s when things change.
Clayton Christensen describes his experience with these feelings while he was a Rhodes scholar in Oxford. Even after serving a mission, he realized his testimony, especially of the Book of Mormon, wasn’t strong enough to carry him through the demands of his course of study, the extra duties required as a Rhodes scholar, and the duties that fell to him as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
His solution was to spend one hour a night praying and reading from the Book of Mormon, pondering and praying over each page as he read. The answer didn’t come instantaneously, but after weeks (maybe months?) he received the witness he sought, and it has made all of the difference in his life.
This brings us to the Parable of the Sower. Four kinds of ground are listed, from soil hard and completely unprepared to receive seeds of truth to soil that is rich, tilled, and bursting with promise.
The Savior ends the parable with the words “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
And that, in the end, is the point. Are we desperate enough to ask, listening with the faith that God really will answer? Are we desperate enough to seek trusting that we will be led to find? Will we desperately knock until God opens the way? Will we really listen with ears to hear?