When I tried to write this post yesterday, I froze. I spent the rest of the day thinking about why the post was so hard for me to write, and I realized that there was a voice inside my head telling me that I’m a hypocrite if I type these words. It took a lot of time after the realization for me to accept that there is a difference between being a hypocrite and being in the middle of a personal battle.
The title of this post refers back to a story that I have heard several times about the attitude of a survivor of the Martin (I think) handcart company — one of the handcart companies that was trapped in the mountains in an early blizzard as they were making their way to Utah. Many members of the company froze/starved to death.
The way I remember the story, a man overheard a group of people criticizing the company and its leaders. They were rehashing the details that should have made it obvious to those involved that the attempt would be treacherous and ill-fated. This man stepped forward, identified himself as a member of that company, and stated his testimony that no one who survived the trek would call it foolhardy, for each member had paid the price to truly know God.
“Likening the Lesson”
As I have gone back to this lesson a few times in my head, my first instinct has been to berate myself for not having proper faith during my trials.
You see, I am battling things that began back in my childhood and color the way I perceive everything that happens to me in life. My first marriage “improved” these faulty thinking patterns. I had thought that I was making progress until the start of this summer.
This summer, I have been battling an identity crisis, fear that I have put my family at huge financial risk, worry about how the choices of other family members are affecting my mom, concerns about my children, and more. As the stress has mounted, I have found myself returning to my negative, suspicious outlook.
The funny thing is, I feel totally crazy. I realize that the world I am living in has been created by my mind using old, faulty patterns that it created to protect itself. But, that brain is the only one I have, and it tells me that everything it thinks and feels is real and true.
I have been fasting and praying for years, begging for the insights, wisdom, and keys that will unlock the mysteries of healing, and yet I feel as if I have made no progress.
I’m discouraged enough that I’m struggling with my next instinct, which is to question God.
Yet, I have been through other hard times in my life and have come off conqueror, even when I wasn’t able to follow the Lord, keep the commandments, and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in perfection. I have, in those cases, learned that those experiences were the price that I had to pay to come to know God better and to gain wisdom and spiritual strength.
What Does This Have to do with the Pioneers?
I can’t yet, in the middle of this trial, thank the Lord for the blessings I will be receiving. I don’t know what those blessings are, and I can’t really imagine what the Lord is trying to do for me by letting me struggle for years with what seems like very little help.
I have to wonder what the man in the pioneer story was thinking while he was still out on the plains, and what he felt while he was trapped in the snow in the mountains with the rest of the handcart company. Was he singing praises and rejoicing that the Lord was raining blessings down upon the camp? Or was he a bit fearful that he would be the next fatality? Did he, at times, wonder if the Lord had forsaken the handcart company or think that there was some unworthiness in himself or in the company in general that caused the Lord to withhold his protecting power? How easy was it for him, in the moment, to pray “Thy will be done” and actually mean it?
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are very patient with us as long as we are honestly trying. Maybe just my wanting to be able to rejoice, to see the blessings that the promises that for now are “afar off” and feel grateful for them, and to relax and have faith as if they are already mine is enough. Maybe my mind will be freed from the self-defeating thoughts that grip it now, and I will see and understand my Lord and my God more than I can even imagine. Maybe just trying to hold tight to the faith that one day, I will be able to stand and say “This is the price I paid to truly know God” pleases my Father in Heaven.
Maybe, realizing these things, I can make it just one more day.