Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Christ Calming the Sea, and Me

A while ago, I spent some time studying Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, which basically states that each individual goes through psychological stages of growth.

Here is the basic run-down:

Maslow_s Hierachy of Needs

The bottom two levels (red and orange) are considered deficiency needs and Maslow has suggested that until those needs are met, the individual cannot strongly desire, or have motivation to truly move up to the higher levels (yellow, green, and purple) known as the growth needs (or in other words, constant betterment). For a more detailed overview you can go to this article .

Why do I care? Because as I was researching it, it occurred to me that over the last decade of my marriage, my husband and I had been literally fighting to survive in the bottom two areas (see ** note below) but the Lord asks, expects, and requires us to be working on the higher levels. It’s a strange dichotomy, and yet I shouldn’t be surprised because growth at all stages of life is vital to our becoming people greater than we are or to put it another way, to be Beings like our Savior (see 1 John 3:2 and The Challenge to Become, Elder Oaks).

An example of this is found when missionaries teach the principle of tithing to impoverished people. Why do they teach it? Because new members are expected to live it, even in their poverty. Why?

  • To become like the Lord
  • To develop trust and faith
  • To see miracles
  • To gain spiritual power

All of those things I have witnessed in my own life and I have seen others witness the same as a direct result of living the law of tithing. I suppose it’s all part of spiritual resistance training! We are to rise above even when it is difficult because we have issues in the bottom two pyramid steps.

I think that we can see that example in the account of the Savior sleeping in the ship as the storm and waves were tossing it about. I’ve always wondered about that account. The disciples are fearing for their lives (not safe – on the bottom of the pyramid) and they wake the Lord saying “Carest thou not that we perish?” or in other words. “Seriously, Lord? You’re going to allow this to happen? I thought that you made promises to me, and this will NOT help fulfill those promises!”

The Savior wakes, calms the storm, and then asks them where their faith is. That account always bothered me before because they were afraid. They were in a perilous condition. But wait – let’s try to look at it from God’s point of view for a moment.

They are on the ship with the Savior. He, and they have been called to do some very specific work. He had been providing for their needs in the very moment. They had been witnessing miracles of healing, physical wonders, doctrine, and spirit that testified to them of His calling and power which (not coincidentally) carried over to their specific callings. Would Father allow that ship to sink? Would the Son of Man have been sent merely to drown in a moment without fulfilling the future work of salvation desperately needed for all of Father’s children?

Perhaps the storm was needed – the rain fall providing much needed water to the desert. Or, perhaps providing a moment in which the men could have sought a blessing from Father in Heaven through prayer, thus deepening their faith.

Whatever the reasons, they were expected to continue in faith, in their present situation, cheerfully doing all in their power to bring about much righteousness.

It almost seems harsh. In practicality it seems impossible. And yet, we have been told that “Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever (Doc. & Cov. 122:9).”  We’ve also been told to “consider the lilies of the field,” that if the Lord clothes the lilies and the grass, how much more will He clothe us if we are not of little faith (Matt. 6:28,30). And he’s asked us to trust, that if the Lord has asked you (or me) to perform a work for Him, that He will provide means, and power, and supply to accomplish it.

We’re also allowed to ask for help and miracles to be able to do the work that we’re called to do. “My Shepherd will supply my needs,” so I can work in the higher parts of the pyramid and bless mankind, even in my lowly, and desperate, and impoverished state. After all, the Savior did that and He asks no less than that we follow Him.


**To understand in detail what I mean, I recommend the article I wrote in the book “I Can Do Hard Things with God, chapter 17 – Spouse’s Mental Illness: You’re Bi-Polar, so Why Am I the One Going Crazy?”

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Healing vs Fleeing

Riding without training wheels

Long-term healing. The Balm of Gilead. Recover, Refresh, Renew. The Savior is said to “arise with healing in His wings” (“wings” in the bible means the power to act and do) see Malachi 4:2.

This is the topic of today’s musings, but first, I want to start with a milestone that we reached in our house this week.  We taught two children to ride bikes without training wheels (my nephew and my six-year-old daughter).  What a miracle! Their faces beaming with delight and satisfaction. They can propel themselves forward, they can balance, they have joined the ranks of the big kids – what an accomplishment!

So, how do these ideas relate? (I’m sure you’ve figured it out already, but I’ll draw the analogy anyway!)

As we began the bike lessons, my little girl and I started with prayer (see 2 Nephi 32:9).  In her prayer, she asked Heavenly Father to help her so that she wouldn’t fall.  Well, you can’t learn to ride a bicycle without falling.  It just isn’t going to happen.  So, I took her lovingly in my arms and told her that.  Then, we spent the first little while learning how to take a fall. After she got good at that, we began to work on balance. It was hard, tiring, frustrating work. She fell, but she had learned how to deal with it, and she kept getting up. Eventually, she began to go a few lengths after I let go of the bike seat. Then a few more, until she went several houses, and finally the whole street. She was so far ahead of me that I had to run quite a way to catch up. The absolute JOY on her face was so priceless (see the picture above) after she did it.  It made all of the work so worthwhile.

Life is so similar, isn’t it.  Looking at the big picture can remind us of why we are here having to deal with all of these mortal issues.  It’s so that we can have JOY (2 Nephi 2:25). So that at the end of it all we can have experience (D&C 122:7). So we can become someone better than we are now (1 John 3:2-3).

But, it will mean that there will be some falls. Major, epic, difficult, heart wrenching falls (D&C 101: 2-5 & Hebrews 12:11).

Let me share some thoughts on the subject that I came across this week in an amazing talk.

What then is healing, and why should we seek it? My favorite talk on the subject of healing is a BYU devotional given by Elaine S. Marshall in 2002 entitled “Learning the Healer’s Art.” I strongly recommend you study it. I assign it in every class I teach, from undergraduate to doctoral level. I suggest you read it more than once. Listen closely to her definition of healing:

On [my] first day as a nurse, I assumed cure, care, and healing to be synonymous. I have learned they are not the same. Healing is not cure. Cure is clean, quick, and done—often under anesthesia. . . . Healing, however, is often a lifelong process of recovery and growth in spite of, maybe because of, enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault. It requires time. . . .

. . . It requires all the energy of your entire being. You have to be there, fully awake, aware, and participating when it happens.4

Healing is much more than “getting better” or “having our problems go away.” Healing is growth, development, and maturation. In a word, healing is change. It takes time and energy and struggle, but healing teaches us. As Marshall said:

Healing can help us to become more sensitive and more awake to life. . . . Healing invites gifts of humility and faith. It opens our hearts to . . . truth, beauty, . . . and grace. 5

But remember, even with all that beauty and growth and grace, healing does hurt.

Some people I have had the privilege of working with over the years have had a hard time reconciling the fact that healing requires suffering and yet is a gift from our Savior. How is it that a loving God would allow us to suffer? I have come to realize that my Savior cares more about my growth than He does about my comfort. One evidence of His love is that He does not spare me from the suffering I need for my development and progression, even when I get mad at Him. As a client once told me, “I used to feel guilty for getting mad at God. Then I realized He can handle it.”

And, unlike other humans, He does not punish me when I am mad or hold a grudge or remind me of it the next time my heart is right and I ask for His help.

The above talk, Healing = Courage + Action + Grace,  was absolutely phenomenal. It was given by Jonathan G. Sandberg on January 21, 2014.  It is WELL worth your time, as is reading the footnotes. I know that sounds weird, but I’m serious. He has given copious notes for extensive study, and well as additional thoughts on the quotes that he referenced in the talk. You can read the entire transcript here, or watch it here –

Along with this, I need to address another part of healing. Yesterday, my older daughter and I had to have a hard talk. It was about some negative actions that she has been repeatedly doing.  As we talked she cried and yelled, denied, and cried some more. Finally, she said, “Mommy, it’s just that when we talk about this stuff, it hurts. I feel so bad!”

I know it hurts.  I ache right along with her, but we needed to address the behavior, we needed to find solutions, and NOT run away from the difficult work. (As a side note, today, when the behavior happened, she followed the protocols, exactly the way that we worked it out, thus saving us grief and frustration. What an AMAZING little girl!)

Another thought from Sandberg’s talk –

[W]e have to be courageous to face the truth regarding what needs to change in our lives. This type of intense introspection requires tremendous honesty with ourselves. As Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32; see also 2 Nephi 28:28), but that is usually only after it hurts us first. Most of what I know about the courage to heal I have learned from clients. I have noticed among those who do find healing a real commitment to learning the truth about themselves, which is never easy.

I am so amazed at my beautiful children. I am amazed that they trust me to work with them, whether it’s learning to take a fall, ride a bike, or having a hard talk which will change behavior for the good.

I wonder, sometimes, if the Lord feels the same way about us. Is He thrilled right along with us as we learn to bear up under our burdens just a little bit more? Is He thankful when we offer true forgiveness and understanding to those who have caused us pain and frustration? Does it bless His life when we ask for His gifts and powers to enable ours? Is He thankful when we serve and bless others, especially when He asks the first time?

The truth is, although we may pray and ask Heavenly Father to help us so that won’t fall, life doesn’t work that way.  You can’t live in mortality without falling.  It  just isn’t going to happen.  So, when we do fall, we have some choices. We can flee and hide. That is our right and privilege as Beings with agency. We never have to learn to ride a bike. We never have to have hard talks.  But then we will never grow.

Or, we can choose to allow the Lord to take us lovingly His arms and spend some time learning how to take a fall. We can choose healing when we fall. We can choose to keep going, to keep learning, even when it hurts. We can choose to be comforted by that Being who has healing in His wings. And through these experiences, if we choose healing, then we will be able to join the ranks of “the big kids”.

 

Putting our “Exception” on the Altar

Exceptions to the Rule. They crop up everywhere, don’t they? Nature, Math, English grammar. Always there … lurking. Just when we think we understand something, an exception pops up and we have to re-examine our thinking.  But do the exceptions make the rule “untrue”? Do we throw out the rule because there are exceptions to it?

Personally, I don’t think so.  When we begin to say that rules don’t exist, or shouldn’t be followed because of exceptions, then we delve into a space of chaos.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Everyone who ever  has lived on earth has sinned, so everyone needs to repent.

That’s a pretty inclusive rule!

Oh, wait. There is (at least) one exception.

Jesus Christ never sinned.

I think that the most interesting thing to go along with our discussion then, is that, though He  clearly was THE great exception to the rule, (like 0 in mathematics) He got baptized anyway.

So what does this teach us?

Before we go into that, I’m going to share a couple of stories.

Story # 1 –

When I was at Basic Training, I broke my leg, a stress fracture just under the right knee. I was in excruciating pain for several weeks. No one believed me and I tried to continue to “run through the pain”.  When we took our final PT test, I hobble-ran around the track and began to be lapped by all of the other soldiers.  The drill sergeants then realized that there was something real and horribly wrong and sent me to the Army hospital where an x-ray proved the break.  We still had several weeks of training left, and I began a strange routine of doing the best I could.

During PT one morning, my Drill sergeant yelled at me for doing the exercises and made me sit and watch.  A few days later, when we were at a special camping training (bivouacking in the woods) I was chosen as one of the night guards because of my injury. Guard at night, sleep during the day.  Although, on one of those days, I went out for training with my platoon, at my drill sergeant’s behest. We were supposed to run through an open field (practicing the art of covering ourselves and our buddies). Each group went out and I lingered at the back (as running with a broken leg had proven not to be my thing.)  Then my Drill Sergeant told me it was my turn.

“But, Drill Sergeant Jones, remember? My Leg?”

“GO! I DON’T CARE! GO, MOVE, MOVE MOVE!!!!”

He could be quite persuasive, so out I ran, hobbling through the exercise, hoping that an enemy soldier wouldn’t “pick me off” as I went.  Hobble, hobble, hobble,  hide behind a tree, cover my buddy, hobble, hobble, hobble, run behind a rock, watch for enemy snipers – you get the idea.

The funny thing was that, as silly as I looked, I actually enjoyed being out in the field that day – injury and all.  It was such a relief to participate in something after being “held back”. The air was fresh. Movement was welcome to my body.  I felt unified and reconnected with my platoon again, and I never got hit by the pretend enemy! 😉

Story # 2 –

When I was in my twenties, I became the Laurel adviser in my ward (that means that I was the teacher for all girls aged 16-18 in my area). I began to teach them, that though they wanted to get married – which every Mormon girl wants of course, [note that’s the general rule, not the exception] 😉 sometimes marriage didn’t come as fast as we planned, and that they should have a something else in mind for life without nuptials.

As it turns out, all of the girls in my class got married before I did.

I thought that “marriage doesn’t come right away” was the “new rule”, because it was so in my case (and, after all,  it is the teaching of mainstream American society).  It turned out that I was the exception, and that in that class, the original rule (that most Mormon girls get married young) was in full force.

So now, let’s get back to our discussion above, about the Savior and His baptism and introduce a BIG, GIANT, sticky problem.

What do we do in gospel living when we are the exception to the rule?   Does it make the rule “untrue”? Do we throw out the rule for everyone in the whole church simply because I am an exception to it (or because exceptions exist)?

The scriptures teach us that we are to follow the example of the Savior. (See this link for a plethora of scriptures about this teaching.)  Here is one of my favorites –

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (1 Peter 2:21)

 WHAAAAT?

Are you saying, Laryssa, that if we are the exception to the rule, we are still supposed to follow the rule?

Yes, I am. Or at least, I am saying that if you can’t follow the rule, because of your exception, you should live as close to the rule as possible. Yes, I am Drill Sergeant Jones, pushing you out onto the field with a broken leg.

"'To fulfill the law,' said Jesus, when the baptist questioned why."

“‘To fulfill the law,’ said Jesus, when the baptist questioned why.”

Why?

For two reasons.

Reason #1.  Because of this great promise –

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17).

That by doing, we will know and understand the reasons that God gave us the doctrine to begin with.  Then we can testify from our own experience about  A.) the truthfulness of the teaching, B.) why it is the doctrine of God, and C.) of the miracles that helped us live the doctrines even while in our exceptions.

Reason # 2.  Because, if we follow the example of the Savior, (especially in our exceptions) we will have the power to bless the human family in ways so powerful it is incomprehensible.

Just look at what the Savior wrought, by taking on sin as a sinless being.  He was the exception. His was an adult life devoid of sin. He had every right to enter into the Kingdom of God because He lived perfectly (see 1 Nephi 15:34,  3 Nephi 27:19, and Revelation 21:27) and yet, He gave up His “exception to the rule status” and took upon Himself our sins, and through that great and glorious Atonement, gave every single human being the ability to enter into the Kingdom of God, should they chose to accept it.

Now, that is phenomenal.

Each exception to the rule of life carries with it a huge burden and a huge opportunity.

So, how do you live as close to the rule as you can with such difficult problems? What are you expected to do? I don’t know, because your case (quite probably) is so very different from mine. But there is Someone who does know.  If you ask Him, He will show you with baby steps, and then sometimes, with grander steps, what is right for your unique and personal situation.

I will give a simple example from my life.

When I was a single sister in the church that teaches that Marriage is the ultimate design of both earth life, and of ALL ETERNITY, I found myself getting older and older without the opportunity (and I found that the rule was that most Mormon young adults were getting married and having those babies that I so desperately wanted – see story # 2 above).

I went through a period of anger and rebellion.  But then, because I loved God, I decided to try to live life in the gospel, even though my circumstances were not ideal according to the general rule.

Then, I went through a time when I demanded that every one, every religious talk and teaching about marriage (in conference or any other church function) bring up and recognize my own personal exception to the rule (and coincidentally, offer praise and comfort for my “amazing faithfulness”).

Finally, I came to a point in which, I began to realize the necessity of giving up my demands, and doing what the Spirit was prompting me to do – to testify of the importance of the family, without regard to my own personal exception.

I focused my thoughts and prayers on my relationship with God. When the pain, anger, or injustice came up, I prayed or sang a hymn, treating those thoughts as I would an immoral or upsetting thought – forcing them to leave my mind, rather than spending time dwelling on it,  “licking old wounds”.

In so doing, over time,  it took away the pain and anger.  It drew me closer to the Savior. It made me an effective Seminary teacher because I could teach without angry energy seething out of me. It put me in a position to be taught deeper truths about the doctrine.

And, OF course, not getting married young brought me these exceptional military stories that I am now able share with you. 😉

The years have passed. Eleven, to be exact, since I got married and started my own family. Now, I am asked to live with different set of exceptions to the rule.  Exceptions that I do not have the courage or the permission to talk about yet.  However, the Spirit whispers the same solution to those problems — follow the Savior.  Live the rule, or as close to the rule as I can.

We hobble, hobble, hobble, and hide behind a bush, hobble hobble, hobble, cover each other as battle buddies, hobble, hobble, hobble and watch for enemy snipers. It’s not pretty to watch. My husband and I don’t move as gracefully in the battlefield as other families that live without our exceptions to the rule. But, we are participating in the activity.

Yes, I am petty and wish for things to be ideal, but, I see miracles on a regular basis. Miracles that help us live as close to the rule as possible. I am learning the doctrines and finding that they bring joy. I can witness that following God’s ways and rules give me peace and great opportunities that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t live this way. And finally, hopefully, as you and I try to be more like the Savior, by placing our own “exceptions to the rule” on the altar, that sacrifice will bless lives, just as His did.

 

“I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit!”

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“I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit!” was the line that Han Solo said in Star Wars when Luke was trying to get him to help save Princess Leia on the Death Star. Luke Skywalker said, something to the effect of, if you help save this princess, “the reward would be … well, more wealth than you can imagine.”

We are told to dream big, to imagine, to reach for the stars, to wish upon a star.  All of these ideas are remarkable, and help a person begin to do the work.  The problem is that most of these motivational slogans don’t come with the tagline –  “Dream big: and follow that dream with more work than you can even imagine, and once there, it may not be the dream that you were hoping for.”   That is one of the paradoxes of life.

I once asked some friends, why did they think that God make this world to be such that we must continue in mundane, never-ending tasks?  For an example, you can work all day in cleaning or yard work, and it is totally satisfying to do the work.  But then, within what seems like a blink of an eye, everything that you have worked at is destroyed and you have to do it over again.  One friend gave an amazing answer – she said, “well, God had to give us something to keep us busy while we’re down here.” 🙂

Gordon B. Hinkley once said,

Anyone who imagines that bliss [in marriage] is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. [The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. … Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.  The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride” (“Big Rock Candy Mountains,” Deseret News, 12 June 1973, A4).

Because I am a major idealist, the first time that I read that quote I wanted to cry.  I think that in my Han Solo moments, I have imagined that all things would be perfect.  Then, I find that President Hinckley was right.  It’s enough to make the idealist in me give up … if only I didn’t have so many ideas and dreams floating around!

But I’ve noticed something in my twenty something years as an adult … I’m getting better at the process of dream + work + problems = more work = dreams fulfilled, but not what I expected.

Working through the disappointment, toward the dream has made me better able to deal – both with the disappointment, and with the problems that tend to crop up along the way.  Something (say a glitch or mistake) that would have destroyed me a few years ago, seems to not have the same power over me that it did then.  I seem to be able to rub the smoke and dust out of my eyes or shrug off the delays and sidetracks better than I did when I was younger.

My daughter (age 8) is an idealist as well.  If she can’t have it her way, exactly as she wants it, she shuts down.  I keep telling her that things are not going to be perfect (in a watered-down President Hinckley-type speech).  I remind her that the only thing that she can do is choose how she is going to deal with the reality of her situation.  For example, I went out with her on a girl’s night on Friday (and we left my younger daughter on a Daddy-daughter date).  The next morning, we went to my nephew’s baptism.  Her sister got sick right before we left, and so her Dad opted to stay home with the younger and let us go to the event.

So, for two events in a row, I went with the older daughter and left the younger and Dad.  That afternoon, there was a neighborhood block party at a local Christian church that we had wanted to attend.  Obviously, little sister (sick with the flu) couldn’t go, but since I had left her for two other events, she desperately needed some mommy love and comfort.

Older daughter was incensed! Why couldn’t I take her to the party? (After all there would be games and treats and fun).  I said that she could go with Dad (who really didn’t want to go, but would have, if pressed).  She was furious.  She wanted to go with Mom!!!!  But circumstances would not warrant her desires, not matter how much she pushed.

Her choices were then –

  1. Continue to be miserable and make everyone else annoyed.
  2. Accept the circumstances, though disappointing, and try to make the best of it at home with family.
  3. Go with Dad, be miserable and make him annoyed.
  4. Go with Dad and try to make the best of it.

In essence, it could not be what she wanted, but there were plenty of other options available to her.

I say this, not to disparage my daughter, but to discuss our own moments when we are not gaining our imaginings from God.  How often do we rant and rave, or worse – give up, when we don’t have desired results?  Perhaps, it would be His good will to grant us our requests –  but not right now.  Perhaps there is another sibling on this earth who is desperately in need of the blessings that we are asking for and it is their turn to go first.

Meekness then, is the only attribute that will help when the imagination’s desires are not met.  Meekness to go to the Lord and ask why. Meekness to still move forward when the “why” is not readily given.  Meekness to accept others.  Meekness to accept counsel.  Meekness to follow promptings.

Consider this quote by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

Perhaps, brothers and sisters, what we brought with us as intelligences into our creation as spirit children constitutes a “given” within which even God must work. Add to that possibility the clear reality of God’s deep commitment to our free agency—and we begin to see how essential meekness is! We need to learn so much, and yet we are free to choose (see 2 Nephi 2:27)! How crucial it is to be teachable! There “is no other way” in which God could do what He has declared it is His intent to do. No wonder He and His prophets emphasize meekness time and time again!

Since God desired to have us become like Himself, He first had to make us free, to learn, to choose, and to experience; hence our humility and teachability are premiere determinants of our progress and our happiness. Agency is essential to perfectibility, and meekness is essential to the wise use of agency—and to our recovery when we have misused our agency. (Meekly Drenched in Destiny, BYU Address, September 5, 1982, for the full address, go here.)

Dream + Work + Meekness in Trial = more like the Lord … whose life here on earth surely was not of Princely Palace or Worldly Wealth.  It simply wasn’t Han Solo material.  But then, our prize in not for this life, is it?  Hopefully, when we end this life we can say, as Paul did:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

But for now, I’ll try to keep dreaming, and working … and maybe some of the experiences, work, and trials will allow me to see beautiful vistas and feel thrilling bursts of speed during the journey!

Beneficial Fruit

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I was thinking today about the beginning of the Book of Mormon –  father and son prophets Lehi and Nephi travel to a land of promise with their large family.  The road is not easy.  Here are just some of the issues:

  • Return to Jerusalem twice (surely over a day’s journey) to get important things that they left behind
  • Robbed by Laman
  • Constant fighting and bickering
  • Broken bow in the wilderness (threat of starvation)
  • Camping in the wilderness.
  • Having children in the wilderness
  • Have to build a boat
  • Travel by boat to the new world
  • Build a home in a new, foreign land

Certainly they saw miracles (visions, revelations, angels, the liahona, women were able to have strength even while having babies in the wilderness) but it didn’t occur to me until today how much hard work and suffering they endured.  Surely a loving Heavenly Father could have had a boat waiting for them when they reached the land Bountiful!

But then we get down to the question of whether or not we want our children to walk or do we want to carry them in our arms for the rest of their lives?  When a toddler learns to walk, they will fall.  It will be a struggle.  When our children learn to tie their shoes, read, ice skate, bike, compete – whatever it may be, there will be difficultly.  Blood, sweat, tears, and more often than not,  pain (physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental).  However, if we don’t let them struggle through, how will they ever learn to do anything?

Which brings me to this absolutely amazing quote that I recently found –

Easy things never produce much beneficial fruit. Neither our Father in Heaven nor His Holy Son take delight in seeing you struggle to overcome obstacles, resolve questions, or find solutions to complex and challenging problems. However, they do rejoice when you willingly recognize that these steps are steps to growth which lead to action that molds your character.

Elder Richard G. Scott, To Learn and to teach More Effectively, 21 August 2007 during BYU Campus Education Week.  (See full transcript here.)

Beneficial fruit.

Read this next and see how it fits in –

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.   If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15: 4-8).

And look at the scripture just a few verses before this last (John 15:2) –

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

“Easy things never produce much beneficial fruit.”  We want our children to succeed,  to be better than we were.  In a modern-day and age, with so many conveniences, that’s hard to do!  So pressure of a different kind has to be placed upon us.  Disease, death, difficulty, unemployment, heartache, temptation, trial, sorrow – trials carefully calculated to help us turn to the true vine, and through Him, do amazing things with our personal pathway.

Just look at the fruit that the Book of Mormon is bringing forth.  I know it’s changed my life, and I’m grateful that though they went through difficult circumstances, they left fruit that refreshes the soul and brings one closer to the Savior.  What a precious gift to give another – the best of oneself.  And only God, with His infinite power, knowledge and love for us as individuals, can help us become the best of ourselves and then, through His power and miracle, let those gifts that we’ve brought forth go forward to bless others.

Anger – What do you do with it?

Photo courtesy of MS Word Images

Last Monday night (for Family Home Evening) we had a lesson on anger.  We started by talking about emotions, what they are, and why we have them, and the fact that we need to learn to control all of them.  We focused in on anger and this scripture:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another (3 Nephi 11: 29).

He stirreth up the hearts to contend with anger.  WOW! We used the analogy of mixing up kool-aid to explain this concept.  If we were to put a package of purple drink mix with sugar over it and then cover that with water and let it sit, it probably wouldn’t turn the water very purple.  However, if we mix, mix, mix, purple will get all through the water.  If your feelings of anger are the purple mix, then Satan wants you always to be consumed with purple anger and so, he will mix, and stir, and get you and others really riled up so that all we do is fight!

Then we used the Mr. Roger’s Song, What do You do with the Mad that You Feel to discuss that we need to turn our anger into something constructive.  This is how we learn maturity.  We have control, that is what it means to be a woman or man.  Here is the Sheet Music, and you can see the video of him singing by following this link and clicking on videos, then songs.

Then we talked about the examples of the Savior on the Cross, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34), and the Prophet Joseph Smith who was taken out of his home in the middle of the night and tarred and feathered.  That night, he crawled home and they worked to clean him up by tearing the tar off of his skin.  The next morning, he preached a sermon on love and forgiveness to some of the same people who had mobbed him the night before.  Six were converted and baptized as a result of his ability to forgive.

Finally, we made goals for the week of what we would do to control our anger:

  • Go on a Run
  • Count to ten
  • Talk it through
  • Do art work
  • Spend some time away from each other
  • Put the toy (or other item that they are fighting over) in “time-out”

As a follow-up, when the girls have gotten mad this week, I just sing the Mister Rogers song, and then we’ve talked through the situation, rather than yelled and screamed.  It’s been a very effective lesson.  They’re not all effective of course, but this one seemed to be valuable so far. 🙂

What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel

 

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.

What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel?
By Fred M. Rogers
© 1968

To Rise Again

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From some study that I’ve been doing lately –

“Some worry endlessly over missions that were missed, or marriages that did not turn out, or babies that did not arrive, or children that seem lost, or dreams unfulfilled, or because age limits what they can do. I do not think it pleases the Lord when we worry because we think we never do enough or that what we do is never good enough.

Some needlessly carry a heavy burden of guilt which could be removed through confession and repentance.

The Lord did not say of Oliver, ‘[If] he falls,’ but ‘When he falls he shall rise again’ (D&C 117:13; emphasis added)”(October 2004 General Conference, The Least of These, Sun. Afternoon Session – Boyd K. Packer).

The Lord knows that we are mortal, human, imperfect. We are learning to be as He is – One that can take any situation and find a way to make it turn into a positive.

Just look at nature’s ability to regrow! I noticed that a branch on our rose bush had broken and the flower was pointed downward. Upon further inspection, I found that the branch wasn’t broken, it had grown in a downward loop, trying to find a way to bloom where there was space.

The picture above is a plant that has grown through a concrete path. A friend said that it must have been very thin cement. I say – it grew through concrete!

There is more power within us, and unlimited power when we look to God.

It is time to rise again!