We hold on so tightly, because we’re terrified of loss. We hold on till our own hands bleed. And in that self-shattering persistence, we fail to see the answer: Just let go
I’ll fight when needed, revel when there’s an occasion, mourn when there is grief, and die if my time comes, but I won’t let anyone use me against my will.
Grief, a type of sadness that most often occurs when you have lost someone you love, is a sneaky thing, because it can disappear for a long time, and then pop back up when you least expect it.
It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.
One’s life … cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. …
Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!’ …
Real faith … is required to endure this necessary but painful developmental process.
If you suffer from worry, from grief or shame or jealousy or disappointment or envy, from self-recrimination or self-justification, consider this lesson taught to me many years ago by a patriarch. He was as saintly a man as I have ever known. He was steady and serene, with a deep spiritual strength that many drew upon.
He knew just how to minister to others who were suffering. On a number of occasions I was present when he gave blessings to those who were sick or who were otherwise afflicted. His was a life of service, both to the Church and to his community.
He had presided over one of the missions of the Church and always looked forward to the missionary reunions. When he was older, he was not able to drive at night, and I offered to take him to the reunions. That modest gesture was repaid a thousandfold.
On one occasion, when the Spirit was right, he gave me a lesson for my life from an experience in his own. Although I thought I had known him, he told me things about his life I would not have supposed.
He grew up in a little community with a desire to make something of himself. He struggled to get an education.
He married his sweetheart, and presently everything was just right. He was well employed, with a bright future. They were deeply in love, and she was expecting their first child.
The night the baby was to be born, there were complications. The only doctor was somewhere in the countryside tending to the sick.
After many hours of labor, the condition of the mother-to-be became desperate.
Finally the doctor was located. In the emergency, he acted quickly and soon had things in order. The baby was born and the crisis, it appeared, was over.
Some days later, the young mother died from the very infection that the doctor had been treating at another home that night.
John’s world was shattered. Everything was not right now; everything was all wrong. He had lost his wife. He had no way to tend both the baby and his work.
As the weeks wore on, his grief festered. “That doctor should not be allowed to practice,” he would say. “He brought that infection to my wife. If he had been careful, she would be alive today.”
He thought of little else, and in his bitterness, he became threatening. Today, no doubt, he would have been pressed by many others to file a malpractice suit. And there are lawyers who would see in his pitiable condition only one ingredient—money!
But that was another day, and one night a knock came at his door. A little girl said simply, “Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.”
“Daddy” was the stake president. A grieving, heartbroken young man went to see his spiritual leader.
This spiritual shepherd had been watching his flock and had something to say to him.
The counsel from that wise servant was simply, “John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone.”
My friend told me then that this had been his trial—his Gethsemane. How could he leave it alone? Right was right! A terrible wrong had been committed and somebody must pay for it. It was a clear case.
But he struggled in agony to get hold of himself. And finally, he determined that whatever else the issues were, he should be obedient.
Obedience is powerful spiritual medicine. It comes close to being a cure-all.
He determined to follow the counsel of that wise spiritual leader. He would leave it alone.
Then he told me, “I was an old man before I understood! It was not until I was an old man that I could finally see a poor country doctor—overworked, underpaid, run ragged from patient to patient, with little medicine, no hospital, few instruments, struggling to save lives, and succeeding for the most part.
“He had come in a moment of crisis, when two lives hung in the balance, and had acted without delay.
“I was an old man,” he repeated, “before I finally understood! I would have ruined my life,” he said, “and the lives of others.”
Many times he had thanked the Lord on his knees for a wise spiritual leader who counseled simply, “John, leave it alone.”
And that is the counsel I bring again to you. If you have a festering grudge, if you are involved in an acrimonious dispute, “Behold what the scripture says [and it says it fifty times and more]—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay” (Morm. 8:20).
Most recently, I think about the indescribable bond of brotherhood I have felt within the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Though each of these groups was very different, each had common characteristics. Perhaps we grew close because we struggled so much together, strived together, and achieved together. Perhaps our camaraderie was because we linked arms together in a common journey where we had to depend so completely on each other. Whatever it was we shared these relationships are the foundation of many of the most precious and rewarding moments of my life.
I wish to call your attention to the importance of establishing a bond of brotherhood in our assignments....
Establishing a bond of brotherhood is critical to successful church work. If those who serve with you feel this mutual love and trust, the work of the Lord will thrive, and heaven will aid you in your efforts. Fail to establish this bond, however, and you may find your work tedious, toilsome and unproductive.
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