A very good friend of mine told me recently, stubbornness is not strength. Then, ironically, I had to teach a class on Sunday in church about enduring through hard times. The lesson started out with the following quote:
“When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”
This is similar to Ian Maclaren’s popular quote:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Although my teaching style is riveting AND I gave out donuts (not really but I should have), I will spare you the hour lesson and get to the meat.
In the lesson we talked about giving service as a way to help connect with people when you know or feel there is a battle in their life but you do not have a relationship where you can openly talk about it. The service we give may not ease the battle directly but in most cases it does at least two things: it takes one thing off their plate and it demonstrates compassion. In addition, we feel pretty dang great after helping someone. Even my 2 and 4 year old love to give service. While they may not be able to hang with it for as long as adults can, they love ‘earning our blessings’.
Yet, if we are supposed to give service to half the people we meet to help with their battle, when do we have time to do anything else? Like mow our own lawn. The lesson instructs us to take it to prayer and scripture teachings. Prayer we can do, but become a scriptorian? Please read the first sentence about mowing my lawn. Time is a struggle.
Now I am getting stressed. I am not giving enough service, I am regularly praying for help and I am so bad at understanding the scriptures that is not even a real option.
Yet, that is exactly where we are supposed to be. Pushing ourselves enough in improving ourselves and helping others that we become polished at navigating the rapids. Not that it gets easy, but it gets easier. Then we get better at helping, and learning, and praying, and doing it over and over again.
In those few moments of mental clarity that we have a day (week?) this begins to make sense. It is from the struggle that greatness comes in everything we do - even service. It is being scared and pushing through it where we realize there is very little to be scared of. We can endure the hottest days. We can endure the coldest days (the worst). Pressure creates diamonds.
We all have different limits, talents and priorities, but what this lesson taught me is that the discomfort that comes from really assessing those limits, growing those talents and shuffling those priorities is where the growth comes from. That is where we gain strength. It is not in keeping our arms folded in stubbornness, but from keeping service and prayer a major facet of our lives.
Here is to great stories,