January 20, 2015
Hello friends and family and everyone in between!
Oh, I love you all. I am so sorry I haven’t written in a little while. There has been so much going on. So many good things and I don’t even know where to begin.
Time is flying by. At the beginning of my mission, missionaries that were “old” in the mission, or so we call it, always said that this is true, that it gets faster near the end. But now I am the “old” one, and am here to tell you… it’s the truth.
This last week has been emotional in so many ways. We said goodbye to the Visitors’ Center directors, the Watkins, and welcomed the new directors, the Cleverlys! I’m so happy to have the chance to get to know the Cleverlys, even for a short time. They’re already wonderful! And I am so grateful for the way that we bid the Watkins farewell. We had a testimony meeting for our last Thursday morning training and it was so full of love, the spirit, and gratitude. It was beautiful. And it reminded me of how grateful I am for those whose lives I have touched and whose lives have touched mine. Elder Watkins spoke to us about “pure testimony” and bearing testimony of what we really “know.” I came to the conclusion and was able to bear absolute testimony that I know that strength is born of adversity. I know this.
9 My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Peter (the apostle) and Paul (who spoke here) have always been two of my favorite people because they are both prime examples of being made strong through weaknesses, mistakes, and regrets. Peter and Paul both made some big decisions and mistakes in their lives that they needed to repent of and change. And because of these changes, they became powerful instruments in the hands of God and they came to really know Christ. They are two of my scriptural best friends. They have both taught me to “take pleasure in infirmities.” Well, sort of. I cannot lie and say I am always pleased when I discover my weaknesses. But they have taught me to have that perspective and that has given me hope.
So I am making mistakes daily. I am struggling right now with many things. But I am also doing great because I am constantly reminding myself that I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13
My father recently reminded me of something. We all accepted the plan of happiness that God presented. That’s why we’re all here on earth right now. We accepted it with all its glory, trials, happiness, joy, and everything in between. In a lesson we had a week or so ago, we were speaking with a woman about this. She said, “I’m not sure I signed up for this!” And I had a brilliant thought! (The Spirit told me, ok? I’m not calling myself brilliant). I said, “You know, I don’t think we signed up for the bumps and bruises along the way. We signed up for the end result, and knew that the bumps and bruises were part of the deal. Just like a piece of marble maybe doesn’t sign up for the chiseling, the hammering, the scraping, and the what-have-you; it signs up to be a beautiful sculpture that the sculptor will value above all else. That’s what we did. We signed up to be made into what our Heavenly Father knows we can be. The scrapes along the way are part of that.”
I am reminded daily that the struggles we face are intended to shape us. We are here in this life to become all that we can be. Here’s another metaphor: That is going to take some refiner’s fire. That’s one of my favorite stories/principles/thoughts from the scriptures. We are like gold. No, we are MORE PRECIOUS than gold to our Heavenly Father. In 1 Peter 1:7-9
, we are assured,
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
In metal refinery, there is a lot of fire and a long process of getting rid of the imperfections. One of my favorite hymns, How Firm a Foundation
, illustrates this in its fifth verse: (Thank you Mindy Davis for giving me the opportunity to love, memorize, and learn from this hymn.)
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The “dross” or the imperfections in metal is only gotten rid of when there is intense heat, and all kinds of other stuff that probably doesn’t feel great. And the refiner doesn’t stop the heat or dross removal until a very special thing happens… He can see His reflection in the metal.
So, then, we learn that when we are in the midst of a “fiery trial,” what is really happening is the Lord is refining, shaping, and looking for His image in us.
And last but not least among my favorite metaphors, a favorite quote from C.S. Lewis
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. (from Mere Christianity)”
Again, I can testify that strength is born of adversity. Please, in whatever you are wading through right now, trust in the Lord and see in this trial that chance to grow, to become more like Him, and to be strengthened. He sees all you can be. Let Him get you there.
I love you all,