I used to picture life as a fist fight…in the rain. Perhaps that is because I’m currently at home with four young children (a stage in life oft referred to as “in the trenches”), I’m not sure but a muddy fist fight is what life looked like. If I drew a picture I would have drawn a brown rippling circle, a Goliath stick figure with a little mud on his shins and t-shirt that said, “LIFE EATS PEOPLE” or “GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE LIFE DOES” and a dinky stick figure face down in the mud with a large arrow labeling it, “whitney”
A few months after my 3rd child was born, during my husband’s last year of medical school/intern year of residency, compounded by some mixed muddled thinking in my own head, depressed and anxiety ridden I thought about that muddy fist fight A LOT.
Generally speaking, I thought of myself as a fighter. And I used to be! Strong mentally and physically—breaking is not something I did. PAH! Oh, how the proud need to be humbled. There were times when I felt I was still in the fight but I wasn’t making any forward progress. In fact, I didn’t really have an offensive strategy at all. It was all defensive and evasion techniques. Soon I lacked the strength to even be evasive. It took everything I had just to take the hits and stay on my feet. I was so exhausted.
Then the hits started to hurt and they started to break things. Then my will cracked and I flounder about lost. Within months, I was lying face down in the mud trying to figure out where I was and how I came to be there. One evening my husband sat on the end of the bed and said, “Whitney, I think we need to get you some help.”
Over the next several months of healing I realized a few things I want to share:
First, when you get that low the outcome of your fight is determined by the decision you make with your face in the mud. Do you lay there, conquered, and die? Or do you tap out? Tapping out is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done. I had no idea the strength it would take to truly yield my will to the Father’s, trust in the power of the Atonement, and turn over my burdens. Even as debilitated as I was, I felt it necessary to finish the fight on my own.
Segue way to another thing I learned: this fight is not intended or designed to be solo. You know those scriptures that talk about not being tempted/tried above your ability to handle it. NEWS FLASH WHITNEY: If you attempt to take it on, on your own, YOU WILL FAIL. Our lives are a partnership with Heavenly Father through the Gift of the Holy Ghost. In our mortal existence we are blessed with all the things necessary to successfully navigate our trials and return home to live with our Eternal Father and our families. We are blessed with scriptures, prophets, The Holy Ghost, prayer, families, and Priesthood leadership all to aid us in our fight for life and our eternal welfare.
While these were principles I knew in theory—I had topically study: faith, hope, patience, and humility in detail before—living out the very literal application of these Christ-like characteristics is a completely different experience and lends to a whole new realm of understanding. Especially, I think, in situations where not only do you need to turn to your Savior to pull out of this one, but some professional help as well.
Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.”
Isaiah 28:10 “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”
So, why the heck didn’t I tap out earlier and spare myself the pain and suffering? Pride. Had I been humble enough to endure my trials with the Lord as my co-pilot… had I been teachable enough to listen and learn without being ‘compelled to be humble’… my ability to be long-suffering would have been enhanced and the shirt on stick figure me would have read, HEAVEN POWERS MY PUNCHES.
Now, a few years later, I try to remember to start out turning to the Lord. Through Him my burdens are lightened and I can feel peace in my trials. And I tend to view life as a climb, rather than a fight. It’s hard work, there are some easy stretches and some extremely difficult ones. Sometimes you move up and sometimes you slip and slide down. In order to be safe, you must have other people aiding you in your climb. You still get scratches, bruises, and broken bones, but there are always resources and people there to help you, lead you, and cheer you on.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:38 KJV