When we travel as a family, we like to really get into the culture, to learn as much as we can.
We don’t take a tour bus and safely see the sights, but we try to get off the beaten path and immerse ourselves in the culture. We eat the food and we travel using the same public transportation as the locals.
To really get to know a place you need to spend time and immerse yourself in the daily life of the place you are trying to understand. Working with the people, living as they do, and learning their customs gives a deeper understanding.
That is what our Savior did for us by coming and living among the people all those millenia ago. He got his hands dirty living as a mortal with the rest of us. This has given him intimate understanding of our joys and sorrows and hurts and disappointments. It allows him to understand us.
This is a beautiful concept, but I was missing a huge chunk of understanding until a few weeks ago.
So often I have seen for myself and been told by others that God shows us his love for us by the way he answers our small prayers, and provides inspiration for relatively small issues. It has often troubled me because I wondered why he would take the time to help me find my keys, but not have alerted me sooner that we needed to get to the right kind of doctor to diagnose my dear Tori’s disease, which could have saved her, had we known early enough. Why the small things but not the big things?
I’ve been trying to figure this out for quite a while, but a few weeks ago I had an experience that allowed me to see and understand.
It all came together for me because of Emma. She is going through some really hard times, but I can’t take them away for her. She has to figure out how to be responsible, care about her work, try her best in school, learn how to manage peer relationships and all of the things that a 9th grader needs to figure out. So even though being 14 is really hard for her, I can’t remove her trials. I have to let her stumble and struggle through them, and be on the sidelines watching and cheering her on. I know this seems obvious.
I was at the store a few weeks ago and there was a big Hershey’s Kiss that I knew she would like. It was just a small thing, on clearance from Valentine’s Day. but I wanted to give it to her, because I thought it might brighten her day.
It did, she thought it was sweet, and it was a nice pick-me-up for her. That little thing showed her that I cared, and wanted her to feed loved.
But just because I care doesn’t mean I can take away her big trials, because she won’t learn and progress if I do. I can’t allow her to miss all of the learning that will happen as she suffers through her early teen years. She has to go through those experiences so she can grow into an amazing woman.
For a while now, anytime someone would tell me that God shows us he loves us with inspiration for the small things or small tender mercies, I would resent it and be frustrated and angry that God would care enough to inspire me to find my lost purse but not inspire me to get my kids into the right doctor to diagnose their terminal illness.
Why would he bother with the little stuff if he wouldn’t take care of the things that really mattered, like the lives of my children? Well, I finally found peace with the answer.
For whatever reason, just like Emma and her 14-year-old trials, I have to figure out something through the experiences that we are having with MLD and how it has wreaked havoc on my family. God can’t or won’t take it away because we all somehow need this to grow and develop. I have to allow these hardships to change me and mold me into something better.
Tori and Madelena and Ike have had to go through their radical chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants because it will be foundational in their transformation into something sublime. The sacrifices that Emma and Elijah have made, living with sick siblings, will sculpt their souls into something beautiful. These transformations can only happen through experience, and experience hurts, dang it!
All of these things will be for our good. I have hope and faith that the Atonement of Jesus Christ will make everything all better in the end, but I can already see how depending on Him through difficult times can bring peace and make sense of suffering.
This Easter I rejoice in the Atonement and Resurrection and thank God for the sacrifice and healing power of his Son.