Sunday, September 11, 2011

When Life Gets Hard...

Today is a "tender day" as one of the general authorities who visited our stake conference said today. (I can’t remember if it was Elder C. Scott Grow or Elder Randy W. Wilkinson, both who spoke.) Remembering 9/11 makes this a somber day, full of emotion. Add on top of that for those in our stake, the fact that they released our beloved stake president after more than ten years of service. I have so much love for President Butler.

I have been able to be in different meetings with him and his counselors when I was in primary and relief society presidencies in my ward and then even more closely when I was a stake primary secretary. Then I was released from that calling and still got to associate with him as a bishop’s wife. And then, he was my leader who helped me through the trauma of being made a single mother. I am so grateful that our Father in Heaven gives us leaders on earth who can guide and advise us and comfort us.

But today’s post isn’t about either of those things. It’s a review of a talk on CD that I hope you all get to listen to someday because it is so great. Really and truly you will laugh lots and cry too. I’m so glad that my library likes to buy LDS CDs that I can listen to while driving.

Last month I found When Life Gets Hard… by Meg Johnson at the library and checked it out even though I had never heard of it or her. Meg Johnson  (yep, go to her website !) is a quadriplegic who was paralyzed in an accident while hiking. You may have heard of her since she was on the cover of  Wasatch Woman in 2008.
An adorable couple---Meg and her hubby Whit
She is so chipper and happy and her energy is contagious as you listen to her talk. I won’t tell you her hilarious stories about an old lady helping to throw her in her car or when she got the answer to not marry her boyfriend or any of the other stories that made me laugh out loud because I want you to hear it from her. I’ll share with you a few of the other things that she talks about in a kinda random way.
Our worst disabilities are the ones inside that paralyze us, like spiritual paralysis.

She read this wonderful quote. “He is a loving Father who wants us to have the happiness that results not from mere innocence but from proven righteousness. Therefore, he will, at times, not deflect the harsh learning experiences that may come to each of us—even though he will help us in coping with them."
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Talk of the Month,” New Era, May 1971, 28

Meg gave 4 steps to what we can do to find joy when life is hard. And of course she had lots of wonderful things to say about each one.

1. Gratitude (Basic first step when we are too weak to start with anything else)
Meg tells the story of when she awoke in the hospital and was so upset about everything that happened and was crying thinking of so many things. Then she stopped herself, thinking that she had to find a way to feel better so she opened her eyes. She could only see the ceiling tiles so she started to pray to our Father that He would help her love those ceiling tiles and then started praying to love one thing after another.

I first heard this last month, but re-listened to it again last week. This time as I heard this, I had the thought,  "I have prayed to have peace, to be able to press forward, somehow finish this second degree, to even find joy, but I have not prayed to love anything about this. I haven’t prayed to love this house, to love sitting alone when it seems everyone around me is a couple, or to love chemistry." So since then, I have been praying for love for everything. Just the act of praying for it has helped me a little.

2. Eternal attitude
Meg mentions a time when she was laughing and a guys said to her, "Meg, how can you still smile ?" She felt angry because the unspoken part of that questions was "Meg, how can you still smile when clearly your life could hold no joy?" And she talked about how the atonement can bring joy to all of our lives and our knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s plan can make us happy.

This reminded me an experience of my own. Several months after my divorce, I was at the grocery store with my children. We sometimes get kinda silly and laugh loud, like we were this time. I turned around and saw a woman who I knew and who knew of the divorce, but I hadn’t seen since the divorce. I asked how she was and she said, "I’m doing well."  And with a kind of puzzled look she said, "You look happy." Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like she was saying, "I expected you to be walking around sad all the time. How can you be happy?" I definitely have had times when it was hard to do anything but cry, but thankfully, I have been able to feel such peace and love also. Because of the atonement of our Savior, I can have hope for a better future, even if that future is not until the next life. Our eternal perspective can help us see that our trials are temporary, even if they will last the rest of our life on earth.

3. Prayer
Meg mentions how we all know to start our scripture study with a prayer, but do you think of ending your prayer with scripture study? Like the saying goes, "If you want to talk to God pray ; if you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures." We can find answers and comfort by praying, listening, and pondering and reading the scriptures.

4. Service
"You will find that you are your strongest when you reach down to pick up someone else." We need the strength we get from serving others more than those we serve need us.

“To find happiness and joy, no matter what comes, we must make our stand unequivocally with the Lord.” James E. Faust, Where Do I Make My Stand?, Oct. 2004 General Conference

About hard times, Meg says, “The only way you can know how awesome it feels to laugh so hard that you’re not making any noise is to have sobbed so hard that you’re not making any noise.”

Probably every single one of you has also sobbed that hard at one time or many times. We know that there is opposition in this life. Hard times come to all of us and it is sometimes hard to live the saying “Come what may and love it”. How can we love some of the hard, awful things? We can feel the enabling power of our Savior, right there with us. We can know that “all things work together for good to those who love God”.

I really hope you go buy the CD from her site or stop by Deseret Book or Seagull Book…or maybe you’ll get lucky and your library will have it too. Here’s a little video to give you a tiny peek at Meg and her personality. Update: Monserrat at Chocolate on My Cranium just left a comment that Meg also was featured on Episode 9 of Enduring It Well on the Mormon Channel. I had listened to several of the episodes before, but not this one. She's more serious in the episode than on her CD, but it's still good so go listen to her there too.

11 comments:

  1. My daughter and I listened to her interview on the Mormon Channel's program Enduring it Well (http://mormonchannel.org/programs/enduring-it-well?lang=eng) (episode 9) while we were sewing a project earlier this summer. She really is an inspiration!

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  2. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I think I needed to read this tonight. Thank you Valerie.

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  3. I'm so glad you came to my blog today, because it brought me here! (plus I loved your comment. ;) Thanks! Speaking of loving... this post was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Thank you! I also love this reminder: "If you want to talk to God pray; if you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures."
    Thank you again!! I LOVE your blog and writings! You are an awesome lady! :)

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  4. Thank you so much .... I am going to look for the CD.

    Someday I hope we can meet -- you are an amazing lady!

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  5. Great reminders! Thanks for taking the time to share the cool things you find with us! Heather

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  6. I put When life gets hard on hold at the library. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Thank you for sharing. I've never heard of her before, what an amazing women.

    You inspire me to do better each day!!

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  8. I'm glad you posted about this. If your library has the CD, mine will too! :)

    Good luck with everything you have to do.

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  9. I couldn't figure out where I had heard that story about her praying to love the ceiling tiles. I actually listened to that one at Enduring It Well after you mentioned the show. She is pretty impressive and so are you! Love you.

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  10. Glad I thought to stop by (always playing catch up with my favorite blogs!) tonight. Thanks for your inspiring posts! Hope classes are going well and everything else!

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