Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Battle For Our Souls - Parts 1 & 2

I have hesitated writing this because I don't want to paint a picture of doom and gloom. I believe there is so much good in this world and so many reasons to have hope and feel joy. My understanding and testimony of the Plan of Salvation gives me every reason to have HOPE. However, just because one has hope and faith and a testimony, doesn't mean that life will be easy. In fact, often it means life may be harder because the Lord knows how much you want to be like Him, so some serious refining and purifying must take place.

Refining hurts. It hurts a lot and no one is exempt and we all go through refining in different ways. I am overwhelmed lately at how many friends I have who are struggling and not just with a hang nail or two. SERIOUSLY struggling with HARD, HARD, HARD experiences.

The battle metaphor seems to fit perfectly. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12

We are in a battle - a battle for our souls. In my mind I can see us all out on a battle field, our armor on, swords ready, willing to defend ourselves. As I look around, I see that we all have suffered wounds of varying degrees. We have scars indicating past battles and open wounds, evidence that the battle is still raging. I notice too that we are not on the battle field alone. Yes, "they who be with us are more than they who be with them" (2 Kings 6:16), meaning there are legions of angels enlisted in our defense. But we are also standing there along side each other...for a reason.Satan would love nothing more than to have us judge, point fingers, gossip, back bite and not assist each other whatsoever. While out on that battle field, if we saw that one of our fellow soldiers had fallen and as we approached we saw the blood from his open wound, would we shout to the other soldiers, "Come see! This one is wounded. Can you believe the size of that wound? Look at all that blood. How did he let that happen? Stay away from him, he is no good any more. I am so disappointed in him."? OR would we just run around whispering to all of the other soldiers that so and so had been wounded and was lying there bleeding to death, with no intention of offering any help? No. We would not.

That sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. We would get down, bandage the soldier's wounds, make sure he knew we were there to help and do all we could to assist that fallen soldier. As the world grows more and more wicked and more and more of our fellow soldiers fall with serious wounds, we must spiritually, emotionally and mentally, assist each other.

Just as satan wants us to hurt each other, the Savior wants us to love and forgive and be gentle and kind with one another as we find our way Home. He said, "Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." (Doctrine and Covenants 81:5) Some may not want to be helped - or so they say. But a good soldier never leaves a man behind and if all you can do is kneel next to the wounded soldier and pray for him, then at least do that.

Part 2

 I need to explain what I mean by "wounds". In this essay of sorts, my definition of wounds is the mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical evidence of trials in ones life. This is something I am just discovering and mulling over in my brain so I hope it makes sense...

In his book entitled "All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience", Neal A. Maxwell said that there are three types of trials in this life,

1. Facing the consequences of our own unrighteous choices. He actually said this is the most common reason for our trials and if we really sit down and think about it, he's right.

2. The natural vicissitudes that come from living in an imperfect world with imperfect bodies. We get sick, our hearts are broken by the unrighteous choices of others, and we are subject to natural disasters, discomfort due to the weather, political upheaval etc.

3. A loving Father chooses to school us so that we can learn and grow and deepen our understanding of His plan.

If you ask me, the lines between each of these types of trials blur together considerably. We live in an imperfect world where others make unrighteous choices that cause us pain and sorrow which, in turn, may cause us to make wrong choices as a way of masking the pain (we all do it!).

We are then left to face the consequences of our own choices which were put in place by a loving Father who wants to help us grow - and that is just one scenario - there are tons and tons of ways these lines blur. For example, (and because I've already shared this struggle on this blog. But I've got more, trust me!) when my husband and I were waiting for children to come, 9 long years we waited and hoped and prayed - it hurt and it brought sorrow - we were wounded.

 All this despite the fact that we had complete faith and trusted the Lord. It still hurt. Did that happen because of our unrighteousness? I honestly don't think so. It probably had more to do with the fact that my body is imperfect because we live in an imperfect world and for some reason the Lord saw fit that that particular trial was what we needed to help us grow closer to Him. He was right - oh how He was right.

This is actually the reason why we must be patient with each other and never pass judgment unless we have all the facts and WE WILL NEVER HAVE ALL THE FACTS. That is why the Savior reserves the right to judge for Himself - He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts, why we do what we do and how hard we struggle and He knows when we display private courage, integrity, forgiveness and understanding - even if no one else knows this about us.

Suffice it to say that we each have wounds.

The sources of those wounds are as different as each of us. Often, it is a given that if someone is suffering from wounds caused by certain physical illnesses or natural disasters or the hurtful actions of others or anything that is not the person's fault, it is so much easier for us to offer aid and comfort.

But when someone is suffering because of the consequences of their own actions or they are enduring pain from "taboo" wounds, such as mental illnesses, it is much harder for us to do as the Savior requests - "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down and strengthen the feeble knees." I am just as much to blame as the next guy but I hope I'm learning to overcome this. We must be wise yes, but let us not mistake fear for wisdom - that is exactly how satan wants it.

Interestingly enough, the pain that has brought me the most sorrow in my life is the pain I have felt because of the things I have done that brought sorrow to others - especially my Savior. I have a feeling most people feel the same. It might just be that when we are suffering from those self-inflicted wounds, we need more help from those around us than at any other time.

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that the wounds which I must focus on the most are the wounds in the Savior's hands and feet and side. If I let them, those wounds, His wounds, will heal my wounds.

Here are the words of someone wiser than I:

"Man Down"

This talk by President Henry B. Eyring, entitled "Man Down" is perfect! I wish I could be as eloquent as he. This talk, given in General Conference, April 2009, shed so much light on my thoughts and has inspired me to understand these concepts better.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...