As I think about the different hurdles in my life and the different ways in which they have come I can't help but think that some of the most difficult ones to face, let alone jump, are the ones that come because of decisions other people in my life have made. It seems like when I have caused the problem it is easier to fix, or at least easier to accept. I can look at the situation and think about what I need to learn from it, what I will do different next time, and what I need to do to make it better. But when the trials come because someone I am close to has made a life decision that affects me it makes it much harder for me to adjust to, mostly because I don't get to control how or when it is fixed.
I once heard someone say that our biggest trials in our lives we either married or gave birth to. Anyone who is married with children can probably relate to that philosophy. As much as I love my family, learning to live with other people and accept the fact that they have their own opinions and way of doing things is a big life lesson, especially when their choices or priorities are different from my own. I think I must be a little bit of a control freak, or maybe it is human nature. But I know I have a tendency to want to push my husband and my children to do the things I want them to do, at the time I want them to do them. But when I step back and think about it, I realize that my Father in Heaven does not handle me in that way, and it must be disappointing to Him when I try to handle His other children in that way.
The only person I can change is me. The only actions I can change are mine. And the only attitude I can improve is my own. I have to allow other people that same opportunity. I have to let them make their own bad decisions and allow them to fix their own problems in their own way. Sometimes it is quite challenging, a big hurdle, to stand back and watch someone I care about suffer through a learning experience without trying to fix it for them. But how else will they learn? How else will they grow?
When I was younger my mother would always remind me that “Patience is a Virtue”, to which I always retorted, “But not one of mine!” But I really am trying to learn patience, to trust that when trials come through no decision of my own that there is a learning opportunity there even for me. Even if it is only to learn how to have patience with the trial, or to trust that God has a hand in it, and be patient with His timetable.
One of my favorite quotes is by Neal A. Maxwell. He says, “Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best--better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and pattern to unfold in our lives, on His timetable."
I think the most important thing I have learned with trials in my life, no matter the trial, our doing or because of someone else, God knows what we are going through. He knows and He cares. He always sees a bigger picture than we do. He knows what we need to learn and how we need to grow, and He patiently waits as we learn and grow. And if it is a trial that someone close to us needs to go through, He will comfort us while we wait. He is always there for us! I am so grateful for that knowledge, it makes the hurdles in life so much easier to face, no matter where they come from.
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