Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents, by David S. Baxter
Of the Seventy

I won the lottery! The genetic and social lottery, that is. I enjoy blessings that I imagine the majority of humankind have not had with when I live, where I live, and the opportunities that are mine.

Despite my great luck, I still struggle with many things—including parenthood.

It feels like my wife and I are in the minority nowadays in that both of our sets of parents are [seemingly] happily married. Furthermore, we've been happily married to each other for more than a decade (notice I didn't include the "seemingly" because I know we're happy!).

But there are others who aren't so lucky.

Elder Baxter addressed his remarks to single parents, primarily single mothers (single fathers got all of three sentences at the end). Despite not wholly in the intended audience, I was moved by a few of the things he taught.

I mentioned that I still struggle with many things. I especially liked the part I italicized and the closing quote about numbers (I pretend to be good with numbers).

Although you may at times have asked, why me? it is through the hardships of life that we grow toward godhood as our character is shaped in the crucible of affliction, as the events of life take place while God respects the agency of man. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell commented, we cannot do all the sums or make it all add up because “we do not have all the numbers.”

As the busy-ness of the day winds down at night, I often wonder where all the time went. As I review on the day, I seem to always feel disappointed by one mistake or another. While I no longer dream of going back in time to correct these wrongs as I once did, I do agonize over repeated offenses—things that continue to bother me about me. Here's a nice reminder from this talk that stuck out to me:

You are striving to raise your children in righteousness and truth, knowing that while you cannot change the past, you can shape the future.

It's true that I do know that I can shape the future, I just sometimes wish I didn't have such a collection of failed attempts of the past that I can use to motivate me to be better.

Okay; you may be thinking, "He sure is down on himself for being a self-proclaimed lottery winner." My self-pity session is almost over. Please endure one more [long] quote before I try to patch everything up:

President Gordon B. Hinckley related an experience shared by a divorced single mother of seven children then ranging in ages from 7 to 16. She had gone across the street to deliver something to a neighbor. She said:

"As I turned around to walk back home, I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: ‘Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ‘Can you take me to the library?’ ‘I have to get some poster paper tonight.’ Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.
I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, 'Dear Father, I just can’t do it tonight. I’m too tired. I can’t face it. I can’t go home and take care of all those children alone. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? . . .'
I didn’t really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: 'No, little one, you can’t come to me now. . . . But I can come to you.'

I took the meaning of Elder Baxter's talk as being to lift and support those who truly are and feel alone in their parental strivings. While I have an amazing [and beautiful] wife who does so much for me and our family, I do sometimes feel alone—mostly because of my own personal mistakes.

The next time I feel alone and am struggling with my persistent faults and want so much to take a break from it all—to return Home for a spell—I hope I can remember the character-shaping crucible of affliction, that I can shape the future by remembering yesterday's [and today's] pain, and that my loving Father longs to come to me.

Remembering this, I'll feel like I won the lottery all over again!

...the spiritual lottery.

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