Friday, September 28, 2012

What I Learned by Immitating a Labrador Retriever

Dogs Sticking Their Head Out the Window
This morning I drove to work.

Not unusual since I do this every weekday morning. What made it different today was that I did it with all the windows of my car down in the middle of a pouring rainstorm. That seems a little silly but a bottle of chlorine bleach had leaked into all the nooks and crannies of my trunk overnight and it was creating a mini-terrorist attack effect in my little commuter. You can understand why I was driving 70 miles an hour in a deluge with my head hanging out the window like a Labrador Retriever. As a side note I really don’t see what the allure of that activity is for dogs. 

When I walked in the front door of my office, mascara running down my face, hair exploded, looking like the offspring of a drowned rat and a lunatic raccoon I told everyone I was going for the wind-blown look. It’s all the rage again.

Embarrassing as this all was it tested out something that I have been thinking a lot about lately on the subject of faith.

From an LDS perspective we take Paul seriously when he taught that “faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) Alma, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, made a similar statement. “If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). 

Obviously, you have to have some information to know if something is a true principle. So when I say I have faith in God it means that I know enough about Him to have come to the conclusion that He really is there and that I believe what He says. I trust Him. I know that He is a supernal being who is perfect, that He knows everything, and that most importantly He loves me. 

That is the starting place for all people of faith but let's take it a step further. Since I know that God is perfect and all-knowing this means that I know that he doesn't waste time or space. He is perfectly efficient in His work. As a Latter Day Saint I know that His work specifically is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). That necessarily means that He has perfectly tailored an individual plan to get me from my weakness to my full potential in the most effectual way.

Since I also know that He knows me perfectly, including all of my strengths, weaknesses, and character defects He knows how I will react in any given situation. He knows that if you place a plate of snickerdoodles in front of me that it will take exactly 2.4 seconds before I lose control and eat one. He knows how cranky I will get when anyone asks me a difficult question before nine in the morning. He knows that if a football coach yells at my kid during a game I will come flying over the fence and beat him with my foam finger. 

Thus moment to moment He places me in the perfect state of affairs to most quickly help me grow, and with His help, work out all on the things in my character that need to be kicked to the curb before I can come and live with Him again. He gives me every possible opportunity to make the choices I should and access to his help to do so. The key to this plan is that He has provided me with a Savior to atone for my sins so that when I mess up, which I do multiple times every single day, I can repent and move forward.

Once this all dawned on me it became clear why it is so dumb to complain, whine, murmur, moan, wail, shake my fist at heaven and etc. when things are not going the way I think they should. And believe me I have spent a lot of time fist shaking. All that shows is a lack of faith because I think I know better than Father does what is best for me.

The really wonderful thing in all of this is the true realization that God doesn’t set us up to fail.
Whatever we are going through is happening specifically because He knows we can be successful and that it really is for our good. Not only that, but our circumstances are the best possible option with the greatest chance of attainment of those attributes that will most benefit us now and in the life to come. It is completely possible for us to overcome everything that gets thrown at us and He already knows we can do it.

Now if we would just stop second guessing ourselves and Him.

So when life is obnoxious and you arrive at work looking like a crazy person, have faith. When it’s full of temptation for things you shouldn’t do, have faith. When it’s confusing and difficult, have faith. When it's boring or you're tired, have faith. When it's filled with joy, have faith. When it brings you physically and spiritually to your knees and you are crying out for deliverance, have faith. You can do it, God knows you can, and when you have faith you will know it too.



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