“Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice” by M. Joseph Brough

I’ve fallen behind schedule in my blog posting, again. I’d intended to write about the talk that was on the schedule for today, “The Role of the Book of Mormon in Conversion,” which I’ve really been looking forward to, but I felt prompted to continue with the talk I was meant to write about last Thursday, “Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice” by M. Joseph Brough. (I’ve added a new menu selection above with an updated blog posting schedule, because I finally figured out how to do something like that!)

General Conference, October 2018 – Saturday Morning Session – “Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice” by M. Joseph Brough, Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency

I don’t want to say more than I should, so I’ll keep this a little vague. After promising an unexpected and what many would consider a prestigious blessing, my patriarchal blessing states that my “wisdom and counsel will be sought by many.” Me? My wisdom? Seriously? What??? How do I even acquire this “wisdom,” anyway?

Well, any wisdom I can lay claim to at this point in my life has been acquired the hard way.

A partial list of hard things I’ve experienced: homelessness, poverty, abuse, sexual assault, single parenthood, bullying, robbery, loneliness, addiction, infidelity (not the man I’m married to now!), betrayal, health problems. Some things were happening at the same time, some happened one after the other, some things happened many times,  some things lasted months or years, and some are on-going today.

And some things continued despite my best efforts to change the situation.

Frequently, our first reaction to hard things is “Why me?” Asking why, however, never takes away the hard thing. The Lord requires that we overcome challenges, and He has indicated “that all these things shall give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good.” (D&C 122:7)

Brother Brough goes on to give two suggestions:

To help us travel and triumph over our hard times with such glimpses of eternity, may I suggest two things. We must face hard things, first, by forgiving others and, second, by giving ourselves to Heavenly Father.

First, forgiveness. Oh boy, this is a tough one. Forgiving can be very hard. The world and the natural woman will tell you all kinds of things to justify not forgiving someone. “They don’t deserve forgiveness!” or “What they did is unforgivable!” (I don’t know, these are the two things that my own natural woman goes back to most frequently, feel free to add your own.)

I’d like to change gears for a moment and tell you about the best day of my life.

It was about 12 years ago, so mid-2006 or so, I was at the grocery store with my husband; I can’t remember if the kids were with us or not. Anyway, I saw a man at the grocery store who had seriously, deeply hurt me many years before. Other times when I had seen him out in public, I was so angry that he was not in prison where he belonged, but instead was free and out interacting with the community like the rest of us. This time was different, though. All I thought to myself was “Oh, there’s [Name].” That was when I realized that, although I can’t pinpoint exactly when, I had forgiven him for what he did to me.

My heart didn’t race, I wasn’t tense and afraid, I didn’t feel anger that he was out in the world, walking freely about. When I recognized him, I just felt… a sense of calm. That feeling was peace!

That day instantly became the best day of my life!

But how did it happen? How did I get to forgiveness when previously I had felt so much anger at someone who did something so unthinkable? Something the world and the natural woman would say is totally, understandably, justifiably unforgivable?

Second, giving ourselves to Heavenly Father. All things can be made right through the Atonement of Christ, even the worst things. When we align our will with that of our Father in Heaven, all things shall be for our good. It takes time, years sometimes–in my case, more than 20 years–for the good to appear, but it will appear!

We will be blessed as we obey the commandments and those blessings can help us to overcome our hard things!

And when our burdens seem too heavy to bear, remember that the Lord will strengthen us to carry the load that has been placed upon our shoulders rather than lightening the load itself, which would also make it easier to bear, but that’s not how we build spiritual muscles!