Monday, September 20, 2010

Fragile...

This morning as I sat at my desk organizing the day and week, I looked up at the corkboard above my computer and saw the delicate painted egg that a former visiting teacher gave me. I have new visiting teachers now, but I so enjoyed getting to know her then (thankfully I still see her at church and I have the privilege of teaching her and her daughter piano lessons this year).


She is shorter than I am, and she has a body shape similar to mine - round. Her eyes sparkled as she chatted with me and her laughter reminded me of Mrs. Santa - jolly, carefree, unpretentious. As I listened to her I was often struck by how loving she is; how able she is to accept everyone for who they are. My favorite visit I had with her was a discussion concerning our divine potential as daughters of God. She shared a couple quotes from the Ensign and pulled out the most beautiful egg I've ever seen.

Its beauty is in its simplicity; a simple, white, hollow egg carefully hanging on a satin ribbon, delicately painted with soft green leaves and pristine pink blooms. I carefully lifted the egg from the tissue paper, perfectly aware of the fragile condition of this beautiful creation. I rolled the egg carefully around in my hand contemplating the perfect design begun by God and finished off by a talented artist. My visiting teacher compared the egg to us; perfect creations of our Father - perfect because we are created in his image and works in progress because the Master Artist was still putting on our finishing touches through life experiences. I was so touched by her analysis and parted her company richly blessed.

Frequently my mind is brought back to the egg. I am reminded of a quote from Pres. Harold B. Lee, “Life is fragile and, therefore, should be handled with prayer”.

Fragile=easily broken or destroyed; implies extreme delicacy of material or construction and need for careful handling. Hmmm.... so many things in life should be considered fragile and should be handled with care: peace is fragile; civilizations are fragile; families are fragile; marriages are fragile; testimonies of the Savior are fragile; self confidence is fragile; life is fragile. Everything is dependent on a perfect balance and the loving care of a Supreme Being.

Just as my egg is fragile, the people I serve are fragile. They must be handled with prayer so that I am more keenly aware of their needs and the way the Father would have me serve them.

Like the egg, my family is fragile and must be handled with prayer -personal, couple, and family prayer - in order to keep "the hearts of the children towards the fathers and the hearts of the fathers toward the children". Each day I have a better understanding of how prayer is an absolute necessity for there to be peace and harmony within family relationships.

My testimony is fragile, in need of constant prayer, scripture study, and service to keep the delicate simple beauty not only protected, but strong.

Finally, I see that my own perception of whom I am as fragile. Upon reflecting on Matt. 4 , it occurred to me that Satan begins his temptation of Christ by attacking the Savior's identity - His divine nature. Not only does he tempt Jesus to misuse his power, but he attempts to cast doubt on that power with his first word, "if". "Oh the cunning plan of the evil one!"

That is the strategy he uses on me. The adversary has been attracting my belief in myself. He has attacked my self confidence. He has attempted to convince me that I am not worthy of true affection, perfection, and eternal blessings! All by attacking "if you be a child of God"! Enough! I choose freedom! I choose knowing that I am a beloved daughter of God. All those chocolate chip cookies my daughter just made mocked me yesterday, "If you had self control you could eat just one." All day my body kept saying, "If you were a real woman you would love exercise." All day my aching body seemed to taunt me with, "if you were worth it to God, he'd just melt this fat off and just give you that walk and not be weary blessing." Well, I know where that "if" mind set is coming from. I do have self control. I choose to bridle all my passions. I am a real woman. I choose to free my soul and my physical body - I wanted, I remind myself - through activity. I choose to walk every day, even for 10 minutes. I choose to park further from the store. I choose to add one more activity to each day. I am worth "all that the Father has", even health. I choose health. I choose freedom.

C.S. Lewis eloquently describes the virtue behind temptation in his book Mere Christianity. "No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good... Only those who resist temptation (I might add chocolate) know how strong it is... You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down... We never find out the strength of the evil impulses inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man (I might add God) who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means."

I cannot teach the Savior anything about pain. He knows my pain - even in my knees. I cannot teach the Savior about disappointment or anguish. He knows my disappointment - even with my size. He knows my anguish over my size or in my relationships with others. I cannot teach the Savior about the temptations of hunger - after all, he was tempted to make bread from stones after fasting for 40 days. I can safely say he understands hunger.

Neal A. Maxwell said, "How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, 'Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!'" (Ensign, May 1991, 88).

How absurd, I think. And yet.....

I can learn from the Savior. I can turn to Him when I'm frustrated with progress. I can choose to wait patiently on the Lord, having full faith that all righteous blessing will be granted to those who wait. I can let Him carry the burden for me when the load seems too great. I can yoke myself to the Savior and move in harmony.

That brings me back to the egg - fragile, perfectly designed, a work in progress.

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