July 10, 2012
Life is full of races – of all kinds – some short and seemingly easy – some very long and extremely difficult—some not even planned for—and ALL most likely have hurdles to try to trip you up.
Most of us spend too much time “looking beyond the mark.” We tend to focus on comparing ourselves to others—always matching their greatest strengths with our greatest weaknesses.
In the movie Forever Strong, Coach Gelwix tells his rugby players, “Don’t waste a lot of time comparing yourself to someone else. You will always find someone who is bigger, faster, stronger, or smarter than you. Focus on “you”—where you are and where you want to be tomorrow—in life.”
Our students come from many walks of life—many areas of the world with varied cultural and educational backgrounds. If you look you can always find those who are more prepared, smarter, quicker to learn, and more spiritual than you. However, you are NOT alone. Despite your differences, each of you is a child of God with unique gifts—some that you are not even aware of yet.
Jesse Casillas had no plans to attend school after he graduated from high school. His goal in life was to become a professional motocrosser. In his words, he lived, ate and slept motocross. He began his professional career in 2004, where he found himself as a top-10 contender in the Lites class.
In 2006, Casillas realized there were other things in the world aside from dirt bikes, and he spent two years in Australia on a mission for his church. When he got back, he wanted to go to college so he started school in San Diego, but he admits that it was a struggle. He heard about LDSBC and decided to apply.
Once we recognize which race we want to run—which life path we think we should follow—that’s a good start; however, Heavenly Father may have other plans. In addition, there is almost always a gap between our natural ability and what is necessary to reach that desired goal—that gap can be pretty wide!
If we are lucky, we recognize that early on and learn to rely on our Heavenly Father to provide the added strength that we need. There is a lot of stumbling until we learn to take his hand.
We all have different gifts—different strengths and weaknesses. As a result, some tasks come easily and can be completed without “breaking a sweat.” Many times we are completely overwhelmed and can see no way to accomplish what we are expected to do. At these times, we are so blessed to have so many great “coaches” available to guide, direct, and encourage us: the scriptures, our prophet, the twelve apostles, and many others. In Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s words:
“I speak to . . . those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart. Whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us, that he does not hear our prayers.
As the scriptures remind us, “he has engraven us upon the palms of his hands.”
The Savior of the world said to everyone in Matthew Chapter 11:28-29:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
We all face disappointment and discouragement in our lives. The Lord knows your abilities before he ever puts an obstacle in your path. He wants you to know that he is there for you and that he can help you through any difficult thing. He will provide the additional guidance and direction as well as the strength and ability that you need to reach the finish line, provided you give heed to his promptings and are diligent, obedient, and humble.
As we have all learned, however, we DO need to ask but then do our very best to move forward with diligence.
“Without labor neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much.”
“Most footprints on the sands of time were probably left by work shoes.”
Hey, even a mosquito didn’t get a slap on the back until he started to work.
However, even when we try, at times the workload just seems too heavy, and you convince yourself that you “just can’t win.” At that point, giving up almost always crosses our minds.
In D&C Section 84 we have great counsel:
“And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also. the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together.”
Boyd K. Packer said:
“Life will teach us some things we didn’t think we wanted to know. These hard lessons can be the most valuable ones.”
On the morning of April 17, 1999, 16-year-old Emily Jensen was driving to a state high school drama competition and was broadsided by a 15-passenger van. Rescue workers arrived on the scene and began to cut away the top of the mangled car. They found Emily, barely alive, with severe brain trauma and numerous other injuries. She was in a deep coma, hovering between life and death. She remained in the coma for three months.
When she awoke she began the slow process of recovery. It took her months just to learn to hold her head up. She had to learn to sit and crawl and stand and walk. After six months in the hospital, Emily returned home and started school again during her junior year. Despite many obstacles, she graduated with her class on 31 May 2001. Following her senior year in high school, Emily was awarded the “National Yoshiyama Service Award” in Washington, D.C., the only handicapped person to receive the award, which is given annually to about 10 high school graduating seniors, in recognition of outstanding service to their communities.
Since then Emily continues to accomplish amazing feats! Emily graduated from LDS Business College; in fact, she received a standing ovation as she slowly crossed the stage alone to receive her diploma. Emily’s mother told Emily on that day, “On those days when life is extra hard, Emily, I want you to hold on to this moment and remember it."
Her time at the business college meant everything to her. The fact that she was there is remarkable. She was determined to get the skills to put her in a position in life to help kids who had been through what she had been through.
Emily's barely discernible words come slowly, formed one syllable at a time as she struggles to communicate. Emily continues to reach the masses through her inspired talks and other simple acts of service. She has inspired all those who know her.
Emily says, “I’m not going through this life to endure, I’m going through this life to help others endure.”
Emily’s mother shared how, during the long months Emily was in the hospital, she would pray for Emily’s full recovery.
“I knew that our family had every bit as much faith as the people in the New Testament that Christ healed…. I knew that God could heal Emily if He chose to, and restore her just as she was before the accident. But He did not.
And in those horrible, painful moments of prayer, the thought occurred to me that perhaps sometimes in life, it takes more faith to accept things as they are than it does to change them. Trusting that our Father in Heaven knows best . . . that He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between, that He sees things we do not, that He understands His mission for Emily . . . in ways that I do not.
And as hard as it is for me to [imagine], I realize that He loves Emily more than I do. I know that Heavenly Father would never deny Emily anything that would help her to fulfil the mission she was sent to earth to fulfil."
Sister Jensen related that less than two years after Emily’s accident, she herself was involved in an accident that killed her mother and left her badly injured. She worked hard to [get well enough to] return to the elementary school where she taught.
She said, that when she returned to school, Emily had taken a spiral notebook, and with her trembling hand, which still occurs because of the ataxia connected to her brain injury, formed letters that go every which way to write me a message . . . If you were to go to my classroom today, behind my desk in a picture frame, you would see that old crumpled piece of spiral notebook paper with scribbled handwriting on it, and you would read her words: ‘Mom, you can be greater than anything that happens to you. Have a great day. Love, Em.’ Emily has taught us to [not] let what’s happened to us in our past determine who we will be in the future. (Paraphrased)
Every one of us are handicapped in one way or another…. But we have an enormous responsibility as our Father’s children on His errand, to serve one another, to be sensitive to one another’s handicaps, to reach out to one another in love and compassion and caring. The greatest single thing we can do to help another person reach their potential is to love them unconditionally . . . And we reach out and we encircle them in the arms of our Savior’s love.
President Monson teaches us how to face challenges with courage:
“There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath. But remember—David did win!
“Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one’s coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve.
“Have the determination to make the effort . . . and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Edgar A. Guest quote - “It Couldn't Be Done"
Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.”
President Spencer W. Kimball reminds us that:
“The Savior could have taken highly trained minds from the temple porches for the builders of his kingdom. But he went to the seashore to get humble fishermen. He wanted followers who would not depend upon their own intellects alone to ferret out truths.”
In 1992, Elder Henry B. Eyring when speaking at LDSBC said:
“The Lord taught his people how they could learn with greater power, if they knew how learning came . . . If we wish to learn by receiving light, we must live so that the Atonement works in our lives to make us clean and able to receive light . . . Students and teachers, learners together, will work and live so that light may flow into their lives . . . (and) by their example, give others hope.”
“Of all the acts of charity, none is greater than to give others hope that they too can learn, whatever their circumstances, if they will but live so that the light can flood into their lives.”
Some scriptures speak to our souls. For me, D&C Section 6 speaks to me personally and helps me understand the power that we have to be able to get through difficult times with his help.
DvC 6: 14-16, 20-21, 36
14 - Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
15 - Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;
16 - Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.
20 - . . . therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
21 - Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. . . . I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
36 - Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
I pray that we will go forward toward the finish line with the realization that we never need to be alone—that we have a Heavenly Father who is on our side, and we can win:
All of life is like a race
With ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win,
Is rise each time you fall.