I have been pondering my childhood a lot lately. Things weren't horrible, but things weren't always rosy either. I always had plenty of food and clothing to wear. Our house was warm when we wanted it that way and cool when we didn't (usually). You know, we think of these things as necessities, when in actuality, they are a luxury that many even in today's world do not always have ready access to. Most of the issues and frustrations we have (at least in the United States) are first world problems, not third world problems (trying to care for the basics). I mean, I am frustrated that it has taken two weeks to get my lawn mower fixed because by the time I told the boys to pull the dumb thing out of the garage and mow the lawn, it was already becoming a jungle, and I actually have time in my day to read blogs, like this one!
As I have pondered about things, I have realized some things that I have always believed to be true, aren't really true. My perceptions of my parents, for both good and bad, aren't necessarily accurate. As I have made these new discoveries and been sad in some cases and happy in others, I have also recognized that I am the kind of mother I am because of the kind of parents I had. I have made significant and positive changes in the way I treat others, because of the ways I perceive I was treated. I have turned the negative things that have happened to me, into positive, life changing behaviors that have blessed the lives of others.
There is a woman who lives here in my area. She is an amazing person. I truly stand in awe of the difficulties she has overcome and her service to her fellow men and women because of her experiences. She was born in one of the Asian countries. Her father was in some sort of political trouble. I believe her parents were executed and at the tender age of 5, she and her sister (7, I think) were left as orphans. Because of her parents involvements, no one would take the two girls in. They were homeless at 5 and 7!!! They lived at the dump and scavenged what they could from their city's refuse to feed themselves, and to take care of their basic necessities. Because of her deprivations as a child, she is the greatest advocate of our homeless population I have ever seen! She drives around town everyday feeding the people. She gathers clothing for them and helps to figure out shelter for them. She has built a shower house in our community so they can bathe. She is tireless and loving and compassionate. Her poverty and difficulties as a child have made her the advocate she has become. She did not allow her negative experiences to give her permission to wallow in self pity. Instead, she has turned her experience into knowledge and used it to bless the lives of others.
Her example is the embodiment of what a transitional character is.
But what I wanted us to think about today is: How can I use my negative experiences to positively change the lives of others?
When we understand the doctrine, that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God, who cares about and loves each of them, regardless of their life's station, nationality, race, life choices, or morality, and that we are commanded to love God, and love others as ourselves, when we put those two things together, we have a better grasp and understanding as to what our behavior should be toward others, even when they do not behave that way toward us, or those we love. It takes a ton of self-control, I will give you that. The natural man or woman is plenty prepared to defend and protect ourselves and those we love against injustice. But usually we do it without regard for the rights or feelings of the perpetrator of the injustice. Lucifer would love us to justify our anger, outrage, and wrong behavior toward them because then we misbehave in the name of defense. Now this is not to say that we allow others to abuse us or others. Turning the other cheek does not mean lie down and let them walk on you. But it does require us to look inside of ourselves, to really evaluate our thoughts, motives, and behaviors and to repent when we are out of line in our treatment of others, even when they have mistreated us.
That is hard work!
Thankfully, as we listen to the prophets, pray, and read our scriptures, the Holy Ghost will help us to know when our behavior is out of line. With my last Ms. P incident, I sat down to type a nasty email back and the Spirit said, "Maybe you should write that later." Ya', in my anger, maybe I should cool off before I respond. It took more than 12 hours and a good night's sleep with scripture study and prayer for me to put together the proper response. My Ms. P incidents are training for future use. I know it. I have been told that is the case. So instead of perceiving them as serious annoyance and irritation, they need to be viewed in light of emotional training and calisthenic, my spiritual and psychological work out. (If only I would put that much effort into my physical training. But I digress.)
Anyway, that is my emotional challenge to you today. Think about something that is a negative experience for you. Evaluate what you learned from the experience. Determine if you have used that information and learning to benefit the lives of those around you. Have you made positive changes in your life because of that experience? How can you change it to be a positive thing? We do not want to invalidate the emotional feelings from the experience, but how can you take it and learn from it and then use it to give you power in your life?
PS If after thinking about it for a while, you are still drawing a blank, use those thoughts as some of your questions for General Conference. The Lord will help you to see some of the things He is hoping you have learned from the negative ways you have been treated by others.
And I'm going to post this without photos or links----because I have that kind of a day. If I get back to it, I'll fix it and if not, well, that's how it goes :-)