Sunday, May 24, 2009

Article of the Week 18: Come What May, and Love It pt. 2

The recent days have been somewhat interesting and unique for me. Wednesday I got my car back from the shop where I spent more than $850 fixing it because I rear-ended a kindergarten teacher at a school where I teach jump rope. Thursday I flew to Atlanta where I was supposed to pick up a car with one of my friends and drive it back across the country to Utah. On the way to the airport, a problem arose with the brakes and, after a thorough assessment by an auto shop, it was decided that the car would not be drivable until Tuesday when everyone got back from Memorial Day celebrations and they would be able to fix it. My options were to buy a plane ticket home as soon as possible or stay until Wednesday and drive home. Buying a plane ticket home was not appealing and almost not possible in my current financial situation and I would lose money on the deal because even by coming home earlier I would not be able to make the money I spent on the ticket. At the same time, if I waited and drove home later, I would miss more days of work and break commitments I had made to someone who really needed my help on Tuesday and Wednesday. I bought a one-way ticket home for a couple hundred dollars on a flight that didn’t leave until Sunday; a ticket for any earlier would have cost hundreds more. Sunday morning we got up and went to the airport early enough to get me to my 7:00 am flight on time only to find out that I mixed up the am/pm and my flight did not leave for another twelve hours. I was frustrated, tired, and embarrassed that I made such a simple and obvious mistake and I almost didn’t call my friend to turn around and come get me because I didn’t want her or her family to know that I messed up. Along with these other financial and time worries, I have a few other things weighing down on my mind, things dealing with peace of conscience and peace of mind, and I just wanted to go home. This flight-time mistake was just icing on the cake.

As I sat outside on the concrete waiting for my friend to come back and get me, all I could think about was Elder Wirthlin’s talk from the October 2008 General Conference, "Come What May, and Love It." Among other things, Elder Wirthlin teaches that an antidote for times such as I was experiencing is to learn to laugh. I know the talk well, I know what he teaches, and I think that generally I'm pretty good at laughing when others might choose to groan or complain. Last week when I got in an accident and the guy told me that it would cost upwards of $1000 to fix, I took it in stride. The accident was my fault and money is money; I have to work harder to pay off my credit card now but I do have a car and I am alive and healthy. On Friday when we found out the trip was going to be delayed and then cancelled altogether, what can you do you know? It didn't work out, no one was at fault, and it wasn't foreseeable. I had to buy a ticket home and once again it sucks sure; I don't have the money to just be buying plane tickets left and right and I flew out there for nothing, but life goes on. I actually laughed for a long while on Friday because I didn't know what else to do and my friend didn't need me to be frustrated and upset with her; one of us needed to laugh. Besides, someday when all of the consequences are long gone it'll make for a good story.

So with all of these bigger events and trials, why on earth was I struggling so much with showing up to the airport at the wrong time? In light of the above-described events and other recent issues, this was nothing. But I did not want to laugh, I did not want to talk to anyone, I did not want to go all the way back to my friend's house and then come back, I did not want to be away from my apartment anymore; I did not want to say "come what may" and I certainly did not want to love it. I don't get mad very often at all but I think that I was mad at myself this morning.

A long nap coupled with my friend's wonderful patience with my mood helped and I am more okay with my situation. In fact, both legs of my flight home were delayed and I'm sitting in the Denver airport right now still waiting to go home. I'm not quite sure how much longer I'll be here; the flight time keeps getting pushed further and further back and I won't be in Utah until well after midnight. But I'm okay. I read Elder Wirthlin's talk in the Atlanta airport waiting on my first delayed flight and continued thinking about how I can apply what he teaches and avoid feeling like I did this morning outside the Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

As I reread Elder Wirthlin's words, the following lines stuck out to me:

...every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.

How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.

If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.

The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.

These trials caused me to focus on the first thing Elder Wirthlin suggests as a help in dealing with times of testing and trial: learning to laugh. The other things he teaches include keeping an eternal perspective and enduring, realizing that the Lord compensates the faithful for every loss, and finally trusting in Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Each of these things will help us endure hardship and trial, whether it be the death of a loved one, financial problems, hitting your head on the cupboard door, or mixing up flight times.

Either way, the Lord loves us because we are His children. Happiness is a choice although not always the easiest choice. Things that disturb our peace of mind can be helped as we seek to maintain peace of conscience. I do not always laugh and love it, but hopefully as life goes on I will be able to do so more often. My flight is now finally boarding.

Jeremy