I wrote a super, super long email to one of my missionary friends today. I thought I'd share it with the world. Recognize that a lot of it is exaggerated for the purpose of the story. :)
I have been having some struggles (even out here at BYUI!). It's hard.There have been some nutty situations. I am trying to learn patience and diligence because I know it's only going to be harder on the mission. So, I was reading my scriptures today just looking for comfort. I read this verse in Alma 5 ... Alma was asking the people of Zarahemla if they had been stripped of pride and envy. (And if not, they needed to repent).
I was thinking about what it means to be stripped of pride and envy. Over the summer, I decided to repaint this little chair that I had rescued from my crazy Grandma's house. I bought the cute color of paint that I would be using and asked my mom what to do next. "Oh," she said, "you're going to take off all of the existing paint first. It's going to look absolutely AWFUL if you don't." I looked at the chair in dismay. Holy guacamole. There were three or four layers of thick paint on the chair, and completely stripping it was going to take so much time and would be soooo tedious.
Nevertheless, I started to sand the stinkin' chair. I took a large grain sander and quickly went over the previous paint job. Surprisingly, I did a pretty awesome job. It only took a few hours, but the finished product was a SEEMINGLY paint less chair with a pile of wood shavings around me. If you can imagine, I was pretty happy with the results. I pulled my mom out to look at the chair and she shook her head and said, "Laney, it's just not good enough. Do you see the paint on the edges that you left? You were in too much of a hurry!"
I was so disappointed. I mean, I worked a long time on that chair! I thought that it looked wonderful and ready to be made into a better product. But, I decided not to say that to my mom. Instead, I sighed and got back to work. This time I took a little more time and got the outer edges. I pressed the sandpaper against the wood until it hurt my hand and worked it back and forth against the grain. I was in sooo much pain when I thought I was finished. Once again, I looked at the chair (this time totally and completely free of paint) and I thought it was perfect. Once again, I pulled my mom into the room and said, "Look mom! Isn't this better?"
She nodded but still saw imperfection in the chair. "You can still see the grain of the wood, Laney. If you painted it right now, it wouldn't look perfect." At this point I was so frustrated. I just wanted the process to be done with. I thought that my effort was good enough and was kind of upset that my mom didn't think it was. In my stubbornness, I continued to sand the chair. Finally, I finished sanding the chair (for real). My mom approved of my work and gave me permission to start painting the chair. I carefully and lovingly coated the chair with a layer of paint at a time. I waited the recommended drying time and then checked on the progress that my chair was making. Finally, the chair was perfect. Although my hands were aching and the garage was a total mess, I was soooo proud and so grateful that I had taken the time to strip the chair completely down to what it was meant to be.
As I was reading about being stripped of pride and envy, I realized that we are totally going through that same process. We are slowly and painfully being stripped of the natural man. This isn't meant to be easy or pain free. In fact, it is so so hard. Sometimes we feel like we are trying our hardest to do what is right and we STILL fall short. Of course we feel impatience. Why can't we just be perfect already? But, I know that Heavenly Father is working hard on us! He is giving us trials so that we can learn from them and become exactly who we need to become.
I thought about my personal trials and realized that it is something that I can handle. I can handle it because of the atonement. I thought about your trials ... and I know that you can handle them too. You really don't need me to tell you that, so I don't know why I am ... but I really believe in you. I'm not sure if this week was better or not (I sure hope it was), but I do know that when you are relying on the Lord (like you are) to help you, things will only get better. I am so grateful for your example.
I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful week. Definitely praying for your success and welfare.
Thus ends my incredibly long epistle/parable thing haha.