by Kari Diane Pike
Why does saying goodbye make me feel like someone just threw all my emotions and memories into a Vita Mix? Just when I think I have things all figured out - feelings sorted, analyzed, labeled, and filed under "this is what this means" - someone steps into my life who gives me cause to dig through all that emotional data.
Just like cleaning house, the mess always feels worse just before I finish the project. Sometimes the metaphorical lid pops off the blender in the middle of the stirring and "stuff" gets splattered all over the ceiling, the walls, and in my face. I get tired, discouraged, and more often than I care to admit, angry. I laugh. I cry and whine. I heave a sigh or three and then I get to work to try and clean up my act. Once in awhile, I'll even smile but, while determined to endure, I have a lot of room for improvement in the enduring it well category.
I often wonder about Job and Joseph (the one with the coat and the 11 brothers) and the challenges those men faced. If anyone could justify whining and complaining and becoming bitter, those men could. But they didn't. Even after Job's friends condemned him, he forgave them. Author Larry Barkdull pointed out in a recent article that forgiveness was Job's ultimate test.
And then there's Joseph. His own brothers threatened his life, then sold him as a slave. His boss's wife tried to seduce him, then accused him of abuse, resulting in his being thrown in prison. Joseph could have turned mean and ugly. He obviously had charm and the ability to influence others around him. He could have plotted revenge and exacted a plan to destroy his captors. Instead, Joseph chose to be humble and make the best of a bad situation. He chose to learn and grow and become better instead of bitter.
Elder Hartman Rector Jr. said, "Everything, no matter how dire, becomes a victory to the Lord." Remain faithful to the Lord and be diligent in keeping the commandments. "People [who make something good of degrading circumstances] cannot be defeated" (Ensign, January 1973, 130).
Joseph became a great leader. His position gave him the ability to save his family from starvation and death. Job saw everything restored to him two-fold. Which reminds me. Have you ever wondered about the way the Lord does math? Job prayed for his friends and "the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10). The Lord blessed Job with twice as many sheep and twice as many camels and twice as many oxen and she asses as he had before he lost everything. Then Job was blessed with seven sons and three daughters - the same number he had before he lost everything. I've wondered about that math every time I've read it - until my dad pointed out the obvious. Job was a righteous, covenant keeping priesthood holder. His first ten children were not lost to him - not in the eternal scheme of things. They would always be his.The Lord kept His promise when He sent Job ten more children to add to the rest. It always adds up!
The Lord promises "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." The Lord keeps all of His promises. I know that with all my heart. I also recognize that I am human. I was created to experience emotion. I will continue to have feelings of joy, sadness, anxiety, peace, anger, sorrow, fear, and happiness and love. I don't need to be all "sunshine and happiness" and deny all those feelings. That isn't healthy. But I think that "enduring well" is more than just plastering a smile on my face. I think it means to focus on the positive and learning to recognize the Lord's hand in all things and asking Him to help me live a life of gratitude. Through Christ, I can do hard things. I can make good stuff come out of the bad.
Maybe a good stirring up isn't such a horrible thing after all.