Dec 7, 2017

An Invitation to Grow

by Kari Diane Pike

About three and a half years ago, our youngest son Levi and our niece Megan participated in a cultural celebration to commemorate the dedication of the Gilbert Arizona temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Several hundred youth and their leaders rehearsed in dry, asthma-attack-inducing, dusty conditions and then performed as icy rain poured down from the sky. Megan described the event as the most horrible, magnificent experience she had ever had. All of the youth bore testimony of the Spirit they felt and the witness they received that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. They recognized that because of the conditions they faced, they could see how Heavenly Father strengthened them and gave them the ability to carry on with their celebration. They learned that they could do far more than they ever thought possible and do it joyfully.

 I've heard Megan's words echo in my mind quite a bit the past couple of months. Life is magnificent, but sometimes living hurts. And have you ever noticed that just when you think you've figured out some of the answers, the questions change? Or the challenge gets bigger?

Why does it seem so hard to follow through on those flashes of inspiration and promptings I receive from the Holy Spirit? Through prayer and study I've discovered answers to questions and greater insight into principles of the gospel that have helped me make sense of recent challenges. For instance, I came across a wonderful article by Wallace Goddard titled, "A Loving Perspective on Difficult Children" that I knew would help me understand and communicate better not only with my grandchildren, but with several adults in my life. Brother Goddard used a phrase that did more than light a bulb over my head. His "Irritation is an invitation" shot off fireworks in my brain. Thoughts and ideas that had been floating around began to fit together. But there was still something missing.

In seminary, we recently studied the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. We compared the experiences of the people of King Limhi and the people of Alma. Both groups of people were descendants of the people who followed Zeniff from the land of Zarahemla back to the land of Nephi. Both groups ended up in bondage to the Lamanites and experienced great hardship and burdens. Both groups were eventually delivered from the bondage by the Lord. But their experiences also had some great differences. 

The people of Limhi had initially rejected the words of the Lord given through Abinidi and Alma. They stood by as Abinidi was burned to death and Alma was hunted. Only when they began to recognize that Abinidi's prophecies had been fulfilled, did they begin to change their attitude and repent. The Lord was slow to hear their prayers because of their iniquities, but He did hear them, and He began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites and the people began to "prosper by degrees". Eventually, Gideon came up with a plan and the Lord strengthened the people to carry out a plan of escape. 

The people of Alma sought him out and found him near the Waters of Mormon. They risked their lives to listen to him preach the truths of the gospel and to be baptized. They received warning when wicked King Noah discovered their whereabouts and they were lead safely to the land of Helam where they began to prosper. But then in Mosiah 23:21, 23 we read: 
Nevertheless that Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith...For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham and Isaac and of Jacob.
While I thought I understood in my heart what the Lord is trying to teach in this account, I couldn't think of the words needed to answer the question I knew my students would ask : But they were obedient and making good choices. They were good people, so why did bad things happen to them? Why does the Lord see fit to reprimand people when they are being good?

Then I came to a quote in the lesson that added the missing piece to my puzzle:
“The word chasten comes from the Latin castus,meaning ‘chaste or pure,’ and chasten means ‘to purify’ [see Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary,11th ed. (2003), “chasten”]” (Lynn G. Robbins, “The Righteous Judge,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 97).
All this time I had been looking at "chasten" as a reprimand or lecture or punishment. But purification - now it all made sense to me. When my trainer at the gym sees that I have progressed as far as I can physically with the exercise routine he had set up, he adds new challenges and pushes me to go faster, lift more weight, etc. He wants to help me increase my fitness, so he makes the workout more difficult. The Lord saw that the people of Alma were ready to grow. As a result, they bore their burdens with grace and humility. They prayed for deliverance. Because of their righteousness, the Lord answered right away and strengthened them to be able to bear their burdens until such a time as He saw fit to deliver them out of the hands of their captors.

The Lord delivered both groups of people from their bondage. The main difference is that the people of Alma saw their trial, or irritation, as an opportunity to submit their will to the Lord and remained steadfast and immovable despite the persecution.

So, I made it my goal to stop and think when I feel irritated by circumstances or the actions of others and ponder the invitation I am being given to grow spiritually and to become more like the Savior as He purifies me. For some reason I feel like more situations than ever have cropped up to challenge my desire to do and be a better person. Sometimes I manage to recognize them and navigate through successfully, but more often than not, I find myself distracted or focused on other things and I trip, stumble, and even fall flat on my face.

Oh, how grateful I am for Jesus Christ's Atonement - the one and only way I can be strengthened enough to get up, find my bearings, and continue moving forward. I can let go of irritation and let it become an invitation to grow, to change, and to humbly submit myself to the Lord. This does not mean I have to tolerate abuse of any kind - please don't misunderstand. It does mean that I can let go of offenses - whether they are intentional or perceived - and I can forgive myself and others and extend love the way the Savior extends His love to all. I can experience happiness and joy amidst the challenges by knowing that it is through those challenges that I will learn who I am: a daughter of a Heavenly King who loves me so much He sent His Only Begotten Son to live, love, serve, suffer, bleed and die, and rise again - opening the way for me to also be redeemed and choose eternal life.

Life is magnificent and the pain is worth it.


  1. Replies
    1. MMM commented on my blog post! I feel extra special now. Thanks!

  2. Sister Pike, this resonated with me more than I could ever explain except that I know by reading this I don't need to explain cause u clearly felt what I'm feeling right now. Thank u so much for Sharing this, it was
    Sincerely an answer to so many of my own prayers!!!
    Jessica miller

    1. Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment Jessica! I'm so glad it helped you. I love that technology helps us share and lift each other. Hugs to you!

  3. You've given me a lot of food for thought. I've had a pretty crappy year.
    Yet, I've also had many opportunities to reflect on the many tender mercies in my life.
    Thank you, friend.

    1. You have had a very challenging year...and I'm sure I don't know about even half of it. But I've seen you develop grace and gratitude through it all. Thank you for being my friend! I hope you have a joyous Christmas. and a great 2018. hugs~

  4. Another great post, Kari. I loved reading your perspective on these stories.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind words. That means so much to me. hugs~

  5. Kari, you always seem to say the right things at the right moments. Thank you for sharing this. Love and miss you!

    1. Love you and miss you too, Cindy! I'm happy to know that something I said helped you. You have always been so kind to me. hugs~


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