Friday, July 18, 2014

However Long and Hard the Road: Part 2

That was Sunday. Fast forward to tonight (Friday). I've gone back to this draft a few times, not publishing it for some reason.  It's been an especially painful day, and nothing. I'm suppose to prepare a lesson for Sunday but for the life of me I. Can't. Focus. This stresses me out. So I take a break by reading Moses. For fun. It didn't feel like enough.
Not say this was the case, but it did get me
thinking in the right direction.

What was sitting next to me on the bed? However Long and Hard the Road. I can't believe the talk fills up that much book. It's a good thing the iPod died or else I wouldn't have heard it calling to me. Whip it over and open.

Turns out the book, However Long and Hard the Road, and the talk by the same name and author are actually two different things. The book is a compilations of talks and essays, one of which is the address above.

Awesome! I'm up for it. I read the first chapter, For Times of Trouble, and by the end I am in joyful tears.

What made it so impactful?

  • Honesty- There were times when I felt like I was being lovingly "chewed-out". It takes great love to be brave enough to be so confrontational. They call it "rebuking". You lovingly point out a flaw. Books hit you hard like that, and apostles even harder.
  • Reminder- Sometimes, you don't need to learn something new. We speak of revelation as though it has to be new. "The penny falls" isn't about finding pennies. It's about having something click. It was a humbling experience to go through and think "How could I possibly forget that?" It's further proof that you have what it takes. You just don't remember.
  • Informative- And then again you are here to grow and learn. 
  • Guiding- Elder Holland points out other people and resources to learn from. The best teaching is the teaching you take with you, that continues. What is the point of learning how to cook if you don't cook at home. Elder Holland not only shares the How but a little of the Whys. Such as why a certain prophet should be a role model and mentor to you.
  • Understanding- What a breath of fresh air it is to hear someone say something you feel. He even dwelt on illness while listing hardships we face. Another one of the evidences that God knows us and our reactions. Who knew illness was more than just sitting around and waiting to feel better? Jeffery apparently does. There were many words that found a home within me. It was as though they were suppose to be there all along. Holland just gave them a name.
  • Provoking- Elder Holland asked questions to get the grey cells dancing. Such as when he suggests "Is it wrong to wonder if President Kimball has in some sense become what he is not only in spite of the physical burdens but also in part because of them?" I'm still thinking about them. I would love to hear what you think about how pain can make us into someone.
  • One-liners- I think this is one of the requirements of being General Authority. The gift of one-liners and quotability. Check out this one: "In the Church we ask for faith, not infallibility." I actually looked for a highlighter to underline that. There was also an inspiring story to go with it.
  • Encouraging- Heck yes! (In the most respectful way.) He doesn't sugar coat it like a motivational speaker. His job is to tell the truth, not to tell us we're doing just find. Elder Holland almost promises it will be hard to overcome. He is honest. Yet, I also honestly, logically, believe feel it's possible. It's like having your brother walking you through the monkey bars, or your father following behind as you learn to ride your bike. 
  • It's my story- Elder Holland is a master at telling stories. He's funny, colorful and honest. (Again! The honesty! I could write a post about it. Maybe I will...) ANYWAYS, he shares a story about a boy whose traveling alone. And he feels very alone. Sound familiar? It gives new meaning to an old song too! To sum up the story, he's alone in Chicago and has to wait overnight for a connecting train. His dad gave him the number of the local bishop, (information you had to get via Church Headquarters back in the day) which the boy used when is faith and confidence wained. The bishop wasn't home but his wife talked with the boy and gave him instructions of how to meet her and other families in the morning, just in case he still left less confident the next day. Well, the next day came and he took her instructions to a park. When he thought "park" he thought of a small patch of earth with a net-less tennis court. What he saw was vast stretches of green. He had no idea where to go or how to even get back to his hotel room! Overwhelmed, he sought the privacy of a corner to cry "in a way any 18 year old boy could appreciate". But then he heard a sound. A familiar sound. He started walking towards it, building up speed in his old boots. 
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day
 His tears broke out in joy (as did mine). He saw the bishop and his wife, and most of the branch members at a July 24 celebration (Pioneer Day) picnic. (Isn't the date so perfect with Pioneer Day around the corner!)They were singing a cappella and a bit off key. But a song any LDS kid could recognize. And food!

Gird up your loins; fresh courage take;
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell--
All is well! All is well!
It was as if they were singing for me, too. Those words! My goodness! How simple these every day songs, yet how full of meaning and purpose! In reflecting after, it hit me that these stories they tell are more than stories. I experienced something strikingly similar. We hear them, they warm our hearts, but then for some reason we don't believe it will happen to us. Yet, in my story, my loneliness was answered more quickly. My song is a different one but with just as much meaning.

It's not just a story. It's life. And you are living it. You will make it through it. You will have your own tale. A tale your family and friends will tell. You may a mustached dinosaur or you may be a wanderer. I believe we have our fair share of being both through our lifetime.

And that's just the first chapter!

I would like to close this post the same way my friend by two degrees did. Adieu, with the encouraging words:

"Yes, 'We'll find the place which God for us prepared.' And on the way,
We'll make the air with music ring,Shout praises to our God and King,Above the rest these words we'll tell-All is well! All is well!" 
-Jeffrey R Holland (Song: Come, Come, Ye Saints) 


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