I had a birthday two days ago. It was a very nice, relaxing day for me. The most unusual experience for that day came at the beginning, and I feel prompted to share it.
Some of you know that I exercise in the morning at Curves. I don't usually go on Tuesdays, but I did this week. There are two women who are part of the Tuesday/Thursday workout group. They are women whom I greatly admire: they radiate their testimonies of Jesus Christ not only in their eyes but in the way they talk, act, and respond to other people. Their love for their families and for the people they serve at church is evident in every word they speak. (I must say here that they are not the only women I know who are this way. Visit with the women in my family, neighborhood, and circle of friends and you will agree. I know some amazing women!)
I was drawn into conversation Tuesday morning with one of the women (the other one wasn't there that day). For some reason, I began telling her of the things I've experienced in my life. These things are not pretty--they are the adversities that President Uchtdorf spoke of. It was rather sobering for me, putting everything out there in a condensed version. She asked me how it is that I kept going. I told her that I didn't have a choice. She reminded me that yes, I did have a choice. I could have chosen to leave, whether physically or spiritually. It's true: I could have chosen that. But it was never an option for me. It still isn't.
Then I told her this (and I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating):
"The mist of darkness that Lehi speaks of is real. It is tangible. But even when I could not feel the Spirit, even when I felt abandoned and alone, I knew Heavenly Father was still there. I knew He still loved me. And I know the only way to get through the mists of darkness is to cling with all my might to my Heavenly Father. There is no way around, under, or over: there is only through, and you can't do it without Him."
We were both in tears. We both felt that truth. It was particularly sweet for me because I needed to feel it. It's been a rough go lately, and sometimes I can't feel the sweet peace that the gospel brings. I needed that feeling on my birthday. Thank you, Father, for the birthday present. It will carry me through for quite some time, I think.
A dear friend of mine was saying the other day how much the phrase "endure to the end" disturbs her. Are we merely passive observers? Do we just roll over and let it all happen to us? The phrase brings to mind such images. I've never cared for it myself, though I've used it often enough. A few weeks ago, a neighbor was speaking in sacrament meeting, sharing some of his missionary experiences. He talked about certain gospel phrases that are better in Spanish. "Enduring" was one of those phrases. He taught us that in Spanish, the phrase is "persevering." I believe he's right: the Spanish is better. Persevering implies active participation in the events around you. I would rather persevere, moving forward continually in spite of the obstacles in front of me.
And that is what I will do. I will keep moving, even though there are times when I want to say, "You want me to do what? Um...really?" Because that is the only viable option for me.