12 February 2012

sunday thoughts / overcoming obstacles


image via pinterest.

i love sunday afternoons when all is calm. after my church meetings, i get into my comfs and settle in. i read, i write, i bake, fold laundry and try to tackle last minute tasks before monday approaches with its weekly weight of obligations. i love how the sabbath is all about rest and restoring and renewal. in a peaceful, refined way religion feels mighty and holy and expresses the good in all. it encircles everyone.

today we discussed the concept of opposition in all things. the teacher had us write down (on a personal sheet of paper, not for sharing aloud) a difficult trial we've had to face or are currently facing in life. then she had two lines underneath it for us to write down what good had come from that hardship. at first my mind stumbled with wonder. and then seconds later it opened up and i realized, truly, so much good that has come from the hardship i'd listed. surprisingly, my writings filled up and slanted off the two lines and i was learning all the different ways that specific trial has benefitted me. having a little perspective helps me see the stumbling stones as invaluable life lessons and not as grueling obstacles that slow me down. and again, i felt thankful for the experience. among other things, i realized how experiencing that trial has strengthened my faith, helped me grow and most of all, opened my heart a lot wider. i think of a tightened flower bud loosening, allowing the rains to hit the fragile petals. gradually it opens up to full bloom, feeling the sunshine and becoming even more beautiful and fragrant than before. i know more now that the storms of life are for our good and for our growth.

during the lesson, a teenager shared with us a visual aid which her seminary teacher had showed in class. he held up a large jar of rice. he told them what they didn't see was a ping pong ball buried beneath the rice. he described the grains of rice as problems, temptations, afflictions, sins and trials that feel heavy and unbearable (we, being the ping pong ball). we often feel entitled to our depressed state, knowing the burdens we are carrying. we often give up, forgetting the choice to rise above them. she told us how her teacher shook the jar until the ping pong ball reached the top and sat upon the grains of rice. it was free and rolling about. what joy can come to us if we choose to be happy and live a good life; choosing to rise above it and reach our potential.

when i go to church i understand things more clearly, even personal silly problems that arise in life. not only do i gather strength from gospel doctrine and parables of Jesus, but i am full of thankfulness for the life i lead and the people in my life. i remember my strengths, feel remorse for my mistakes and make goals to become better. i feel newly hopeful about meeting my potential, or in the least, trying my best. one day at a time. i also have new compassion for others. i love how simple and yet so sublime a testimony of Christ can be. i rarely blog about religion, but i want you to know that it is what keeps me standing. it is the mortar between my bricks. it is so very important to me.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been enjoying your blog for several months now, but decided to leave a comment today because I think today you have finally answered the question you were asking yourself at the new year regarding the direction of your blog. You write in this post that you "rarely blog about religion," but I think it adds so much more life, authenticity and DEPTH to your blog. Your post today really uplifted me, as I'm sure it did many others as well. I think as you continue to write these type of posts you will find that "blogging fulfillment" you have been searching for. You have a nice talent here - go with it. =)

Claire said...

I am not religious, for lots of reasons really but I am sometimes envious of people who are and I still read my bible from time to time as I think we can learn a lot from the stories whether we believe them to be fact or fiction. I actually enjoy reading about religion on people's blogs as it is obviously a bit part of many people's lives so thanks for sharing x

jennifer brannon said...

Marta, I have enjoyed your blog from time to time (as I have the time to read for enjoyment!) and felt moved to leave my first comment. I am a Catholic (with many good Mormon friends) and applaud you revealing how much your faith shapes your life... I loved that example of the ping pong ball, too!

How true it is that God only allows what is best for our salvation to happen to us, good or 'bad'!

Write on, sister!

Hil said...

Beautiful post Marta. Who would have thought that hardships and trials would one day be the reason for so much growth and so many blessings? With each new trial that comes my way I can't help but notice the little tender mercy's along the way and the big lessons at the end of it all. Thanks so much for sharing this! You are an amazing woman and such an example to me.

Becca said...

Ah so enjoyed this post on this sunday night

Christina said...

These are the posts that inspire me most, Marta. Thank you for sharing your spirituality on the blog. Your testimony is conveyed beautifully through your writing.

And I so agree about a dose of perspective regarding our trials. It's amazing to see how the Lord leads us from A to B with all of the lessons we need along the way and a fresh helping of blessings, even amidst the greatest difficulties.

I'd love for Sunday thoughts to become a regular feature!

jessica olsen said...

This was really beautiful. I loved reading it and agree whole heartily. I am still uncovering the aftermath of blessings my most recent trial gave to me. It changed the way I pray, the way I approach my Heavenly Father and the way I view my relationship with Him. And like you said, it made my heart open up so I am able to feel compassion for others more fully.

Thanks for sharing.

Hannah said...

Love this, Marta. Your testimony really shines through.

I agree; our trials definitely strengthen us. I've told my husband numerous times, "Don't you wish we could go back in time and warn our 20-year-old selves of our trials?" One time after I said that, he turned to me and said, "No, I wouldn't want that. Those trials made us the people we are today."

It is so true; God knows us. He knows what is best for us. Sometimes, in the midst of the pain is seems like we are all alone, but we never are.

Love these religious posts. Hope you do more. They are your best.

Travelin'Oma said...

I met a woman the other day who was doing a cleanse. Two other women that were with us had done cleanses and they were all saying how good they felt afterward. Your post is a good example of how the Sabbath can be a spiritual cleanse. It's good for the soul.

Alicia F. said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I spend my Sundays in a very crazy primary with 120 kids. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself for missing out on good lessons and discussions with adults. As I read how you described your Sundays of renewal and inspiration, I realized (or just remembered) that Sundays make me feel the same, even when the day seemed crazy. I still learn so much (from others example, from the kids, my personal study and pondering).

Thank you for reminding me of that!

Hanna Long said...

I just found your blog recently and wanted to say this was one of my favorite posts of yours.

Carly said...

i love your flower analogy: trials opening us up and allowing the rains to hit the fragile petals, making us more beautiful and fragrant than before. i had never thought of trials that way. thanks for sharing.

Angie said...

This is a beautiful post Marta. Thank you for sharing your testimony and perspective.

M.C. Sommers said...

I know you say you don't blog about religion very often, but I think you do. I think it comes through in so many of your posts even when you aren't consciously writing about it. That is such a good exercise to write down the good that comes from trials. It's hard to focus on the good and sometimes I find myself consciously not allowing myself to look at the positive, but it always feels so much better when I focus on the blessings. Such a great reminder on a Monday morning.

Sharmyn said...

"...the mortar between my bricks" What a terrific visual - thanks for your testimony.

Cath said...

Just so incredibly lovely.

Janet said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Shelley @ A Story About Faith said...

Thanks for sharing Marta. I often wonder why so many people shy away from writing about their faith. Do we worry we will offend others or is it just too personal? For me, it is also the mortar, so I can't not write about it. In fact, I started writing about it so much I decided to rename my blog: A Story About Faith! In any case, I love when you go personal. I think your reflections are always so beautifully stated. And I so agree, a testimony in Christ is simple yet powerful, and yes, sublime.

xo Shelley

Kim said...

Beautiful. Love the ping pong ball analogy. I've been reading for years and really enjoy your writing, but this is where you truly shine. You're faith comes through in all of your writing, but this was really refreshing to read. Thanks for being bold about your faith.

Katy said...

What an inspirational message. I'm not religious but I do often wish I had a forum for discussing the big questions in life. I do feel that, faith aside, there are so many universal ideas about how to live your life and how to relate to others. I suppose that's what non religious people use shrinks for! I always enjoy it when people (including you) blog about such things.

Melissa said...

I sat in a meeting recently where I thought about the fact that I was kind of bored. But at the same time I was grateful to be there and be reminded of my beliefs. There is a nourishment every week no matter how small. Mortar between the bricks is exactly the right visual. Without it, we couldn't stand strong and be fully supported. xoxo

Lauralee said...

This was a little answer to prayers as I sat down to the computer contemplating a struggle in my own life. Thank you so much for sharing, and blessing me with some perspective too.

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