I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I have the privilege of serving the young women in my area between the ages of 14-15. Part of that calling allows me to teach them lessons on Sunday. This Sunday was one of those opportunities.
I chose to give a lesson on adversity today, and I was a little taken aback by how it all went. I spent the week pondering ideas for the lesson that would best serve the girls in my class. They are all so different, and handling different life situations. What could I teach them to help them each work through those things as individuals? I believe that I will be held accountable for the girls that I have stewardship over, so I take my lessons seriously, and want to make sure that my girls are being prepared for anything the future might hold for them.
As I pondered the idea of adversity, I thought a lot about the Savior. No other person on earth has suffered the amount of trial that Jesus Christ did. No other person would have been able to endure it with grace and forgiveness either. As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the adversity Christ endured much more, and realized how much he truly gave to those he loved. This week I pondered his ministry and how he spent all of his time serving and healing those he came in contact with. He was tireless in his service. At one point, the scriptures tell us about a moment when his disciples try to deter the masses to give Jesus a break. They can see he is exhausted, and that he needs to rest. I thought about my days. About how being a mother is filled with serving everyone else. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, driving... it never stops. And sometimes I feel exhausted and in desperate need of a rest. As the disciples are turning people away, Christ tells them to let the people come to him. Although run down and exhausted, he is overcome with compassion and love. Being a mother is not the same as being the Savior, but as a mother, I greatly appreciate and feel uplifted by Christ's love and desire to serve.
The most poignant part of Christ's ministry, to me, is when he is in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is late at night, and he is accompanied by a small group of people who truly love him. As he approaches the garden, Christ knows what he is about to do. I believe he understands that the atonement is going to be physically painful and emotionally draining, and he desires the moral support of his closest friends, his tribe. As he leaves them at the gate, he asks them to be there with him, to wait for him. There is strength in knowing you have support when you are in the thick of adversity. As he enters the garden, and begins the process of atoning for the sins of the world, he asks our Heavenly Father if there is any other way. That request, to me, demonstrates just how excruciating the pain was that Christ was enduring. He needs to be buoyed up, to feel the love of people he cares about. And yet, when he returns to the entrance where he left his friends to wait, he finds them asleep. I think of the Savior in that moment--exhausted and running on empty--and how he responds. He could have easily reprimanded them. He could have complained that HE was the one doing the hard part. Right then, when he was overcome with adversity, and needed those friends the most, they failed him. And instead of lashing out as many of us tend to do, he was overcome with compassion and love. He knew it was late and that they were tired. He woke them up, kindly, and asked them again to be with him. I just think of dark moments in my life when I felt alone. When I needed friends and loved ones, but no one came--this is usually because I keep it hidden--and I am overcome with a deeper love for my Savior. The man who loved the world so much that he gave the ultimate sacrifice, felt so alone in a time when he most needed support.
As I listened to the young women in my class share stories of overcoming adversity, and I thought about the life of the Savior, I felt his love for them. I have always known that Christ understands our struggles, but my testimony was strengthened ten fold about how deep his love runs and how much he understands and wants to help. Sometimes adversity comes because of our choices. Sometimes adversity comes because of someone else's choices. And sometimes adversity comes because we are human beings and it's part of God's plan. But regardless of our struggles, Christ understands, and he is anxiously waiting for us to turn to him for strength. I choose Him.