I listened to Hold on Thy Way by Elder Koichi Aoyagi on my way to work today. Among other things, his quote from Elder Eyring stuck out to me:
“The test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us.”
My friend Kiya also read this talk today, and she wrote me about her testimony of “holding on thy way” as being able to look back and be proud of how she responded to life’s trials.
I pondered a similar principle later as I was trimming my bonsai. I never really understood the analogy in scriptures of “branches growing too strong for the roots,” until I owned my own tree. The leaves on my bonsai start to turn brown if I don’t keep it trimmed — because the nutrients from the roots are spread too thin. So, although my trimming the tree may seem harmful in the short run, it is essential for the long-term health of my tree!
Similarly, our trials help us to grow, even, and perhaps especially, when they seem painful in the present! There are many things we can’t control, but one of the things we can is our attitude when these trials come, as we try to endure them well.
My friend Benjamin later shared a quote with me from the philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte:
“We are condemned to be free.”
He pointed out that as hard as we try to blame our circumstances and the nebulous “fate,” really we always are free to choose — even when the choice is only controlling our thoughts and attitude.
I heard HWN in pondering this principle of enduring well and discussing it with friends :)