Editor’s Note: Beloved Meridian author Darla Isackson passed away. We will continue to share her wonderful insights here periodically.
Even though I’ve lived most of my days in the sunshine, I vividly remember times I couldn’t imagine rising above the clouds. At times, the struggle to keep going without seeing the sun seemed to go on and on, like it would never end. My heart felt frigid, frozen.
Storms and Cold Weather Are Temporary
One of those cold mornings I plopped myself down on the couch in the living room, hungry for inspiration, for solace, for perspective. I opened a church magazine and thumbed through it, stopping to read a story of a woman who told of her experience serving a senior mission with her husband.
She hated the cold and had been called to one of the coldest places on the planet! But she and her husband prepared well, and once there, she realized she wasn’t minding the snow and storms and freezing temperatures at all. When she asked herself why, she realized it was because of the temporary nature of their stay. She realized she would have been disappointed after all their preparations if it hadn’t been really cold.
“It Came to Pass” — Not “It Came to Stay”
The application of her story to our mortal experience was clear in my mind even before I read her take on it. No trial goes on forever! Every winter of the soul melts into spring. Our whole time here on earth is temporary! The oft-quoted scripture “And it came to pass” is literal. Nothing here in mortality comes to stay! All the bad stuff is temporary!
The struggles we have here will pass, the problems will be resolved, the tears dried. And when all is said and done, when we get to the other side, we would probably be disappointed if our mortal stay hadn’t been rough and challenging—and sometimes very cold—because we prepared for it and expected it to be that way.
So why, I wondered as I put the magazine down and went back to my household chores, do I have such a hard time remembering the temporary nature of the bad stuff in life? I know in my head, but in my heart I sometimes can’t comprehend that there is anything ahead but the same old struggle and sorrow and frustration—barely getting on top of dark clouds and glimpsing the sun only to find myself completely engulfed by them again.
However, her story had struck a chord. It reminded me of the scripture “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes” (D&C 121:7-8).
We can learn to keep the “small moment” perspective about life’s hard times!
There Will Be an End to the Things We Want to End
The most dangerous place to be is at a point that the brain no longer comprehend that life can change in positive ways and that no problem has an eternal life-span. Suicide notes often express a disbelief that things could get better, that they believe the darkness they are experiencing in this life will be never-ending. The truth is, whether in this life or the next, light and goodness will triumph.
We lose heart only if we forget the temporary nature of the tough stuff. Physical limitations and mental illness are not forever . . . the frustrations of attempting to overcome unhealthy childhood patterns and the constant barrage of Satan’s fiery darts will someday end. Losses, no matter how devastating are temporary. All the bad stuff in life is temporary; our sorrow over the death of our loved ones will end! 2 Nephi 8:12 says “sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” I sometimes fail to remember that enduring to the end means there is an end to the things we want to end! We are told to “hold out faithful to the end” (D&C 6:13), and, “be diligent unto the end” (D&C 10:4). That means there is an end to our burdens and suffering!
And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand. (D&C 29:23-25)
All the bad stuff will end—either here or hereafter. No one will struggle on the brink of depression throughout all eternity. The brain imbalances that sometimes keep our brains from producing sufficient “happy” chemicals are part of mortality only. The feeling that our best is never good enough will not continue after death. We won’t experience forever the frustrations of miscommunication and misunderstandings—of not seeing others as they truly are or having others miss seeing us as we truly are. We won’t forever miss the true intent of another’s heart, or they of ours.
We understand that communication after this life is heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind. Lance Richardson tells of experiencing that kind of communication in his book The Message. When he was in a coma he was allowed to visit the spirit world, and said of his departed grandfather’s communication:
I had not only heard his words with my spirit and in my mind, but I had experienced them in a most wonderful way. It seemed as if I had absorbed these words. And at the same time as the words came into my mind, I saw a picture of what he was telling me. I felt the emotions he desired to communicate to me, as well. I understood on a higher level than I ever had before. (Lance Richardson, The Message, 2000, American Family Publications, Idaho Falls, Idaho, 55.)
To me that means that after this life no one can hide their truth or fail to see the truth in others. And isn’t love the biggest truth we hide?
The Best News Is, the Happiest Stuff Does Not End
Of course there are many things we don’t want to end—the love, the learning, the ever-growing assurance of the Lord’s concern and watchful care. And they won’t. Once we have triumphed through the Lord, and passed our probation—which has an end—the happy stuff endures forever.
All we have to do is hang onto the Lord’s promises, and remember in the dark times that the sun is there all the while, no matter how dense and dark the clouds that block our view. The thing we so often forget is that clouds are, after all, made up of life-giving water. Before long they turn into rain or snow that falls to earth and makes continued growth possible. Many of the trials in our lives, like the clouds, are full of growth-producing water in disguise.