Spiritual Valleys

President Brigham Young once made a statement which has impressed me very much. In a quiet moment with his secretary and two others, someone asked, “President Young, why is it that the Lord is not always at our side promoting universal happiness and seeing to it that the needs of people are met, caring especially for His Saints? Why is it so difficult at times?”

President Young answered, “Because man is destined to be a God, and he must be able to demonstrate that he is for God and to develop his own resources so that he can act independently and yet humbly.” Then he added, “It is the way it is because we must learn to be righteous in the dark.” (Brigham Young’s Office Journal, 28 January 1857.)

For me, learning to be “righteous in the dark” is part of my challenge in life. I have found times of spiritual abundance alternating with feelings of perceived abandonment. In pondering this idea one day, I wrote the following in my personal journal: “Because of my experiences prior to joining the Church I expected that following my baptism I would experience one big spiritual high. The past ten years have taught me otherwise. Instead, I find that mountain-top experiences are separated by valleys, even deserts. I struggle with ambiguities and contradictions. I am disturbed by discrepancies between gospel principles and practices. Often I have more questions than answers, and, like Nephi, I often feel encompassed about because of the temptations and sins which do so easily beset me.

“However, after passing through spiritual deserts where I have struggled with problems, I gain new insights and understandings and realize how finite my own vision is. I no longer equate ease and comfort with happiness and contentment, but am in the process of coming to better understand the peace and joy spoken of in the gospel. No wonder our Heavenly Father, whose knowledge is perfect, provides us with spiritual valleys as well as spiritual peaks.” Carolyn J. Rasmus, Provo, Utah

Life-saving Decisions

I have been thinking recently about a Relief Society lesson I attended on life-saving techniques. Two men from the Public Health Department demonstrated artificial resuscitation and CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). They told us that often, in applying CPR, it is possible that a few ribs may be broken by the force of the push designed to get the heart going. Some of us were horrified, but in thinking about it, I have concluded that some decisions in life are like that. By making an important, perhaps life-saving decision, we might cause a few other minor problems. But we must always remember what is most important and make our decisions accordingly. And we can be thankful for heavenly guidance to help us establish our priorities and let us know which activities are matters of the heart and which are matters of a rib. Rebecca Merrill, Lehi, Utah

[photo] Photography by Floyd Holdman