Monday, June 12, 2017

Only 1 week left (I'm in denial 😜). Looking back. Why does He who could fix it all, allow us to go thru trials?

Hey everyone! :)

Well. This is not my last email home. That will be next Monday. And that is super weird to think about, so I'm just not going to think about it, despite all of ya'll's best efforts to make me think about it. :P

This week was fun. Between a few exchanges and some rather hot weather, I've been kind of stressed for most of the week. The other day I was looking back on those days when I was in the MTC in Utah, and how I felt as I looked forward to the next two years. I remember exactly how I felt. I remember all those hopes and dreams, all the homesickness, all the stress and worry about whether or not I would be good enough, whether I would have any sort of effect on people's lives. I remember so many experiences where I would just stand there and think, "What on earth am I doing right now. This is the scariest thing I have ever done." And I remember so many moments of pushing away the feelings of fear and anxiety and just focusing on trying to understand what my teachers were saying in French.

Six weeks later, I was on a plane, still pushing that fear and anxiety away. Would I live up to the expectations? What was I doing?

Then I met my trainer. Elder Boscan changed me so much. He taught me obedience and virtue, and that no matter how bad I was at something, if I did what I could, I didn't have to worry about the outcome because it's the Lord's work, not mine. I learned something different from each of my next companions. With Elder Gutierrez, I learned how to have fun in diligence. With Elder Peery, I learned maturity in leadership. With Elder Blackwelder, I learned to work hard in what I could change, and not get so worked up about things I couldn't change. With Elder Aulner, I learned to work harder when everything is against you. With Elder Colunga, I learned humility and self-control. With Elder Valencia, I am learning to love as the Savior loves.

Now I stand here, almost at the end of these two years, and at the beginning of an eternity, and I wonder how I could have ever lived without this time. It brings me to tears to think of how much love the Lord had for me to let me struggle and hurt and push and fight through all the painful moments.

I remember walking away from countless encounters with angry, mean, clever people who found just the right way to cut me to the core, holding back angry tears as I tried to understand why on earth I came here if people weren't going to give me the time of day just because of the way I dress or the way I speak or, worse than anything, the name I wear on my chest. I remember walking through a dark street in Montreal, frustrated and exhausted from weeks and months of rejection and disrespect, and asking He who could fix it all with a word why He seemed to care so little.

Why didn't God pull Joseph of Egypt out of prison earlier? Why did Noah have to stay on that boat for so stinking long (emphasis on stinking!)? Why did Jeremiah have to spend so many days prophesying from prison? Why did John the Baptist and Peter and Paul and James and Stephen and Hyrum and Joseph and so many others, both in the modern and ancient days, have to lose their lives for this? Why did the Son of the living God spend three years of His life being mocked and attacked and cast out, with no real physical home where He could always go back to be accepted and loved? Why did He spend so many tears and so much blood for this? Why does the world seem so unfair?

I believe that eternal life is too great a reward for us to obtain without gaining at least a small comprehension of the price that was paid to gain it. How could we possibly understand the depth of joy in heaven without having walked, for at least a fraction of the time that He did, through that valley of death which the Savior Himself overcame for each one of us?

God allows us to suffer, not because He doesn't want us to be happy, but because He wants us to understand what happiness really is. Happiness is not the absence of trials; happiness is found in progress, which can only be attained by having something to progress through, something to push against. And thankfully, wonderfully, we don't have to push alone.

So what have I learned from my mission? I think I've learned a bit more of what it really takes to be happy.

My dad loves to quote a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and that's where I'd like to end my thoughts this week. It's called "Worth While."

"It is easy enough to be pleasant, 
    When life flows by like a song, 
But the man worth while is one who will smile, 
    When everything goes dead wrong. 
For the test of the heart is trouble, 
    And it always comes with the years, 
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth, 
    Is the smile that shines through tears.

It is easy enough to be prudent, 
    When nothing tempts you to stray, 
When without or within no voice of sin 
    Is luring your soul away; 
But it's only a negative virtue 
    Until it is tried by fire, 
And the life that is worth the honor on earth, 
    Is the one that resists desire.

By the cynic, the sad, the fallen, 
    Who had no strength for the strife, 
The world's highway is cumbered to-day, 
    They make up the sum of life. 
But the virtue that conquers passion, 
    And the sorrow that hides in a smile, 
It is these that are worth the homage on earth 
    For we find them but once in a while."

I love you all!

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

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