Monday, February 9, 2009

Remember the Duck?

A boy and a girl were sent to the country to spend the summer with grandparents. When they got there the young boy was give a slingshot. He would go out into the woods and practice shooting at everything and pretty much missing everything.

One day he was heading home for dinner when he walked into the barnyard and say his grandmothers pet duck. He decided to take aim at it and to his surprise and almost immediate horror, this time he hit the poor duck square on the head. It was a dead duck.

So he quickly picked up the duck and hid it behind the woodpile but as he was doing this he realized his sister was witness to the whole things. She didn't say anything, just walked by him and smiled.

That night after dinner grandma said "Well Jenny if you can help me do the dishes we'll be all done." To which Jenny replied, "I'd love to but Billy said he wanted to help you with the dishes tonight." He looked at her and she whispered, "Remember the duck."

This went on all week with Billy doing all his chores and Jenny's also.

That Saturday grandpa came in and said "Billy and Jenny lets go fishing." Grandma then said that she needed help with some work she was doing and said that Jenny needed to stay at home and help her. But Jenny said that Billy had expressed a desire to help with the chore. She looked at him and mouthed "Remember the duck." So he stayed behind and Jenny went fishing with grandpa.

Finally the lying and deception and the extra chores became too much for poor Billy and he finally confessed to Grandma about the fate of the duck. Grandma gave him a hug and said that she already knew about it, she had been at the window and had witnessed the whole thing. She looked at Billy and said that she was waiting to see just how long he would allow himself to be a prisoner of his sisters.


I really liked this story because I wonder how many times I've allowed myself to be a prisoner of something that I did wrong and I allowed Satan to tell me to "remember the duck." And just like in the story Heavenly Father has seen all things, I can't hide the duck behind the wood pile. He's knows its there. I think this is a good story to share with those who allow themselves to be prisoners. I know its been me a few times.

Carrying our own crosses

At ward conference yesterday our bishop spoke about "taking up our cross." I have been praying about what I could say or contribute to the whole "giving up" or "giving in" thread and it occurred to me after his talk that its not a matter of either.

Each of us are given unique struggles and trials and experiences and things that refine us, challenge us and help perfect us. Its not so much the trials that make us who we are, it's what we do with them.

The Savior says to "take up our cross," he doesn't say to leave it and walk away from it. He doesn't say to overcome it. For there are some crosses that we can't overcome and only He can overcome. We were never meant to overcome them alone. How we carry it defines who we are and if we trust him enough to allow Him to carry them with us. If we have faith to carry it and put away all ungodliness aside then we can have faith that while the worlds burdens are heavy HIS isn't. He will be the one that comes along and helps us shoulder it.

For me this is where things have often become difficult. While I may say that I want to be faithful, to put aside all ungodliness, its often easy to sabotage my efforts by some of the things I choose to do, people I choose to associate with and the sites I have a presence on online. For instance if I'm trying hard to stay away from negative influences and I want God to bless my efforts if I'm spending a lot of free time on gay social networks trying to make friends or continue associations with people who represent the happiness found when a person pitches their cross and walks away from it. How am I really helping myself? I'm not saying we should judge others, but I'm also saying that we can't build our tents next to the great and spacious buildings of the world to dwell in their shadows and expect the light of the gospel to also play an equal role in our lives. We can't serve to masters. As it was once said we can't live in paradise yet keep a vacation home in Sodem.

I think sometimes I can be my own worse impediment to my own progress. But that takes a lot of humility to admit. Part of learning to bear our cross is learning that struggling isn't a bad thing if it means we are trying hard to continue forward. Struggle denotes a battle. At some point I think we need to realize what we are struggling with. Part of the giving up pride comes when we put that vacation home on the market and walk away from it.

The whole reason we are on the Earth is to gain experience, sometimes those experiences are struggles. Sometimes those struggles are needed to make the path clear. Sometimes we need them. Life is a test after all. Accepting our cross and committing to carrying it doesn't always mean an end to our struggles, but it does denote a decision in what direction we will move forward to. And that's already half the battle.