We live in a time when toys have buttons that awaken magical electronic powers. As we search the retail shelves for just the right toy, even grownups are taken in by the invitation on packaging that reads, “Try Me.” One day, just after Christmas, I was waiting while my mother stood in the return line at Kohls and there before my eyes, in the middle of an aisle, was a large display of piggy banks with a “Try Me” invitation on every box. So I did! Standing there, looking at them, something came over me and I pushed every piggy’s button in the display. Then I just stood there, unashamed, in the middle of the isle, with children looking on in dismay, laughing at the cacophony of oinking that erupted. Something crazy gets into me those first few days after Christmas.
One of my “grands” is a life-size 17 month old dolly. She’s a tiny little thing. It’s still surprising to look down at the white feathers starting to grow on her baby head and see her walking about. She’s learning to talk and has recently started stringing words together.
Hattie doesn’t have a magical button. This little dolly is more technologically advanced than the dollies on the shelf at Wal-Mart. She’s actually voice activated. If I sing a few words to a song she has heard several times she responds. For example: If I sing “Twinkle Twinkle” she sings, “little star.” This is not really too surprising in the world of raising babies. What is unusual is that she quickly catches on to difficult songs. We were all a bit flabbergasted the other day when her daddy sang, “We are all enlisted ‘til the conflict it o’er,” and immediately, without hesitation, she looked up at him with those heavenly blue eyes and sang out, “Happy are we, are we, are we!”
Her older cousins love to hear her perform, and she is happy to comply—“Happy are we! Happy are we!” she responds to their prompt, and the air erupts with laughter. (The cousins are as bad as me at Kohls with the piggies.) I’ve heard the opening words to the song “We Are All Enlisted” countless times now throughout the house. Each time I hear her sing I think, “What a great reminder!” These words tell us that we are in this to the end and we can be happy even though life is hard—It’s full of conflict between nations and neighbors, within our communities and families, and within ourselves as we battle it out with Satan or simply wrangle with the hundreds of tough decisions that have to be made every day. According to the song we can somehow endure happily.
One day as I heard her performing for someone, in my mind I pointed the following thought in the Lord’s direction—“I get the general message Lord, but how? How am I to be happy throughout and until the end of all the conflict in my daily life?” I told Him that I knew that a great part of the answer to that question lies in whether or not I pick up and use the magnificent tools of the Gospel that bring the Spirit of the Lord into every situation. I know that when I have the Spirit with me I do find greater happiness, even in difficult situations, but was there more to be learned here?
Once again I allowed the words to run through my mind, only this time I felt the Spirit invite me to focus on the words we sing to Hattie—“We are all ENLISTED.” In my mind’s eyes the word ENLISTED was in capital letters. Was that my clue? I searched my understanding for some sense of the word. I remembered that during the Korean War my dad “enlisted” in the army to escape being drafted, and he had a great experience serving in Germany, and most recently, my youngest son has “enlisted” in the United States Air Force. This is not exactly what I had in mind for my son. From the moment the doctor announces “It’s a boy,” I dread the thought that one day my sons might be drafted. But come to think of it, except for the two years he served the people in Uruguay on an LDS mission, I’ve never seen him more resolute and yes, happy.
Hmmm… “Drafted?” “Enlisted?” I got my dictionary. To be “drafted” is “to be enrolled in the armed forces by compulsion or conscription.” To “enlist” is “to join up or sign on to the armed forces.”
That’s it!—one of the great keys to being happy! I enlisted – on purpose! I signed up! I’m not here having earth life, with its huge range of experiences, because I was forced or ill informed about the hard parts. I was not drafted. I chose.
Every day I experience some of the pain that comes from frustration, anger, sickness, sadness and disappointments over situations, some of my own making and those I am completely powerless to control. It’s tempting to imagine I’ve been forced into difficult situations by life, by people, and by God Himself! If I dwell in self-pity, imagining that I am simply a pawn on the chess board of life, then all I want to do is something, anything, to make me feel better, something to dull the little pains and the big ones. And why would I reach out to God for help if I think He sent me into this mess against my will? Drafted! So I turn to something I can trust, something immediate—eat a little food, spend a little money, watch a little TV, take a little pill…Addiction is about doing something to make myself feel better, knowing that God can’t possibly be the answer. My addiction is anything I turn to habitually, that’s destructive, instead of turning to God.
Today I know that my pain only multiplies with every thought that I was conscripted into this War that started in Heaven. There is actual pain relief and power to endure connected with the recognition that I enlisted in this earth life experience, that I was not compelled against my will. In Lehi’s vision He says he follows a Man in White to a dark and dreary waste. On some days life is dark and it is dreary, but there is something really important to my ability to get through hard times in acknowledging that following Jesus Christ into this world was a decision I made. That thought actually hastens my travels on that strait (difficult) and narrow (single file) path to the fruit that ensures joy in the battle zone.
Step 3 of recovery is to “Decide to turn my will and my life over the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. In essence it is to surrender to an experience in which I chose to participate. Sometimes during hard seasons I say to myself: “Life just is not going according to my plan.” Though that may seem true with my limited vision—there is a PLAN and I signed on!
A new recruit has recently been assigned to our family squadron, one of earth life’s newest enlistees. His tiny feet were not even planted on earth’s soil before life became challenging. In fact life was a challenge for him the minute he was assigned his body and for his family from the moment the doctors suggested they might be seeing signs of Down Syndrome.
As I hold my nephew in my arms, all hooked up to feeding and breathing apparatus, as I feel the rapid pulse of his tiny heart that needs mending, I sense that his faith in the truth that he was not compelled, not drafted into this body for his earth-life experience, is very much intact. It’s the rest of us who need to keep this understanding burning in our hearts. Not only did he know what he was getting into, but so did all of us who are blessed to be a part of his life and blessed to participate in all of life.
Thanks for the reminder Hattie. “We signed on! We chose! We enlisted! “Happy are we!”
By Nannette W.
Posted Thursday, February 2, 2012
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