I had to drive all the way to Tucson and back yesterday. It was a long trip and a very long meeting, so I did not get home until after 10:00pm. I had lots of time to think and reflect, so I spent so time doing just that. I really love to listen to talk tapes. You know the kind? The ones that talk about your relationship with your Heavenly Father, how to make it better, how to be a better mother, wife, daughter. Just motivating speakers about subjects that I am interested in. Anyway, I was listening to one CD and it made be think back through some of my biggest challenges and trials.
Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to be a mailman. Yep, that is right. A real, live, honest to goodness mailman. (It is a title that everyone gets who carries the mail). Anyway, I have to admit, one of the most difficult things I faced were not the people, but their dogs. I have decided that I am not a dog person. I like them when they are little. I like them when they are nice. I even like them when they are somebody elses, but I am not too fond of them when they are vicious, mean, or just plain mad.
One day, I was delivering the mail out in the old part of Mesa, and I watched as a German Shepard mix CLIMBED up a six foot fence and jumped down to the other side not 10 feet away from where I was standing. Now, if I have learned one thing about dogs, it is that you NEVER run away. Once you turn your backside to them, you give them a pretty big target and they just can't seem to say no! :-)
Anyway, this dog ran up to me snarling, barking, growling and snapping. I had taken out my dog spray when he was on his way over the top of the fence, so I guess you could say that I was as ready for him as I was going to get. I started spraying the dog right in his face. Most dogs don't like this. The spray is a cayenne pepper in an oil base and it can sting and burn in the dog's eyes, but doesn't do any lasting harm. I sprayed the dog, he shook his head hard back and forth, (still growling and snapping), licked his lips and came at me again.
In the meantime, I had turned myself with my back in the direction I needed to go and had backed up a couple of steps toward the end of the block and the safety of my vehicle. He came at me again, I backed up, and we repeated the process. I used an entire can of spray on the dog and most of the second can. Suddenly, I reached a place that must have had some kind of an invisible line. He quit growling and snapping, turned around and trotted back toward home. I looked around me and realized that I was 1 and a 1/2 blocks from where we started this fiasco. I was near my truck and safe at last.
We went through this everyday for three days. He always stopped when I reached his invisible line and it was always in nearly the same place (within about 10 feet of his predetermined yard). Believe it or not, I have a point with all this. I have found in my life that nearly any trouble I face is a lot like this dog! You really can't turn around and run (troubles have a way of biting you in the rear if you do!). Most of the time, you probably won't find any extra help just waiting to dive in and keep the dog away. You pretty much have to face the problem or trial head on, armed with whatever weapon you have been given. Sometimes it is the scriptures, sometimes it is a book or a talk or an article in the ensign. Sometimes the weapon can be good advice, or answers to prayer. But you still have to face the trial and get through it.
I think most of my trials have a line that if I can just make it there, I will be safe and the trial will be over. It is so tempting to stop! Sometimes, I don't want to go through it. Sometimes, I am weak or afraid. Sometimes I want to just sit down and give up. I want to cry and murmur and complain. But if I can just persevere through the trial, there will come a point where I will find myself on the other side and the trial walking off into the distance.
Trails can feel a lot like that mad dog attack did on that fall afternoon. But I know, if we can just work through it we will cover the distance and arrive home at last. Our Heavenly Father has not sent us here unarmed. We have the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the word of God. We have the ways and means to come through any and all of our trials. He has promised that He will not send us any trial that we can not bare. It is up to us to have the strength and knowledge to face out trials and the ability and desire to endure them.
This life is meant to be a test. But it is a test where we know the answers. They have all been given to us before, and we have them here to guide us and lead us home. Armor is not suppose to be comfortable. It can be a little stiff, a little awkward, a little heavy, or even a little bit not like everyone else! Heavenly Father does not want us to be just like everyone else. He wants us to be in the world, but not of it. Are we spending too much time trying to be like the world? Or are we spending our time trying to be like God? Are we worried a little too much whether or not we look like the Smith's or have as many things as the Smith's, or are we centered in the Lord and following His councils and teachings.
Everyone has trials. It is not the trial that breaks us in the end. It is how we have endured it, what have we learned from it, and how it has changed us that matters. I hope that the dogs of life that are our trials don't make you forget where you came from, or where you are going.