Traveling alone with kids is one of my favorite things to do.
Just kidding. 😉
One particularly difficult security line experience comes to mind. I had a few children wandering and whining while I tried to remove my shoes, and their shoes, and my coat and their coats, and my bags and their back packs. I’m sure I was the entertainment for the rest of the 1000 people standing in the line I had just survived.
Did I mention I was crying because I just had to say goodbye to my husband?
Oh, and we were late for our flight.
But none of those reasons are why this experience has stuck with me. While trying fantastically to hold it together, a woman next to me gave me a kind smile and said, “be strong.”
At first, I was a little taken aback. With my obvious predicament (kids, crying, late!) I needed help and compassion here! Who was she to tell me to be strong?
But, her tone had unmistakable kindness. I couldn’t be angry or annoyed. Her words rung in my mind, a call to a higher place, “be strong.”
The Lord gave Joshua (and us) the same injunction: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage…” (Joshua 1:9)
In difficult moments, why does human nature seek to be saved, coddled, protected and delivered? Conversely, in those same difficult moments, why do the scriptures give the constant command to push away this tendency and instead “BE STRONG”?
Why is it so tempting to push away the divine calls to be strong?
For one thing, modern culture isn’t doing much to inspire strength of mind. In fact, society loves to convince us to be babied. Here is an example, though choosing to be strong extends far beyond any specific example. A list popped up on my pregnancy app called “what you will miss most about pregnancy” and the number one thing was “a get out of anything free card.” The article explained how being pregnant can be an excuse for anything you don’t want to do.
Enter my sister. As I’ve had this topic on my mind, I’ve watched her choose to be strong over and over again. This pregnancy she only went 9 days over (now Lexi Joy is here!) Throughout her pregnancy, she consistently jumped up to help, she participated in family activities (including hiking, driving to weddings in other states, throwing a bridal shower, a day at lagoon, etc.), she cooked dinner for vagabond college siblings and has been a constant source of energy, fun and love. Not everyone has a pregnancy like hers, not everyone can physically do this, and I’m not saying all women past their due date should spend a day at Lagoon. What I am saying is that in a spot where many would give her free license to sit on a couch and think about the difficulties of pregnant life, she chose the harder road of being strong, physically and mentally.
The opposite of being strong includes complaining, worrying, criticizing those who are trying to move forward, remaining frozen in indecision, looking to blame others for difficult situations, refusing to work with others towards a solution, rolling your eyes, holding back compliments to those trying to be strong, anger, hiding from responsibility, loss of sense of humor, excessive seriousness, sarcasm, and defensiveness. Lots of great stuff to avoid, right?!
The scriptures in today’s s’more try to answer the question of why God wants us to choose to be strong. There is an eternal principle involved. We are on Earth to learn to act for ourselves rather than to be acted upon. (2 Nephi 2:14) We learn to be masters of our own destiny. We learn that we are children of the God of the Universe. We learn that we have the power of influence. We learn that we can be the agents of the good that the world so desperately needs. Be strong – that is the call of Eternity.
In the airport that day, I am happy to report that I squared my shoulders, gathered kids, shoes, bags, and tears and we ran to our gate, making our flight just fine. I think often of the lady who called me to the higher, harder road. Pull yourself together and “be strong.”
S: (Prayer/Ask) Why does God want us to choose to be strong?
- Read Joshua 1 Circle the word ‘strong’ throughout the chapter. As you read it, try to place yourself in Joshua’s shoes, or better yet, place him in your shoes! Pay attention to the words God gives Joshua, the words Joshua gives his people, and the words his people respond with.
- Study this scripture chain.
- 1 Corinthians 16:13 (‘quit you’ means ‘behave like’)
- 2 Timothy 2:1 (note from where Paul tells Timothy to gain his strength from)
- 1 Nephi 4:2 (From where does Nephi gain his inspiration to be strong in tough times?)
- Mosiah 18:26/Alma 17:2 (pay attention to what traits these two verses talk about waxing strong in.
- Read this story of Daniel W. Jones, who was one of the men Brigham Young sent to Arizona to find a spot to settle.
One of the previous expeditions had been led by Brother McMaster. The expedition’s group consisted of several hundred persons with teams of horses and cattle. This group had gone some forty-five miles past the Little Colorado River but had run out of water in the unforgiving heat of late summer in Arizona—even the Little Colorado was completely dry. Brother McMaster, a man of faith and courage, petitioned God for help—specifically to provide water. Rain and even a little snow soon followed, and the group filled their barrels, fed their cattle, and headed back to Salt Lake, grateful for the miracle they had experienced. Upon arrival, they reported the area uninhabitable. Jones reported that the day this story was told to Brigham Young, “I was sitting near by and just in front of Brother Brigham. . . . He said nothing for a few moments, but sat looking me straight in the eye. Finally he asked, ‘What do you think of that Brother Jones?’ I answered, ‘I would have filled up, went on, and prayed again.’ Brother Brigham replied putting his hand upon me, ‘This is the man that shall take charge of the next trip to Arizona.’” (source)
- In the scripture from 1 Nephi, Nephi cites Moses as his motivation for being strong. Who do you think of in a moment of tough times to help you remain strong?
- Often people who consistently choose to be strong have had intense trials. Do you think trials alone bring this about in people? Why or why not?
- Why is God so interested in us learning to choose to be strong rather than be a victim of circumstance?
- What kind of attitude does a person choosing to be strong have? (for example, resolute verses wishy-washy, hopeful verses full of worry, mellow verses angry) Why?
R: (Write) your thoughts, what you learned, impressions you received, and anything else in your scripture journal (include your thoughts on the study session question: Why does God want us to choose to be strong?)
- Write in your journal about the person you thought of in the ponder question above. What do you think makes them a strong person?
- Write down a situation that you are facing at the present time. Make two columns. On the top of one write Choosing to Be Strong. On top of the other write A Person Being Acted Upon. In the two columns, write specifics for how you could handle the situation. (for example, if a difficult test in school is your situation then under the Choosing to Be Strong column, you could write avoid complaining about the test, spend extra time studying, pray for help, and share encouraging words with a classmate)
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: When faced with a situation where you must choose to be strong verses being a victim of circumstance, push yourself to take responsibility for your own reaction!
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