Thanksgiving…a time to reflect on blessings, such as: a testimony of Christ and His gospel; loving family and friends; a comfortable house to shelter us from the world; delicious food to eat; electricity; running water; a variety of wonderful music, art, and entertainment to enjoy; an income to pay for our needs and even some of our wants…
If any of these are blessings you possess, they are wonderful things to be thankful for! However, these are good things…pleasant, enjoyable things. It is natural that we might be grateful for them. And yet, have you ever noticed that even some good things aren’t cherished by us unless we’ve had to go without? The idea of “an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2: 11) is more fundamentally for our good than we might tend to want to believe.
For instance, Jesus promises us “rest” in the next world. Well, frankly, rest wouldn’t mean that much unless it was preceded by work, and the more exhaustive the work, the more delicious the rest becomes to us. If you just sit around and rest all day, without the work, then the rest becomes dull, boring, and even distasteful. And it’s that way with everything…the longer you go without food, the more you enjoy the flavor and satisfaction of eating; the colder you get outside in the winter, the more enjoyable to your body the warmth of your house becomes; and so on.
So now, the big question: Are you thankful for your opposition? Are you thankful for your struggle, adversity, sickness, loneliness, heartbreak, temptation, enemies, poverty, physical limitations, etc.? Are you reflecting on those this Thanksgiving…and doing so with a grateful heart? That’s a much harder thing to do. All of that opposition was unwanted, and even painful. We are usually quite glad to be past any of it. Why would we want to go back to it in our minds and be grateful for it?
Consider this: if Adam and Eve had not transgressed and partaken of the fruit that had been forbidden them, the scripture says, “they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin” (2 Nephi 2: 22-23). Perhaps we tend to think of innocence as being without sin, or untainted by the ugliness of the world. But here, in this scripture we see that innocence means experiencing no opposites. Therefore, if you think about it, a small child can’t be profoundly happy since it has never been excruciatingly sad. It can’t fully, like an adult, rejoice in the love it receives from the humans around it because its undeveloped mind can’t possibly fathom the horrendous heartache of neglect and abandonment.
We are taught and shaped by these opposites. We gain understanding, compassion for others, and a view of the world that puts us all on an equal plane…for all suffer, and all question, and all are without some answers. But as time passes, we come to truly appreciate all the light of our lives because it is opposite of the dark we have known. And God intends to get us through this life, and—if we let Him—give us an abundance of light. I mean…what are the opposites of struggle, adversity, sickness, loneliness, heartbreak, temptation, enemies, poverty, and physical limitations? The opposites are the great and perfect things that our Father and Savior offer us in their kingdom. But before they pour the fulness of these things into our laps, they give us a world full of the things that are opposite…and our souls evolve.
I am a different, more complete person today because of my opposites. And I need to thank my God for that.
Helen Keller said: “I thank God for my handicaps for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.”
To come to be grateful for that which in the past has brought you the greatest adversity, affliction, pain, and self-doubt, is to see the possibility that the magnitude of your current joys might be in direct correlation with your previous sorrows.
Are you grateful for your opposites? I know, I know…easier said than done…
Happy Thanksgiving! :)