Friday, August 29, 2008

Building of the House--more tender mercies

I have had the distinct pleasure of working with the 14- and 15-year-old girls in our ward for the past three and a half years. They are wonderful, and I feel like I have found my youth again. It has been one of the great blessings of my life to be able to share in their growth.

Through this calling, I have learned a lot about the changes that take place during these two years. Almost without exception, these girls have struggled as they turned 15. Some have come through with flying colors; well, in our ward, all have so far, but not all unscathed. It has been hard to watch these wonderful young women as I've seen them make some of the choices I wish I hadn't made as a teen.

As Quinlan enters high school this year and turns 15 in November, I'm grateful for this calling and the things it has taught me and hopefully prepared me for.

Yesterday, I got to spend some time with one of my girls. She has been going through some huge stressors in her life with a mother who has a hard time getting around and a dad who isn't around a whole lot, a brother currently serving a mission and another leaving soon. She has had a lot of disappointments lately too with things not working out like she would have hoped in a couple of scenarios. My heart is breaking for her. We had a little text conversation last evening from which I learned a lot.

I must admit that there are some disappointments from my high school years that I still cannot talk about. They were that painful. I have never been grateful for these experiences before now.

When I've been with the girls, one of the things they've asked is for me to tell them stories of my youth. "I get to ride in Sister Hess' car. She's gonna tell us stories." I've always thought this very funny. My teen years were anything but idyllic, but one of the blessings of my genetic make up is the ability to laugh at life. Zan fequently says that when life gets stressful you can choose to laugh or cry. In my case, it's not even a choice--you laugh; crying's not an option. So, I think the girls have enjoyed my ability to laugh at myself. Little do they know that a lot of these situations were extremely painful at the time. Now I see the reason for the pain.

Awhile back, I read or heard something about someone called to a position of leadership in the Church. It was said of this person that their trials had made them "authentic." He was someone people could relate to because he'd "been there." Becoming authentic has a painful price.

I reassured this young woman (via text--very funny how we communicate these days) that Heavenly Father has something very important for her to accomplish and we just never know how He's going to fit us to His tasks. Wow! How come I didn't know this as a youth? Maybe I did and that's what's held me in place all these years. I just love it when in teaching others you teach yourself--another tender mercy. He really loves me, doesn't He? (just another quote from Margie--see end of last post).

As Quinlan left this morning for freshman orientation, she was nervous because Zan was going dropping her off early. I reassured her that of all the kids in that school, she and a handful of others, had more reason to be confident than anyone else--she KNOWS who she is. She has made covenants with God Himself, and He is her reason to be confident.

Zan handed me this this morning (another tender mercy):

From C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity"--
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building up a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself."

"D&C 84:88
"For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

When I was a kid, growing up with four brothers, there was one brother whom I fought with continually. To be honest, his words and behavior were the greatest trials of my growing up years, and although he has been completely forgiven and we are great friends now (prophesy fulfilled), I continue to struggle with the effects of those years. There were many times during those days that I would go to my room and cry for a sister.

I'm grateful for a Heavenly Father who has blessed my life with a bunch of little sisters all these years later. I struggle and hurt for them. I cheer for them . I love them. They are one of my greatest blessings. What a tender mercy!


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