This is from my philosophy journal. I wrote this on March 1, 2006.
I’ve learned great lessons from hard hikes. Important lessons from past experiences have been a great blessing on my mission. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships. I remember an experience I had last summer in Robber’s Roost, Southern Utah on a four-day backpacking trip.
I love to do hard things. With my work at the Utah Boy’s Ranch (Sunshine Solutions), we took our kids on an 18 mile backpacking trip into Robber’s Roost. We repelled down beautiful slot canyons. It was a desert with very little water and we had to carry all of our food and supplies. I LOVED IT! The outdoors are my passion. On the third day, we came to a stretch called “the death march”. The name was appropriate. It was 8 miles of sand, scorching sun, 110 degree weather, very little water and heavy backpacks. Not to mention, a bunch of grumpy at-risk teenagers. But, this was a journey that we were on together. My girls were thirteen and fourteen years old. They came from backgrounds very different from mine. Drugs. Broken homes. Abuse. Emotional disorders. It was a summer of learning to love people who don’t like you. I think that Heavenly Father was preparing me for my mission. Looking back, it was wonderful!
We had two rules. Rule #1: Give your 100 percent. Rule #2: Do what’s best for the group, leaving no one out including yourself. It was an adventure. We were to stay together but some of the girls who were stronger and older left the weak girls behind. They missed a very important lesson that we are on this journey together. We are all on different levels, but those who are strong can help those who are weak. Most of the time, I would be carrying twice my load for the weak girls who were carrying half of their body weight. I learned an important lesson about relationships in southern Utah.
We are all on different levels. Some weaker and some stronger in different aspects. We are all from different backgrounds with different and unique challenges and experiences, but nevertheless, we are all on this journey together. Some struggle much more than others, while others easily make the hike. some may be struggling in ways that we don’t understand, tired in every way and ready to give up. We must help each other to carry their burden. At times, it may feel like someone is holding you back, but the group is only as strong as its weakest member. On this hike, we’d try to strengthen each other and be positive and optimistic while others would complain and make it hard for everyone else.
Sometimes, we had to do more than our part to move forward. At times, I’d be carrying twice my load, still having to slow down and take the pace of the weaker girls, letting them lead. Going to her level and pace and then moving forward together, never leaving anyone behind. I’ve learned to be positive about everything and to encourage those who are being pushed past all that they have ever done in their life. But, that is the purpose of the hike, to push them past all that they thought possible and to help them to see that they can overcome and do hard things. To teach them that they are stronger than they think. Of course, sometimes it would be easier to go alone and you may feel that he/she is holding you back, but the point is to finish together and to help and strengthen each other along the way.
This has helped me a lot on my mission with my companions. We are all different. Each strong in different ways. My dad wrote me a letter that said “sometimes the hardest part of life is other people”. That’s the point of life. We are on a journey together whether it’s husband and wife, mission companions, leaders and members of the church or friends. The point is to learn, grow and to help and strengthen each other along the way. My mission president, Presidente Avila, taught me about condescension.
Sometimes, we are on different levels but we need to be one to teach with the spirit. He taught me that if someone is struggling, go down to their level and to grow up together with love and kindness, never causing contention, like the Savior did with his apostles and like He does for us. I’ve been studying and pondering about what he said to me and I’ve found that, like my friend Toni said, “Sometimes, we are on our mission for our companion”. Like it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “If any man among you be strong in the spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.” (D&C 84:106). “Strengthen your brethren in all your conversations, inall your prayers, in all your exhortations and in all your doings.” That he may become strong also. We must give our 100 percent to carry their burdens and to do more than our part. We must give all that we have to each other. (Jacob 2:17)
The Savior is the perfect example for us. He descended below all things so that He can lift us up. He is the creator of the universe and the King of kings but he was born the humblest of circumstances in a manger and condescended to this world to save us. He understands us perfectly. He condescended so that He could help us on our journey. He suffered more than we can imagine so that through Him we can become perfect and return to Heavenly Father and overcome the obstacles of sin and death. With Jesus Christ, our burdens are light. He’ll carry our pack if we let him. He condescended to lift us up to the level that He is on. Romans 15:1 states, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Like our baptismal covenant says, we are to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light.” In meekness , kindness, love and example . . . we must help others want to be better, not by yanking and pulling them up to where we are, which will really only separate you more, but to put your arm around them and to walk by their side. The Lord has a plan for each of us. He needs us to help others along the way and to touch others lives for good. We are His hands. We are to strengthen each other so that we can progress together.
To be able to progress in any relationship, sometimes you have to “condescend” and grow up together.