The traffic noise here has been hard for me to adjust to. I never knew a street could be so noisy, and I struggled mentally for a long time. It just feels intense and constant. I found myself mentally repeating, “Just make it stop! Make it stop!” all the time. That was not helpful.
One day I was walking home from the temple thinking about the peace and quiet inside there, and I was talking to Heavenly Father about the problem I was having with the traffic noise. I had a memory flash into my mind of a time when my kids were little, and they had all been pestering all day, asking me for things that they knew I was going to say no to. Finally in frustration, I said, “Would you please just ask me a question you know I can say yes to?”
The memory was like a flash of light for me. It was as though Heavenly Father was saying, “You know I’m not going to make the traffic just stop, so how about you ask me a question you know I can say yes to?”
This made me stop for a minute, and I remembered the part in the Book of Mormon when the people of Alma are being persecuted and enslaved by Amulon, one of Alma’s former peers and a bitter enemy.
And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.Mosiah 24:13-15
This helped me realize that God was not going to stop the traffic, or the nature of driving in the Dominican Republic and all the horns, but I could ask Him to strengthen me – strengthen my mind and my ears – so that I could bear the burden placed upon me, so that I could bear my burden with ease.
So that’s what I did. I asked him to strengthen my mind and my ears to bear the burden placed on me from the noise. And the amazing thing is that Heavenly Father responded so fast! It’s like he was just waiting eagerly for me to ask a question he could say yes to! A week or so later, I had a moment where I realized that I wasn’t walking around feeling anxious or wishing I could keep my hands over my ears, and I couldn’t remember at what point that had changed, but I knew it was a direct answer to my prayers.
Yes, I still have moments where I sigh about the traffic noise, but it is no longer the heavy burden that it once was.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-3028
Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.2 Nephi 4:35
God is not going to take away another person’s agency. He’s not going to give us a life without trials. He wants our trials to help us grow closer to Him. He wants us to ask questions we know He can say yes to. It may seem to those on the outside that my traffic noise trial was small, but it was causing me a great deal of pain. His reminder that I needed to ask (not amiss) a question that I KNEW He could say yes to, made a tremendous difference for me.
I knew that if God could help an enslaved and persecuted people to bear their burdens easily, that He could help me become stronger and He did. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn this. Sometimes I get so focused on wishing for the big grand miracles, that I forget the power of what might look like a small miracle.
I still hope to one day not live on this extremely busy street in a building with chronically leaky pipes, but while I wait for that day, I am grateful for the strength to bear the burdens placed on me, and for the yoke the Savior offers, because I can tell that He is doing the heavy lifting.
These Crown of Thorns flowers always give me pause. I think about Jesus’s crucifixion every time I see them, even before I knew they were named Crown of Thorns. Somehow it’s fitting that they are part of the landscaping of the exterior of the temple property. They also bring to mind the Brothers’ Grimm story of The Sleeping Beauty, where the prince has to fight his way through the forest of thorns to get to the princess. Both thoughts make me ask the same question:
How did he do it?
How did he do it? I don't know. Maybe it was what he said. He said it was for love. The thorns pierced, The blood ran down, Like rivulets of sweat. Was it worth it? They tore his flesh, Lashing him over and over. How did he withstand the pain? Lesser men would turn away, but He never did. This endurance, This reservoir of courage, Requires the greatest love. Love larger than thorny trials Barring the path. How did he do it? I don’t know. Maybe it was what he said. He said it was for love. -H.Bullough
I love all of this. Especially your beautiful poem. And I love you.
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