Today, the Seattle Multi-Faith examiner would like to turn your hearts and thoughts toward an inspiring thought. A thought about opposition and its role in our lives and the significance it has in helping us grow and better ourselves. Speaking on opposition, let us consider this statement from Gordon B. Hinkley where he taught that the valleys of discouragement make more beautiful the peaks of achievement (221)[i]. Opposition either challenges us to become someone who conquers, endures, and one who overcomes those things. On the other hand, it may disable us with fear, anxiety, worry, and fear. No matter the type of opposition we may face in our lives, there is a sense of completeness when we understand why we experience travesties and how we can move forward with a newness of life and character.
A Book of Mormon prophet by the name of Lehi spoke to his youngest son about the purpose of opposition and its influence upon our lives:
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad, wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”[ii]
This is the basic understand we must come to accept in order for us to have a different perception about those things that may challenge us personally. How can we know Joy if we do not experience pain? How can we know peace, if we do not experience turmoil? How can we know patience if we do not experience those things that may cause us to becoming impatient? Furthermore, as we progress in learning, understanding and age, we move from one experience to another experience.
In a 1994 article published in the Liahona, Bruce and Marie Hafen provides this insight:
Opposition is a central part of mortal life. It may be the primary difference between what life would have been in the Garden and what it is in mortality. It is the difference between being green, untested, and inexperienced and becoming ripe, seasoned, tested, and having a mature understanding. How different from innocence, for if there is only innocence, there is little meaning.[iii]
The Hafen’s made this observation after relating a family experience where one of their daughters wanted to be like the kittens, not have to worry about those things that we tend to worry about. Such things like chores, work, family obligations, and responsibilities within the community. Even as parents, we tend to look at our toddler’s and infants with a bit of jealousy, wishing that we were like them and not have to worry about bills, household chores, work, and just have a life where all things are provided for us and that there is someone there caring for our every need: The Hafen’s even state that our days ought not to be consumed with the constant desire of leisure.
Not one single member of the human family is immune to opposition. All aspects of our lives, there is going to be challenges. A father who is laid off from his employment and not able to find suitable employment to provide for his family is an opposition for him and his family. A single mother who has to choose between her work and the care and needs of her child is an opposition. A husband and wife who have become detached from one another face the opposition of selfishness and pride.
What then are we to do when we face opposition? One of the greatest examples of how an individual overcame the greatest opposition is those who experience some of the most tragic and even traumatic moments in their lives. Great sacrifices are made, great pains are experienced, and even many have to endure a lifelong of opposition to where there is no relief for them. The cancer patient who must endure pain daily, the parents whose child suddenly become afflicted with a disability that prevents them from leading a productive life and needs constant care from others; or, a spouse who must now care for their companion’s needs because of a debilitating disease while having no respite for their own obstacles and challenges.
In our community and culture today, there have become far too many people that rely more on complacency and the care for others to meet their needs than doing what they can to overcome their own misfortunes and obstacles. Unless they possess a disability that prevents them from being a viable and vital contributor to society, they stand with a hand out and a sense of entitlement. They find it much easier to sit and wait for things to be handed to them. Alternatively, there are those who experience traumatic times, loss of a loved one, crimes committed against them or their family, and even various forms of abuse. When these types of circumstances happen in our lives, some of us tend to withdraw, become embittered, angry, and despiteful against those who had done us wrong.
The reality is that there is no magical incantation, potion, or formula that we can take to rid such oppositions from our lives. If there were, we would defeat our own abilities and potentials in growing and becoming better people. Within us, we have the power and ability to overcome those things that create opposition in our own lives. As the line from the Karate Kid movie with Jackie Chan, it is when we get knocked down that we have the choice of whether we want to get up or not.
[i] Hinckley, Gordon. Stand a little taller: counsel and inspiration for each day of the year. Salt Lake City: Eagle Gate Publishers, 2001. 221. Print.
[ii] 2 Nephi 2:11
[iii] Hafen, Bruce, and Marie Hafen. “Opposition, Joy, and the Nice Life.” Liahona March 1994: n. pag. Web. 31 Jul 2011. <lds.org/liahona/1994/03/opposition-joy-and-the-nice-life?lang=eng….