Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On vision. . .

If a man were born blind, or were to go blind through no fault of his own, I would not think his blindness was the result of some moral failure on his part.  I would not judge him for being frustrated by the severe limitations imposed upon him by his condition, nor would I pretend that I would handle it any better were I in his position, or try to equivocate my own difficulties with his:  some trials are objectively harder than others.  I wouldn't insult his intelligence or his faith by insisting that if he were just faithful and obedient enough, if he just prayed a little harder and desired a little more sincerely, he would be able to see.  Certainly, I believe that the Lord, through his power and his  Atonement, has the ability to provide such cures, but for whatever reasons, he usually lets us endure such trials throughout the entire length of our mortal lives.  I would not undertake to lecture such a man on what he ought to be learning from his affliction, nor for what cause the Lord gave him such a trial.

I would respect tremendously the blind man who would strive to recognize and acknowledge not only the blessings he has in spite of his ever-present struggle, but the blessings he has because of it.  I would not condemn him or look upon him with contempt or impatience if, on the other hand, he shut him self up in his house in frustration, giving in to the darkness and refusing--at least for a time--to navigate the outside world in any meaningful way.  Who among us hasn't had such a thought, at least in passing, under much less oppressive trials?

But, if he celebrated his blindness as ideal, tried to convince others that a life in darkness was better than a life of full sight, I wouldn't hesitate to tell him--pleasantly, but firmly--that he was wrong.  I would feel nothing but compassion for the fact that he couldn't see the flowers and mountains and ocean, but I would not concede that it would be better to not have the gift of visually beholding creation.  We don't punish ourselves for having mortal frailties that cause us to fall short of the ideal (are we not all beggars?), but we also don't push the ideal aside and deny its truthfulness because we're frustrated that we're not there yet, and, in our more frustrated moments, falter in our faith that we ever can be.

Instead, we clear our spiritual vision, look to that ideal, and renew our faith that there is Grace to heal frailties, Grace to reconcile failures, Grace to salve our wounds.  The challenges of this life and these as-yet-imperfect bodies and spirits, are not the things that will last eternally.  If we will turn to him in our frustration, hurt, loneliness or faltering steps--rather than away from him--no good thing, no righteous desire or eternal blessing, will be withheld from us.  And I suspect that when we are more complete in our knowledge and understanding, we will find that those blessings were never as far away as we had supposed.

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