There are some plants that thrive in very very hot weather. Cactus, marigolds, zinnias (according to Google) all thrive in hot weather and don’t like a lot of rain. There are also people who thrive in extreme heat. Well, this cold-blooded Idaho girl is not one of them. I don’t like cold either; the air needs to be just about 75 degrees or I’m whining one way or the other. Heat makes me tired and achy, and I hate the feeling of sweat on my back and suffocating because the air is so thick and warm. This is exactly why the Lord called me to an extraordinarily hot and humid mission, smack dab in south Texas.
Humor me for a moment with this metaphor- we are required to take heat very often, in the form of trials, bad days, disappointments, unmet expectations, or things just being harder than we expected. I think missionaries often get out in the field are realize that there’s more heat than they ever anticipated in while they were singing Called to Serve and feeling the feels in their air-conditioned mission prep classes. I’m sure there will come a point in my mission when all the glamour and excitement has worn off and it’s just plain hard work. The heat will be constant, I’ll be sweating like crazy and want so badly to quit, and I’ll be asked to keep moving. (Because it’s currently 100 degrees in my mission, the heat metaphor works nicely)
Some of my favorite advice about dealing with literal heat in a mission went something like this, “It’s going to be hot. Do all you can to beat the heat, but eventually realize that it’s going to be hot and whining about it will only make it worse. Don’t complain, just smile and keep walking.” I wish I could give credit to whoever said it, but it was on a sister missionary page on Facebook and I can’t find it again. But it’s perfect. Pour those words over the perfect advice of good ol’ Elder Holland- “Nothing is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.”
So. I’m not a desert plant. I mope and complain and trudge and feel like a warrior when it’s 90 degrees outside. Likewise, I’m not too fond of things I’m not good at quickly. I’ve never really liked to work too hard at something. But I’ve found in my short 19 years that the few things I did work at, really labor for even when it was really hard, brought me the greatest joy. Thus, I pray, will be my missionary service.
This life isn’t easy. It was never meant to be. Missionary work is not easy. It was never meant to be. But someone very dear has taught me that we have a choice every day when we wake up, a choice to have a good day or to have a bad day. Things and people and events can make us happy but if we count on them to do so we will often be disappointed when there are days that are just plain hot. It is in those moments when our true ability to choose happiness is made manifest. It is when there seems to be nothing for which to be grateful that the best people are give the most praise unto God.
We don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to suddenly be a perfect, tolerant person who loves heat and trials and hard times. We only need to turn ourselves over to the Lord, give Him everything and ask for His help to be happy, at the beginning of every day and in every minute where we’re tempted to complain. I’m finding this is a daily process and I’m only at the beginning, but I’m seeing changes in my perspective already. The Lord who can raise the dead and cause the blind to see can certainly turn me from a fair-weather flower with little tolerance for anything really hard, into a dessert blossom who thrives on hard work and smiles in the heat. He truly can do all things.