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Growing up in Oklahoma I was lucky to be exposed to both the histories and the teachings of the area's Native American/Indigenous People's cultures and beliefs. From a personal and a religious standpoint I have always found great insight in the stories and teachings that have been passed down through the centuries within both the tribes, the nations and the individual families of these groups. The symbolism found in the lessons taught through storytelling can be strengthening, guiding, comforting, encouraging, humbling and more.
One of my favorite stories that teaches us about maintaining proper perspective and attitude involves The Eagle and The Field Mouse.
The Field Mouse went throughout its day, running to and fro with rapid speed, always looking for a crumb here, a morsel there. The mouse strained with its ears to hear of any danger, its heart often racing with fear about all the bad things that could happen. He complained frequently about running into obstacles that had to be scurried around or burrowed under. Life, for the mouse, felt desperate, challenge-filled, a daily-struggle for basic sustenance and at the end of the day the poor mouse believed that the Creator had made him for suffering and strife.
The Eagle, on the other hand, spent his days soaring majestically through the clouds. His elevated height allowed him a greater perspective on his surroundings which provided him more opportunities to both progress and to avoid the problems that the field mouse so frequently cried against. When a sharp gust appeared out of nowhere The Eagle rode the drafts and used them to rise higher in the sky. His sharp eyes looked at all the Creator had made for him and he spent hours each day studying the beautiful mountains, the green trees, the brightly colored flowers, the flowing streams and lakes and the vast meadows.
We all have times in our lives when we plead for the Lord to heal our pains, hurts and struggles. I know I have and after thinking of Jesus Christ's mortal ministry, I thought, "If only I was there, THEN I could be healed." I felt the same inclinations when I read of the Savior's many miracles performed among the Nephites after his resurrection. As a young teenager, I was saddened when that miracle did not come. When the tears came, when the prayers were desperately given, when the long days or dark nights came, I wondered WHY? Why was I not deserving of such a healing? Why could I not obtain the divine assistance I so badly needed?
In May of 2018, nearly twenty years after the battles with anxiety began, I was pondering 3 Nephi 17 during a Sacrament meeting, something I had many other times in my life. But on this day, things were different. As I imagined being there that day when the Resurrected Lord invited those who were afflicted to come forward, instead of receiving a full healing, I clearly saw His face as he smiled at me. I understood that he knew ME. He knew why I had come forward, what blessing I was seeking, and why I felt I needed it. And even though he knew infinitely more than I did about my own eternal journey, he did not belittle my petition or my desires.
But the blessing I received was not one of complete healing. No, as Christ laid his hands upon my head, his blessing was one of strength; he specifically blessed me with the strength I needed to not just endure my trials, but to overcome them every day. It was a gift of courage, peace, strength, capacity and power beyond my own.
And then I realized those blessings are exactly the same promises given to each of us every day. Because of the infinite power of the Savior's Atonement, because of his grace and mercy and ability to enable and empower us, we can have those very blessings whenever we need them. We do not need to have the Savior lay his hands on our heads as he did for the Nephites in 3 Nephi 17 or the many he healed in the Holy Land.
No, through prayer, fasting, Priesthood blessings and study and faith, we can receive the very same blessing I felt the Savior enlighten me with during my ponderings.
As Br. Brad Wilcox testifies, "Grace works."