I got to teach the Relief Society lesson for yesterday, and I was was super excited to do it. I love teaching a lot. This is why I hope that at some point in my life I am a professor teaching botany and genetics courses someplace, with an office laden with all sorts of interesting books.
But I digress. It turns out the lesson was to be based on the talk that President Uchtdorf gave at the Young Women's Session of General Conference in April, entitled "Your Happily Ever After". I was intrigued that a member of the First Presidency of the Church was basing his talk off of fairy tales. Then I read deeper and realized what he was saying, and realized that it was amazing.
Once upon a time, I lived with my Father, God, the King of the eternities. As His daughter, I was a princess, privileged in every way. The He told me that He had prepared a way for me to seek my fortune, as it were. He told me that this adventure would hold great joy and unbelievable sorrow, that I would learn amazing new skills and discover talents and abilities that I had not been aware of before. He told me that I would face challenges, both from without and from within. There would be mountains to climb and valleys to cross and heartache to endure, but that it was the only way for me to become the queen that I was destined to become.
So I agreed. He promised to send me with tools and weapons, and to place people in my life who would show me how to use them, but that it would be completely up to me whether or not I actually did use them. He promised me that every time I wrote Him a letter home, He would reply promptly, but that His messages would not be brought in with fanfare and pomp. They would be quiet, subtle messages, and I would get to learn how to recognize them. They would often contain advice or directions on how I could grow the most, achieve the most, and serve the most, and the more I heeded His letters to me, the more He would send.
He promised me that if I did this, and listened to His guidance and followed His path, that I would return home to Him at the end of my adventure, and I would, indeed, live happily ever after- literally. For ever.
Isn't that great? It is by far the best fairy tale I've ever heard, and it's my life. There are no fairy godmothers in this one, but guardian angels and the power of faith, hope and charity, powered by the greatest miracle of all, the atonement of Jesus Christ. There are no magic wands that are waved to create a carriage from a pumpkin or glass slippers for my feet, but rather a spark of divine power inside of me, giving me the ability to create my own story, whether I choose to create joy and determination and friendship or anger and bitterness and selfishness. I choose whether I create my future as a queen or as a wicked stepmother, as it were.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maria, who was blessed with many friends, a great job, wonderful talents, an amazing family, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole beautiful world. And she was a princess. Every day, her Father the King would send her messages that brought her happiness and guidance. Her life was blessed.
But, President Uchtdorf points out that the main focus of every fairy tale is the adversity that the hero or heroine must go through before they can achieve their happily ever after, the heartache, the disappointment, the unkind and cruel actions of others. It is only by conquering some great challenge that the princess can truly claim her privileges as a queen, by proving that she is worthy and able. Princess Maria is no exception to this. While the beautiful princess has a multitude of blessings in her life, she has experienced hard physical illnesses, lost friends, death of loved ones, illness of loved ones, and challenging relationships. And despite her great beauty, dexterous talents, and capable nature, the princess finds herself still searching for her prince- perhaps he is the one who fell under the hundred years' sleep this time around?
But even with these challenges in her fairy tale, Princess Maria is amazed at the way the hand of God is present in her life. This is why she keeps a journal- to chronicle the miracles that take place. Who wouldn't
want to record and remember such a great adventure?
One amazing thing that has happened to me over the past year or so is a deeply increased awareness that every day and every experience is a gift. There is something I get to learn from every experience I find myself in. I either get to learn how to change the situation, or how to change my attitude towards the situation, or change my choices so I don't wind up in such a situation again. I do not at all profess to be an expert at living this way, but I do profess to know that it is true, and it brings a lot more enjoyment to life. My fairy tale.