The other day Princess Pea was watching Sid the Science Kid. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s about a little boy who comes up with a new science themed question each day and then his parents, teacher, and friends explore the answer to the question. The episode Princess Pea was watching was about vaccines. Sid’s question was why did he have to get a shot? He followed that up with “I know my parents love me and don’t want me to get hurt, so why do they have me get a shot that hurts?” Sid asked his parents these questions who explained that while a shot hurts and has other potential side effects, the shot was a way to keep him healthy as possible in the future.
The past six months have been pretty hard on our little family. It seems there are hardships out the wazoo for us. In these moments of darkness, I often had moments wondering why I was being punished. I questioned why my perfect Heavenly Parents would see fit to punish me so harshly when I had only been striving to do what was best. I found myself doing self-evaluations constantly trying to figure out what specifically did I do that I needed to repent of to get this awfulness to end. When I couldn’t figure out what it could be, I began to question Heavenly Father’s love for me. How could He love me if He was letting my family and I go through this?
I know I am not alone in this mentality. It seems our culture’s mentality these days often has us either believing that we’re not being righteous enough because if we were we wouldn’t be struggling or that we believe that there could not possibly be a God because bad things happen to good people. But the problem isn’t righteousness, worthiness, or even the lack of evidence of a supreme being, the problem is our perspective and understanding.
We made the choice to take on this mortal form, to become humans and live in this flawed earth. When we made that choice we understood that this life would be hard and often push us to the edge of despair. Yes, Heavenly Father blesses us and makes our burdens lighter at times. He does all He can to make life bearable. But just because Heavenly Father gives us good things, doesn’t mean that He will take away the bad.
After I had Princess Pea, the hospital needed to draw blood to run some tests on her. I remember the pain that took over my whole body as they pricked the bottom of her foot and she screamed and cried. I could hardly contain my tears. A few weeks later she received her first shots. Watching the nurses poke her chubby little legs and hearing her screams was unbelievably difficult. The after math of the shots was almost as bad: the sore muscles, the fever, the potential for an allergic reaction or other nasty side effect on the long list we were given was difficult to manage, but I knew that the vaccines would be for her benefit. As horrible as the shot was, measles and mumps was worse. As painful as her tears were, polio and hepatitis would be deadly. Whatever the consequence of the shots were, the alternative was not something I could live with.
‘In considering our hardships and difficulties we need to see that sometimes those are just side effects of life. I wonder if we could understand fully what the alternative to those hardships were. If we could see that the alternative was worse, would we be grateful? If we could understand how much that trial or hardship was actually benefitting us, we would be able to bear it without complaint.
As I reflect on my own pain as Pea received her shots, I cannot image the pain Heavenly Father endures as He watches us go through our own hardships. I’m sure His own pain and heartache is significant and great, but He has the ultimate perspective and understanding of why each struggle is necessary.
I do want to acknowledge that sometimes hardships are consequences of our choices or others choices. Hardships are also why we are here: to learn, grow, and become more than we already are.
In the future I hope that as I stare hardship in its ugly face, I will have confidence and comfort that this is just a side effect.