The branches in my family tree are filled with folks who have a stubborn streak few can rival. In some ways, that stubbornness can be a good thing, but usually, it is not. At the heart of this stubbornness is pridefulness. When we feel threatened, disappointed, or uneasy, our pride thrusts upon us an unbending will that is difficult to maneuver around. I have had to learn how to humble myself in response to unexpected circumstances and perceived threats.
A natural tree whose branches are rigid and are not able to sway with the change in the wind or weather is subject to severe damage and decay. Palm trees for example send their roots over a great amount of space though comparatively shallow for their height. The tree itself is made up of material that allows it to flex and bend. In hurricane-force winds, the palm tree adapts to the circumstances and is able to withstand the storm. If certain types of pine and oak trees are subjected to those same winds, it is quite possible that there would be severe damage. The inflexibility of their core does not give sway when the storm arises.
The world has been thrown into a change of pattern for nearly a year now. We can spend our days mourning what we no longer enjoy, or we can look forward to the blessings change can bring. President Eyring said not long ago, “The best days are ahead for the kingdom of God on the earth.”1
Also, somewhat recently, a Utah newspaper article reported the following: “At least a handful of general authorities, including President Dallin H. Oaks, Elders Jeffrey R. Holland, and David Bednar, have compared the April conference to a “snowflake in a snowstorm.” 2
Changes are coming to the world and to the true and living Church of Jesus Christ. If we are set firmly in our ways and refuse to adapt, will we be able to flourish under the Lord’s protective influence? The Savior prophesied that there would be great challenges in the latter days. The Church is adapting to the storms in order to protect and keep us safe with our gaze firmly locked on the Savior of the world. Resistance to those adaptations may prove to us that our faith is lacking.
The Pharisees and leaders in the Jewish communities of old were so rigid in their beliefs and actions that they refused to accept the very Messiah, the Holy One which they had waited generations for. If we are rigid in our habits and practices, what will we miss? Closeness to the Spirit, trust in our prophet and other authorities, faith over fear?
Sister Becky Craven said this in the October 2020 general conference: “I love hiking in the mountains near my home. Often, I get a little rock in my shoe as I walk along the trail. Eventually, I stop and shake out my shoe. But it astounds me how long I allow myself to hike in pain before I stop and rid myself of the irritant.
“As we travel the covenant path, sometimes we pick up stones in our shoes in the form of poor habits, sins, or bad attitudes. The quicker we shake them from our lives, the more joyful our mortal journey will be.” 3
Our Father knows what lies ahead. He knows what will protect us and He shows the prophet and apostles what changes need to be made for us to continue the path with as much security as possible. May we shake the stubbornness and pride from our hearts that we may be humble, teachable, and adapt to the circumstances around us with a focus on our Savior and trust in His directions.
1. “Fear Not to Do Good”, Elder Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, October 2017 2. https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/faith/lds-church-members-prepare-for-latest-general-conference/article_16a24b65-2627-58f4-b2a9-4f40588309ae.html
3. “Keep the Change”, Sister Becky Craven, Women’s Conference, October 2020