So, I have a lot of fun things I could post about. Happy developments, fun trips, good times, noodle salad...you get the idea. But what is on my mind is the nature of life, and particularly the hard things in life. It is common to hear people talk about God "giving" us challenges for a reason. After wrestling with some of my own challenges over the past couple years, I've decided I don't believe that at all. I don't believe God gives us challenges. In the scriptures it says how everything that is good comes from God, and I just don't buy that we are supposed to look at really sad, heartbreaking things as "good" because we can learn from them. I think it is okay to say, "That is a terrible/bad/sad/heartbreaking thing," and NOT feel like we are somehow not acknowledging God's love for us. The crappy things we have to deal with in life are simple a result of living here on this earth, which, for all its bounty and fabulousness, is not perfect. What I think is God's gift to us, is the strength to handle our hardships and heartbreaks, and the gift of the Savior not to have to do it alone. I don't believe that God looked down on some friends of mine who had conceived after a decade of trying and caused her to miscarry. I don't even think it is His "plan" for them not to have kids. I think it just is part of the whole package deal of life, and some of life stinks. Big time.
In Doctrine and Covenants 122, the Lord told Joseph Smith that no matter what awful things happened to him (and He listed a good number of the possibilities), that all these things would give him experience and would be for his good. I used to interpret that as a, "See, the blessings will come later," or "You will learn important lessons from this trial," but I don't see it that way anymore. It isn't a promise of better things in the future (Joseph Smith sure didn't have better things in his future), nor is it a "Everything is good because you learn from it," thing. The whole point of life IS THE EXPERIENCE, and THAT is where the good comes in. Before we came down to this earth, I imagine we got a pretty good idea of all the awful, terrible, disappointing, sad, miserable things that could happen to us. But we still wanted to come. The goal on the other side of this life was so magnificent that nothing would deter us. And even though we were made aware (probably painfully so) of all the crap we might have to wade through, we also knew that this life would provide a vast array of theretofore unexperienced wonders. The wonder of having a body, even a very imperfect one, and experiencing so many things for the first time was certainly something to look forward to. It's easy to be overly critical of our bodies here on earth, and other people's bodies, too. But every body, even the ones that might be viewed as less attractive or the ones that can't do everything that others do, is pretty awesome. If only we could remember that and celebrate it.
I wonder where we'd be if we didn't have ideas of physical beauty. I think its definitely hardwired into our biology, as evolutionarily, many organisms (especially birds and mammals) have criteria on which to judge potential mates, symmetry being frequently a key indicator of "fitness" (which as a biology term means ability to successfully reproduce, not hours spent at the gym). And if it is a "thing of the flesh," perhaps after this life there won't be a concept of physical beauty. With only perfected beings, I don't know if it is so much that we will all be beautiful (if judged by mortal standards), or that we will be freed from the biological limitation of seeing physical differences as negative.
There is something to seeing the real beauty of an individual. It's definitely something I can improve on, and something I'd like to be sure to teach my children.
"Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." -- The Little Prince