Ensign Talk
by Corby Campbell

            I’d like to relate my story as a means to share a principle which has made all the difference in the happiness in my life. It is also a principle which I believe far too few of us realize or believe.

            Let me start with my background. As a senior in high school I had everything going for me. I was very involved in music and theatre, had great grades, had a strong network of wonderful friends, and almost always had a girlfriend. I saw myself as very intelligent, I even taught myself how to do back flips on the ground or off walls. I‘d use them to get restless energy out or show off. I even incorporated them into various performances.

            The fall after graduating I got very busy. I was attending a college that was 45 minutes away each way everyday full time on a computer science scholarship; as well as working full time. All together it worked out to be about 85 hours a week at work or school, which averages to about 17 hours a weekday. Needless to say, I did little else.

            By mid semester I was pretty burned out and ready for a break. I spent little time working on my testimony, and I realized it was important I did, but I just didn’t know how. So I prayed for assistance bearing the burden I had brought upon myself and asked to find a way to draw closer to the Lord.

            The answer and assistance came to me in a way I’d wager none of us expect. On November 5th, 2004, as I was coming out of class and getting ready to go to work, I decided to do a few back flips off a wall to counteract how long I had just been sitting. Alone out front of the college, I set down my backpack and did one flip off the wall just fine. But upon attempting a second, I slipped and landed on my neck, breaking the C5 vertebrae and permanently bruising my spine. I lay on my belly unable to get up.

            It can’t have been a full minute before someone walked up and asked if I was ok. I told them I couldn’t move, but besides that I was ok. Other people arrived, an ambulance and my parents were called, and within an hour I was at the nearest hospital which happened to have the best spinal surgeon in the state. Within another hour I was under surgery.

            Now, over three years later, I live in a power wheelchair. I have no control of the muscles in my fingers, half the muscles in my arms, or any muscles below my armpits. I physically lack the ability to do many simple things such as get myself in and out of bed, or pick an object up off the floor. I don’t relate these details to ask for sympathy. I relate them to teach a principle, and that is: happiness is not determined by the forces acting upon us, happiness is a choice.

            Despite the fact I felt lacking in some areas of my testimony; one thing I had a strong testimony of even before I broke my neck was that everything happens for a reason. And it was especially easy to see gods hand in this because it was such a big event, and id been able to do it without incident for years.

            There were a few weird days where I was in intensive care under the influence of a lot of drugs such that I wasn’t fully conscious or aware of everything going on, but from the very first time I was thinking clearly I’ve had a positive outlook about the situation. I loved it when my friends came to see me because they all seemed to have this image of me, unable to move anything but my mouth, and crying all day. But when they actually saw me they found I was cheerful, and I could move much more then just my mouth, I could move my arms! Even hug them back with a firm grip. Everyone else seemed to take the accident harder than I did, and it was nice to be able to show them it wasn’t as bad as they thought. At one point a social worker even looked in the room and said, “I just had to find out who was in here because everyone always comes out smiling.” A comment which didn’t serve to shrink my ego at all… but it did make me feel good.

            So my challenge to you is, have a positive attitude! We can be happy regardless of circumstances! Elder Holland once quoted what he referred to as one of his favorite maxims. It goes, “no misfortune is so terrible that whining about it doesn’t make it worse.” I had to think about that a little because it’s kind of a double negative. Put bluntly, it’s saying whining makes everything worse. However bad it is, complaining will never make it better, and always make it worse.

            I’ve found a few scriptures which I have come to love that help me maintain my positive attitude. The first is D&C 122: 7. It reads:
“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”

            Think about the stuff mentioned above here. Don’t you think these would be justifiable times to complain? You’ve got the death sentence, all the elements are combined against you, and are those the jaws of h-?... aw man! This STINKS! But know thou, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. So not only are these not terrible things, they are good for you! This to me is an immensely powerful statement.

            So what if it’s too hard? What if you feel like you just can’t make it? Well the first thing I’d urge you to do is try something different. It’s so sad to me to see how powerless our society seems to think they are. You have so much control over your life! And if what you’re doing isn’t working, try something different! My father often reminds me what Albert Einstein said, he defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Step outside your comfort zone! Even if it doesn’t have the effect you hoped for, you’ll be stronger and wiser for the effort. And the next push will be that much easier.

            But what about things we have no control over? Losing a loved one? A relationship where we are doing everything we can but the other person refuses to change? A car accident that’s someone else’s fault that leaves us disabled somehow? Are these things just too hard? Obviously, my answer for you is a resounding “no!” But there’s a way to tell if we can handle a trial given to us. Maybe it seems too hard, but there’s one thing that’s present in every trial you can handle, that marks it as one we can get through. Any ideas what that might be? I’ll give you a hint, in the form of my favorite scripture. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

            So what is it? The one thing that marks it as a trial you can handle? The answer is YOU! If you’re having that trial, that means you’re someone who can handle it! But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able. Whatever the trial, no matter how hard we are tempted to give in and just be depressed, God knows we can handle it. There are many tools you might need to combat it, and relying on Christ to help you through will always be immensely helpful. But the tools we need to make it will always be within our reach. Or we wouldn’t be having the trial.

            Some people look at other people’s trouble and say “there’s no way I could handle that” or “if I was ever in a wheelchair I’d probably kill myself’. In fact I personally recall saying something to the effect of that second statement. But when I got here I found it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I submit to you that you can handle anything. Absolutely anything, we are children of God, not one person on this earth fully understands our potential. And if you refuse to believe you can handle anything, at least think of this. Any trial you can’t handle will never be given to you. Maybe there are some things each of us can’t handle, but God knows us, and will never put us in such a position. If all of the sudden you find yourself in a circumstance that you never thought you could handle. That in its self is proof that you can and will be able to bear it.

            The final scripture id like to share in connection with this principle is in D&C 58.
“2-For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
“3-Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.”
“4-For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.”

            We can’t see with our mortal eyes right now what’s going on, how it is this experience is affecting us for good. But we will! And not only that, only after the trial comes the glory. And not just glory, but much glory! One day we’ll understand how much we’ve grown, and that every experience we had was absolutely the perfect one for us. The way god weaves our lives together is absolutely amazing to look back on. And the trials we go through help us grow so much. It is my humble prayer that we will all face our challenges head on. That we’ll take charge of our lives, and even more importantly our attitude about our lives. I testify once again that with the help of our Heavenly Father and His Son we can stand to face anything the adversary can throw at us. And I submit this to you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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