NORMALIZATION OF A BANK ROBBERY
I was sitting at work when I received the call.
Key Bank had just been robbed. Shots were fired. The gunman escaped. Being part of the crisis team it was my turn to go and do the debriefing. Within a few minutes I was in the bank parking lot. The police and SWAT team were still there investigating the crime scene. I identified myself and was ushered under the yellow tape to the upstairs conference room. The bank employees were waiting. On my way my escort showed me one of the bullet holes in the ceiling.
There is a process in psychology referred to as “normalization.” Normalization refers to a psychological process through which traumatic or negative experiences come to be seen as “normal” and viewed ‘natural’. As people “normalize” a negative experience and learn what to expect – they become more comfortable about their future and have more confidence in their ability to cope.
In this case, the bank employees just experienced a bank robbery. Post traumatic symptoms are likely. With “normalization” – knowing what to expect, these negative symptoms (anxiety, fear, hyper vigilance etc. etc.) will be lessened and the employees will not be as fearful or anxious about their future.
I would like to do the same for you by “normalizing” what each of us can expect during our earthly probation.
NORMALIZATION #1: DO EXPECT OPPOSITION. IT WILL HAPPEN! YOU ARE NOT THE EXCEPTION.
In the gospel there are numerous words characterizing opposition. They include: chasten, trial, tribulation, tried, adversity,and test. Opposition is typically viewed as painful and unwanted and viewed as unexpected or out of the ordinary. Some actually believe their life should be free of “opposition” – particularly if they live “righteously.”
This is NOT true!
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in ALL things.“ ( 2 Nephi 2:11; D&C 136:31). You want to lose weight – there will be opposition. You want to work on your marriage – there will be opposition. You want to pay a full tithe – there will be opposition. You want to save money – there will be opposition. etc. etc.
Helaman, son of Alma the Younger, was a leader of the 2,000 faithful and valiant stripling soldiers. (See Alma 53:20–21; Alma 56:46.) …. How many of these young “righteous” stripling soldiers fighting in God’s Army were wounded?
“neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.” Alma 57:25
Don’t act surprise when your car breaks down; You have more bills than money; You caught your husband looking at porn; You couldn’t make it to the temple like you planned; Someone you love dies; etc. etc. AND for Heaven’s sake don’t say “WHY ME?” or the other popular one “WHAT DID I DO WRONG TO DESERVE THIS?”
SURE some negative experiences / opposition result from sin. But, the type of opposition I’m talking about has nothing to do with sin, it has to do with LOVE. That’s right – The Plan of Salvation and how much God loves YOU! (D & C 95:1; Hebrew 12: 5-11).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that it is a false idea to believe that the saints will escape all the judgments—disease, pestilence, war, etc.—of the last days; consequently, it is an unhallowed principle to say that these adversities are due to transgression. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 162.)
Hence enduring “fiery trials” of opposition and adversity should be viewed as normal and expected. Peter said, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” (1 Peter 4:12). Trials are not some strange thing. The fiery trial is what is suppose to happen! Expect it! Welcome it! Glory in it!
NORMALIZATION #2: ENDURE OR DESPAIR! YOU CHOOSE.
Although we have no choice about experiencing opposition, we do have a choice of how we experience it. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:
“Our seeming downfalls can be a means of developing our strengths. Adversity will be a constant or occasional companion for each of us throughout our lives. We cannot avoid it. The only question is how we will react to it. Will our adversities be stumbling blocks or stepping stones?” (BYU Devotional and Fireside Speeches, 1994-95 [Provo, Utah: Publication Graphics, 1995], p. 83).
I often wonder why we cannot understand this simple truth: opposition comes and you either endure and receive the reward OR give-up and experience despair.
NORMALIZATION #3: WHEN YOU CHOOSE ENDURE YOU RECEIVE THE REWARD
What IS the “Reward” when we choose to faithfully endure opposition?
- receive a witness (Ether 12:6)
- receive a miracle (Ether 12:12, 18)
- give you experience and be for your good (D&C 122:5–8)
- receive a crown of life (Rev. 2:10)
- reap eternal joy (D&C 109:76)
- turn away your anger, and repent of your sins (1 Nephi 16:39)
- remember the Lord (Hel. 12:3)
- receive his glory and kingdom D&C 136:31)
- be sanctified (D&C 101:2–5)
- receive more blessings than you have room to receive (Malachi 3:10)
- learn obedience (D&C 105:6; Hebrews 5:8)
- recevie ALL that God has (D&C 84:38)
You ONLY receive the “reward” if you choose the path of faithful endurance. The Lord applies this principle to ALL – individuals, families, and nations. Now here’s the take away:
Satan knows the greatest damage caused by government entitlement programs, parents spoiling children etc etc (Receiving the “Reward” without the “Opposition and Endurance”) – isn’t the financial cost, it’s the character flaws that are created within the recipient.
Joseph clearly understood this concept when he said “I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation” (D&C 127:2) because he knew the “reward” for faithful endurance. How else could Joseph had gone like a “Lamb to slaughter?” (D&C 135:4)
He knew where the path would lead!
As with the bank employees, I have tried to “normalize” what you and I can expect in our future earth life and how adversity and faithful endurance are essential if we wish to return to Heavenly Father’s presence.
“Normalize” how you think about opposition. Recognize that each of us will experience adversity during our earthly probation. It is the refiner’s fire “set” because of a loving Father’s love and confidence.
Like our “Loving Heavenly Father” we should love and have sufficient confidence toward our children (and others) enough to recognize the needed blessings of opposition/adversity in their lives. Preventing and removing adversity (trials/tribulations/opposition etc. etc.) from another’s life can interfere with God’s plan and jeopardize their eternal progression.
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