Reader Voices: About becoming like Christ

By Gail H. Johnsen

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Sept. 26 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

One morning I awoke with a long list of things I needed to do, but I was full of anticipation about my upcoming trip to see family in Utah. I knew I had time to do all the things I had planned if I organized myself. Unfortunately, when my husband went out to the garage to get on his motorcycle to go to work, he discovered that our car had a flat tire. He quickly inflated it enough to get me to a repair shop, and left for work.

It took me until midmorning to get packed and ready enough so that I could get my tire fixed. Even though I wasn’t first in line at the repair shop, they told me it would only take an hour, so I shopped in a department store while I waited.

After an hour I returned and was promised it would only be another 30 minutes. “OK, I thought, I can deal with this.” After another 30 minutes of waiting, I went back. A new employee was there and he said that it would be “another 30 minutes.” Now I started to feel upset, and a little pinched for time.

I had an early afternoon flight, and with the drive to the airport I knew that I was starting to enter the danger zone. But I just decided to exhibit some patience and long-suffering, so I continued to wait. I started mentally crossing things off my list because I knew I would not have time to do them now.

During this 30 minutes, however, I started to watch and I saw that my car was not making progress and that it was by no means only going to be another 30 minutes. Now I was frustrated, anxious and felt like they were lying to me. I wanted to go and tell them what I thought about their “30 minutes.”

Instead of expressing my frustration in a loud voice or with threats, I decided to tell the attendant my situation. My car was immediately driven into the garage and the tire was repaired. I slashed almost everything off my list and drove home and then to the airport.

Later that day, while waiting to board the plane, I sat quietly thinking about how much energy and strength it had taken not to yell at someone. Yelling would have been easy; being patient, showing kindness and displaying long-suffering were hard. I thought, “Heavenly Father, I hope you have a big reward for me for the way I handled this one!” And in his kind and patient wisdom he opened a little window for me. The Spirit whispered that it wasn’t about rewards, it was about becoming.

At the end of my life, the Lord probably isn’t going to drive up with either a small truck or a large semi full of various rewards all neatly packaged for me. What he wants for me is to become like he is. I suddenly understood the progression of knowing, doing and finally becoming.

In his April 2011 conference talk, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve expresses the thought in this way, “As important as it is to lose every desire for sin, eternal life requires more. To achieve our eternal destiny, we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being.”

I am grateful for a challenging experience, a lesson learned and words from an apostle that ratified my experience.

Gail H. Johnsen resides in Spring, Texas, and is a member of the Klein Texas Stake. She graduated from Brigham Young Universtiy and served a mission to northern California. She is a writer and lyricist and is the mother of seven children.

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