"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
June 27, 2012
Enduring to the End
by Marian Stoddard

We've all seen that poster -- you know, the one of the cat with eyes bugging out trying not to strangle, hanging on to that chin-up bar for dear life. Caption: "Hang in There, Baby!"

That's the image many of us get when we hear the phrase, "endure to the end." Hang on, mustn't let go, a grim face and clutched fingers. At best, we sigh silently and think, "Keep on keeping on. I'll make it eventually." Must we envision a desperate death grip, a weary trudge, or an almost impossible ideal? I think we should respond with more hope.

Now, sometimes we are in circumstances where the only survival mode is to grimly hang on. If you are being buffeted by catastrophe, reeling from disaster, stumbling in pain, then be that cat for the moment -- for heaven's sake, don't give up and let go! Because the hurricane will subside, the hurt will begin to heal, and you will be able to feel the help and love your Father in Heaven is holding out for you and be comforted.

But that grim grip is not meant to be your normal, constant state; it is not the limit of meaning in "enduring to the end." There's supposed to be joy, remember?

What does it mean to endure to the end? It is very, very important, but what is the Lord talking about? He's not inviting us to trudge along in the dust until we die. He is inviting us to come along the full length of the journey, His journey, until we reach our destination -- His light and glory, His fullness of joy. He doesn't want us to drop out prematurely.

If we endure to the end, then what are we doing? We are continuing faithful, which means we are faith-filled. Being filled with faith lifts us, brings us in tune, deepens our prayers, and helps us see the tender mercies of the Lord, and His purposes, no matter what is going on.

If we endure to the end, we are persevering, not giving up when things get harder. We don't say "forget it" when our kids seem more interested in squabbling than listening in Family Home Evening, and we understand why we make this the one night they can count on dessert; it's so you can hold out an incentive for them to shut up and pretend to listen till it's over.

Having been through those years, I can promise that your children are taking in more than you think, and your words of wisdom will pop out of their mouths to someone else when you least expect it.

If we endure to the end, we are serving. We answer our callings and seek to do our prayerful best. There are all kinds of ways to serve that don't involve formal callings. We can serve by being the person who slips into the bench with the mother whose husband is away or ill or up on the stand, and who really appreciates a second warm and loving adult to help out through the meeting. We can befriend someone who is alone. We can keep track of a member who has health challenges and be in touch if he is missed.

In other words, we can remember our baptismal covenant according to Alma: to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

If we are serving, officially and personally, then we are exercising hope in the promises of our Savior. What happens as we do these things? We are blessed with the Spirit; it's not just that we get answers, but that our capacities increase. Joseph Smith, as an example, went from the cry, "O God, where art thou?" in Liberty Jail to the assured statement that, "Deep water is what I am wont to swim in," with a further-endurance period of two years. When we have successfully survived enough crises, it's easier to trust that we can survive this latest one too.

Our hearts swell, and heal, as we are strengthened and taught. We grasp things we never understood before. Fortified by what we have overcome, we gain spiritual ground, and learn how peace can replace anxiety and fear. We learn how to actually help it happen!

If we continue throughout our lives, which we just have to do one step at a time, we are learning, serving, climbing, persevering, rejoicing, and growing. Our Father wants us to become like Him, not just be with Him, and that is how he leads us along in that process. Of course we stumble -- our promise is that our Savior will help pick us up again, as many times as necessary. We will never be left alone. The key is: Just don't give up.

If we endure to the end, we are enlarging in heart and spirit, as we comprehend more and more. Increasingly, we "get it."

Next time you see an admonition in the scriptures to "endure to the end," don't groan -- don't sigh -- recast it! The calling and opportunity, truly, is to become more than we are now. It is to be "enlarging to the end," to be blessed, and transformed, to our max.


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About Marian Stoddard

Marian J. Stoddard was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Maryland suburbs. Her father grew up in Carson City, Nevada, and her mother in Salt Lake City, so she was always partly a Westerner at heart, and she ended up raising her family in Washington State. Her family took road trips all over the United States and Canada, so there were lots of adventures.

The adventures of music, literature, and art were also valued and pursued. Playing tourist always included the local museums as well as historical sites and places of natural beauty. Discussions at home, around the dinner table or working in the kitchen, could cover politics, philosophy, or poetry, with the perspective of the gospel underlying all. Words and ideas, and testimony and service, were the family currency.

Marian graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, and attended the University of Utah as the recipient of the Ralph Hardy Memorial Scholarship, where she was graduated with honors, receiving a B.A. in English. She also met the love of her life, a law student, three weeks after her arrival; she jokes that she had to marry him because her mother always wanted a tenor in the family. (She sings second soprano.) They were married two years later and have six children and six grandchildren (so far). She treasures her family, her friends, and her opportunities to serve.

Visit Marian at her blog, greaterthansparrows.  You can contact her at bloggermarian@gmail.com. 

Marian and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. Together they teach those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time, and she also teaches a Stake Relief Society Institute class.

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