Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to be a mailman. Yep, that's right - a real, live, honest to goodness mailman. (It's a title that everyone gets who carries the mail, male or female.) One of the most difficult things I faced wasn't the people, but their dogs.
One day, I was delivering the mail out in the old part of Mesa, AZ. I watched as a German Shepard CLIMBED up a six foot chain link fence and jumped down to the other side not 10 feet away from where I was standing. Now, if I have learned one thing about dogs, it is that you NEVER run away. Once you turn your backside to them, you give them a pretty big target (if you know what I mean) and they just can't seem to say no!
This very large dog ran up to me snarling, barking, growling and snapping. I had taken out my dog spray when he was on his way over the top of the fence, so I guess you could say I was as ready for him as I was going to get. I started spraying the dog right in his face. Most dogs don't like this. The spray is cayenne pepper in an oil base and can sting and burn the dog's eyes, but it doesn't do any lasting harm. I sprayed the dog, he shook his head hard back and forth, (still growling and snapping), licked his lips and came at me again.
I was definitely nervous. I turned myself with my back in the direction I needed to go and started backing up, a couple of steps at a time, toward the end of the block and the safety of my vehicle. He came at me again. I sprayed him, backed up, and we repeated the process. I used an entire can of spray on the dog and most of the second can that was thankfully nestled in my mail pouch. Then, without warning, the dog stopped. I must have reached a place that had some kind of an invisible line in his mind. He quit growling and snapping, turned around and trotted back toward home. I looked around me and realized that I was about 1 and a 1/2 blocks from where he started chasing me. I was safe at last.
We went through this everyday for three days. He always stopped when I reached that invisible line and it was always in nearly the same place.
I have found in my life that nearly any trial I face is a lot like this dog. You really can't turn around and run (Dare I say that troubles have a way of biting you in the rear if you do?) You have to face the problem or trial head on, armed with whatever weapon you have been given. Sometimes it is the scriptures, sometimes it is a book or a talk or an article in the Ensign. Sometimes the weapon can be good advice, or answers to prayer. But you still have to face the trial and get through it.
One of my favorite quotes when I am feeling overwhelmed is simply this:
"The Bible often says, 'It came to pass'.
It never says, 'It came to stay'."
And so, I try and remember that this too, shall pass away.
When I am faced with trials, it is so tempting to stop and run the other way. Sometimes, I don't want to go through it. Sometimes, I am weak or afraid. Sometimes, I want to just sit down and give up. I want to cry and murmur and complain. But I know if I can just persevere through the trial, there will come a point where I will find it is over and I will be safe on the other side and the trial will, finally, be in the past.
And who knows? Someday, I might even be grateful that I had the experience. Everyone has trials. It is not the trial that breaks us in the end. It is how we have endured it, what we have learned from it, and how it has changed us that matters. I hope that the dogs we face in this life - those trials that threaten to overwhelm us, don't make us forget who we are, where we came from, or where we really want to go.
Patty Ann is the mother of eleven and wife of an amazing man who cooks and keeps her happy. She can be found most days, blogging at http://pitterlepostings.blogspot.com/