As my husband and I were walking along the beach, I looked down and saw what looked like a black rock. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a baby sea turtle! At first, it appeared that it wasn't moving. I believed it was dead, having been sitting in the sand for who knows how long. But then I realized that it moved its head ever so slightly. It was alive!
Those who know me know that I am a sucker for animals. I picked it up and kept staring and staring. A boat watcher who had noticed us came up. He asked if it was a turtle, and we said yes. He took the turtle from my hands and inspected it, then shook his head, and said, "He will probably die."
I asked if we could just put it in the ocean. He proceeded to explain to us that the turtle had to find the sea on its own. The mother turtle makes its nest, then leaves. The baby turtles hatch and they use their flippers to find the waves of the ocean, which does two things for them:
1. The turtles have a sort of "built-in compass," which leads them to the ocean. They have to learn how to use that "compass," not only to find the ocean, but also to know how to find the land again once they reach the ocean.
2. By making their way to the ocean, they strengthen their flippers, which enables them to be able to swim in the ocean for the rest of their lives.
"If we were to put the turtle into the ocean for it," the man concluded, "it will die, because it has to learn to do use its strength on its own."
I looked up to the sky. There were seagulls flying everywhere. If we left it, the sea turtle was dinner for sure. I resolved to stay with the turtle until one of two things happened: it truly did die, or it began to move. It wouldn't take THAT long, right?
Jacob and I sat with that turtle for HOURS. For a majority of that time, the turtle barely did anything. When we would feel that it was a goner, it would move its head, as if to say, "I'm still here. Don't leave."
We tried to think of ways to help it. The turtle just had to do a downward slope away from the beating waves. It was SO CLOSE. We used our goggles as a bucket to pour some water on it as an incentive for the turtle. It seemed to work. The more we poured, the more it moved, even if it was slowly.
It killed me a little, knowing the ocean was so close and the turtle was so tired. All it needed to do was move its flippers. All it needed to do was move just a little bit further. I found myself trying to cheer it on, even though it didn't understand me, nor did I know if it really was aware that we were there, rooting for it. It seemed to me that all it could notice was how far away the ocean seemed with its limited experience.
At one point, Jacob picked up the turtle and took it into the ocean to let it see what it was missing. In the water, the turtle moved its flippers constantly. He held it in his hand, allowing it to move its muscles before returning back to the land and said, "Now you know! You've been there! Now come on and move!"
I won't lie and say that at that moment, the turtle started flipping his way ceremoniously and flawlessly into the water. It took a while longer, perhaps an hour or so. But being in the water did something to that turtle. Maybe it realized his flippers were mobile, maybe the magic touch of the water gave him life, or maybe he was just tired of being on the land, I don't know. But it began to MOVE! And not just its bobbing head. It moved all of its flippers, pushing its way to the waves, being washed up into the ocean.
Sometimes life seems so daunting. Unfigureoutable. We strive and survive on goals. When we don't have goals, we don't have a purpose, and when we don't have a purpose, we are stagnant. When we are stagnant, sometimes we can feel stuck or lost.
Sometimes, we have a goal and a purpose, and we get started, like the little sea turtle, but then we get beat down and tired. We are surrounded by a variety of things that may try to stop us or beat us. Sometimes it's outside sources, things that are beyond our control, and sometimes, it's ourselves and our inability to see the big picture.
When my parents and brothers died, a lot of doubt and struggles developed. Suddenly, the life that I had pictured in my head and the goals that I had set to achieve were completely changed. They were taken out of the life that I had planned, and suddenly I had to change my way of thinking. Days when I beat myself up because I don't feel that I am doing good enough or days when the doubts and struggles began to cloud my mind would overtake me, and when I would try to look towards my goal or make new goals seemed impossible and too out of reach, like the ocean for the sea turtle.
Sometimes I wonder who is watching me, who is cheering me on? Who is saying, "You know! You've been there! Now come on and move!"? Sometimes I find that I am so caught in the hardship of trials that I forget that there are others, both here and on the other side, rooting for me. Trials are the exercises required to strengthen our faith. Muscles cannot be developed if they don't experience resistance. Faith cannot be strengthened without our trials.
I think Heavenly Father knows that. It would be so easy for him to pick us up and put us where we are supposed to be. But without the trials that push us in that direction, we don't develop the abilities or the gifts to do what we are meant to do. Instead of succeeding, we would crumble. Challenges motivates us. The easiness of the way does nothing for us. He gives us a taste of the best that is to come, motivating us to keep trudging along. As we endure. we get closer and closer to our goals that appear to be so out of reach.
The real strength does not come from the TRIAL, but rather, from our REACTION to the trial. We strengthen ourselves through our endurance. Doubt and anger keep us stagnant, while pressing forward with dignity, understanding, and purpose moves us forward. The way is vast, but the end is sweet, and the journey is for us to make.
Put one foot in front of the other.