Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Labor and Fairness.

I loved this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Of course the most circulated and humorous quote was that "envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!"  But the one that struck more of a chord with me this time was this one (emphasis added):

A second point I wish to take from this parable is the sorrowful mistake some could make if they were to forgo the receipt of their wages at the end of the day because they were preoccupied with perceived problems earlier in the day. It doesn’t say here that anyone threw his coin in the householder’s face and stormed off penniless, but I suppose one might have.
My beloved brothers and sisters, what happened in this story at 9:00 or noon or 3:00 is swept up in the grandeur of the universally generous payment at the end of the day. The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through, and let the distress of earlier hours—real or imagined—fall away in the abundance of the final reward. Don’t dwell on old issues or grievances—not toward yourself nor your neighbor nor even, I might add, toward this true and living Church. The majesty of your life, of your neighbor’s life, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be made manifest at the last day, even if such majesty is not always recognized by everyone in the early going. So don’t hyperventilate about something that happened at 9:00 in the morning when the grace of God is trying to reward you at 6:00 in the evening—whatever your labor arrangements have been through the day.
We consume such precious emotional and spiritual capital clinging tenaciously to the memory of a discordant note we struck in a childhood piano recital, or something a spouse said or did 20 years ago that we are determined to hold over his or her head for another 20, or an incident in Church history that proved no more or less than that mortals will always struggle to measure up to the immortal hopes placed before them. Even if one of those grievances did not originate with you, it can end with you. And what a reward there will be for that contribution when the Lord of the vineyard looks you in the eye and accounts are settled at the end of our earthly day.
It is funny how much we as mortals dwell on so-called fairness in evaluating life and Deity. I know that God is just, but that doesn't always equate with our mortal perception of fairness. I really didn't want to have a c-section last week, but it ended up happening anyway. There is this part of me that wants to yell out "This isn't fair! Why do so many people have easy, perfect labors, and mine keep getting harder and more complicated?" But I really know better than that. First, fairness is always relative. Having a c-section is a big deal for me because, well, I am a wuss about needles and knives. But in the grand scheme of things, it is really a rather small inconvenience, especially considering the abundant life that I otherwise live. And second, as Elder Holland pointed out, we can't know and understand the majesty of our life's story as we are experiencing it; I don't know from how many catastrophes I have been rescued and how intricately the Lord's hand has been guiding me, I just trust that He knows and try to look forward faithfully. 

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know you had a c-section. Way to take a tough turn of events. I'm glad everything ended well.