Rubik’s Life Lessons II: Solving Takes Scrambling

Lesson Two

Even when you’re starting to become solved, you still have to get scrambled along the way. In order to place each piece of the cube where it needs to be, you need to twist some of the pieces out of place and then restore them to complete the move. Going through the repentance process, or any mode of change, will often require us to do this. Even after we’ve made some changes and see our colors matching up, we’ll still need to twist ourselves into some uncomfortable circumstances to continue making progress.

We will need to exercise patience and understand that we can’t just match up one side, then do another and anther until we finish the sixth side. In terms of the actual Rubik’s cube, it’s physically impossible. You can try, but eventually you’ll need to mix up the colors for a second in order to place other colors where they need to be.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (Romans 5:3-4)

We learn through these twists how to be patient in our repentance process. This patience helps us gain experience for future times when we’ll need to solve our Rubik’s cube again and again, and in turn this experience brings us hope that solving the cube is possible.

It’s not always fun. Before I understood a correct method, I would try and solve each side, one after another. Often I would get to the point where I knew I had to mix up a side already solved if I wanted to progress on another side. This is where I’d get stuck. I didn’t want to unscramble a side already solved. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to solve it again, or that I would just screw up the whole cube in general.

The end result of repentance is always a relief. There is no greater feeling than knowing that your Heavenly Father has forgiven you of sin(s). During repentance, however, it may not always be pleasant. It’s not meant to be fun. The feelings of guilt and shame are an inevitable consequence of mistakes, and they are something that must simply be experienced, but…

…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (Hebrews 12:5-7)

Being chastened, or rebuked, by God is not something He does because he wants us to feel terrible, or because He wants to bully us. God rebukes when we mess up because He loves us. He wants us to do better and He knows that sometimes a little tough love is in order.

I know that through the love of God and the grace of Christ, we can change. It might put us out of our comfort zone every now and then, but that’s just a necessary part of the process. A few twists and turns here and there and before you know it, your Rubik’s cube is solved!

Squares In A Masterpiece

Life is a masterpiece, a work of art, built by the hands of God. But sometimes it’s difficult to see this masterpiece. Unlike God, our perspective is limited. We can only see sections and slivers of this grand work. I’ll use Chuck Close as an example. He’s a pretty famous artist, well-known for his really huge portraits. He’s confined to a wheelchair, so he puts a grid on his canvas and paints one square at a time. If you look at each square individually, it’s just a bunch of really colorful boxes. But when you step back, you can see what the painting really is.

A Book of Mormon prophet named Alma gives some pretty straight forward counsel on this. He said,

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. (Alma 37:6)

Our lives usually aren’t full of spectacular events. The hand of God is more often seen in the smaller things. The things we sometimes overlook. The things that require slowing down and having patience to see.

I know that God and Jesus Christ are in our lives, and that through the small and simple things God works His miracles. The greatest miracle, I believe, is life itself. What are some of the colorful boxes in our lives? Family and friends. A rejuvinating sunrise or a peaceful sunset. The sound of birds chirping. A family dinner. An afternoon hike. The sound of rain falling. A good song on the radio. These are just a few things that come to my mind. We all have our own.

All we need to do is take a step back and see how the squares, the simple things in life, come together to form the masterpiece.

Searching, Seeking, Reaching, Always

So if we keep seeking out what is right,
moving on after being set back,
searching out what keeps us strong.
Searching out, and always building up the things that we lack.
This path we choose is not the easiest to walk upon
And knowing that, I am more eager to continue on
because I know that when I reach the end
I’ll be better than before

Searching, Seeking, Reaching, Always” by We Came As Romans

Life is a process. Whether it’s literally moving from one place to another or wanting to achieve something, it must be done in steps. I’m not always a patient person. … Actually… I’m often not a patient person. I’m present-minded, and it’s hard for me to wait for things to happen, because for whatever reason it’s difficult for me to grasp how something can come about if I’m not presently seeing it in motion. Understanding that life isn’t meant to be instantaneous can help us to work through our goals in life.

The prophet Joseph Smith once counseled,

“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them”

We don’t know much. We may struggle comprehending God or Christ’s gospel. We might be frustrated at our lack of spiritual progress. Why does it seem I have no faith? Why can I never learn from my mistakes? Maybe we’re trying to repent and wish it could be done in an instant. Perhaps we’re trying to become more patient, or more obedient. Perhaps we’re trying to become better at our relationships. A better friend. A better sibling. A better son or daughter. A better parent. A better spouse. A better disciple of Christ.

As Joseph Smith said, the principles of Christ’s gospel are like a ladder. They must be taken one step at a time. Learning how to better ourselves comes through mastering each step. You don’t take the next step up if your foot isn’t securely on the one below. Yes, occasionally a slip-up occurs. It’s inevitable. But we simply work harder to plant our feet on that step, making sure we’re immovable, and then we can continue to ascend in whatever we’re trying to achieve, be it something specific or something general.

I know this to be true, and I second Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-4,

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope

It’s not easy having to go through the process, and the obstacles are sometimes constantly in our way. But hardship helps us to be patient. Being patient gives us the knowledge that enduring works, and when that happens we have a better hope. A hope the next step is possible to make, and that in due time we’ll have made it to the top of the ladder.

Remember that as you ascend to the next step in the ladder, you are better than before.


Surrender

purify this tainted soul

i’m tired of living life a fool

soften up this hardened clay

to be a servant, this i pray

a reflection of You, i long to be

so Your kingdom i will seek

Taken from the song “Surrender,” by Jeremy Camp.

I love that song. It’s one of my favorites from that artist. You should look it up and give it a listen. It’s a song about sacrifice, about letting go of yourself, and about allowing God to work His will into our lives. Maybe it’s just a reflection on my own part, but we as humans are… well… stubborn. We often seek our own desires first, shunning God from our lives. Deep down we often want to be more willing to sacrifice, but it’s hard to let go of what we want or already have.

Matthew 6: 33

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

If we desire to be a reflection of God, we must seek His kingdom. We must soften our hearts to allow God to mold us into who we can be. We have divine potential, but only if we let go of our own desires and seek Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our lives, placing Them first, before all.

I know this to be true, and I know that fulfillment and happiness comes in placing God first, and seeking His kingdom first. It requires patience. It requires diligence. It’s not always easy. Actually, it’s often not easy. But… it’s worth it. It’s always worth it. I challenge all of us, myself included, to “seek ye first the kingdom of God”.