My husband started the meeting with scripture (specifically, Mosiah 18:7-9 and Mosiah 24:9-16) and (what I considered to be) insightful commentary. Taking the microphone, I then explained how we came about our method for the rest of the lesson: I figure, one reason President Monson is so beloved is because of his method of teaching/speaking: telling personal stories. We all feel like we've known him since he was Little Tommy Monson, do we not? As such, Darin and I had a desire to draw upon our local sisterhood to share their own experiences and feelings about a time when they've had to Find Faith in a Troubled Time. I acknowledged that, indeed, we could have called upon any of the women sitting in that room for, indeed, we all have had (and will have) (and hope to be able to endure) trials.
The three women took their turn at sharing their experiences; specifically, one sister who is in the process of a divorce she didn't want, another whose son was stillborn last fall, and a third whose newborn son was born with a serious and rare, though manageable, metabolic disorder. Each had similarities in their situations, notably feelings of despair followed by a realization that the step of having faith is a choice. Often the choice to have faith has needed to be made repeatedly. These women, in their darkest hours, chose to draw from the simple truths learned over a lifetime of lessons, study, and other growing experiences, and added to the memories of truth faith, hope, study, prayer --
When the third woman stood to share her experience, she began with the words, "I feel so inadequate...". I think we can all relate to that feeling. She spoke directly after a woman who had lost her baby boy, and this third woman's trial involved her own son who is alive. "I feel so inadequate." Why? It's the opposite of one-upping, but it's the same principle: comparison. We compare where comparison doesn't apply. Just because someone else lost their child/marriage/abilities doesn't mean you're not able to feel bad about your own experience with the child/marriage/abilities in your possession, in your life.
I ended the lesson with this quote from President Uchtdorf:
And to all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely—I say with love and deep concern for you, never give in.
Never allow despair to overcome your spirit.
Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart.
Note that he doesn't say: "To all of you who have had what others would consider grand scale tragedy," but instead addresses all who suffer, and then specifically mentions those "who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely...". Who hasn't felt any -- no, ALL of those things? What a precious notion to know that those feelings, at their purest existence, are worthy of note, of validation, and of hope. No comparison, no self-denial, there is not a finite amount of hope available to humankind.