I bore my testimony last week in Sacrament Meeting (because David was out of town and I feel silly doing it in front of him for some reason–and because I felt like it). As often is the case, I know what I want to say but sit down not knowing entirely what I said or if I said what I meant to. But something came out in the middle that wasn’t what I meant to say, but was so relevant and true nonetheless. It was this, “While it’s true that I don’t always understand why my prayer can’t be answered when it seems like I’m asking for something that is right, I know that if my prayer had been answered one year ago or five years ago, I would not have had the opportunity to feel Heavenly Father’s love in the way I have going through the waiting.” Unfortunately, I said, I learn best in difficulty, which I guess is why we’re here to be tried, and to learn from our experiences.
Here at work we had to take a “Strengthsfinder 2.0” test when I started, and I learned I was a learner, an idea person (ideator, they called it), someone who was good at making things happen (an activator), interested in and able to get a good idea of future possibilities (futurist), could relate and communicate ideas to others well (relator). I liked this test, first because it talked about how much more efficient we are to play to our strengths rather than spend all our energy on our weaknesses (not to say you don’t try to improve). But also it made me realize many of what I’d considered liabilities (being a goofy, impetuous dreamer that talked to much) were kind of strengths. And, it validated this obsession I have with learning stuff and figuring things out—especially the way the world works, the way people work and the way God works.
To me, learning about things—what is real, what is true, what has happened, what will happen, how things in the world work–is a hugely important thing. To me, learning truth helps make our actions more relevant and purposeful, more in line with reality. But, learning, for me, often has to come with pain. Hard learning like this can make us refined, it can crush us, it can make us bitter. I’ve allowed it to do all of these things for me at various times.
Let me just start by saying my life is good, and I’m blessed and things are fine. But, there is a certain part of our lives in which we are very, very stuck and no matter how hard we try we just can’t seem to get unstuck. And although it is just one part of our lives, it is so all-encompassing, and it tends to spill over and corrupt every aspect of our lives far too often. Lately more than ever there have been signs that we will finally get unstuck, but I’m noticing that as the signs come and go, I’m starting to learn to hate the signs themselves—it’s like I hate them in advance for creating false hope. Isn’t that weird?
This weekend I came up with this analogy about the last few years that goes like this. Imagine you are stuck in a small, room with no windows and a locked door, and you can’t get out. At first, you knock, bang, tug kick and finally yell at the door. You plead for someone outside to open the door. Eventually you stop all that with the exception of simply trying the doorknob every so often. Sometimes, a voice comes over the loudspeaker (did I say there was a loudspeaker?) and says, “The door may soon open!” And with the first of these announcements, you get excited, and you wait for the door to open, and you think about all the possibilities that await you when the door opens. But it doesn’t. Periodically, the same announcement is made, but nothing ever happens. So, after several times you stop being excited. Sometimes you may regress and go back to kicking and screaming at the door and begging for someone to open it, sometimes you let yourself get excited again.
Now I feel like am in that place where I’m sitting quietly in the room, trying to not even think about the door, and when the announcement comes, I just fall apart and wish it would just go away. Is this a broken heart and a contrite spirit? Why is broken needed? Now I’m finding I resent things that try to make me hope, even great opportunities and possibilities. I don’t like that I’ve learned to fear hope. That seems very backward. That’s why we need trust (faith) and hope together—we have to have faith that the thing we hope for is a true thing. In my case, I have reason to trust it is a true principle that the door will open someday, I just need to keep my sanity and faith while I wait.
Just my rambling thoughts. I read an interesting article about learning, and baby learning vs. adult learning here: