Today in church I gave a talk about trials. This year, after all, seemed fraught with trials for almost everyone we know. I certainly don't know anyone who felt the year went through care-free. So, in preparing my talk, I read Elder Hales's talk from April '98 General Conference called Behold, We Count Them Happy Which Endure (which comes from James 1:5). The message of that talk was powerful, that in trials we learn of our true strengths and deepen our faith. I remembered my mother-in-law's story about liking hard things. She had a student who kept struggling with a piece and complained about it, so she let him know he liked hard things. He disagreed, but she asked if he played the same level of a video game over and over, or if he still had training wheels on his bike. He agreed such things were silly, so she pointed out that he must like hard things.
I must say, I must like hard things. I have certainly taken a tough route to realize I should have headed into teaching much earlier, and now I am going to do the hard thing and go back to school, leaving behind a good job with a good paycheck. I know I must do the hard thing, and I must like doing it.
I didn't focus so much on my own life and situation as I spoke today, though. I shared some stories from history, some from the article, and some from those I know who have learned from particularly difficult trials. As I said in my comments, I doubt anyone prays for trials and difficulty, we all seek after hardship from time to time. We set goals to improve, and improvement almost always requires effort which can sometimes wear us out. Still, without improvement, complacency sets in, and eventually an atrophy of the organ not used - even of the brain itself. Something must grow, or it begins to die. Here's hoping my brain hasn't already started to atrophy. The meandering style of this post points to yes, unfortunately. Still, the talk was well received, so hopefully this post will be, too. Or at least maybe it will make sense.
Whatever the case, hopefully this can set a tone for the new year: trials may come, by we can learn from them all.