All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience
Watching my first-year soccer player struggling to pull on the goalie jersey while trotting to the goalie box, my head shook. “Goalie?” I thought. “Has anyone ever explained the rules of this position to him?” After a half game of struggles, the score was still 0–0, but I sensed with foreboding that the score was about to change.
Sure enough, I winced and grimaced as my son did his very best, but two times the opponent roared past our defenders and put the ball in the net. The last goal was seconds before the game ended, so we lost 2–1. Predicting a dramatic response, I braced myself for a scene of despair as my soccer player strode to the car.
To my great surprise, arms full of juice boxes and chip bags, he grinned and exclaimed, “That was a fun game, Mom! I got to be goalie for the first time ever. Now I know that I can dive on the ball as soon as they step in the goalie box.” Pausing and looking out over the fields full of soccer players, he commented, “And now I know what it feels like to lose. I will make sure I never brag when I win so I don’t make people feel worse.”
I was flabbergasted. Pretty sure a few of my other children would have responded with tears or extreme sadness or blaming the defenders who weren’t there to help. Instead, this 8-year-old allowed seeds of compassion for people on a losing team to be planted.
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility…..and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulations, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.” ~Orson F. Whitney
Experiential learning — -education through experience — -is often unforgettable and very effective.
Because she spent over 30 years hosting regular family gatherings of 50 or more people, my angel mother once taught me to bring a package of toilet paper to the hostess, not flowers.
Spending months in bed fighting through pregnancy nausea with an I.V. in her arm prompted my sister to compile a list of foods and drinks that “might stay down”. She has been known to show up with these supplies at locations where sick chemo patients or fellow hyperemesis mothers reside. “Small bites, little sips,” she coaxes.
When a close friend’s infant daughter passed away, I called my sister-in-law. The death of their toddler had added an unspeakable “breadth, and length, and depth, and height..[of] the love of Christ” to her character. (Ephesians 3:18–19) Willingly she shared a portion of that love in teaching me what could possibly be said or done to help with the raw pain I was witnessing.
Alma 7:21 explains that Jesus Christ took upon Himself our infirmities, or all our hard experiences, “that his bowels may be filled with mercy…that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
In His great mercy, God allows us to experience difficulties that we may also know how to “succor his people according to their infirmities”. With better understanding and empathy borne of experience, we may choose to participate in His work with all our heart, might, mind and strength. In so doing, we may become more like our Savior. With His help, we can experience the joy of lifting those around us now even as we are stretched toward reaching our full potential in the eternities.
“Know thou, my [child], that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7)