“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. . . . Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
I recently had a hard trial that left me feeling down and sorry for myself- I did not get my dream job. I was devastated to say the least and the weeks to come were filled with moments of tears, confusion, and a lot of self doubt. I was annoyed and started wondering why things came so easily to others and why I was in a low place with a trial I worked so hard to avoid.
During this time, I had humbling moment that changed my perspective on trials. I was listening to a podcast that told the story of a talented 18 year old horseback rider who had an accident which left her paralyzed. At the end of the story she said the number one question that gets asked of her is, “what if you could go back to that day and change it so you never got paralyzed, would you do it?” I was blown away when she responded that she would not change a thing about that day. She explained how the following 10 years of experiences and lessons taught her to look at the big picture and believe in God’s plan instead of her own plan. In the midst of my trial, I stopped and thought about the lessons I had learned over the previous 2 weeks. I realized I had learned some important and powerful lessons from this trial and, despite the pain I had felt, I was actually grateful for it.
My next thought was, “now how do I get to a place where I accept my trials before they happen, so when they do happen, I see them as a learning opportunity instead of trying to fight and pray them away?”.
I think our perspective is key. On one hand, a trial could be an ugly monster blocking you and ruining your life plans. Or, a trial could be an ugly monster that is teaching you a lesson so the next time you have the knowledge and ability to get around him easier. I decided to change the way I think about trials and to see them as learning experiences. After pondering this more, I realized that trials are actually gifts from God because without them we would never progress. Additionally, when we accept a trial before it happens, as on opportunity to progress, we are putting ourselves in a position where Heavenly Father can teach us so much more from that trial. I think this is really neat- if trials are inevitable, we might as well learn as much as we can from them.
Another example that can help us be grateful for a trial is to remember that trials are like homework: inevitable, not fun or easy, but worth it when we get good grades and see how much we improve academically. When I was a child, I learned so much more when I set time in advance to do my homework because I accepted that it was the time for me to learn. Again, like homework, trials are not fun or easy, and they are an inevitable part of life, but they are worth it, when (with the right perspective) we see the big picture and our knowledge and testimony of God’s plan increases.
My perspective on trails changed after listening to the story of this 18 year old girl. I know that Heavenly father gives us trials because they will make his stronger and help keep us on the path He has planned for us. In this month of gratitude, I would like to invite everyone to think about whatever trial you are going through and make a list of the lessons you have learned from it so far. When you start to feel overwhelmed by your trial, go back to your list, and add more lessons and focus on the opportunity this trial has given to you! This perspective has helped bring me a lot of happiness and I know it can bring happiness and peace to you too.