“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand . . . your heart. . . . I have been bent and broken, but . . . into a better shape.” —Charles Dickens, from Great Expectations
Some of you who are acquainted with us personally know that my wife and me work in a homeless branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in downtown Salt Lake City. The branch serves those who temporarily live at The Road Home, the Rio Grande Hotel (now the Home Inn), and the Salt Lake Rescue Mission.
To say the least, everyone who attends there is on the line of scrimmage. Everyone who joins us there on Sunday is in a desperate fight for spiritual and physical survival. Most everyone is pliable and vulnerable and tender. Here’s a case in point.
I heard a member of our branch say something during our testimony meeting today that moved me deeply. He said, “I thank Heavenly Father for trusting me with my problems.”
What does that mean? I am not quite sure yet. I’ve been rolling it around in my top knot all day. I know, at least, that it was inspired. I sensed that it was something plain and precious, though still beyond my conscious reach.
One hint I’ve gotten so far: Heavenly Father entrusted us with problems—our trials, our sorrows, our betrayals, our terrors—as gifts that would move us farther ahead than other earthly experiences. If that is true, most of my problems may actually make sense, even the one’s I’ve brought on myself.
Although, speaking of self-imposed trials, regret isn’t my favorite teacher, but it’s certainly one of my most effective ones. Regret is wounded memory. It keeps me humble. It reminds me of what to work on. It is difficult to heal, but it let’s me know that I’m alive and that I still have a chance to go in a new and better direction.
P.S. Another thing we heard over the pulpit in testimony meeting: a marriage proposal. Yes. She accepted. That was a first.