I didn’t ask to have the year I did. In fact, I fervently prayed for a completely different set of experiences. I worked really hard for things that I felt inspired to pursue, things I knew would be blessings in my life. I strove to land a full-time teaching job. I worked to be appointed as a head coach. And I fought tooth and nail to keep my relationship together and make progress toward making eternal covenants with her and God.
Now, none of those things exist in my life. I have no contact with the girl, I don’t teach for pay, and I no longer am the head coach. All those things I worked for, all those things that mattered most have been taken away. To top it all off, I experienced depths of depression I never thought possible, I mourned more deeply than I expected I could, and I quit the things I thought would bring me the most long-term joy.
But my heart is opened. I feel more deeply now than I ever have before. I’ve learned to draw on the pain I experienced and the worries I have about my future to empathize with friends who experience trials and challenges in their lives.
I wrote last week about seeing the people behind their trials. The things I experienced make me better. The long-term perspective shows that I am more like Father than I was last year.
But I am not the things I experienced. I am not a failed teacher. I am not a depressive. I am not a bad coach. I am not a failure as a boyfriend.
Viewing myself as these things limits my growth and improvement. Taking these experiences and recognizing lessons I can learn from them, has shown me to see my friends behind their trials.
The largest take-away is I must actively be pursuing the things that matter most. I value helping others. I value serving. I value following Father with trust and faith.
What I experienced this last year teaches me to be spiritually strong. It teaches me to follow God and be more like Him. I will be forever affected by my experiences, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.