Sports can teach us almost anything. Growing up, I played baseball, basketball, football, golf, pickle ball, wiffle ball, and, everyone’s favorite 5th grade sport, butt ball. Each one of these sports taught me about how to work hard, practice, work as a team, and all of those happy feel good things that are common to sport analogies. But, it also taught me about the reality of loss, pain, sorrow, discouragement, and disappointment.
In today’s society, there seems to be a growing trend to try and shelter our kids from these realities. We give out trophies to all who participate, no one gets thrown out at first, no one loses, and no one wins. We do this to make sure that we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. The problem with this thinking, is that it can create a false bubble of reality where nothing but contrived happiness and joy exists and never teaches the lessons of how to process the reality of losing, or the unavoidable disappointment that life will bring.
When we do this, we find ourselves just like the inside of Riley’s head in the movie, Inside Out, where “Joy” the happy emotion, tries to completely eliminate “Sadness” from ever having any kind of control over Riley’s emotions, she tries to protect Riley from ever feeling anything but joy. A great idea right? But, in the end, Joy realizes that sadness is not only acceptable, but an essential necessity to feel the complete fullness of joy. The contrast, or recovery from sadness, is what highlights true happiness in its fullness.
Some of us go through challenges that are nothing short of devastating. For some, the disappointment or sorrow hits hard as in when a child passes away. For others its watching a son or daughter lose their way. Some circumstances seem almost unbearable, with no hope for any good to come of them. What do we do then? How do we deal with devastation? We need help. We cannot do it alone. That is the whole point of passing through disappointment, and sorrow, or pain and suffering. We are supposed to learn from them.
These scenarios have played out since the beginning of time, and they will continue. Lets just look at a few examples of adversity and painful things happening, even to good and righteous people…
Mormon was the prophet and military leader that knowingly watched as his entire people ignored his inspired pleas for repentance, and openly chose wickedness. These were his people, the very ones for which he was responsible. His teaching fell upon deaf and rebellious ears, and 230,000 of his men, the Nephites, were slaughtered in a single battle. They were completely wiped out by the Lamanites, because they chose wickedness. We can only imagine the disappointment and sorrow he felt. He wrote, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord!..how could ye have rejected that Jesus who stood with open arms to receive you! How is it that ye could have fallen! But, Behold ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.” (Mormon 6:16-19)
Moroni, Mormon’s son, also witnessed this last great battle as a captain over 10,000 men. He then watched as the Lamanites killed his father, and turned after him. He then spent the remaining years of his life completely alone, running for his life.
Ether, a Jaradite prophet, just like Mormon and Moroni, witnessed the entire wicked self destruction of his people when they refused to listen to his pleadings for their repentance. The great final battle claimed the lives of over 2 million men women and children. They not only rejected his teachings, but tried to kill him for doing so.
There are countless examples of devastating disappointments and sorrows. How did they deal with them? How did they continue to go forward while it seemed everything in the world was against them, even though they were doing what was right?
Think of it this way, what positives came of the examples of Mormon, Moroni, and Ether? What can we learn from them? Mormon, and Moroni both penned some of the most powerful chapters in the Book of Mormon, probably at the same time they were dealing with the destruction of their people. Moroni’s promise, that has led to the spiritual conversion of countless people, was written while completely alone, wandering in the wilderness. One of the best chapters in scripture on the principle of faith was written by the prophet Ether as he watched his people completely self destruct. Sometimes bad things do happen to good or great people, but sometimes great things come from it.
Part of life is understanding that we will have problems, that we will lose, we will be dealt a crap sandwich once in a while. But, what do we do with that crap sandwich? Do we bury our head in the sand and give up? Or, do we try to deal with it like the best chef’s on Chopped, and add bacon, chipotle peppers, and transform that crap sandwich into a chorizo preschutto, drizzled with a poblano pepper aoli?
The Lord told Joseph Smith while he was illegally imprisoned in the Liberty Jail, “that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7)
The Lord also taught this when his disciples were feeling abandoned, lonely, helpless, and overwhelmed (and he will say the same to all of us), “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you” (John 14:18) “Come unto me all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you, and learn of me;…. and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matt 11:28,29)
When we turn to the Lord, our Elder Brother, He comforts us, He succors us, He changes us. As hard as it is, we need to try and see our lives as our Father in Heaven does. We need to try and see our disappointments and sorrows as opportunities to allow Jesus Christ to be the one who stands by our side to lift us up.
The ultimate lesson from our Father in Heaven is this, He wants us to grow, experience a full life. We really gain the experience He wants us to have when we pass through disappointment, and then use the gift of the Atonement of His Son to help us through the hard times. So, even though the sorrow is real, and the disappointment unbearably hard and devastating at times, these times are, in reality, opportunities to better know His Son. This is the divine duality of adversity. They are opportunities to open ourselves to the fullness of His Comforter. The contrast we then feel becomes the knowledge and experience our Father in Heaven needs us to understand. And maybe our experiences will benefit us in the future, or may benefit others who can learn from us.
Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish,
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace here finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.
Hymn 129 Where can I turn for Peace?