A few weeks ago at BYU Education Week I told one of the groups that there was one speech I would like to give but never have. The title of the speech would be, "Life is Messy."
What I mean by that title is that everything we plan in life doesn't always turn out to be the way we intend it to be. We do some things one way and it works. We do the same things the same way another time and it doesn't work. What is the explanation?Perhaps it is particularly true in human relationships. People are not like inert gases that have predictable characteristics. And maybe that is why the study of human beings will never be an exact science like chemistry. People are often unpredictable. Life is sometimes confusing.
I am not alone in noting the incongruities and inconsistencies of day-to-day living. In his book "The Road Less Traveled," M. Scott Peck also pointed out that life is full of pain and problems. At the very beginning of his national best-seller he observes, "Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."
Peck continues, "Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species and not upon others."
I told my audience at Education Week that part of my theological beliefs include the teaching that, as mortals, we are here on earth to prove ourselves . . . supposedly in a series of difficult trials and events. It is something I often taught as an LDS missionary in Scotland and Ireland: "The reason you are here on this earth," I would say, "is to be tested and see if you can prove yourself . . . to yourself and to Deity."
Now that is a noble teaching for others to embrace. But it is not particularly a pleasant one for Brent Barlow to encounter. I don't like difficult or painful experiences. But they seem to be there for me just like everyone else.
Life seems to have a way of offering an array of both good and bad experiences. But there also seems to be some Regulator, somewhere, that keeps them coming in an interesting mix. There is enough of both for everyone. Along with the bad . . . and painful . . . and difficult experiences of life there seem to be enough of the joyful, pleasant and good ones in life to make it all worthwhile.
Years ago a great teacher told a simple story of a sower who sowed seeds. But all of the seeds that he planted did not grow. Some fell on infertile soil. Others were eaten by birds. And still others were not properly nourished and cultivated once they were planted. Those seeds, however, that did finally grow to maturity evidently provided enough abundance for the sustenance of life. (Matthew 13:3-8)
Benjamin Franklin once noted, "Those things that hurt, instruct." And perhaps for this reason we should not avoid or dread the unanticipated, difficult and sometimes painful problems in life.
Maybe we should even welcome them.
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