By Doug Lange
I had been unemployed for just over two years when I had a powerful new thought come to me. I was pondering one morning what direction I should take in my life to help me overcome this unemployment challenge. I started thinking about trials and the purposes of trials in our lives. As I was pondering this, I could say that the “eyes of my understanding opened up.” My mind opened up and new thoughts came in – new teachings, lessons for me to learn. When teachings come to me like this, I believe that God wants me to learn these principles not only for my benefit but also so I can teach them.
This new and huge teaching that came to me during my pondering that morning started out with a single thought that popped into my mind, which was “Trials are about becoming.” As I pondered this new thought, my mind opened up and my understanding increased as to what this means.
I have been taught that when facing a trial I should ask in prayer what it is that I am to learn from this trial. Learning from our trials is a true principle, and asking what it is we are to learn from our trials is a great practice to get into for a number of reasons. It opens our minds to a new perspective on our trial and perspective brings calm to our minds. And, calmness leads to solutions.
What I learned that morning is that trials are less about what we are to learn and more about what we are to become. To become by definition means “to come into being, to change.” We can learn lessons from our difficulties without ever changing but we cannot change without learning a lesson. For example, we can learn through a trial to be more sympathetic and understanding without ever becoming more sympathetic and understanding. We may learn through a financial trial to be more wise with our finances, but then go right back to being unwise once the trial is over. We can learn through a trial that we need to be a better husband or wife and yet we never change to become a better husband or wife. Learning is not becoming, but becoming is learning. Or, learning is not changing, but changing is learning.
Changing, or becoming, through our trials is more of a decision than it is an act. It is more of a way of life than it is an act. Or rather, it is less an act than a determined way of living. I think that is why we are supposed to go through so many trials and difficulties. Becoming a new and improved person is a determined way of living. Becoming develops within us certain characteristics and mental skills that allow us to overcome our trials. Our difficulties are so that we can become the person who is capable of overcoming trials, which is a determined way of living.
Becoming, or changing, through our trials is in our hands – it’s all a choice. No matter how difficult or frequent our trials may be, if we do not choose to change and learn and become a new person from these trials then they will have zero affect on us. We will be nothing more than miserable at best during our trials. Trials without change, without choosing to become, is nothing more than pain and sorrow. Changing or becoming through our trials takes the sting away from the pain and sorrow of the trials. Focusing on becoming during our trials puts the trial and the inherent pain and suffering from it into a proper perspective and makes it so we can handle the trial better. Changing or becoming through a trial makes the pain and struggle of that trial more bearable and understandable.
Applying into our lives what we learn from our trials is a true principle that has the power to literally change our lives. In our trials, though, we tend to acknowledge the lessons learned but refuse the application of these lessons in our lives. We acknowledge the learning but refuse the changing. To apply these teachings into our lives means that we have to make a choice to do just that, and when we do that we do change. This is why changing or becoming through our trials is a determined way of life and not a single act. It is a choice we make over and over again.