Somewhere along the line I started regretting many circumstances and choices of my life. I was sorry that I had been raised in Emigration Canyon where I missed out on the normal social life that my peers enjoyed at the high school 11 miles away. I regretted choosing physics as my college major and teaching high school for a dozen years before discovering my true love of developing family programs. I grieved that I was not more dignified like my model physics professor, Jae R. Ballif.
I don’t remember what it was that finally pierced my theme of regret. At some point I asked myself if those circumstances and choices might be a blessing rather than a burden. Phew! As soon as I turned from grieving to appreciating, my mood changed.
The heavenly view of things
Living in Emigration Canyon may have stunted my social development, but it gave me glorious opportunities to learn lessons of peace and joy from Mother Nature. We created a raft, a rope swing, and a treehouse. We had pet dogs, skunks, and squirrels. We climbed, explored, and rejoiced. I suppose God knew that I needed all these experiences first and foremost. Social development could wait.
I cannot say that I use my physics training very often. But I am glad for what I learned about the world around us and the laws that govern this universe. Physics provides me what Einstein called “a cosmic awe of the universe.”
The years I spent teaching high school can be framed as distraction and delay or a glorious preparation for my life’s work. It taught me vital lessons about teaching. I am sure now that it was a blessing.
I don’t have Jae Ballif’s dignity, but, in my 30’s, I finally realized that I have different gifts. I have exuberance. I will never be him. He will never be me.
None of this is really about luck; it’s about faith. I believe that God perfectly designs our lives to get us from where we were in our pre-earth lives to where we yearn to be.
The Master Teacher
Consider God to be a classroom teacher. He provides exactly the lesson we need at exactly the right time. It is true that we may refuse to learn. We may break our pencils and put our heads on our earthly-classroom desks. We may resist His teaching and inviting. But He is a perfect Teacher. He knows how to motivate reluctant students. He is even willing to wait patiently when we are stubborn and contrary. While we will learn far more when we are willing students, God knows how to accomplish His work. He will teach us and bless us as much as we are willing to receive.
It is worth noting that His goal is not to force us to be like Him. His goal is to help us become all we are willing to become. And God is gloriously able to do that work.
“For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith” (D&C 98:12). He is determined to get us through mortal graduation fully developed–having filled the measures of our creation.
So I have begun to think that all regrets show a lack of faith in God. He knows how to do His work. He knows how to save His children. I should be grateful for everything He places in my life.
“And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious” (D&C 78:19, emphasis added).
We should not presume that we know our needs better than He does. We should receive all things with thankfulness.
Surprisingly, I feel the same way about my addiction. According to Ether 12:27, God gives men weakness, a thing I had never before supposed. I should be thankful for all the gifts of God and I am thankful for my weakness.
It was the one thing that could humble me sufficiently to cause me to discover the Savior in a sufficiently intimate way to save me.
Add to that most wonderful of all gifts, the gift of experience, which enables me to relate to and reach others with similar problems (gifts of weakness)and you have a sure fire formula for joy!
As horrible and hideous as my sins were, God has not so much forgotten them as transformed me by them. Perhaps He remembers my sins no more, because I am that “me” no more. He has changed me into a new creature by reshaping me on the anvil of His commandments, made maleable in the furnace of affliction and by the stroke of His mighty hand.
Where in all this is there place for regret?