President Russell M. Nelson recently said, “Adversity is a great teacher.”1 I love how absolute that statement is. I think it is important to note that he didn’t say that adversity can be or might be a great teacher. So, the important question to ask myself is, “What kind of student am I?”
That turned out to be quite a soul-searching question for me. As I began to think of some of the adversities I have faced, my first thoughts were those things that rocked my world—the really big, really hard things. But then I began to think a little deeper, about times that probably shouldn’t have rocked my world but did—like the time I let something someone said offend me so much that it was hard to feel comfortable at church. That lasted longer than I care to admit! Adversity comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes even small, seemingly insignificant things can have very significant consequences when we refuse to recognize them and learn from them. For me, it seems I am a much better student when my classes are hard! During those times, there is no doubt that I need to study more and have more help from the Master Teacher!
The reality is none of us will escape adversity. It is a vital and ongoing part of our schooling here in mortality. As I have reflected on some of my greatest adversities, while I would definitely not want to repeat them, they truly have been great teachers. I have learned things I could have learned in no other way. I now see life through a completely different lens. I hope I am more compassionate, more loving, and more forgiving. I hope I am more aware of others who are experiencing heartache and sorrow. I most assuredly trust in God and in His promises! And even as I look back on my weakest adversities, I can see that they, too, have been great teachers. I can acknowledge that I am still learning and still growing and still trying. And so is everyone else!
I should probably ask myself more often what kind of student I am. And to that, I’ll add a few more questions too! “What am I learning from adversity?” “Am I trying to be a better student?” Am I relying on the Master Teacher to help me?”
1. What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget – Russell M. Nelson