It’s interesting to grow older, and yet not feel older, to know more, and yet know there is so much more out there that I don’t know. Today I was getting ready to prepare my Seminary lesson and noticed a discrepancy in the pacing guide given to the teachers. This year we are studying the Old Testament. Of all the books we study, this is the only one with a Materials manual and a Teachers manual. They are both set up with almost identical lessons, but the lesson numbers don’t line up with each other. I had opted to teach out of the manual, my companion teacher had started off the year teaching out of the materials book not realizing it was not the manual, and then switched to the manual when we realized we were not in sync, both of us thinking the manual was the correct book. Today I realized that the pacing guide actually follows the materials book, not the manual.
As this all dawned on me this morning, I was embarrassed that I had not realized this sooner and I was frustrated that there were two different manuals and frustrated that this had not been clarified earlier on at one of our meetings with the head of the Seminary program in our area, at least not that I or my companion teacher could remember. But as I waited for a response to my text from the Seminary head I started to ponder about growth and maturity. While this is all frustrating, it’s not the end of the world. We don’t have to reteach any material, and we can continue on with an adjustment to the book we are using if that is what we are supposed to do. There is no reason to lay blame to other people, and while I am embarrassed, it was a great learning opportunity. I am learning to pay better attention to what I am doing, not just assume I am right each time I make a decision. To look at the whole picture before narrowing it down to the subject at hand.
It’s interesting how often we have the opportunity to learn lessons and grow though. If we choose to see, there are opportunities every day. As I pondered upon this, I was thinking about my son’s frustrations yesterday, and his opportunity to learn and grow, or become angry, frustrated, and give up. We went to Anchorage to the Alaska Rock Gym. My boys wanted to rock climb, but they were also preparing for a competition that will be held there the end of February. Before the competition they must become certified at that gym to belay for top roping and belay for lead climbing, two different techniques. They have been belaying for top rope climbing for over a year and completed that certification in just a few minutes. But they have just recently been learning how to lead climb and how to belay for lead climbers. My older son went first and clipped the belay device in upside down. He knew something was wrong and apparently was taking too long to figure it out, because the instructor didn’t give him a chance to fix it, ending the opportunity to certify less than two minutes after they had begun, also not allowing my younger son the opportunity to even try.
My older son was extremely frustrated with himself and felt even more frustrated and angry at the gym because they had not even allowed his brother to try. After this attempt he decided to go take his frustrations out on the bouldering walls upstairs, which I though was a great place to do so. They bouldered for about 30 more minutes until he had relaxed and could vocalize his frustrations without getting mad. Once he got it out, he felt a little bit better. As we talked, I asked him if he would ever make that mistake again. He said definitely not! I then told him that it had been a valuable lesson. He thought about that for a minute, and then commented that yes, it had been, because if he did it wrong out on a rock in the mountains by themselves, his brother could fall and die. Definitely a valuable lesson. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t still frustrated, but he was also grateful at the same time. It’s interesting as well, his brother wasn’t angry with him or the gym. He was willing to allow him to learn the lesson, grow, and become a better, more safety minded belayer, and come back another day to try again.
There are so many times in life that we have opportunities to grow and mature, or to blame and put off learning opportunities because of our attitudes. I believe we were put here on earth to do just that, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and then strive to improve because of the lessons we have learned. We are given this opportunity because of the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ. He gives us chance after chance to fall and get up, simply looking for our growth over time. But we as people often hold each other back. My companion teacher could have gotten angry at any one of my mistakes throughout our time teaching together (and there are a lot). She could double check and question everything I do. But she doesn’t. She allows me to grow, hopefully sees my growth, and helps me when I fall down. My younger son could have been angry that his older brother messed up and ruined his chances of getting certified himself. But he wasn’t. He saw the value of the experience and chose to be patient with the process. That patience in return could one day save his life, literally.
The whole point of our being here is to grow, to mature. But so often we hold each other back, not willing to let others change, not willing to see the improvements in their lives, consequently making it harder for them to change and maintain that change because we don’t ever adjust our own view of who they are, we don’t see their potential. But, on the flip side, our attitude toward those growing opportunities in our own lives affects whether or not they will change us. We need to be humble enough to see our mistakes and committed to making ourselves better rather than blaming others. It takes courage and strength of character, which only grow when they are challenged. But it is possible, not only to change ourselves, but to allow others to change along the way as well. Today I encourage you to see mistakes as growing opportunities, and to allow others the opportunity to grow and mature as well.