“This is not a dress rehearsal.”
I love this quote. I have no idea who to credit it to, if you have a source, please let me know.
So, I had a thought several months ago that resurfaced this past week as I made final preparations to present something (hopefully) inspiring to hundreds of high school kids. Unfortunately by the time I rethought this thought I already had more thoughts than I knew what to do with, so I’m sharing this thought with you, on the good ole blog.
Our sojourn on earth is not unlike a study abroad.
Can you imagine signing up for study abroad in some far away country, making all the necessary preparations, waiting for months and months to depart and then once in your destination choosing out of fear to stay inside your host’s house, refusing to explore or eat or experience anything new or different? What a waste that would be. Yes, you could say “I did study abroad to such-and-such place” but then you would have to follow up with something like, “But, I chose not to take full advantage of the opportunity.”
There are almost endless comparisons you could make with this analogy, but the quote says it all. We only get one life on earth. This is it. The reason I’m reminding you of this as part of a Sunday post is because I have been taught and believe that there is a larger context or purpose for our life. I believe that we lived with God before we were born on earth. We all lived as spirit children of our heavenly father, whom we loved. We loved him so much that we wanted to develop and progress to become more like him. This would require a “study abroad” experience, where we could be *proven and have the opportunity to choose faith over fear, good over evil and most importantly love over hate. Even more so than a good earthly father, God knows us and our potential and has chosen the time and place for each of us to be born so we can learn the lessons we personally need and do the most good with our individual talents and personalities. Conditions that appear as inequality to us with our limited perspectives are in fact part of an amazing plan laid out to prepare and ultimately perfect us as children of God.
Now suppose you spend one year fully engaged as an exchange student in a foreign country — how likely is it that you would come home an expert in that country’s history, geography, culture and economics? Not very. Even with all of your authentic, first-hand experience you cannot know everything there is to know. You would come home a changed person and you would likely have an expanded view of the world, but you could not be considered an expert.
I have many favorite scriptures, one of them says, “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not, And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”
2 Nephi 9:28 (Book of Mormon)
Another favorite, “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek yet out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
Doctrine and Covenants 88:118
Rather than thinking of ourselves as human beings, occasionally having a spiritual experience; we really should see ourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience. Whatever intelligence we gain in this life–whatever cool “study abroad” experiences we willingly engage in, we take home with us. The more we choose to study and learn from the best sources, the better prepared we will be. We cannot ever know all that our creator knows, but we can grow ever more accustomed to his light, love and manner of communication with his children.
Every time we sense a new challenge or trial coming on we can choose to see it as another test perfectly suited to our development as a human soul.
If I had figured out how to share these thoughts with the young people I spoke to, I would have said “Love life and carpe diem — in other words, use your formal schooling as a chance to learn how to learn and then commit yourself to life-long learning, knowing that without a doubt a thirst for knowledge founded in humility and faith will absolutely lead you down the correct (and inspired) path for you.
*For those that are interested, here’s a reference in the book of Abraham about our pre-earth existence and the purpose of life.
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences (or spirits) that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.