One of the hardest lessons we have to learn while on earth is that some things are beyond our control.
Bad things happen. They happen to good people, they happen to bad people. They have always happened, and they will continue to happen.
I think everyone needs to find their own answer to that. It depends on the person. Truly.
I can only speak from my own experiences. But here's what I do know:
Bad things happen for a reason. They are an essential part of God's plan.
Now hopefully I have a lot of living left to do. I'm only seventeen and many of you readers have been through a heck of a lot more than I have.
But I've still got a little experience under my belt. I lost my sister, most notably, and with that, I lost the picture-perfect life I had basically lived up until junior high.
I've felt lonely. I've changed friend groups. I've taken the Spirit for granted. I've become busier and busier taking on so much schoolwork, and with that I've had to give up a lot more than I thought I would, including some of my favorite hobbies.
I think we have this idea in our minds that if we do what we're supposed to do and try our hardest, our efforts will always reap visible and even tangible rewards.
So what do we do when that doesn't happen? Because sometimes our efforts fall short. Sometimes our hearts are broken. It's how life is.
The fact of the matter is, our lives aren't going to be perfect. But we have to learn to accept things as they are and free ourselves from the sorrow that would overwhelm us if we let it.
I lost my sister when I was thirteen. Did I do anything to deserve that? No. I mean, could anyone really do anything that would make them deserve that? But it happened anyways, and I have to come to terms with that reality. I've already come to terms with it, actually. I've accepted it. I'm at peace with it.
Does that mean I can't still be cripplingly sad about it if I let myself be? No, of course I'm still sad about it. I never won't be. But I'm never going to move forward if I let myself keep living in the past.
I would never ask for the trials I've been through. But I have to make the best of them. The death of a loved one is just one example. But I've learned that with all trials, when we accept them and decide to make the best of them - instead of trying to change them - we are inviting the Spirit into our hearts and allowing God to shape us into better people.
We learn to be more compassionate people. We learn to see things from God's perspective. We learn to trust in Him and rely on Him when we have nowhere else to turn. We sometimes learn that our priorities are not where they should be.
One bad thing happening to you could weigh you down and haunt you for your whole life if you let it. But when you accept the past for what it is, and also accept the present for what it is, then will you be free to look to the future and shape it how you will.
Notice how the picture at the beginning of this post says, "It is what it is" and "it was what it was," but makes no reference to the future.
Your future will be whatever you choose for it to be. Don't let trials and sadness hold you back.
Decide today that you will let go of whatever is keeping you from moving forward. A lot of things are in our control, I'd even say most things. But some things aren't, and we have to learn to accept the things we can't change.
Does everyone feel pain sometimes? Yeah. But there is more good in the world than bad, more happiness than sorrow, and more beautiful things than ugly things.
Trust in God and in His timing. He knows what He's doing, and His grace is sufficient to carry you through every up and down in your life.
When it comes to trials, always search for the silver lining and look for the reason why God may be putting this in your path.
I know I shared this video before, but it's been a while, and it really is worth a second watch if you've already seen it.
Remember that trials are a part of life. You are never alone when you suffer.
Learn to accept what you can't change and help others do the same. Search for the good in every situation. I'm reminded of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin's talk Come What May, and Love It. (Watch it here.)
Let us commit to loving what comes our way. Always look up. Choose to go forward rejoicing.
The future is truly bright.
P.S. Don't forget about General Conference this weekend! Watch here this Saturday and Sunday!