Yesterday while I was teaching my lessons, one of my students came to her lesson with quite a bit of frustration. She is a music minor, and so she gets to attend the studio class with one of the tenured vocal professors every week. This week was her first time singing in front of the class. Her main issue was that the professor who worked with her told her to do many of the things that we have been working on all semester (Whew! At least that means I'm doing an okay job!). Things that she has made progress on, but they just kind of went away when she was put under the pressure of performance.
I told her that the only way we know a concept is internalized is by doing just that: performing under pressure. In situations that are easy, such as practice and lessons, we can feel successful at learning and applying new concepts. It is only once we are out of our comfort zone that we can see the real progress we've made.
Then last night Joel and I were reading in Ether 12 about how the Lord will show us our weaknesses and help us make them into strengths. We were discussing how this process happens, and I thought of the discussion I'd had earlier with my student and how it applies to all aspects of life.
If I am working on a weakness how can I truly change it to a strength if I am never put into situations which exploit that particular weakness? For purposes of this blog, let's just say that one of my weaknesses is yelling at my children. If everything in my life is all hunky dory, and my children are acting like the angels I know they are, and I do not have outside stressors affecting my mood, of course I will not yell at my children. And I will feel like I have overcome my weakness and think life is great. But I shouldn't. I can't gauge myself on the easy times. No, I have to wait for a day when the house is a mess, Joel isn't around to help, the baby is sick, the older girls are driving me nuts arguing with each other, I have low blood sugar, and I have to teach 3 lessons. Now, if I make it through that day without yelling at my kids, then I can justifiably say that I have improved.
I get a little bit angry with God sometimes...especially after one of those days. It seems like when I pray for help in overcoming one of my many weaknesses I get hit with plenty of opportunities to demonstrate strength in that particular area. And then, when I fail miserably, I blame God. I wonder why He didn't help me not yell at my kids or eat right or be more motivated or whatever it is I had asked for help with that day.
It just dawned on me yesterday that what I am really asking for is a perfect day. One in which I do not have to face temptation of any kind. And how, I ask, is that supposed to make my weakness into strength? Plain and simple, it won't. And more importantly, it can't. So when I ask for help to stay calm, cool, and collected today, He isn't going to just give me a smooth day where I could have stayed put together without His help. He's going to give me the opposition I need to practice my skills and truly turn that weakness into strength. And then He'll help me get through it if I let Him.
So, wow. I guess I should be thankful for all of my overstuffed days because I am being molded into a more perfect person. I have a very long way to go, but just having this epiphany will help me. I will hopefully recognize my trials as learning opportunities, stop and think before I react in difficult situations and be more determined to turn my myriad weaknesses into strengths.
Starting right now.