by Jill Burgoyne
I recently came from a Relief Society meeting about joy and putting our trials in perspective -I guess lots of people have problems- but the presenter was a very talented woman named Sherri McConkie. She is a kindergarten teacher in Phoenix and relayed a story that illustrated how we can put our trials into perspective:
Every year around March, Ms. McConkie's kindergarten class studies numbers. They fill in a number a chart from 1-100. And every year, there is at least one student who gets overwhelmed, shuts down, and sobs. Last year, it was an adorable and painfully shy little girl named Angela.
The first day of numbers, Ms. McConkie handed her the numbers chart and Angela's little lip started to quiver.
"It's okay Angela. It's just numbers, we're all learning together, okay?" Little Angela didn't stop crying and things didn't go well. Ms. McConkie was not deterred, and made a resolve to do better the next day.
The second day of numbers, Ms. McConkie handed out the numbers again. Little Angela's lip quivered and tears welled up in her eyes.
"It's Okay Angela, it's just numbers! We'll get them done. We can take all the time we need. You have plenty of help, look, your friends can help you, and I'm always here if you need help too, Angela." The tears were not slowed. Ms. McConkie went home with a resolute determination to make numbers better.
The third day of numbers, Ms. McConkie gathered her class on the colorful carpet in the middle of the room. In a successful attempt to get them excited about numbers, she gave a heart lifting pep talk and had each of the children raise their right hand and pledge to have fun with numbers and not cry.
Satisfied with her morale-boosting gathering, Ms. McConkie passed out the number sheet, confident that there would be no tears. Little Angela did her best, but that silly lip would not stiffen and it quivered uncontrollably, again the little girl burst out into tears.
Ms. McConkie's heart was softened even more. She sat next to this little girl and gently guided her through the chart,
"Write the number one here... good Angela, now the number two... good," It took three weeks, but Angela was eventually able to look confidently at her number chart and fill them all in.
How many times in our lives do we look at a trial and sob? I can imagine our Father in Heaven soothing us "Jill, it's just a burned caserole," or " Jill, it's just a tight budget...it's just numbers." I know he's there to give us help as we kneel and ask. And sometimes, I even require being instructed step by step. But I'll learn...even if it takes eternity.