by Kari Diane Pike
I decided that the best tools I have to deal with this change in life are heartfelt prayers and more serious study of the scriptures and basic doctrines of the gospel. After all, how often had I, as a mom of young children, longed for time to really sink my teeth into the scriptures? Plus, the new modified year-round schedule the Higley school district instituted helped me feel a lot better about not having students at home. I was thrilled that I didn't have to deal with the headache of school calendars.
Right away, my scripture study took me to some chapters of Isaiah that I have always struggled to understand. Okay, let's be honest. I struggle to understand all of the Isaiah chapters. So I asked Heavenly Father to help me gain a greater knowledge of that great prophet's writings. I should have been more specific. I forgot that I always get what I pray for - and that answers usually comes in unexpected ways.
Hmmmm...empty nest + desire to understand Isaiah better + negative attitude toward hard working education professionals (not really, but kind of. Nothing personal - I just think having school in Phoenix/Mesa/Gilbert in July is insane) = Sister Pike needs to be called to teach early morning seminary. After all, they are studying the Old Testament (including Isaiah) this year. Not only that, the class has students from four different schools with four different schedules. Let's give her the best opportunity we can to develop patience and understanding.
And you know what? I love it.
I am learning and growing in ways I never dreamed of. I team teach with a phenomenal woman in my ward. We have twenty students registered and average about fifteen in attendance each morning. At first, they appeared to be a tough crowd. They just sat and stared at me when I asked open questions. I couldn't tell if they were with me or not. So I started calling them out, by name (a small miracle in and of itself), and asking them directly for answers. Oh they were with me alright. Turns out, we just have a class full of extremely intelligent introverts. And they are magnificent.
Youth today have a tough gig. The other morning I asked my students to write down something on their white boards that the Lord asks them to do that their friends don't understand and for which they get ridiculed. Every student had a different answer. Just a few:
Keeping the Sabbath Day holy.
Not dating until you are sixteen.
Following the Word of Wisdom.
This past week's lessons included reading about Abraham and his desire to live a more righteous life despite the challenges he faced every day. His own father had turned to idol worship. Children were being sacrificed to heathen gods. Abraham even found himself laid on one of those alters, bound and prepared to be sacrificed because he preached against such wicked practices. I asked the students to ponder on how Abraham's situation 2000 years before Christ could be applied to their lives as teenagers today.
This morning's devotional by one of the freshman students made my heart sing. This young man said that he struggled a bit going to a brand new school. He wanted to make friends in all of his classes and for the most part he had been able to do that. Except for third hour. He didn't know a soul in his third hour class and that bothered him. He decided to pray about it. He asked Heavenly Father to please help him make some friends in third hour.
A couple of days later, his school counselor called him into the office. She said that due to some kind of schedule mix-up, they needed to change his third hour World History class to a third hour English class. And you know what? He discovered that he already knew several other students in that English class.
I wish you could have seen the light in his eyes as he shared this experience. I said "That. Is. Awesome. So, did you just pray about friends in third hour or did you mention World History at all?"
He clarified, "I only prayed to have friends during third hour. And that's what I got. Heavenly Father answered my prayer. He just did it in a way I totally didn't expect. That seems to be the way it happens most of the time. We get answers - we just don't always know how."
When I see the gospel at work in the lives of these young people, my own testimony grows. The power of the Savior's Atonement is real. There is hope. Everything is going to be okay.
And remember: You get what you pray for!
Life is magnificent.