I once had a Teacher's Quorum leader tell me that he liked to:
"pray for adversity, so that I can become stronger."
I remember being mildly uncomfortable with that statement, but I was 14 and it's likely that the lesson was boring anyway. Besides, I had Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 waiting for me at home.
Looking back on that moment I think that if Bitter Twenty Year Old Trevor had been in that room, I'd have had a minor fit.
Really? You REALLY praying for adversity? When you get on your knees and open your heart to God do you say ". . . and please bless me with lots of really hard trials. I don't know if you've heard, but I want to get stronger, so hit me with your best shot God!"
Do you pray at night to be hit by a bus? To become paraplegic? To become orphaned? To have your wife cheat on you? To have a crisis of faith?
Wait, what? You don't? Because, listen. That's real 'adversity'. That's the stuff that really makes you stronger.
It's also the stuff that ****s you up. But that's the key, real problems, stuff that really hurts does **** you up. If you've never had doubt, had the thought that "maybe I really can't get through this" then you probably haven't been through a real storm.
People think adversity is about holding you're head up high and never losing sight of the goal.
And listen, I know you're about to say "But Trevor that is what it's all about!"
No, it's not.
Holding your head up high is what we strive for. It's the ideal. But it seldom happens.
Do you know why?
Because we aren't perfect.
Anyone who's been through real pain, real anguish will tell you straight that they wouldn't pray for it. And that it's ugly, and miserable. And we raise our heads when we can and when we can't we try to keep going.
What my leader was actually praying for is hardship that looks pretty. Stuff that's manageable. Things like cars breaking down and not being able to buy a big TV and your crappy basketball team not winning. You can make a joke about those 'trials' in testimony meeting, and everyone will laugh and that's fine. But don't confuse that with a real trial.
When I was 12 my mother went in a coma for two years. She almost died.
Those two years will probably be the hardest time in my life, and I'm thankful that they're over. I'm also thankful that I've learned a lot from those two years, but I wouldn't ask to go through them again. And if I could, I'd save myself from them outright.
I wouldn't wish that sort of pain on anyone and I wouldn't go asking for it ether.
The moral is this: you shouldn't go out looking to suffer to get stronger. You should pray for strength to get through the pain.