The Magic Time Machine

I look at the trials I have born over the years. Some hurt terribly to begin with and have been slow to heal. Some have been a constant simmer of unpleasantness that have occasionally boiled over. Some scorched my soul and made me feel hollow for months on end.

As I look at these experiences in my rearview mirror, especially at the trials that happened years ago, I see how much I’ve gained from them: the patience, the faith in God, the compassion, the humility. But I wonder if I had to do it all again, would I? If there were some sort of magic time machine allowing me to go back and change the events that happened, would I take advantage of it?

Of course it’s always pain and anguish that are the great teachers. I can’t say I’ve learned a lot from being spoiled on my birthday or lying around the pool in Hawaii. Would I do over the things that have made me who I am? These hard things? These painful things? Would I choose them again?

I think I might. Maybe because I’ve gotten older and I have come to know that life will deal us hardships no matter what; it’s mostly just the flavor of hardships that change from person to person. I think I can say about many sad things that have happened to me that, yes, I am glad they happened.

The fresher trials don’t have the sweet sheen of nostalgia, though. The things that I’m struggling with now and have recently endured still have black hatred scribbled all over them. I think to myself, “I hate this! I wouldn’t wish it on anybody!” I pray for relief. I try to retrace my steps and see where I could have changed my path to make my outcome less like it is today.

But the message is finally hitting me that one day I might very well look at these nasty things I’m currently dealing with and think, “Wow! What a blessing that ended up to be!” I don’t know that I’ll ever be glad that some things happened the way that they did. I am hopeful, however, that one day I won’t be as absorbed with the notion of winding back the clock.

Do you embrace your trials? Feel gratitude for them? Or just wished that they never happened? Do you find that the passage of time helps with our view of trials?

About Hildie

(Blog Team) was born and raised in Detroit, but is happy to call Austin, TX home now. She majored in Art History and Geography at BYU and graduated a week before having her first baby. There have been five more babies since then. Hildie is an avid baker and tries to fatten up the people she loves. After years of "Mommy this", "Mommy that" Hildie is delighted to finally be waking her brain up for some other use.

19 thoughts on “The Magic Time Machine

  1. I am grateful for them AND I sincerely wish they had never happened. If that makes any sense…

    Seriously, I look back on the person I was before certain ordeals and cannot believe how stupid/innocent/self-satisfied that person was, I can’t even recognize her. Yet, at the same time, I wouldn’t mind being able to have that person back. She was so much more optimistic! Ignorance CAN be bliss.

  2. I wish I could say I LOVED my trials. I think they made me have a better understanding. I regret how I handled them (very badly handled them). I didn’t ask for him and in my darkest time my greatest blessing happened, my Father in Heaven sent a man into my life that would change everything. 6 months later I got married to him. I see now that those moments I thought I was alone, my father in heaven was waiting for me to turn to him.

  3. I don’t feel grateful for my trials, that doesn’t make sense to me. I just hope that I can bear what I been given with grace. I look back and wonder what decisions I made that brought me to this point. I can’t change the past but I wonder how I got on this road. It doesn’t help to go relive the past so I try to move forward. Mostly I just pray for faith instead of fear and hope that I can bear my burdens and endure to the end and not covet others lives.

  4. I have been thinking about this topic a lot recently. I would not trade my trials because it was in the anguish of a broken heart and shattered dreams that I first learned to know God. At first, it was just the assurance that he understood the things I didn’t have words to say, but later, He spoke to me through scriptures and impressions in my mind. He also reminded me of my blessings to sustain me day by day.

    I didn’t ask for my trial or “deserve” it, however I was willing to go through it with hope that my trial might be the means of saving my children from a similar pain, perhaps a calling I accepted before mortality. Now that I am much further down the trial path, I know this trial has brought much personal growth and many spiritual gifts.

    I see my sisters and ward members struggling. Most of us seem to be alone with our personal heartaches. I am tremendously grateful for what I have learned that allows me to cry with them and testify of God’s love for them. There is HOPE and HEALING and a HAPPY ENDING with Christ as our friend and Savior. Coming to know this has been worth the journey.

  5. I have actually embraced my trials and am grateful for them since they have made me who I am today. Except for this current trial. It is HUGE and its really taking its toll on me. I wish it would just go away, but in the end will be grateful for going through it. Maybe.

  6. i’d keep ‘em. rough as it has been at times. the reason i say that is they honestly seem custom-made for me…to teach me things i needed to learn, and also because they would teach something to others that they needed to learn.

    so i am grateful for them, but that doesn’t mean i like them. and i’m certainly not asking the universe to bring it on…(please, universe, don’t misconstrue this message!)

  7. Thanks for this post. I hate some of the things that I’ve gone through, but they are partially responsible for who I am today. Some of them I do see what I gained from them, some I think might show a payoff later (empathy for others going through similar). The trials that were my own fault though? I’d be mighty tempted to go back and slap my past self until I saw reason. Haha

  8. It took me a long time to be grateful for my trials. One that I had overcome recently returned and my attitude toward it is so much better than before. I have more patience and faith and hope. I know I’m not alone in overcoming it.

    I love your comment: I can’t say I’ve learned a lot from being spoiled on my birthday or lying around the pool in Hawaii.

    That is a great thing to remember. Although right now my sister is lying around a pool or the ocean in Hawaii and I wish I were there instead of freezing in NY. That’s not too much of a trial though.

    I have had times when I tried to choose my own trials because I distrusted God. I’ve since learned to be content with what He knows I need.

  9. One of the reasons I love this blog is because it reminds me that everyone experiences pain and trials and fear. That’s not a “misery loves company” thought, but rather a reassurance that the grass is not greener on the other side and a reminder to bear one another’s (often unseen) burdens.

    Do I embrace my trails? Certainly not in the moment of, but I can see how they’ve brought me closer to Christ and are shaping me into a more Christ-like person.

  10. Sometimes I think about the flip side of this: “if I had a time machine, would I relive the good times?” Case in point: high school. I dreaded graduation because I loved it so much. I mourned for it for a year or two afterward. But honestly? Looking back now and seeing how shallow my life was, how self-centered and manipulative I was, I don’t think I could do it again. At the time I thought it was great, but my life, while tainted by trials, is so much BETTER now. I wouldn’t say no to reliving my weeks in London, though…

  11. My husband and I were just talking about this. I feel like in my life as an adult I’ve experienced 4 super-duper trials: our first child born with a genetic disease, my mom dying when she was 57 and I was 30, our 4th child turning out to be triplets, and then in the last year my husband losing his job and us having to leave our home of 17 years and move across the country.

    I can definitely look back and see how our trials have taught me things and forced me to grow more than I would have if life was a beach vacation. (Which is what I really want.) I can even say that eventually the “trial” of having triplets became the best thing that ever happened to us. (At about age 4.) But I have struggled for 15 months now with this new trial–it is so much harder than I expected it would be, and I have handled it so much worse than I thought I would. It has been 9 months since the kids and I left our old home and I still have so much grief about it. I have no doubt that later (much later) we will be able to look back on the whole situation and see why it was important, but I never would have chosen it and I can’t wait for the pain of it to be over. The funny thing is that even as I type this I think “boy does that sound all melodramatic, all that happened was that we moved.” But the truth is, it’s like my life (that I totally loved) died, and it’s really been painful.

    So no. Not a fan of trials right now.

  12. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the past year. I am experiencing a year of rich blessings after several years of frustrating trials, and what has perhaps surprised me most about the whole experience is that even when all of my deepest wishes started coming true, that didn’t automatically bring healing to my heart. It’s been a spiritual journey of the greater part of a year, complete with lots of prayer and pondering and study about this issue, that has helped me feel truly healed from the trials in my not-so-distant past.

    In the beginning, even when I felt like my prayers were at last being answered, I still felt kind of burned and scarred by what I’d previously been through. It was shockingly hard for me to move past that and be able to come to a place where I could TRULY see the necessity for what had happened, and truly feel grateful for the way things had played out, even though it was so very different from what I had wanted in the beginning. I have learned a lot through this experience – not just from the trials themselves, but from the healing afterward. I’ve really been taught that healing is a process of time, and that the end of the trial does not magically heal your heart or spirit from the inflicted wounds. But I’ve also learned that with patience and time and prayer, that healing DOES come, and is very beautiful when it does. Now, I am truly able most of the time to look back on how the last years have gone and be deeply grateful – not just that I’m getting what I want NOW, but also that Heavenly Father had such a beautiful timeline for me, even when I couldn’t see it as beautiful.

    So the short answer is: Yeah, I usually have trouble being grateful for my trials. ;) Sometimes even in retrospect. But eventually I do tend to get to the point, after enough time and prayer have passed, that I can feel grateful for what they’ve done for me. I’m still pretty far from that spiritual ideal of asking to be “blessed” with trials though!!!

  13. I think you can appreciate what you have learned after the trial is over, but while you’re going thru it its all you can do to keep your head above water! Right now I am scared that something big and nasty is going to hit, because my last trial of having a rare cancer that could have been really bad turned out to be a minor thing as far as cancers go. So I am worried there is some nasty learning experience lurking out there, even though I can honestly say we are on the best church track we’ve been on for years. Perhaps if I continue to fail to see why my mom died so young I can keep the next trial at bay for a little longer.

  14. If I am being honest, no, I am not grateful for my trials, and yes, I would certainly go back and change any decisions I made that contributed to them. Not all of my challenges have been of my own making. I have had to come to a place of peace with God about those, but the ones that were of my own making? Heck yeah, I’d get out of those in a heartbeat! Isn’t that why we teach our children certain principles? So they can avoid unhappiness as much as possible? Isn’t that why Heavenly Father gives up commandments and prophets?

    I do feel grateful for many of the ways I have grown from certain experiences, but what I would go back and change is that I needed to learn them from experience at all. I would prefer to already understand things or to at least learn from others mistakes, instead of my own. If for no other reason than to spare those I love from being negatively impacted by those same experiences.

  15. I don’t embrace my trials, but I am thankful for your perspective, because this is a much more healthy way to live. You’ve just taught me something!

  16. Very well said. Thank you for sharing this. And I love all the women’s voices here in the comments – sharing similar feelings, yet each unique.

    “The fresher trials don’t have the sweet sheen of nostalgia, though. The things that I’m struggling with now and have recently endured still have black hatred scribbled all over them.”

    I wouldn’t say my past trials have any nostalgia associated with them, mostly horror. But the Way Out was filled with awe and wonder. And God. And discovery of Self.

    So, no, I wouldn’t change a thing. Jesus loves me. This I know because the bible and my own broken heart tell me so. Without the breaking, there is no need to seek the one who mends.

  17. I just want to add a comment about time. It’s interesting that all of us (usually) can see the blessings and benefits of hard times AFTER they’ve passed, but it’s so hard to see it DURING the trial. I woke up today chanting “Life sucks”, caught up in my own current trials and griefs. But more than the trial and grief, I hate that sucky feeling. So I have been practicing a sort of timeless approach that really seems to break me clear of the suckiness. I try to see me and my life as God sees it, outside of time, complete and perfect RIGHT NOW. This sort of prayerful centering really calms and en-lightens me. I still have to handle the trial, but I can do it with peace and perspective. Of course, I have to re-center like this about every 10 minutes, but still, it works.

    Great post, Jennie, as always.

  18. I would not go back and change my trials. If I was able to deal with them better that would be awesome. But, they truly make me who I am today. In some ways that’s good, others ways I am still working on. I agree that I am less optimistic about things and see things in a much darker perspective because of what I have been through. But I also have learned valuable lessons and hope to one day face my trials with a willing heart and a happier countenance. Right now the trials in my life are much smaller than they have ever been. I have also spent a good part of the last year filling my extremely empty oil tank in hopes of getting through the next trial a little better. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned in my trials. I am grateful for the blessings from my trials and I understand that the heartache has to be there to have the full effect. Do I wish I was more refined and didn’t have to go through the trials I have gone through, yes! But I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I know that Heavenly Father has a specific plan laid out for me and I will go through it and hopefully gain a more cheerful countenance.
    Love You Jennie! Your posts are always fun to read.

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