Behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.1 Nephi 20:10, Isaiah 48:10
Last April, President Russell M. Nelson invited us to make a list of lessons we have learned during the pandemic. “Adversity is a great teacher,” he said. “What have you learned in the past two years that you always want to remember?” (“What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget,” General Conference, April 2021).
Here are some of the lessons I have learned:
- Spending time together strengthens relationships. Early in the pandemic, like many people, I began working from home, my kids began attending school virtually, and most of our other activities were canceled. Additionally, all of our adult children spent some time at our home in the subsequent months. As we participated in activities together (including the Family Olympics and a Midnight Dinner), we learned about each other, and we learned to communicate with each other more effectively. Our family grew stronger because we were together.
- It’s important to slow down and talk to the neighbors. I spent a lot more time walking and running in my neighborhood, and I began to recognize people who were frequently on the same streets. I met neighbors whom I had never spoken with before, and I got to know other neighbors better. I felt an increased sense of community as I became more acquainted with the people who live near me.
- Cooking can be a joyful experience. Because we were home more and were eating out less, I had more opportunities to cook than usual. I found cooking to be a creative activity, I found myself gravitating to healthier foods, and I enjoyed sharing the food I prepared with others.
- A quality morning prayer can set the tone for the entire day. With no commute, I was able to take more time in the morning talking with God about the activities of the day. During those prayers, I often had insights which helped me face the day with confidence and wisdom.
- You learn a lot about yourself when you commit to a challenging goal. I ran a marathon last November for the first time. In the course of training, I learned a lot about my body, including how to stay hydrated and well-nourished, how to stretch and roll out my muscles before and after runs, and how to follow a training plan. I also learned a lot about resilience and determination. I’m running shorter distances now, but I feel much more confident because of what I learned.
- Some goals work best with no deadline. Last April, I began working on my piano skills. My goal was to run through some simple exercises and do a little better each day. Making that goal time-bound would have been counterproductive. The objective was continuous improvement, and I have experienced that over the past six months. Some goals have deadlines, but others should be open-ended.
When Ammon and his brothers traveled to the land of their enemies, the Lord warned them that their mission would not be easy. “Ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions,” He said (Alma 17:11).
Fourteen years later, Ammon reviewed with his brothers their experiences: “We have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation.” As a result, they had been greatly blessed: “There never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began” (Alma 26:28, 35).
Mormon offered the following conclusion to their story, in which he explicitly connected their happiness and success to the adversity they experienced:
This is the account of Ammon and his brethren, their journeyings in the land of Nephi, their sufferings in the land, their sorrows, and their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy, and the reception and safety of the brethren in the land of Jershon. And now may the Lord, the Redeemer of all men, bless their souls forever.Alma 28:8
Today, I will be grateful for the lessons I have learned and the growth I have experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As President Nelson counseled, I will strive to always remember these lessons and live accordingly.