Nobody escapes without adversity and trials. Even decision-making and parenting can be tests. Succeeding at a job can be a test. Temptations, disasters, losses— sometimes the tests really pile up.
And we all wish we knew the best solution to everything– a manual, a roadmap, something that would guarantee victory.
Think back to school. Wasn’t it great when the teacher announced an open book test? Suddenly you had the answers right at your fingertips! You were free to use notes, textbooks— this will be a slam dunk!
Well, guess what? Even though we often think life gives us the hardest tests of all, every one of them is an open book test. You know right where I’m going with this. There are scriptures, articles, and talks by our leaders that can be accessed on your phone or computer, in an instant. Thumbing through physical copies also gives us a treasure trove of answers. You are not all on your own.
I grew up thinking all Bibles had the incredible footnotes and indexes we have, but they don’t. We are so blessed to have the resources we have. You can literally look up your biggest concern and find dozens of scriptures that will help you, not only from the King James Version of the Bible, but from the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. You can do it online, or with physical books.
Here’s just one example. Let’s say I feel sorry for myself because my sister-in-law has a bigger house, a seemingly easier life, and wealth untold. I come home discouraged after visiting her. So I look up “Envy” in the topical guide and find dozens of references I can study. Then I look up “Bless” which is right next to “Blessed” and “Blessing,” and find hundreds of helps.
What if your concern is false doctrine? Despair? Patience? Honesty? Enemies? Righeousness? Repentance? You name it, there will be spiritual waters where you can drink.
Remember, too, that you can access talks and quotes by our church leaders. There’s more than the General Conference talks—there are talks given to specific groups that you may never have attended: University devotionals, youth conferences, meetings with new mission presidents, on and on.
Have you ever looked up just one apostle, to see what talks and articles you can find? Give it a try—you could make this the year you become an expert on Neal A. Maxwell or J. Reuben Clark. Just type a name into your search engine and see what talks come up.
And if you need help with the open book test of life, here are some quick assists to get you started:
Need to feel closeness with God? D&C 88:63 and Alma 37:37
Don’t like the counsel the bishop gave you today? Prov. 12:15, Mormon 9:31, and Jacob 4:10
Need comfort? Isaiah 49:15-16 and John 15:13
Exhausted by life’s demands? Matt.11:28 and D&C 122:3-8
Want to start a new company, but don’t know what kind and want God’s help? D&C 9:8 and Prov. 3:6.
Overwhelmed by your new calling and wishing you had more abilities? Ether 12:27 and D&C 60:13
Is your testimony flagging? Alma 32:28
Want better treatment? 3 Ne.14:12
Wish you could stop being so judgmental? Matt. 7:1-3
Tired of people disappointing you? Luke 23:34
So often I’ve heard people say they wish parenting or marriage had come with a manual—they do! In fact, several manuals. We just need to delve into the back pages for hundreds of references that will give specific, timeless wisdom to us.
This is another reason why personal journals are important, too. Your ancestors may have confronted similar challenges and may have written solutions they found that will help you in dozens of ways. And by keeping similar records, you will bless the lives of your posterity.
Let’s also remember, as we take this open book test, that God is right there ready to hear our prayers and help us succeed with personal revelation. We are not left alone, struggling. God, in his infinite wisdom, has given us access to all the notes we need.
Hilton is an award-winning playwright and the author of many best-selling Latter-day Saint books. Those, her humor blog, and YouTube Mom videos can be found on her website.