I’m the type of person who refuses to believe I must experience every hardship or trouble in order to learn ways to avoid them. I’ve felt this way since childhood, and that belief has only increased in my adult years.
When I was a child, my mama often took my siblings and I to the Fun Fair Park in our hometown. The amusement park served as a central entertainment hub for families at the time, and we flocked to it often. I recall two rides in particular at the park that caught my attention: the spider and the pirate ship.
The former splayed out with eight spindly-like capsules, spinning and tossing at least two grown adults in each car with wild twists and shakes, imitating the agitated movements of a black widow. The other ride, the pirate ship, seated 25-30 people, and it rocked passengers back and forth on the invisible stormy sea. At the highest points of the rock, the ship stood completely vertical with the tail of the ship pointing straight into the air. I stared up at the ship and watched each back and forth movement of the ship as it sailed.
Laughs and screams from riders filled the atmosphere, but I remember looking up at the ship and the spider with complete terror and loathing. Who would want to board rides that shook their brains and flipped their insides like a rag doll? I never saw this as fun. I never hoped to ride such rides. I only watched, observing the types of people who rode the rides.
But as peer pressure goes, on two separate occasions, I found myself standing in line for those rides. I knew I would hate both rides by what I saw many times with my eyes. Yet, I waited to board.
After it was over, I walked down the steps of both rides feeling completely nauseated. Later, I had a headache for a few hours. The spider flipped and scrambled me all about, the way I imagine a real-life spider rolls its prey in the sticky web. The pirate ship sailed so high, I honestly thought I would slip from underneath the only bar barely covering my legs and fall to my death.
I’ve never boarded either of these rides since. The Fun Fair Park eventually closed, and the rides no longer exist at that location, but I never ride anything similar at any fair or amusement park. I may toss rings over the neck of jars or even shoot balls into small rims in attempts to win a bunny: stuffed or alive. However, I refuse to board crazy rides.
The point is this: I didn’t have to ride any of the rides to know I hated them. I rode because I was pressured (or tempted), not because I desired to experience nausea. That principle continues to guide my life as it did my childhood.
People often say things like, “experience is the best teacher.” But Scripture tells us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” In Philippians 4:8, Paul also encourages to the Church: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Paul provided an astonishing example of how to live well for the Lord, which can save others from having to experience some devastating issues. All we need to do is follow the footsteps of those who already learned how to circumvent trouble. Scripture also tells us that the Holy Ghost will teach us all things and bring all things to our remembrance (John 14:26). The Holy Ghost will, literally, show you how to live this life well.
Now, I know some God-ordained experiences will help develop people in different areas of their lives. However, I see beauty in also imitating and learning from the God of all wisdom and the different mentors He placed in my life to guide me. Furthermore, I never saw the appeal of raising a baby alone at a young age, so I refrained from sex till I married my now husband. I also never wanted to contract STDs. The Word of God motivated me, but practicality also played a vital role in my decision. I saw teenage girls my age struggle with babies, and I never wanted to be that person. I never want to see my marriage fail, so my husband and I put up parameters, and we placed our marriage in God’s hands before we even exchanged our vows. I’ve seen many family members and friends die of heart disease and diabetes, and so I changed my diet plans dramatically. I am working to make sure my body max index (BMI) is in the acceptable range.
I’ve seen what heart disease does to a person. I’ve seen diabetes cut off circulation, requiring two people I know to need amputations. I do not have to develop diabetes to know I don’t want this to happen to me. I don’t have to take that ride.
No matter how hard we try, I know we cannot prevent everything from happening. However, there are real problems, both physically and spiritually, that can be avoided if we make changes and learn the lessons now. It requires serious determination and discipline that willingly foregoes temporary pleasure in exchange for Godly vision, and it is worth it. If I must go through anything, I don’t want it to be a self-inflicted problem. I refuse to let the hardships and troubles of my loved ones and friends be in vain. I will learn from their journey as God orders the steps of mine.
Jude 1:24 is one of my favorite passages of scripture: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy…”
Jesus is the He here, and He is able to keep us from FALLING. From failure. From mess-ups. If we are in Christ, we are in the hands of a keeper. He is the greatest goalie you’ll ever encounter, constantly batting away every attempt of the enemy to derail you. The trials He allows will mature us in the faith and develop us to a greater degree. However, hardships he never intended can be avoided. He is more than able to help us learn from others and prevent some major pitfalls in our lives.