The last several weeks I’ve been pondering over the experiences in my life that have led me to where I am today. We had stake conference last weekend, and I enjoyed listening to both the words of our local leaders and also the promptings of the Spirit to me. I attended a leadership meeting on Saturday afternoon, the Saturday evening session for adults, and the Sunday general session.
We talked about visiting during the leadership session. This is where the work of the Lord really happens - when we sit down with a neighbor and have a good chat about living the gospel in a modern world. We all know this, but there are two obstacles. Carving out time to do it, and believing we have something to offer when we finally do. As I listened, I kept thinking about the ‘well of experience’ and my own spiritual well. These thoughts continued over the remainder of the meetings.
A well is something you draw from in times of need. But it is also something you must take care of. There are different kinds of wells, but the kind I’m thinking about are water wells. To build a well you dig or drill down deep into the earth to reach the place beneath the soil where the water flows through pourous stone, called the aquifer. Sometimes, a well taps into a vast underground supply of water, but at otheres just a small pocket. In either case it seems the key to maintaining the well is to never draw from it at a faster rate than nature can replenish it. Of course it is also important to never ‘poison the well’ such that the water drawn from it is unsafe or unusable.
Thinking on this theme, it came into my mind that a personal record, whether that be a blog or a journal, is like a well. A ‘well of experience’, you might say. And in our busy days we often need to draw from that well to make decisions and provide guidance to others. Should the well be full, we can find and offer peace and comfort from past experience to those in need. But if the well is dry, there is little we can give.
I think the current political climate is the result of too many empty wells. There are fires everywhere, but little experience to draw from to extinguish the flames. We are so busy living in the moment that we forget just how many moments have come before. Even more importantly, we forget that we have survived, and that we have learned.
To turn this back to myself, I’ve served in wide variety of church positions, and yet I find myself afraid that I will not be able to handle the next one. I was a Sunday School president and a counselor in the stake Sunday School, where I had to give advice to other teachers on how they could increase sprituality in their lessons. At the age of 19 I taught a class of eight year old primary children. I served two year mission for the church. I invited people to change their entire lives. I served for a couple of years as the building cleaning coordinator where I asked people to volunteer a couple of hours of their week to maintain a clean and holy place. I’ve served as a secretary and as a counselor in Elder’s quorum presidencies, and twice as an Elder’s Quorum President. I’ve served as a scout leader, and as a counselor in a bishopric. But I don’t have a record of what I’ve learned, and thus when a challenge presents itself, my response is often raw, untempered, and let’s face it, just plain hot.
I’ve done a lot of things for work too. I had two paper routes as a kid. I paid my own way on a couple of great high adventure trips. I’ve worked in fast-food, retail, data-entry, customer service, substitute teaching, gas stations, janitorial, construction, and even as a plasma donor (if you can call that work). The Lord has always blessed me with work. And I have always given thanks through service, and more recently, by trying to be a good steward with that which I have received.
The thing I really learned this weekend was that all of these experiences were intended not just to get me where I wanted to go, but also to provide me with a well of lessons learned. As part of my goal to be a better steward, I want to write these things down as they happen. So I don’t forget the Lord has always been in the details of my life. So I can remember to speak softly words of wisdom instead of yelling. So I can quench the fiery darts of the adversary with water from my own well of experience.