While reading the book, "West with the Night," a memoir of Beryl Markham's flying experiences, I was struck by a quote that keeps coming back to me.
"If your hunch is a good one, you were inspired; if it proves bad, you are guilty of yielding to thoughtless impulse."
This really is such a profound thought, if you think about it! And I think we make these assumptions all the time, in our own lives and in judging the lives of others.
"I must not have been inspired, because look what happened?"
"Her life is so stressful, she says she was inspired, but I doubt that."
"He has everything going for him, he must be a truly inspired person!"
I remember an instance when I had to make a difficult decision. I chose to put my son in a school that wasn't "the best" in the community. Several people questioned me about this decision. One lady in particular was very vocal about the negatives of that school. Finally, I just looked at her and said, "This is where I've been inspired to put him." Enough said. Once you throw the inspiration word into the conversation, you can shut people up real quick.
And it was true. I knew that was where my son needed to be that year. Was it good? No! It was an awful experience (from a parental perspective). I questioned my "inspiration" several times that year. But each time, I kept getting the same answer that we needed to stick it out. Though that year was extremely difficult, many lessons were learned.
Fast forward a few years and again I got the inspiration to put him in school...but not just him, the whole family! That decision turned out to be a great choice for our family. We all learned valuable lessons that year as well (still are!).
This leads me to question: Who's to say that the "bad things" weren't also led by inspiration? We are not always going to only be led to do easy things. The Lord can direct us to go in a certain direction because it will be hard, because there are other things we need to learn, because we still need to "prove" ourselves. Elder Richard G. Scott has said, "Two indicators that a feeling or prompting comes fro God are that it produces peace in your heart and a quiet, warm feeling." But I don't think this means the outcome will always be "peaceful."
Am I more inspired than my friend because I married a good man and she didn't? Is my friend more inspired than me because things are going well and my life just seems to hit one roadblock after another? If I feel led to go in one direction and stumble, does that mean I didn't hear didn't hear the right message?
I think we can all agree that there are certain sinful acts that will obviously cause us pain and grief. These sins are wrapped up in defiantly disobeying the commandments of God. Some of our choices will bring us pain, too, because we have weaknesses in this life and are not perfect. But I believe any person sincerely trying to live righteously will sometimes be led down darker paths. It's on these darker paths we will learn things about our true selves we would never see otherwise. It's also there where we will more readily turn to our Savior for His much-needed guidance.
In the scenarios, was I really inspired? Maybe that's not the issue. The goodness from any experience comes from looking at what's been learned and what the next step will be. We do what we do with the information, the strengths and the weaknesses we have. We learn. Then we do it again, making decisions with new information and strengthened attributes. I believe this to be the art of inspiration, how we fine tune our communication with the Lord. We practice and we don't judge our decisions upon the initial outcome alone. It's not all or nothing with the Lord. He is simply concerned with growth.
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Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter.
It is a sacred privilege. It is based upon eternal, unchanging principles.
- - Elder Richard G. Scott