Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Wisdom of Experience

By Tigersue of "Tigersue's Jungle"

I have always believed that it is better to learn from other's mistakes so that I can avoid repeating those errors. I figure I make enough mistakes on my own. If I can stay away from those pit falls that others have lived, maybe I can circumvent some of the sorrow and pain of poor choices and lack of foresight. I cannot say that I am perfect at this goal (that would be an understatement), but I think my life has been easier because of this way of learning.

For years, I have been one of those individuals that would be stuck reading the Book of Alma. Now as a parent, I find the teaching and pleading of Alma and Alma the Younger to touch my soul. I have wondered how much of their experiences influenced not only the mistakes their children made, but how they taught the gospel to those in their ministry.

While he listened to the words of Abinadi, Alma's heart softens, and converts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is only a young man at the time, around 25 years old. He had the integrity to leave and not follow in the wickednessof King Noah even at the threat of his own life. There is no information on his family. Was he married? Did he have children? How did this change affect them? It would seem that to be part of King Noahs priests there must have been some degree of affluence and prosperity. To leave everything, as did Lehi of old must have been very difficult and if he had children, they might have some residual memory of comforts.

Many years later, we meet a son, Alma the Younger. Alma is an old man, according to the dates in the Book of Mormon, he is somewhere between 70-82 years old. Alma the Younger's description in Mosiah 27:8

[Alma] became a very wicked and idolatrous man. He was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.

He had the ability to influence the population to the point of drawing many from the church of God and lead many away from the commandments and the laws of the kingdom. He was rebelling against God. Taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, heknew what was right and wrong and was willfully defying Gods commands.

His Father in sorrow prayed for his son to be brought back to the fold of God. I imagine the tears, the heartache that all his teaching, all his warnings, and perhaps even his testimony of mistakes he may have made as a priest of King Noah weighed heavily on Almas mind. Surely, he would have taught his son these things, and let him know the difference in the heart. Alma the Younger choosesnot to listen to the experiences of his father, but rather had to learn for himself.

Many years later, this cycle is repeated as Alma the Younger, writes his letters to his sons. One in particular has grieved his heart, and I once again wonder at the age of the children involved. Is it possible that at the time of Alma the Younger's rebellion that he could have been married, and had children. Could these children remember the actions of a rebellious father? As I read his letters,I see a man pleading with them to remember what he learned, the hard way, that they will not make the same errors and suffer the torment he suffered. All through Alma, Chapters 36-42, we read statements that declare personal understanding of doctrine.

Alma 36: 20 ...Soul was filled with joy as exceedingly as was my pain!...

Alma 37: 35 ...Learn wisdom in thy Youth...

Alma 38: 9....I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me....

Alma 39:8
...Ye cannot hide your crimes from God...

Alma 39:19 ....Is it not as easy at this time for the Lord to send his Angel....?

Alma 41: 10 ...Wickedness never was happiness....

Alma 42:1 And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen.

There are many other statements throughout these wonderful letters to Alma the Younger's sons that testify of his experiences and the wisdom he gained from them. As a parent,I want my children to learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. I want them to be able to grasp the iron rod and have faith in God. I want them to be able to learn that it is possible to repent of mistakes and sins. Yes,I want them to have an easy life. What parent does not? But, they must learn to accept the consequences of their choices and actions so they can also teach their children to learn from their mistakes. I have learned to love Alma and Alma the Younger as I imagine what their life had been like. I have thought about what they learned as they accepted the will of God in directing their path. I hope that I can garner such strength and faith. I hope that as you read the book of Alma that you might see this teaching of his sons can also apply to us today.


T. F. Stern said...

Just a simple thought came to mind, about being interviewed as I was about to become a police officer. I sat answering all manner of strange questions, having lived a sheltered life for the most part, they seemed surreal. I explained that I'd seen others take paths that led in the wrong direction and I didn't want the problems they had; very similar to your opening remarks.

Tigersue said...

I would imagine that would be a bit strange wouldn't it. I have known many that just seem to have to learn on their own and not from the example and experience of others. Although they have overcome some hefty trials, it has been hard to watch them go through it all.

Mary A said...

Thank you for such a thought-provoking post, tigersue. I will read Alma with some additional thoughts on my mind about learning from others.