In 1987, Emily Perl Kingsley wrote an essay entitled, “Welcome to Holland.” She said:
“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability—to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this . . .
“When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip—to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
“After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, ‘Welcome to Holland.’
“‘Holland?!’ you say. ‘What do you mean, Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.’
“But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
“The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
“So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
“It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around . . . and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills . . . and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
“But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy . . . and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’
“And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away. . . . Because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.
“But . . . if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things . . . about Holland.”
And so it is in our lives, too . . . at first there is a shock—“This is not how I pictured it.” But once we decide to accept and trust in the Lord’s plan for us, we can begin to appreciate the many blessings that are also in store.
We, the women of the last dispensation, are not the only ones who have had grand plans—Alma wished that he were an angel so that he “might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people” (Alma 29:1). Now I would say that was a righteous desire!
But later he realized, “I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me. . . . Why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?” (Alma 29:3, 6).
Being content with the things allotted to us takes great faith—and a shift in our focus from the things we do not have to the talents and blessings which we have been given. As we do this, faith will replace doubt, hope will replace despair, and charity will replace self-pity.