Life is a Work in Progress

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(This is an excerpt from the book The Gospel of Second Chances by Lloyd D. Newell.)

A woman who had made some serious mistakes confided to a friend, “I think my life had a good beginning, and it’s had some good parts and hard parts. But now I wonder how it will all turn out in the end.” Her friend offered this insight: “A life story isn’t told in one chapter. And a book isn’t finished until the last page. If you can learn from the mistakes of the past and do a little better, then you can write the next chapter better than the last. Today is the day to live, to change, to grow.”

Life is a work in progress. There may be paragraphs or pages or whole chapters that we’d like to revise. But we cannot edit the past. And perhaps we shouldn’t want to. A book with no tragedies or conflicts or challenges is a dull book, and there can always be a happy ending. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf wisely observed that the hero or heroine of every story you can think of has one thing in common: “They must overcome adversity . . . between their ‘once upon a time’ and ‘happily ever after.’” This is equally true for our life stories.

The thing to remember is that life is not like reading a book that has already been written, the ending of the story already determined. We are the writer—not the reader. We get to determine the ending. “How you react to adversity and temptation,” President Uchtdorf noted, “is a critical factor in whether or not you arrive at your own ‘happily ever after.’”

Thankfully, we don’t have to write our story alone. There is One who knows our life story from the beginning to the end. He knows where we’ve already been, and He knows where we need to go and where we have the potential to go. He knows our heart and desires, our strengths and weaknesses, our joys and aspirations, and our heartaches and sorrows. He is our Heavenly Father, the great Author of life. If we will let Him, He will guide us to the happy ending for which all of us hope. And if something needs to be rewritten to bring our story to that happy ending, the great Author can prepare an improved and enhanced edition. We cannot edit the past, but He can.

Benjamin Franklin offered this insight when he wrote his own epitaph: “[Here lies] the body of Benjamin Franklin, . . . (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and guilding) . . . ; but the work shall not be lost, for it will . . . appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.” The great Author of life is also the Editor and Rebuilder and Healer of our life. He believes in our capacity to change, and He will help us to rejoice and be glad for this day of change.

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