"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
April 8, 2013
Preparing for the Challenges of Life
by Kathryn H. Kidd

When I got home from the hospital, there were three months of television waiting for me to watch. I felt rich! All our favorite reality shows had been preserved through the miracle of Tivo, and were waiting for Fluffy and me to pick and choose from the smorgasbord of visual treasures.

We soon tucked ourselves in and started watching episodes of our favorite television series, “The Amazing Race.” We were able to watch the end of last season’s episodes, and the beginning of this season’s. This meant we were able to observe two groups of hapless travelers go around the world, totally unprepared for the experience.

Anyone who has watched “The Amazing Race” knows there are some things that the teams are absolutely going to need to do before the end of the competition. Here are a few:

  • Drive a standard transmission (stick shift). Not every country’s automobiles are the same as the ones in the United States, and not every rental car has an automatic transmission.

  • Read a map. This should be a no-brainer when you’re traveling in unfamiliar terrain.

  • Follow directions: At every juncture of the trip, team members are given clues they will have to read and instructions they will have to follow to reach their next destination.

  • Conquer their fear of heights: Like it or not, at least one person from every team is going to have to jump off a bridge with a bungee cord or rappel down the tallest building in a distant country. It may even be both team members. The people who plan “The Amazing Race” have a lot of fun pitting the teams against their fear of heights.

  • Learn how to swim. At some point in the race, people are going to have to swim. The problem is, nobody knows which team member is going to be immersed. That means both team members should be swimmers of at least average ability. It is dumfounding that just about every season there is someone who cannot swim.

  • Run. At every pit stop and especially at the end of the race, team members run to beat out other teams. Anyone who can’t run will probably not make it to the winners’ circle.

  • Light a fire. Okay, I confess I’ve never seen contestants on “The Amazing Race” have to light a fire. But one would think the players of “Survivor” would know two or three ways to light a fire without matches before they ever got stranded on the island. After all, they don’t have plumbing. They can’t even drink the water they find unless they boil it first — and boiling can’t be done without a flame.

Despite the evidence from past seasons, Fluffy and I are constantly amazed at people who start running “The Amazing Race” without having any experience driving a stick shift or reading a map or following directions. There are invariably people who get penalized for not following the route or people who get lost because they can’t read maps, or people who get stuck in the middle of nowhere because they were given an automobile with a stick shift and they can’t figure out how to make one work.

The same goes double for the “Survivor” castaways. Most of the contestants (and the women almost invariably) stand around and wait for somebody else to light that first fire. More often than not, nobody on the team can do it and they have to shiver in the rain without eating or drinking anything until they are given fire at their first tribal council.

Fluffy and I watch the reality show contestants fail at what should be rudimentary tasks, and we just shake our heads. “Why can’t people prepare ahead of time to learn things they know they’re going to have to do?” we ask each other. “Where are their brains?”

But the same can be said for all of us. Just as contestants need to prepare for “The Amazing Race,” all of us need to prepare for the amazing race that is called life. One thing I’ve learned in the past three months is that life is fragile, and can be taken away at any moment and without warning. What are we doing to prepare for that great day?

I don’t mean we should hide in our closets and pray and read scriptures until the time comes. That isn’t the way God expects us to live our lives. On the contrary, we are supposed to be in the thick of life — living and laughing and loving, but always with our senses attuned to the people around us so we can offer love and support when it is needed.

There are lessons we all need to learn here — lessons that are as unique to each individual as our fingerprints. Do we see those lessons when the opportunity presents itself, or are we so busy with the minutiae of life that we overlook them and never learn the things we were put on Earth to learn?

Unlike “The Amazing Race,” there cannot be just one winner in life. In fact, God wants all of us to be winners and to return to Him triumphant at the end of this mortal existence.


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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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