New leadership change in the Avarua Cook Islands, District, Auckland New Zealand Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day-Saints. Centre – President Piltz and Tarani Napa, left, Pres. Angaroakau Aretoa Arera and Luduina Williams and right, Pres Turori and Fiona Matutu. SUPPLIED/21111820
We all face challenges that shape the course of our lives. But that shape and that course are still ours to choose, writes Angaroakau Williams, the first counselor and communication director of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
With a new year on the horizon, it’s traditional to
reflect on the year that has passed. And what a year it has been! A global
pandemic, natural calamities, social unrest, political turmoil – so many
problems and protests, disasters and disagreements have swirled around us. At
the same time, we’ve also had moments we will forever cherish.
As we look back on 2021, we see good and bad, ups and
downs, things we’d like to forget, and things we hope to remember.
Even so, most of us feel like we’re ready for a fresh
start, a new beginning. That’s the beautiful thing about a new year. It’s full
of possibilities, full of hope – or, as Charles Dickens might say, full of
In his novel by that name, Dickens chronicles the
lives of characters who endure many injustices. Pip is orphaned, betrayed,
jilted, and humbled. Estella likewise endures cruel manipulations, heartache,
and disappointment. In the end, after these two characters have grown older and
wiser, Estella reflects on their experiences. “Suffering has been stronger than
all other teaching,” she says. “… I have been bent and broken, but – I
hope – into a better shape.”
We all face challenges that shape the course of our
lives. But that shape and that course are still ours to choose. Will we be
hardened or softened by our hardships? Will our difficulties drive us to seek
better things in this new year, or will they drag us down, causing us to turn
our back on belief and hope? In the wake of sharp contentions, will we work
toward reconciliation and peace or wallow in division and anger? When we feel
bent and broken under the weight of life’s heavy burdens, will we, like
Estella, be bent and broken into a better shape?
To be sure, this past year has been a struggle, a
great sorrow for far too many of us. But through it all, we carry on, we hope
on, we trust in God and find comfort and strength in Him. That is our “great
expectation”— to bear with perspective and courage whatever the future holds,
trusting that if we are bent and broken, we will emerge from it “into a better