This has been a year of deep and personal introspection. I am learning a lot about myself, a lot about the people I love the most, and a lot about my Heavenly Father. It seems like there are a lot of people that I care for or meet throughout each day that are really struggling this year. It seems to be ‘that kind of year’- like El Nino for life challenges, obstacles, and treading through the muck! I was waxing a little nostalgic this afternoon, and came across a letter that my daughter wrote while serving a proselyting mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At the time, I thought her perspective on the popular kids game, Chutes & Ladders was so insightful. I wanted to share the letter here- some of us might be in the ladders part of our life sized game- climbing high, reaching goals, and feeling accomplished. And some of us might be in that “chute” part of our game- where it seems like no matter how far we had climbed, we are completely helpless as that chute rushes us back to, or below, our starting point.
One of my favorite games when I was a little kid was a fun little board game called ‘Chutes and Ladders.’
There was nothing more exciting than landing on a ladder that took you all the way to the very top, and yet there was nothing more frustrating than being at the very top, and slipping on a chute that took you all the way back to square 1.
The cool thing about that game was that it didn’t matter how slow or fast you climbed the ladder, because there was always the possibility of slipping on a chute or stumbling on a long, long ladder. As long as you kept rolling the dice and playing the game, progress was always being made, no matter how slowly.
I feel like my mission is just one big game of Chutes and Ladders. There are times where all that my companion and I are doing are knocking on doors, dying of heat, and making cookies to bring by to people. There are times where we are busy, teaching, and seeing miracles around every corner, even preparing for a baptism. But just like in the game, we never know when a chute is going to come our way, or how deep the chute is going to go.
We were doing companionship study one morning and were trying to organize everything for the a family’s baptism (which was scheduled for this upcoming Saturday.) It had been kind of hard to get in contact with them for the past week, because the mom is really sick, they have been having a lot of family stress, and they have just been busy. We went by with a card to let them know that we were thinking of them, rang their bell, and got no answer. They did answer their phone though, and said she was home, but didn’t want to let us inside. My heart sunk as I heard Sister E talking with her on the phone, trying her best to console our friend, offer our help, and bear testimony of every truth that we so cherish.
I didn’t need Sister E to explain it to me- I knew that we had just been dropped. They don’t want us coming by anymore. It really is heartbreaking, especially to see them experience a total 180 change, and then decide that they are too stressed to meet with the missionaries. It was kind of a challenging day and a very challenging experience.
But the thing about sliding down chutes, is that there are always stairs that lead right back to the top again.”
In the life sized version of the game, just like in the board game, is that you can only climb back up that ladder if you keep rolling the dice. You’ve got to stay in the game! No matter how many times you hit a ‘chute’, if you don’t keep rolling, you’ll NEVER get back to a ladder!
I don’t know if there is any way to express how many times this year that I have had to remind myself of this simple fact-“TK” (I talk to myself a lot), “you’ve got to STAY in the game if you want to make it back to a ladder”-
I don’t know where you are right now-
it might be a ladder,
it might be a pretty extreme chute…
But, to stay in the game and finish the course, you’ve got to keep rolling that dice!