It seems to me that the Lord is in the business of preparing us for things to come. 3 examples in my own life:
1. On my mission, each companion/area of mine was given to me for a reason. From them, I learned valuable lessons that gave me a great advantage later on. For example: I served with a missionary that I didn't get along with as easily as my previous companions. I tried hard to foster a relationship and to build a friendship but my efforts seemed to be in vain. This was a difficult 6 weeks for me BUT it taught me how to love unconditionally. I learned that I could love a person without being loved back. I could serve someone without expecting it returned to me. How grateful I was for the next 17 months to use this skill! This is a true attribute of Jesus Christ that I began learning from this companion.
2. Marriage plays a vital role in God's plan for our happiness. Although I don't believe that there is a one and only "soul-mate" that we are intended to find, I do believe that there are individuals with whom we are more compatible and have the opportunity of being happier with. Each relationship I've been in has taught me something about what to look for in a future wife. The Lord has prepared me through them and helped me understand the importance of things such as reciprocity, commitment to the gospel, and similarity in interests/goals.
3. Understanding that the Lord works in this way and prepares us for things to come, I've often wondered why it is that I've been struggling so much financially this summer. Its caused me to prioritize and identify what things are needs and what things are merely wants. I'm finding that I'm much less worried about comparing what I have to what others have and its really helping me to grow! These lessons will have wide applicability throughout my life but I've recognized one thing in particular: As a parent it will be of much greater importance to take care of the temporal needs of my children than to try and "Compete with the Jones.'" And I might as well get used to being poor if I actually have as many kids as I've always joked around about having! (10)