5 Words That Changed Elder Holland’s Graduate School Experience

5 Words That Changed Elder Holland’s Graduate School Experience

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Image via Aggieland Mormons

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is a beloved speaker and leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a master teacher, with a gift for sharing experiences from his life in a powerful way that imparts memorable lessons. Many of us can recall, for example, his story of pulling a small U-Haul trailer behind his family’s old car, only to have the car break down–twice–after driving just 34 miles of his family’s 2,600 mile journey to graduate school.

One of my favorite experiences of Elder Holland’s occurred early in his married life–before that fateful drive from St. George to New Haven–when he was serving as a bishop in Seattle, Washington. Anyone who has ever been to college or graduate school can almost certainly relate to his experience, but the lesson he learned is one that anyone can apply in almost any meaningful context. A decision that seemed relatively small and inconsequential turned out to have an unexpectedly significant impact on his future. I have tried to always remember Elder Holland’s invitation, at the end of this story, to “knock one more door.”

Here is the experience, in Elder Holland’s own words:

One summer in Seattle, I was taking a class that was particularly demanding. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic over the teacher, and the material he used in the course seemed uneven and often unwisely chosen. But I jumped in and tried to ride the waves as best I could.

Just as a major midterm paper was coming due, my parents called and said they were coming to visit us. That was, of course, wonderful news. We needed a shot in the arm from our parents just as you do from yours. They had never been to the Northwest, and we wanted to show them everything. However, time was going to be a bit of a problem. I was teaching a full summer schedule and taking this class on the side. And like the iceberg and the Titanic in Thomas Hardy’s poem, my parents and this paper converged upon me at exactly the same moment. Now there’s no sense even discussing which option was most attractive to me. We had not seen my parents in more than eighteen months, and I’ve already told you how I felt about the class. Furthermore, the class was an optional thing I was doing. After all, this wasn’t the university at which I would be doing my graduate work, and certainly no one but I cared whether I did well in the class or not.

Well, as fate would have it, my parents arrived on a Friday, and my paper was due the next Monday. I had had the good sense to go to work on it reasonably early, so it wasn’t as though I had to do it all over one weekend. (I had tried that at BYU and found that it didn’t work very well.) So I had the paper virtually complete, except for one thing. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t right. I had to work more on it.

Read the whole article at Aggieland Mormons.


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