Gospel Explorer
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“Gospel Explorer,” Ensign, Apr. 1993, 62

Gospel Explorer

I was born with brain damage, unable to walk until I was eight or speak until I was in my teens. But there was never anything wrong with my intellect.

I forced myself to walk, read, write, and speak. My first employment after leaving school was as an errand boy in a cotton mill. I progressed through various jobs until my long climb up the education ladder culminated in an advanced diploma in education.

In spite of these struggles to achieve, I have always given thanks to my Maker for the excitement of living with a disability. I was baptized into the Church in 1959 and gained a profound testimony, which gave me a new strength. But I still fight to overcome difficulties. Nevertheless, I am able to work and have been financially independent. Heavenly Father has blessed me abundantly. Among these blessings are my wife and three children.

It was a devastating experience, then, to visit my doctor and be told that I had to retire from my job as a senior teacher because my state of health would not permit me to go on working. How could I retire at fifty-two, with my disability, and start a new career? I could not envision a future without a job! I determined that I would recover. I would not give up. I felt that I had overcome tremendous odds in my life before, and that I could come through again.

But ultimately, I had to admit defeat. I had given my all to the job and could not give any more. Through prayer I gained a measure of composure and confidence for my future, uncertain though it might be. I was amazed that I could lose my job, and yet feel peace, through the comfort I received from the Lord.

On the issue of restoring my health, I was guided through prayer to seek the restful effects of nature. Spending time enjoying God’s wonderful creations had a restorative, rejuvenating effect on me. Soon my ability to concentrate was restored, and I was again able to study the scriptures rather than just read them. This led to blessings that I had not dreamed would come.

Prayerfully, I developed a series of steps to help me study the scriptures thoroughly as I read. I was able to personalize them so that they applied to my life, and I worked out action plans to make the principles I studied part of my daily living. I constantly asked myself two questions: What did I learn from trying to live what I read today? What am I doing differently or better as a consequence?

Sometimes I could not answer these questions satisfactorily. It is humbling and enlightening to learn of one’s weaknesses and then to have to wrestle with them. At those times, serious supplication to Heavenly Father would always teach me the truth about myself and aid in improvement.

I decided to keep a log, an honest account of what occurred as I tried to live gospel principles. It helped me (1) draw conclusions from my experiences in living gospel principles and (2) determine how to better apply those principles in light of what I learned about my personal traits, strengths, and weaknesses.

Quite predictably, I occasionally lapsed in some areas. But something of much greater scope also emerged. My scripture study helped me to put gospel learning on my permanent agenda. This has greatly helped me as I have sought to develop traits and characteristics acceptable to the Lord.

  • Alan Counsell, a lecturer and consultant on disability, helps companies hire people with disabilities. He is a member of the Milton Keynes Ward, Northampton England Stake.