Closed Doors and Open Windows
December 1993

“Closed Doors and Open Windows,” Ensign, Dec. 1993, 58

Closed Doors and Open Windows

Disappointments in life can bring growth and progress.

“It’s as if someone closed a door in my face,” my friend told me. He had tried to get a job as a teacher. He even took vacation time from his other work to do his required student teaching. He had sacrificed time and money only to find out, along with hundreds of other applicants, that he had not been hired.

Years later, I met my friend again. He was happily established in a career in which he found great satisfaction. “What about your teaching career?” I asked.

“I was crushed at the time,” he said. “But, looking back, I can see that not getting that job was the best thing that ever happened to me.” That closed door had forced him to search himself, stretch and develop, and find out where he would be most productive and happy.

One young woman, after waiting for her missionary to return, was disappointed to find he was no longer interested in her. She was hurt and angry, and her self-confidence was shaken. Later, after she was happily married in the temple to another young man, she ran into this particular returned missionary again. It was clear from their discussion that the right decision had been made; they simply were not for each other.

At times, all of us run into closed doors. They are rarely pleasant and seldom wanted. However, when seen in an eternal perspective, closed doors may actually be helpful to us as they lead us to open windows of even greater opportunities.

Adam and Eve faced one of the first closed doors: Cherubim and a flaming sword were placed to keep them from the tree of life. (See Moses 4:31.) Why? Didn’t God want them to live forever? Didn’t he want them to be happy? Of course he did, and that is precisely why the “door” to the fruit of the tree of life had to be closed.

If Adam and Eve had immediately partaken of the tree of life, they would have lived forever, but lived forever in their sins. It was not immortality that God wanted to prevent. Rather, it was immortality in an unrepentant state—immortality without the possibility of ever returning to God’s presence. (See Alma 42:5.) In God’s preplanned mercy, he granted Adam and Eve a probationary and preparatory state.

The cherubim and flaming sword were not evidence of God’s anger and rejection. Rather, they were evidence of his benevolence and love. This “closed door” existed not to bar Adam and Eve from God but to point them toward the open window of Christ’s atonement, which would enable them to return to God and live with him forever.

“It was as if someone closed a door in my face,” my friend had said. At the same time he was confused, wondering why the Lord was not giving him what he desired. Yet, years later, he was grateful that Heavenly Father had guided him when he was bound up in his own limited vision and perspective.

When certain events in our lives appear to be setbacks, and when prayers seem to go unanswered, we can react positively. Instead of feeling discouraged and seeing setbacks as God’s disinterest in us, we can ask ourselves and the Lord these questions: What other options are open to me? What would the Lord have me do now? We can have faith that the Lord will help us and that we will find answers.

In every aspect of our lives, the closed doors we encounter may lead us toward open windows of opportunity.

  • Brad Wilcox serves as a nursery leader in the Grandview Ninth Ward, Provo Utah Grandview Stake.

Illustrated by Tom Child