Alma the Younger’s story in the Book of Mormon is one that I’m so grateful for. Like Paul in the New Testament, the story of Alma gives me hope. In our tumultuous and turbulent times, I need that hope. I need to believe in the power of individuals to change. I need to believe even bleak things can be transformed.
This has been an emotional week for all in the United States, and a heartbreaking one for so many. I don’t have the words to offer my many friends who are sorrowing.
I have been very vocal about my feelings on the candidates. One would expect that I would similarly be heartbroken and despairing. But my emotions this week have been a lot more nuanced.
There’s no guarantee that evil will be overcome or that good will triumph in the short run. The believers in Amalickiah were burned alive, Christ was crucified, evil wins at times. And yet, the scriptures offer hope that people can change and that unexpected good can arise even from the darkness.
President Uchtdorf’s depiction of Alma the Younger during conference really hit home for me:
“Every citizen of the Nephite nation must have known Alma’s story. The Twitters, Instagrams, and Facebooks of his day would have been filled with images and stories about him. He probably appeared regularly on the cover of the Zarahemla Weekly and was the subject of editorials and network specials. In short, he was perhaps the most well-known celebrity of his day.”
President Uchtdorf was speaking about his time as chief judge, but I suspect that this was actually true even at the time of his conversion. As the son of the chief judge he must have been deeply in the public eye. Imagine how people must have felt about his conversion. I imagine that many might have doubted or believed he was insincere. I imagine he must have been treated with suspicion as was Paul. And yet..Alma changed and did an incredible amount of good.
As one who experienced a pretty remarkable conversion, I believe in the power of human beings to change drastically in a short time. I am optimistic because I am hopeful about human potential. Because of that, I am less certain about my judgments of others. I am open to the possibility of being pleasantly surprised.
I don’t think we can ignore pain or sorrow. We don’t need to be pollyanish or ignore real risk or danger. But we also need to see the unexpected possibilities in others.