Relatively Simple


I had studied and prayed. Why wasn’t I getting it?

Two twins get in a rocket ship.

Wait, no, that’s not it.

One twin gets in the rocket ship, and the other stays behind. And when the twin in the rocket ship gets back he’s older. No … he’s younger than the one who stayed at home. And this all has something to do with traveling at the speed of light?

I stopped to scratch my head and let out a long sigh. The theory of relativity was one of the first things we had studied in my physical science class, and here I was, just about to take my first-ever university final and still completely in the dark about the speed of light.

Everything else in the class was as clear as a newly polished test tube, but for some reason my brain couldn’t wrap itself around Einstein’s theory. And I had to understand it since it would make up a significant part of my final exam.

I had been praying for help to understand it all semester. I had put all my effort into it and still wasn’t any closer to even a glimpse of comprehension. Why wasn’t the Lord helping me? Didn’t He know how important this class was to me?

On the day of my physical science final, I answered every question until I got to the dreaded relativity essay. “Heavenly Father,” I thought. “I’ve done my best, now please help me to get this right!”

I sat and I sat, and nothing came. Finally I just finished the rest of the test and left downhearted.

As I stepped out the door of the testing center, into my mind came the theory of relativity but, this time, I completely understood all I had been taught. And I knew that this flash of pure knowledge came from Heavenly Father. After months of struggle, it was just there all of a sudden. I wondered why the Lord couldn’t have revealed this knowledge to me a few minutes earlier while I was still taking the test.

As I pondered, the Lord taught me something else I needed to learn. The grade wasn’t the most important thing. It was learning that mattered. And more important than learning the theory of relativity, I learned that all knowledge comes from the Lord. He can help me to understand anything if I do my part, regardless of whether I have an exam or not.

Years later I still have a clear understanding of what I learned about relativity, and the Lord continues to teach me about many other subjects as I diligently seek His help.

Learning Is Forever

“Education continues as long as we live. If there is ever an end to secular learning, surely there is no end to spiritual learning.”

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “To Be Learned Is Good If … ,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 72.

All of a sudden I understood. But why didn’t the Lord give me that clear understanding just a few minutes earlier while I was still taking the test?

Illustration by Scott Snow