Cover photo ©Warner Bros.
It was one in the morning at a bus station in Chile, and everything was still and quiet. Even the street dogs seem more subdued, I thought as I moved my foot out from underneath one that had collapsed on top of me. I held my backpack a little tighter, and I leaned against my tired companion’s head, which rested on my shoulder, as the third hour of waiting for my bus came to a close. These nights of picking up and dropping off missionaries at the bus station in between transfers were always random. We never knew if our bus was going to be a few minutes early or a few hours late. This particular night, we had the latter. Our zone leaders kindly waited with us and another companionship of elders who were waiting as well, and we soon began discussing a few movies we’d missed while on the mission. All of the sudden, one of the elders perked up and said something had been bothering him for a long time.
“I never understood how Harry Potter, a misfortunate orphan with a terrible childhood, could find out he was a wizard and get accepted into a prestigious wizarding school and still get bad grades and slack off. If I was accepted into Hogwarts to become a wizard, I’d freaking pay attention in class!”
I was dumbstruck. Of course! How could Harry be so reckless? I recalled reading the books and thinking of all the times Harry and Ron ditched their homework to go to Quidditch practice or to steal ingredients to make a polyjuice potion. They blamed their lack of success in potions class on Professor Snape, because he obviously hated them. But why would anyone take MAGIC CLASSES for granted? Hermione sure didn’t. Her attitude seemed the exact opposite. She took advantage of every moment she had to learn and understand everything she could about this new world she was introduced to. She took harnessing her new-found power very seriously and, consequently, became known as the most clever witch in her class. I suddenly realized that Hermione was the only rational one in the group. Knowing this made Harry’s situation more baffling.
Imagine what a privilege it was for Harry Potter to have the opportunity to leave the empty, dull life on Privet Drive and enter a new world where he was given nearly limitless power and instruction on how to use it. He squandered his potential by not paying attention in class and by taking his education for granted! I remember lying awake in my bed until midnight on my eleventh birthday, just for the off chance a magic owl would swoop in and drop off a letter addressed to me. I remember feeling disappointed for a moment that such a magical, mystical place didn’t exist (or at least not for a poor muggle like me). How could Harry act so blasé about his fantastic life?!
I realized that I do the exact same thing.
Someone once appeared and told me I am much more than an ordinary human, I’m a Child of God! I have been accepted to come to this earth to be tested and to gain experience so that one day, I can become an exalted and celestial being. I was invited to leave my dreary state in the pre-existence to gain a physical body so I could act according to my agency and learn how to choose the right. I was blessed with amazing teachers who instructed me on how to use my new found power and responsibility here in mortality so that I could one day use my gifts to choose the path of my Savior and example, Jesus Christ. Despite my immense privilege, I often choose not to pay attention in class. How ridiculous! I’ve been given limitless potential, and I squander my time by not paying attention. Granted, it’s not easy to be completely focused and maintain that eternal perspective every day. Living with a wand would definitely become pretty normal sooner or later. But if I could maintain the I’m-the-luckiest-person-alive feeling, if I could train myself to keep that eternal perspective and wake up everyday with the determination to take advantage of every moment, how would my actions change? Well, I’ll tell you: I would be a happy, hardworking Hermione who has accepted her lot and is doing her best to make the most of it. I would be a little more hopeful, a little more faithful, and probably much, much happier because I would know that I’m perfection in the making!
You can argue that Harry had a lot to worry about with all the dark forces of evil convening against him every year of his education, but that is exactly what we are dealing with! There is a terrible villain who wants nothing more than to destroy our chances of a happy life, but the joke’s on him, because with every trial, we become stronger and more experienced. Every trial we get through makes us more capable to overcome future trials.
Life doesn’t always seem fair, but everything is stacked in our favor. In God’s eyes, we’ve already won. As the scriptures say, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than be with them” (2 Kings 6:16). Our faith is like a powerful wand in our hands, but we’ve got to learn how to use it before all of its power is revealed to us. Let’s all pay closer attention in class and practice our swish and flick.