Footsteps of faith
I soon saw why. President Ballard’s references to the pioneers really resonated with me in the midst of my own difficult journey. In a way, I’m something of a pioneer. I’ve had my first visit to the emergency room, my first hospital stay, and my first surgery. The road I’m walking now is unexpectedly new to me. But that new road just heightens my need to take footsteps of faith.
My pioneer mission
Despite the newness of my current road, I’m not entirely in unfamiliar territory. I covered ground much like this on my mission. Being sick all the time with symptoms that came and went so much I couldn’t tell you what the next day would be like, let alone when exactly it would end. That sounds a lot like the road I’m on right now.
President Ballard mentioned his own missionary service in his address, and it caused me to reflect on my own service, particularly how it prepared me for my life. It’s provided me a foundation for each new segment of my life journey.
That’s why I really appreciated President Ballard’s initial words. Right out of the gate, he starts with bold testimony:
I need that hope now as I face my current challenges. It’s one thing to say it’ll all be over because I go home at the end of two years. It’s another when you don’t have such a marker in sight.
Pioneers and prophets
It’s not altogether surprising President Ballard centered his remarks around pioneers. He’s spoken in past Conferences about his pioneer ancestors and the lessons they offered him — and through him to all of us.
Such references often get me thinking about my own pioneer ancestors. I don’t know much about them because the principle one never kept a journal. Perhaps my knowledge of my ancestors’ lives will change one day.
In the meantime, I can lean on others like President Ballard to fill that gap. I was particularly impressed when he shared,
How many of us have really thought about that? It’s easy to get wrapped up in the difficulties of our own lives, so much so we can easily forget that the story of how we confronted our challenges could help those who come after us confront theirs. Knowing my response can help others gives me strength to make a better choice.
President Ballard spoke of other pioneers. In particular, he mentioned President Nelson:
I so very much appreciated that quote from President Nelson, for if I ever needed a miracle, I need one now. What a tender mercy!
Our pioneer Savior
Of course, President Ballard saved the best example for last — our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That’s altogether fitting since Christ is the ultimate anything good. Plus President Ballard’s remarks are entitled “Follow Jesus Christ with Footsteps of Faith.” It’s not just walking in faith. It’s walking the path of Christ in faith.
Moreover, it’s not walking behind Him so much as it is beside Him. That concept I find especially comforting in my current difficulties. Don’t get me wrong. This road has been very rough, and I’m just getting started with it. But even in my most painful moments, the Lord has never abandoned me. He has stood beside me through it all. His walk beside me in my moments of difficulty invites me to walk beside Him in my moments of ease (which will come one day, for eventually this all will pass).
President Ballard’s testimony of the Savior especially moved me.
Whatever road in life, may we each seek to follow Jesus Christ with footsteps of faith. He’ll strengthen us to become shining examples for those who follow us. He’ll encourage us through the voice of His Spirit and His living Prophet. And He will stand ready to lift us to higher ground as our trials bring our glean to a brilliant glorious sheen. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
An unexpected promise
Regardless of what’s going on there, I know the Lord will be with me to see me through. I know that because He’s always been with me throughout this entire ordeal. He’s never left my side. In fact, he gave me a wonderful experience. The Lord has bolstered my faith through an unexpected promise.
A promise made
Going into the hospital, I had no insurance. I’ve been looking at options in recent years, but I always made too much money to qualify for Medicaid, and what remained was simply not affordable. Something had to change, because there’s no way I can pay all the bills I’m racking up. But with all the stress of it on me, I thought to put it off until after I get out of the hospital.
Sunday I was reading in the D&C and came upon an interesting verse. The Prophet Joseph had traveled to Salem, Massachusetts, to pursue a claim of funds that could help alleviate the debts of the Church. Then I read this verse: “Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them” (D&C 111:5).
I’d read that verse many times before, but this time it struck me with great force. I felt as though a way would be prepared for me, that I didn’t need to worry about it and could focus on getting through this experience in the hospital. I set my concerns about payment aside, but I had no idea what lay in store for me.
A promise fulfilled
The next day, I find text messages which my brother had sent me while I slept. His wife rarely speaks out with any sort of intervention in my life, but she had one that night and urged my brother to share it with me.
She spoke from her previous experience working as an office manager for an assisted living home. And the advice was simple. "Let the hospital help you apply for Medicaid, and let them decide whether or not you qualify." I had looked at that earlier in the month and thought I didn’t qualify. But having nothing to lose by following that counsel, I pursued it.
I started with the number for the case manager who had visited me earlier. Eventually, I connected with someone who submitted an application for me. And the application came back approved. The real miracle of this event is that coverage begins from the first day of the month from the application date. I applied on the last day of the month, so everything from the moment I first walked into the emergency room would be covered.
A faith bolstered
I didn’t expect the Lord’s promise to be fulfilled so quickly. I thought everything would get resolved after I got out of the hospital. But in His love and mercy, He opened a way for His promise to be fulfilled.
That may seem like a trite, little story, but the thought that came to me after I understood my expenses would be covered was neither trite nor little. Through the Spirit, the Lord reminded me of the promise He made me regarding my eternal companion and testified that promise was still real. Just as He fulfilled this unexpected promise regarding my medical expenses, He would open the way for His promise of an eternal companion to be fulfilled.
D&C 111 isn’t one of those sections that one would expect to provide special, faith-promoting experiences. Yet an unexpected promise I received while reading that section has given me a much needed bolster to my faith, and I remain grateful to God for His love and mercy.
So open yourself to unexpected promises. These tender mercies from the Lord can lead to the bolster of faith you may need in your life. As you share that experience with others, you can help them increase their faith. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That attitude can greatly bless the lives of us LDS singles as we interact with each other. Too often we see opportunities to interact through the lens of dating, which often pulls us away from blessing others’ lives. Seeing through the lens of friendship, we’ll more often provide needed assistance. It’s time for LDS singles to re-hoist friendship in dating and singles groups.
In the video, John admits he couldn’t “fix” Troy, nor did he attempt to. In fact, the casual observer might conclude John didn’t do much at all.
John certainly wanted to help, but given everything so many others were doing, John didn’t see much for him to do. Then he started doing something more of us need to do more often; he listened. John invited Troy to ride with him in his truck and let Troy say whatever he wanted. John simply listened.
There’s probably a lot the video doesn’t show. But the simple act of listening is beyond profound. We all have a basic human need to be heard and to feel understood. By not directing Troy or trying to give him something, John showed complete respect for Troy’s agency. And by simply listening to Troy, John declared he would stand by Troy regardless of the path Troy chose or what pace he pursued. That’s the mark of a true friend.
What blessing could we be to other LDS singles if we simply listened more? Instead of interacting only with those whom we want to date, what if we interacted with everyone with an interest in understanding them or simply letting them be heard? By putting aside the personal agenda, we re-hoist friendship to its rightful valued place.
Many LDS singles see a duality in their local Church community, especially in geographic wards. There’s the singles and the marrieds. It’s an extremely common perspective among singles.
But the story in the video takes a different perspective. The two groups there were the grieving (Troy and his family) and the supporters (everyone else trying to help). That’s significant. John viewed Troy as a brother, not someone fundamentally different. If we LDS singles could see one another more as brothers and sisters, we could re-hoist friendship in a new culture of togetherness.
Now, I know some of you are saying. “Yeah, but John and Troy are both married, so of course John would see Troy as one of his group.” Perhaps, but John could’ve found a substantial enough difference if he looked for it. The point is he didn’t. He saw Troy as just as much a person as he was, and that view allowed him to feel more compassion and more desire to be the true friend he was.
John also involved others in demonstrating support for Troy. The scene where John and the group present the jersey to Troy just jerks my tears. Then there’s what appears to be his ward releasing balloons in celebration of his son’s birthday. As John continued standing by Troy, many other opportunities to show support probably presented themselves. And they all helped Troy along his path.
What if we singles involved one another in supporting each other? What if, instead of everyone doing their own thing, everyone reached out to include everyone? What if we each told each other, “Come talk with me,” “Come sit with me”, and “Come do what I’m doing with me”? Real friends bring everyone in. That may be the best support for singles dealing with their pain and grief, many of whom struggle unbeknownst to those around them.
Let’s re-hoist friendship in all our interactions with each other. By listening to one another, seeing one another as brothers and sisters, and involving others in building community, we not only embrace but also embody true friendship. By bringing ourselves closer to each other, we bring ourselves closer to God. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Celebrate your independence
Many LDS singles find themselves similarly situated. They can feel themselves abused by the vicissitudes of life, be they setbacks in society or disappointments in dating or disillusionment in the death of a loved one or the lingering loneliness of living alone or the ever present responsibility of raising children alone. Many yearn to break free and live independent of their challenges.
If you feel this way, know that you can break free. You’ll have to work through a war of your own just as the Founding Fathers had to work through theirs, but in the end you can stand tall having given birth to a new you you’ve defended and championed. With Independence Day approaching, you can celebrate your independence and let today be the first day of a new you.
Envision your new you
Believe it or not, there’s a new you inside of you waiting to be set free. That new you can help you feel more joyful and alive than ever before. But it won’t ever happen if you don’t believe it’s there.
That’s the first thing tripping up most LDS singles wanting to change their lives. They refuse to believe. They persist in holding faulty assumptions that hold them back. They insist the future can’t be different than their past, or they just aren’t good enough, or all the good ones are gone, or whatever else their brain can use to convince them to maintain the status quo.
In short, they don’t change how they think. They continue whatever habits they presently have that deliver their present reality. Even when they learn how their biological hardwiring is designed to maintain their status quo, they don’t translate that knowledge into action. They don’t change how they think.
That doesn’t have to be you. There is a new you inside of you, but you’ll never birth that new you into your real life until you change your way of thinking.
Defend your new you
When you change how you think, it’s easier to change your actions and with them the results you get in life. But that’s just the first step. Like the Founding Fathers who didn’t get a new nation simply by declaring it, you must fight to defend your new you.
Your first and most formidable enemy will be yourself. Your brain is naturally hardwired to maintain a status quo. And your brain does this by operating out of habit. The current habits are consistent with your current results, so unless you embrace different habits, you’ll never get different results.
Your second and not quite as formidable but still threatening enemy is other people. We’re all biologically hardwired to get our sense of normal from those around us. And we all want to be normal. So when you embrace a new you, you threaten other people’s sense of normal. They intuitively feel the need to change themselves just to be normal, and most don’t want to do the work that involves. They find it easier to bring you down so they can feel normal just as they are.
Champion your new you
Defending your new you is no small task. It’s a constant daily fight. And it’s a fight that you’ll eventually lose unless you champion the new you.
You must celebrate your victories, no matter how small. You must surround yourself with people who are acting in accordance with the changes you want to see in yourself, people who’ll celebrate your victories with you and encourage you to achieve and become even more. You must cheer the self-improvement lifestyle that will maintain your new you.
This Independence Day, celebrate your independence. Let today be the first day of a new you. Envision and believe in that new you. Defend that new you, and champion it. You’ll find resistance along that path, but you’ll also find the satisfaction that comes from progressing towards the fulness of your potential. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Raising daughters as single dad
The gospel has the answers
I freely admit my ignorance. I’ve never been married or a parent, so I don’t fully understand the challenges of single parenting. But I do understand singleness and recognize several principles Brother Romney shared that apply to all LDS singles, regardless of age or circumstance.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the restored gospel holds the solutions to life’s problems. You’ll see many of those solutions only after adopting the perspectives the restored gospel encourages. Far too many LDS singles think a solution will eliminate their problem so they can live more comfortably. Often real solutions instead allow you to leverage your problems so you can grow and become more than you were before.
Brother Romney brought out that perspective beautifully. The hope, joy, and strength which he found as a single father came from “small, simple things” like family prayer, expressions of encouragement, magnifying callings, and seeking direction from inspired leaders. Our Heavenly Father has a plan of happiness for you. That plan might not resemble the one you’d make, but His plan will best help you attain maximum happiness.
You’re not in it alone
In his article, Brother Romney raised an excellent question: “I was a father trying to raise daughters on my own. . . . How could I help them prepare to become women?” This variation on the more common theme of “How can I meet the challenge when I don’t seem fit for it?” has troubled many LDS singles.
Yet the answer again lies in perspective. No matter your situation, you’re in this alone only if you want to be. Brother Romney found many resources of support for his situation, including family members, neighbors, and ministering brothers and Church leaders. We all have more resources than we think we do. We just need to apply the Savior’s teaching: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
Brother Romney rightly mentions that “not everyone will experience this same level of support.” Wards are people, and people are all at different points of progression along the eternal path. Some just haven’t yet progressed that far.
Notwithstanding, the Lord won’t leave you comfortless. He’s provided people around you, sometimes in and sometimes out of the Church, who’ll help in some way. You just need ask, seek, and knock. As Brother Romney acknowledges, “until we let others know the gaps we see . . . those individuals may not understand how they can help.” The squeaky wheel does indeed get the grease.
The Lord knows you intimately
Ultimately, the Lord won’t abandon you. He loves you too much to do that. Not only will He walk by your side, the Lord will provide a strength to persevere only He can provide.
The same Lord Who’s assembled a plan for your maximum happiness, restored His gospel offering needed perspective, and provided resources to support you is also intimately aware of you. He knows what you need in the moment you need it.
He knows how overwhelming your specific combination of challenges and circumstances can feel. He submitted Himself to all things “that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). Through the enabling power of His Atonement, Christ can help you do what you otherwise could not.
No matter the challenge, whether it be raising daughters as a single dad, raising sons as a single mother, or simply finding joy in LDS singles life, you can partner with the Lord and leverage your challenges to grow and become something more than you were before. When you do, you’ll grow so much you’ll transcend your challenges. What once seemed overwhelming will be no more than an afterthought. And all along the way, you’ll feel the strength of the Lord abiding with you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
A lesson from Groundhog Day
See the situation
The story begins with Phil Connors, the weatherman for Channel 9 News in Pittsburgh. The man is clearly full of himself, so it’s no surprise no one really likes him, not even himself. He’s a rather disgruntled man who thinks covering the Groundhog Day Festival is beneath him.
So imagine his shock when he wakes up thinking it’s February 3rd only to find out it’s February 2nd again. The bewilderment continues as each morning he wakes up to find that somehow in his sleep he went back in time by one day. He keeps living the same day over and over again.
His first reaction is denial. This can’t be happening to me! Denial drives resistance, but no matter how he fights against his situation, the next morning is always February 2nd again. His denial then turns into despair. This report he gives at the festival summarizes his condition rather well.
That day ended in suicide, but it doesn’t end him. In despair, Phil keeps trying to kill himself in different ways trying unsuccessfully to escape his never-ending cycle.
Note the pivot
And then one of those February 2nd days becomes a pivot day when everything changes. Phil doesn’t escape the never-ending cycle, but he does find a new perspective on his situation. And what changed everything was Rita.
Rita is Phil’s producer. She’s also the apple of his eye. Previously he spent God knows how many successive February 2nd days trying to get into her pants. But on his pivot day, Phil approaches Rita with a different agenda. Instead of trying to satiate his lust, he sincerely cries for help. (Why do I have a Rick Astley song in my head right now?) Rita helps him and in the process begins to fall for him.
Of course, that disappears when everything resets the next morning. But Phil remains changed, and he starts spending his February 2nd days improving upon himself, working to become a better, more quality person. He takes up reading all kinds of books. He learns to play the piano. He takes up ice sculpting! Not only do his efforts make him a better person, they make his life more interesting.
And the proof is in this report. It’s the same day, same festival, but a completely different Phil.
Once he stopped trying to escape his situation and embraced it, Phil was able to tap into the joy life has to offer every single day. In the end, he escapes the cycle and gets the girl.
Take a lesson
The allegory here to LDS singles is so clear I wonder why I didn’t see it earlier. How many of us singles are in denial? No, I can’t be single. This can’t be happening to me! And no matter what we do to fight it, we seem caught in a never-ending cycle of singleness from which we cannot escape.
But if we’d stop trying to escape from it and start embracing it, we could turn everything around. We could start looking inside ourselves and working to become better, more quality people. We can do things to make our lives more interesting. We could tap into the joy God wants us to have every single day.
And we could help other singles to have their pivot day. Just as Rita helped turn things around for Phil, we can reach out to one another. Instead of looking only to satiate our own agendas when we interact with each other, we could help each other live better lives.
When we take a lesson from Groundhog Day, we can make the most of what seems to be a never-ending cycle of singleness. By embracing our situation instead of trying to escape from it, we can live our best life and help others to do the same. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Chase purpose, not proof
I’ve felt free like I haven’t felt in quite some time. I still have lots to do, and I still don’t know how I’m going to accomplish it all. But I feel as though I have more than enough time to do everything needful, even though I did the math and know the numbers don’t fit. It’s a great blessing from the Lord, and I realize my choice to chase purpose, not proof, paved the way for my blessings.
Commit to purpose
Part of the difficulty I wrestled last week was feeling I needed to do more than time would allow. Meeting with my advisor helped resolve that by providing some clarity around exactly what effort was needed. And I felt the Lord’s guiding and supporting hand.
But the floodgates of feeling truly free and empowered opened only after I committed to my purpose. Don’t get me wrong. I committed to my PhD program back when I gave up my employment, got rid of two thirds of my belongings, moved the remaining third clear across the country, and accepted a lower standard of living — all to pursue a step towards my dream job.
But I hadn’t committed myself completely. I was busy with so many different things, all of them valuable but not all of them conducive to my commitment. Complete commitment is always reflected in completely prioritized time pursuing it.
Once I made that complete commitment in how I would spend my time, that’s when freedom swept over me. That’s when I felt I had the time I needed to do what was needed. That’s when I felt I could truly achieve my potential.
Align with happiness
Too many never do that. Even if they have a purpose they say they pursue, they aren’t really chasing after it. Instead, they chase after proof.
By proof, I mean evidence they’re accepted. They devote more time and energy to acquiring validation and belonging than to any life purpose. And by going off the path of their purpose, they go off the path of their potential.
We all have a deep-seated need for acceptance. We all want to belong, and we all want to be loved. There’s nothing wrong with those desires. But there is something wrong with not prioritizing your potential.
And here’s what’s wrong with it. You’re leaving happiness on the table. You think you’re chasing happiness, but you’ll never capture it by seeking to have something. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. Happiness is giving your all to all the right things for you. And one of those right things is achieving your potential.
Pursue your potential
Let’s look at an example. What do typical LDS singles do with their time, especially the time they aren’t compelled to do anything? Many spend their so-called “free time” consuming content or soaking in social media, looking for love and belonging, pursuing proof not purpose.
Happiness doesn’t come from having that special someone or having social media likes or indeed having anything. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. That’s why pursuing your potential is linked to happiness. The more of your potential you achieve, the more you have to give and the more happy you can be.
And you maximize your happiness by committing completely to your purpose, a commitment you demonstrate with the time you devote to that commitment. So take a look at how you spend your time and make adjustments where needed. Chase purpose, not proof. You’ll find yourself feeling more free and more connected with the Lord. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Consider your ways
Conference provides a great opportunity to reflect and recommit ourselves to a better path. But truth be told, every single day holds the same opportunity. Each day provides a new opportunity to consider your ways and act to change your life.
Consider your time
We all have the same 24 hours each day, but we all choose to spend it differently. And how you spend your time reveals what you value most in life.
Me? I’ve always been a big fan of sleep. There’s no way it’s overrated. It’s fantastic! But you can pursue many things to excess, and sleep is no exception. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the admonition in D&C 88:124 to “arise early.” I’m actually still working on that.
But I’ve found, when I can do it, an early start radically changes the entire day. I’m way more productive, producing more value more easily. I feel more focused and energized throughout the day. And at the end of the day, I’m just more satisfied with myself.
I don’t get those benefits if I prioritize personal playtime and consuming content, and neither will you. If you want your best life, you need to answer these questions: Do you devote more time to worthy causes or frivolous pursuits? Are you the captain of your life’s ship, or do you just float wherever the waves of life take you?
Consider the consequences
Speaking of sleep, what does “retire to thy bed early” mean? I think we each must find our own way. For myself, the sooner I get to sleep, the easier it is to beat the sun up. My body simply takes what sleep it needs, so staying up late doesn’t help me “arise early.” And if I don’t get up early, I won’t get the resultant benefits.
In fact, getting up late usually means getting the exact opposite. I get tons more desire to play and waste the day. If I do manage to drag myself into some productive pursuit, I’m anything but focused. My mind goes all over the map. At the end of the day, I’m left with nothing but the shame of having wasted the day.
On my mission, I heard an African story. Every morning a gazelle awakens. He knows his best chance of escaping the tiger hunting him is to get as much of a head start as he can. But every morning that tiger also awakens. He knows his best chance of eating that day depends on catching the gazelle before he starts running. Thus, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a gazelle or a tiger. When the sun comes up, you had better be running.
Consider your needs
Your sleep schedule is just one of many ways you should consider. We should all reflect on what we need to get where we each want to go and then consider getting what we don’t have but need. Sometimes that means gaining new knowledge. Sometimes that means acquiring a new tool. Sometimes that means having the right people in your life. Your Heavenly Father, the Lord, and the Spirit are indispensable members of that support team. Don’t forget to include them in your plans for success.
In the end, you won’t get the most out of life unless you live intentionally. Only by choosing your activities with intention can you get the most juice for your squeeze. And the best intention for your time includes your own personal ministry by which you contribute to making the world a better place.
So consider your ways. Are you making the most of every day? Are you living with intention? I can’t say I always have. But I can say I’ve experienced real joy in living when I’ve consciously chosen how to spend my time to achieve worthy goals. And I’m grateful to be reminded of the opportunity each day brings to consider my ways and make changes where necessary.
If you haven’t considered your ways recently, do so now. You’ll open the door to feeling more satisfied with yourself each and every day. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Defending our Constitution
I’m thankful President Oaks publicly declared those ideas. I’m also thankful he focused on eternal principles throughout his remarks, especially the principle of moral agency. The Constitution certainly isn’t perfect, but it does support that society most free to exercise agency. Thus, we should all be defending our Constitution, despite its flaws and limitations.
Understand the threats to agency
President Oaks began his remarks by establishing his authority. A former clerk to the chief justice of the US Supreme Court, law professor, and justice on the Utah Supreme Court, he’s certainly more than amply qualified to have a platform.
But the qualification he listed last and “most important” intrigued me most. He’s been an Apostle of Jesus Christ for 37 years. As President Oaks described, that means he’s “responsible to study the meaning of the divinely inspired United States Constitution to the work of His restored Church.”
Here he segues into a discussion of moral agency. God inspired the Founding Fathers to assemble a system of government that would maximize the exercise of moral agency. And as we know, agency is key in our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for His children. Defending the Constitution therefore promotes God’s plan of happiness.
President Oaks then mentioned some of the threats to the undergirding principles of the Constitution. Said he,
The threats to the Constitution, and by extension to our Heavenly Father’s plan, are very real and very much growing.
Learn and perform your duty
So can we do about it? What should we do to defend the Constitution? President Oaks provides some answers. I love how he starts by encouraging optimism, declaring “we should trust in the Lord and be positive about this nation’s future.”
Founded in faith and positive thinking, we should pray for leaders in all nations and then seek to exercise a righteous influence civilly, peacefully, and legally. Also, in these divisive times, “we should seek to moderate and unify.”
These days, everyone loves to talk about their rights and what they’re entitled to receive. But few speak of their duties and what they should give. It’s people performing their duties that make the rights of all available. That’s why I applaud President Oaks in listing three duties every good citizen has.
That power-packed list reveals more I need to do to support the Constitution. And I love how President Oaks reiterated King Benjamin’s counsel not to do everything at once (Mosiah 4:27). We all have different seasons in life, and the combination of actions appropriate in one season may not be appropriate in another.
Get busy doing your part
Let’s truly celebrate Independence Day by defending our Constitution. Perhaps the best place for you to start is where I’m starting — by reading and becoming more familiar with the actual document itself. Or perhaps you need to consider running for a position in an upcoming election. Or maybe you need to call or email an elected official about a current issue.
What you do today may not be what you do tomorrow, but we should always be doing something. The threats to the Constitution President Oaks described have grown precisely because far too many of us have been doing nothing in civic life. We’ve been busy focusing on our careers, our loved ones, and our own lives, and enough responsible people have been so absorbed in that busyness that we’ve allowed irresponsible people to hold office.
The Constitution has imperfections, but one thing it does right is give ultimate power to the people. Let’s celebrate the birth of our nation by learning about and then committing to safeguard that power. And the best way to safeguard it is to exercise it civilly, peacefully, and legally. When we persist in so doing, we can enjoy the fruits of freedom to exercise the moral agency essential to God’s plan and preserve that gift for the next generation. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
The major challenge for me wasn’t the test itself. For me, it was keeping up with everything else. I still had to attend class, submit homework, prepare for exams, and complete all other responsibilities. Overwhelmed, I turned to the Lord for help. The resulting experience has prompted me to wonder if I really understand what it means to partner with the Lord.
I’ve discussed partnering with the Lord before. The essential idea has always been to embrace the Lord as a partner for your life. No matter how good you are, He can make more out of your life than you can. So it just makes sense to counsel with Him and receive guidance as you make your way through mortality.
Yet my qualifying exam showed me an aspect I’d not before considered. As I collected journal articles related to my assigned topic, I began writing summaries of the articles so I could compare and identify any trends as well as gaps in the current research. But the shear quantity of content to summarize so overwhelmed me that by Day 5 it looked like I wouldn’t meet deadline. How could I write a research proposal when I hadn’t even read enough to know what research gaps existed?
Not knowing where to stand, I went to my knees and pleaded with the Lord for help. I’ve offered such pleadings before, but this time was different. This time I surrendered myself completely to God, declaring a sense of dependency upon Him I truly felt inside. I could succeed only with Him. I needed Him to reveal what I should write and to guide me in finding the supporting material for that proposal among all the many articles I had collected.
That sense of dependency took what I thought partnering with the Lord was to another level. I felt it so strongly tears freely accompanied my cries for help. I truly believed what I declared — without Him to support me, I would surely fail.
I remained on my knees after concluding my prayer, listening for His voice as I wiped the tears from my face. At length I arose and returned to my desk, ready to begin working. I didn’t know what to do, but I was willing to do.
It was in that moment ideas began flooding into my mind. I began to understand the direction I should take. As I acted on those ideas, more ideas came. Though the hour was late, I felt a resurgence of strength and energy fill me, allowing me to keep working on implementing the ideas coming to me.
Before long, I had a rough outline. I worked all the next day to finish and then submit the written proposal. I had a similar experience with the presentation, both in preparing and delivering it. Soon afterwards, I received notice I passed the exam.
That same experience played out as I fulfilled my other responsibilities. I continued praying with that same sense of dependency. Not only were my prayers answered, but I began to feel closer to the Lord than I’ve ever felt.
Pondering upon these experiences has led me to realize more what partnering with the Lord really means. It means feeling so dependent upon Him you must have His contribution to succeed. It means laying bare all you have, feel, think, and can see as evidence making the case for your dependency upon Him. And it means rising to your feet after falling to your knees and walking forward in faith He will provide according to your need.
Though my experience was directed towards my studies, I recognize how this same process can apply to every area of life. Don’t wait to feel the security and support the Lord is eager to give the willing. Partner with the Lord anew, and take your relationship with Him to another level. You’ll receive what you need to move forward, and you’ll feel closer to Him than you ever have. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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