Friday, September 18, 2015

ACT and ye shall receive

I’m sitting at the MVD waiting for B136 to be called so I can apply for an Arizona driver’s license. Apparently when you live in a town populated with more than 4,000 people there are lines and numbers? This is all foreign to me. I had been warned that the lines can be excruciatingly long, so I came prepared with my laptop and decided to make better on my goal to blog more often now that I’m home from my mission.

The general stress of adulthood has been weighing heavily on my heart this week. As I'm trying to remain optimistic about all the decisions I'm being faced with currently, I've been blessed to remember a powerful lesson I learned as a young woman fresh from primary. A lesson I didn't even realize I learned until quite a few years after it was taught.

When I was 12 the youth in my ward took a trip to Nauvoo, Illinois. It was the first time I was old enough to attend a youth temple trip and I was excited to be deemed spiritually mature enough to do something vital for others' salvation. I tend to remember the most inconsequential details of experiences and this trip is no exception. I remember we had taco salad the first night we were there, after it poured rain on the beautiful forested cabin site we were lodging at. I remember my dad saying as we watched the senior elders pound hot metal that when he served a senior mission he just wanted to be the blacksmith in the blacksmith shop and my mom could bake the bread down the road. I remember sleeping in the seat directly behind the driver in my parents’ Ford Expedition as we made the four-hour pilgrimage to do the work of our ancestors. I remember being awake in that same seat to listen to a cassette tape of a John Bytheway fireside that would stay with me until this day.

There are certain things we hear that resonate with us and we aren’t quite sure why at the time. I don’t remember much of the talk we listened to, but one key point has stuck with me for years. Every few months I hear Brother Bytheway’s voice pounding how he receives personal revelation into my mind. It wasn’t until the last year of my life that I started to understand why the Spirit has quietly brought that talk to the forefront of my mind for more than a decade. It has guided pivotal decisions in my young adulthood.

One of the points that was made in this recorded fireside is that when we are praying to make a decision we often wait for an answer, when we instead need to pray and then act to confirm our desire. He shared how this rule of thumb operated heavily when he was courting his wife. He thought she was a great young EFY counselor so he prayed and said, “Heavenly Father. I really like this girl. I want to ask her on a date. So I’m going to do it. Stop me if I’m wrong.” He proceeded to ask her out and wasn’t stopped so he moved forward. He continued with very similar prayers as he prayed to know if he should take her on another date, if he should stop dating other girls and only date her, and when he had decided he wanted to marry her. In every situation he never received an overpowering yes. Instead he told Heavenly Father what he wanted and then moved forward with confidence.

I prayed and prayed and prayed toward the end of my mission to know where I was supposed to live. Determined to receive an answer one morning, I knelt on the floor of our closet and prayed verbally. I figured if it worked for Joseph Smith, it could work for me! Out of frustration I started listing every possible place I would want to live: Minnesota, Iowa, Provo, Salt Lake City, Arizona, Boston, Washington D.C., New York City, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago . . . I started listing places I’d never want to live: Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas . . . Nothing was bringing a solid answer. As a few angry tears rolled down my cheeks I returned to Arizona and paused. John Bytheway’s words came to my mind and I decided that I needed to act. Nothing would bring a confirmation in this situation until I acted. A few days later I took this to the temple for my last zone temple trip as a missionary. I told Heavenly Father that unless he stopped me, I decided to move back to Arizona because things just seemed to work. I could live with my grandma, use her spare car, and there were more solid marriage prospects in the valley than in Minnesota. It all made sense and I just felt like it was the right decision. So I moved forward. But it wasn’t with confidence. Though I felt good about everything I was beyond terrified. This was the first adult decision I have ever made that could end up being permanent.

John Bytheway’s words are what lead me to the MVD today. I realized that I was putting off getting an Arizona driver’s license because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. My Minnesota license doesn’t expire until my next birthday so I had subconsciously told myself that I had until April to decide if I really liked it here and if I did I’d get a license. If I didn’t I’d figure out what my next move was. Do I have faith that the Lord has a plan? Do I have faith that his plan doesn’t always unfold within a few weeks of us making a life-altering decision? Do I have faith that I will never be lead astray? Then I needed to embrace my decision, move forward with confidence, and get a license in the state I very well might reside in until I die.

As I’m finishing this post in my grandma’s basement I feel like Satan has one less thing to taunt me with. I’ve committed to life here and have a beyond horrible picture on a state issued ID to prove it. True, it hurt a little when the lady punched a hole in the right corner of my Minnesota license, making it invalid, but it also felt like growing up. They're called growing pains for a reason. I am living in full confidence that the Lord just wanted me to show my faith instead of declare it. Now He will show me what He has in store. He’ll show you what He has in store too if you leave behind your apprehension and start acting on your righteous desires after you’ve prayed, instead of only praying for a yes or no.

***Elder Bednar talks on a similar principle in some great Mormon Messages.  They've been put together in one video below: