Several years back, I was texted by one of my seminary students. She was having a rough day. So, I went and picked her up and we drove to the park and had a little chat. One of the conversations we had that I have never forgotten went something like this.
Seminary student: I’m just so worried that I’ll miss something I’m supposed to do. That I won’t be able to figure it out. What if I fail to do something God wants me to do, or fail to become the person God wants me to be?
Me: (pauses to think for at least ten seconds) Well, God doesn’t throw it all you at once. He only gives you one thing at a time. And those feelings, when they come, aren’t fleeting. They’ll stick with you. You’ll know. Just take one at a time. And when the next thing God wants for you comes, if you’re willing to listen and are trying to do what’s right…well, it’ll be clear. God doesn’t play games. If you are earnestly seeking His will, you won’t miss anything. He won’t let you.
This is not word for word the conversation. I don’t have a photographic memory. But, it’s very close in content. I remember this conversation so clearly because it was as much an answer for me at the time as it was for her—maybe even more so. When the words came out of my mouth I remember feeling that this was something I had been concerned about deep down and hadn’t even realized it. So, when I spoke the words I was helped by my own testimony to this amazing young woman.
The things God has for us to accomplish on His behalf, on behalf of His kingdom, on behalf of others, and for ourselves will always be clear to us if we’re doing our best to follow Him and find out what those things are. Joseph Smith was earnestly seeking God’s will and then God communicated it to him so powerfully that he said (JS-H 1:12):
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again…
Then, he acted on that scripture (James 1:5) and went and asked of God.
I have had this experience of direction hitting me over the head and weighing upon me heavily so that I reflected on it again and again and…never forgot it. Then, I acted on it.
It was late 2009, very close to Christmas time. I had recently experienced a heart-wrenching divorce. I had only been living in my home ward again for about six months. I was active and went to tithing settlement.
Tithing settlement is a 10-minute thing. You know, you go to state whether you are a full tithe payer or not. That’s it. But, often bishops will take a few extra minutes to ask how you’re doing and see if all is well. My bishop asked me frankly if I was dating or had considered dating. I told him I had made a few friends. Then, he looked down as if pondering. I waited. He was silent for what seemed a long time, but it probably wasn’t as long as I felt.
Then, looking up at me, he said something to the effect of, “don’t settle for anyone who isn’t as good, or better, than you are.” And, whether or not those were his exact words, they were the exact words I heard. And, the moment he said them I felt a literal weight upon me, a force, if you will. So powerful were those words to me that I could think of nothing else for days (about a week). Sure, I could go about my day, but any spare moment my brain had it dove right back to those words.
And, those words made the difference in the dating choices I made for the next four years. Those words never left me. They were ingrained upon my heart and mind from the moment they were said. And I reflected on them again and again, as I considered possible dating paths. It kept me from dating three guys, all of whom were very good in many ways. But, when it came down to it, spiritually and intellectually they were not equals. “Not being as good or better than me” wasn’t a statement about their worth or their likability or their capacity for good. It was about being equally yoked.
And, though I had no idea at the time, those words guided me forward. Eventually, I didn’t date at all (despite constant encouragement and people trying to set me up). The pool of possible men was…empty. Then, when the right circumstances came about, and the guy God intended came along, I could judge correctly and make the right choice because he was, “as good, or better, than I was,” in the ways that mattered to me. He was my spiritual and intellectual equal (well, he’s actually better than me intellectually).
I couldn’t miss the guidance. It came as a natural result of me trying to be the best me, to keep God’s commandments, and follow the counsel I had received. And, once that counsel came, I couldn’t shake it off. I didn’t miss out on what God had planned for me.
Here’s another example. Once I met the man I’m married to now, and we decided marriage was in God’s plans for us, we were both hesitant about whether or not we should try to have children together. He already had seven. I’d never had any. We talked about preventing it, but despite our own feelings (and age), we didn’t feel right about preventing it. We tried to plan otherwise, but it didn’t sit right. We reflected again and again… The feeling to not worry and see what would happen didn’t go away. It wasn’t fleeting. And, right after we got married I got pregnant with our only child together, and our final child. And, now that she’s here and I can see the role she plays in our lives and with our family, I can see that we could not have had the life God wanted without her.
You see, God didn’t let us “miss it.” We were thoughtful. We sought His will. And the feelings that followed were sufficiently plain and weighty that we accepted them and acted upon them. Were we afraid? Yes. Neither of us were young. Did it seem like the worst time to open up the opportunity to have a child? Yes, because we knew we’d be moving, job situations would be in the air, we’d be depending on family resources to help, we didn’t know how it would impact the seven kids he already had, and on and on. But those things fell flat against the feelings that we had. We could have ignored those feelings, but I think the spiritual discomfort would have overridden our fears eventually.
Recently, I attended a Stake Women’s Conference and the main speaker encouraged us to serve in the ways that best suited us. To pursue those avenues of service that God wanted for us to pursue. How could we know what those ways were? She said, “Look first to the talents, strengths, and gifts God has already given you. Seek how you can use those things you are already naturally good at to serve God and others.”
I could list experience after experience. I have several like this. But, the doctrines I hope you will get from this short blog are these:
- You can’t miss your life’s mission if you are actively seeking it.
- You can’t fail to serve in the ways God wants for you to serve if you are seeking to develop the talents and gifts He has already given you in a way that honors Him.
- God will give you guide you powerfully one step at a time. Don’t worry about other steps until you’ve conquered the current step He’s given you.
- If you really want to know what God would have you do, He will tell you. It won’t be easy to miss. It won’t be hard to find.
- Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. (Luke 11:9)
Finally, simply because you know your mission (your current one at least), it doesn’t mean that it will be easy. Certainly Nephi, when he was asked to go retrieve the brass plates from Laban (1 Nephi chapters 3 & 4), thought that because it was God’s will to get the plates it should go off without a hitch. But, no, there were several hitches. Hitches don’t change reality. They are simply a part of life. Sometimes life clears a path. Sometimes it drops stones. But, the path is still the path. And, God will prepare a way for us to accomplish His will if we seek it and follow it (1 Nephi 3:7).
I know what my mission is—at least for now. Do you? If you don’t, I invite you to seek it out. And, if you’re sincere, you’ll know.