This past week has been one of those weeks where the universe comes together and corners you from every side to make sure that you get the message that it’s trying to tell you. I’m still trying to make sense of everything, but I have come to one conclusion. God is really good at putting all of the puzzle pieces together.
I’ve had a lot of questions for my life the last few years. They call these the “decision making years.” Mostly it’s been “When?” “What?” and “Why?” I’ve been grateful this week that I’ve kept a meticulous journal since I was about 9, because I learn an incredible amount of information from my younger self. It’s amazing what even my 2 years ago self was like. I like to think I’ve softened a little bit, become more trusting, and daring all at the same time.
I ran an errand earlier and I was going to come back home and go inside, but it was too beautiful outside to do that. So instead I left my purchases in my car and went for a walk. I had to go buy Aloe Vera because I got a pretty bad sunburn this weekend. I thought about how sometimes we feel like we get burned by something that is supposed to help us. The sun gives us light and heat. It helps grow food for us, and melts the snow. Yet sometimes it hurts us. We have to peel away the burnt skin for new growth to come up underneath.
I’m old enough to know that if I stay out in the hot sun, I will get burned. Usually that’s not the case though. Usually I’m not in the sun long enough for that to happen, or I’m only in the sun enough to get a tan, but not to burn. I’m old enough to know that. I made a mistake. My one maybe two hours in the sun, turned into 4 hours of laughter, exercise, and enjoying time with some amazing friends. I had a nagging thought in the back of my head to get out of the sun, or put on some sunscreen, but I was too caught up in the afternoon. As my friend Taylor Swift would say, “I should have said no. I should have gone home. Should have thought twice…”
People make mistakes. I made a mistake like the song above said. But we’re not alone in making these mistakes. I think for most of my life I’ve judged the people around me for making mistakes. I lived my life so carefully that I wouldn’t make any. My friends would stay out too late, I wouldn’t. My friends made some immoral choices, I didn’t. I would judge from the inside looking out, instead of outside looking in. I saw what happened when people made mistakes. It was painful. I didn’t want my actions to hurt anyone else including myself.
Before I left to go on my walk I hesitated. I didn’t want to go by myself. Then I told myself that the sun was still up, I live in a safe neighborhood, and everything would be fine. I communed with God as I enjoyed the fading sunlight. I tried to make sense of the direction my life was taking and thought about a talk that I read yesterday that was given by Sheri Dew at BYU-I. Here is a portion of it.
My life has been filled with spiritual wrestling-not because of any great valor on my part but because I have yearned to understand why certain things were happening to me, and why others were not. For decades I have fasted, prayed and pleaded for a husband. I've asked who he is, where he is, and when he's coming. As of today, I still don't know the answer to any of those questions. But the wrestle has blessed me with the knowledge that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that His gospel is filled with power, and that God will talk to and direct me.
Growing spiritually and receiving answers to our questions depends upon our ability to feel, hear, and understand the whisperings of the Spirit. It is worth engaging in a spiritual wrestle to learn to receive personal revelation, because we can only know what is true when the Spirit bears witness to our hearts and minds as only the Holy Ghost can.[xxv] Revelation must include both, because intellect alone cannot produce a testimony. You cannot think your way to conversion, because you cannot convince your mind of something your heart does not feel.[xxvi] “
I thought back to 2011. I gave a Relief Society lesson during family day; I don’t even remember what we were talking about, maybe over coming trials in our lives, or something like that. We talked about experiences and a lot of us were emotional. At the very end I felt like I should tell the room what my greatest fear was. So I told them that my greatest fear was being alone.
Saying it out loud was almost a freeing experience. As I continued pondering I thought about how ironic that was because in the past 5 years I’ve had my fair share of personal quiet time. I thought about how my mom has been single now for at least 14 years and she’s an amazing woman. I don’t know how she did it. I don’t know how we all got thorough it, but we survived. There are worse things than being alone. I thought of all the amazing women I’ve had in my life that reach the age of 30 and they are still single, my friends that are widows, or those that are in a marriage or relationship and still feel isolated. Everyone feels it at one point or another. No one is immune.
Then I realized that this fear that used to consume and restrict me wasn’t there anymore. I think it went away over time. I actually started laughing because the one thing I used to never want is the one thing that I surprisingly enjoy now. It reminded me of the stand-up comedian Brian Regan. Here is the clip. Start at 2:54 to 3:27. The rest of it is highly entertaining, but he hits the nail right on the head.
I tried to think of what my new greatest fear is, but surprisingly couldn’t come up with anything.
Mostly, I just wanted to say how great God really is. Elder Bednar in a recent devotional talked about how God places people and situations in our lives. He said, “There is no such thing as a coincidence when you are on the Lord’s errand. He makes these intersections happen.” I truly believe that. I believe in change. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. I believe that God directs our lives, and though we may feel alone, we’re not. He’s brought too many people into my life to make me believe anything different.
Here’s one last video. It’s one of my favorite songs from Seussical the Musical.