For those of you who know me, you know that I am constantly thinking about what in the world I am doing with my life. What should I study as an undergraduate? What kind of job do I want to have in the future? How much can I really fit on my plate day to day? I want to do it all; can I do it all? Since graduating high school these questions have worn on my soul! I’ve been constantly stressed about whether or not I was on the right track in life and if I was pursuing goals the Lord would have me pursue.
Note: If I didn’t believe that my education and career were important parts of my life mission I wouldn’t work so hard to identify my strengths, try new things and find a life path that fits me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.
Rewind and freeze! (ten points to whoever can name that movie.)
November 2015: I’m sitting with a group of missionaries in our mission president’s living room. We’ve all shared some deeply personal thoughts about the Savior and His gospel concluding our 18-24 months of service. I am excited about opportunities that lie ahead of me, but I am nervous about facing those same daunting questions. Our mission president’s wife closes the evening with a bit of council: she said that there are lots of good things you can do in your life and with your career, but the most important things you will do are the little things… studying your scriptures daily, praying deeply and meaningfully morning and night, worshiping at church weekly, attending the temple often, etc. I nod in agreement, but do I really believe that? Am I really wiling to put my daily decisions of discipleship before my daily stresses of life planning?
Fast forward a few months…
I get accepted into a program of study I’m not 100% sure I want to pursue. I am feeling these strange tugs to seriously consider other programs and life paths. I am taking all kinds of classes that aren’t necessarily getting me closer to graduation in hopes that I will find a path that clicks. I am feeling a little alone and a little confused. I am getting down to the wire in credits: I have so many that I really need to nail something down soon! In stress and anxiety I talk things out with my parents; I’ve already determined that praying and fasting for an answer about what I should do isn’t going to get me the answer I want. Instead I am praying for an awareness of my gifts and talents and to find a program of study that will help me reach my potential. I am studying the scriptures and attending the temple because those little evidences of my commitment to discipleship are more important than my impending stress about choosing a major. Gradually this became less about finding something impressive to study, less about how much money I would make and more about how I could gain knowledge and develop talents that would enable me to most effectively build up the Kingdom of God. When that little change in perspective became more firmly settled in my mind and heart, opportunities began to open up.
Zoom in on today…
I know what I want to do. Maybe not exactly, but I finally am getting a clear picture of where my strengths, my goals, my desires and my efforts fit together in this plan for my life: a plan that the Lord and I co-created. He opened up opportunities for me to try new things and recognize my strengths and desires. I committed to put Him first in study, prayer and worship and worked hard to maximize on those opportunities to learn about myself.
Eventually, I sorted out these thoughts and feelings, pursued more information, and fell completely in love with a path… I don’t know how it is all going to work out, but the uncertainty is gone. The stress is gone. The anxiety is gone… and in their wake I am left with a path I can’t wait to walk down!
I am so enthused about life! My heart is full of gratitude and my whole being is full of energy! I am equally grateful for the plan I finally have as I am for the mental challenge that got me here: without the uncertainty, without the nights when pleading for direction the Lord answered with a gentle “you don’t need to know now” or a “try again” or with simple silence, I would never have learned so much about myself and my potential opportunities. Certainly, uncertainty can be painful and confusing… but when we put the Lord and his kingdom first, we can be certain that everything will work together for our good.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 … read verses 19-34 if you want even more guidance and certainty about the Lord’s promises.
It’s in the little things: put His kingdom and His righteousness first and He will bless us with all good things… and with an abundance of life we could never imagine!