In what situation has the Lord moved in a way that you struggle with. How did that circumstance bring you closer to Him?
I’ve been wanting to start a series of my faith-promoting experiences and this is the perfect place to begin. . .
My mom is a beautiful, wonderful person. She was (and still is) a talented artist, yet she was blessed with a challenge most of us would crumble at. She has a rare disease, similar to Multiple Sclerosis but not MS, and it has left her effectively paralyzed from the neck down. Imagine an artist that can’t use their hands for anything. Painful–I’d be screaming, “Why me?!” But not my mother. She found a way to “talk” to the computer to create art. But it took a good many years to get to that point.
It took years of caring for her basic needs for us to figure out how to care best for her. It’s been a humbling experience for both of us– a humbling experience for her to continually rely upon the Lord and others for literally everything. It was humbling for me to give up my wants, to care for her. That’s a lot to ask of a 12-year-old girl, and I tell you I didn’t go quietly at times.
The years of having to do everything around the house kept me from playing with my friends. Grocery store runs, laundry trips, planning and cooking meals, and cleaning some of the house were just a few things on my chore list by age 10. I’ll never forget when we lived in an apartment complex in El Cajon, California, just outside of San Diego. The laundromat was down a steep hill, one that we did not want to try to push my mother down, or worse back up. We were sure if we got her down there safely, we would never get her wheelchair back up it. Dad was working crazy hours– daytime jobs, night school, and overnight runs in the cab–so we rarely saw him. Thus laundry was left to Jessica and I. But the apartment complex didn’t want to let two kids under age 12 in the laundromat. It was specifically in the rules on the wall. But how else would our clothes get done? In the end, they let us do it, but it took quite a bit of discussion.
Growing up, I resented this. I hated being “Cinderella.” I just wanted to be “normal”–carefree and able to play until dusk like the other kids. The Lord had other plans for me. I think of Nephi, who was told to get the scriptures before he left Jerusalem. The trip wasn’t going so well, in fact he and his brothers were nearly killed. But they knew their family needed the words of the Bible to take with them. When his brothers started to doubt, and hated the idea of giving their worldly wealth for the precious scriptures, Nephi says,
“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them to accomplish the thing which He commandeth them.”
This scripture got me through the toughest times of my life. The lessons I learned through those experiences are at the core of my being. I learned how to work. I learned the importance of reaching out to serve, even when we don’t want to. I learned how to be independent–to the point where I was ready to travel the world alone at age 16. I learned how much my parents loved me, and how they did the best they could for me.
Yet the biggest lesson I learned was that the Lord was there for me. He was there to help me no matter what the situation. My concerns were His concerns, even if it was something that others would deem silly or minute. But I learned that if it worried me, the Lord cared.
A few years later when I was at BYU, I applied for a national security fellowship to pay for a year long study abroad in Russia. In retrospect, I was probably WAY out of my league in applying for that grant. But at the time I was a college sophomore, and I knew it ALL. I applied for the grant, and crossed my fingers and said my prayers.
The week before the response letter came in the mail, someone said from the pulpit, “The Lord loves us all. There is someone here who needs to know this. They need to know that He is keenly aware of them, their struggles and the pain that is coming.” It hit me. I didn’t think it was meant for me. In fact, I thought it was kinda odd coming out of a college student’s mouth.
Not three days later, I got the rejection letter. My first ever rejection letter. I cried my little eyes out. I wanted to go to Russia and solidify the language I had studied for years. But alas, I wouldn’t have the money now.
In the end I didn’t get to Russia then. It took me another 10 years or so to get there, but I knew that once again the Lord was aware of me. I knew that I could rely on Him, even when I wasn’t getting the answers I wanted. The subsequent year of college was one of my best experiences ever–and I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if I was in Russia.
There is purpose in our lives. He will ensure that we best find our purpose.
For others’ examples of purpose, see this page.