Some answers just seem so obvious that we don’t even bother asking the question in the first place. In 2012 when the minimum age requirement for women to serve a mission was lowered it never even occurred to me to ask whether or not I should serve a mission. Of course I was going!
So I started preparing. I went to mission prep every single Sunday. I studied “Preach My Gospel.” I saved money.
Looking back I realize that there was one key thing I was missing in my preparation: Heavenly Father. If I had been smart, I would’ve taken the counsel found in Proverbs 3:5-6 to heart.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
I was “going rogue” in a sense and relying solely on what I wanted and what seemed right to me. I continued like this all the way up until my first semester of college was coming to an end.
Since I was at Brigham Young University, it seemed like at least 80 percent of my classmates either already had their calls or were putting in their papers. As I heard more and more of my peers bear their testimonies about the conviction they had that serving a mission was the right decision, I figured I might as well pray about serving a mission. It would be a good story to tell my future investigators about, right?
So I prayed about the question, fulling believing I was going to have a powerful spiritual experience that would literally change the lives of the people in the mission I would serve in.
The overwhelming feeling that serving a mission was not the right decision left me blindsided. I was confused and assumed that I was getting some signals mixed up or that my answer was somehow wrong. I mean, serving a mission is a good thing, right? How was “no” the right answer?
Then I was honestly kind of annoyed with the answer. I had put in hours of preparation for serving a mission. If a mission wasn’t for me, why was I just now finding out?
I racked my brain for possible reasons for why I wasn’t supposed to serve a mission. I definitely wasn’t trying to get married anytime soon, so I checked that one off. I didn’t have any health problems. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t go.
I was impatient trying to conform God’s timeline and way of working to my own wants. Clearly, this didn’t get me anywhere.
Over the course of a few weeks, I came to accept the answer I received, even if I didn’t understand it at all.
Looking back I understand that had I followed through with my original plan my life would be unrecognizable to what it is today. I’m grateful that Heavenly Father loves us enough to mess up our plans in exchange for a far better plan.
There’s a popular quote that reads:
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” — Allen Saunders
I would like to propose that the “life” in this quote can refer to the authentic, meaningful life that we can live when we stop being stubborn and just accept the plan God has for our lives.
Of course, that plan isn’t always sunshine and pink unicorns, but I do think there is a certain satisfaction that comes from living genuinely and authentically, even if your circumstances are extremely trying.
So, next time you already “know” what your life plan is supposed to look like — or other people try to tell you what it should look like — take a moment to stop and involve the Big Man Upstairs. The perspective is a lot better from his point of view, so He probably has a few tweaks to whatever you were planning. And even if those tweaks aren’t what you’re expecting, learning to embrace them will bring you more happiness than your original plan ever would have.