Today, I am sitting at my computer, wanting to write something that properly encompasses the gratitude I feel, and instead I just find myself smiling, my fingers mostly idle on the keyboard – the thoughts in my head peaceful. The Head And The Heart are singing from my speakers, I’m awkwardly sore from yoga, I have a wicked hankering to go ice-fishing (I honestly have no idea why, so?) but in this moment, today, I am so thankful.
In the past five or six months, I have experienced more twists and turns than I ever have in my entire life. Which is a cliche statement and sounds so dreamy and idealistic, and what-the-heck-ever. It’s been anything but. It has been thrilling and beautiful and excruciating and boring and every color and sometimes no color at all.
Before I went to China, I never knew I had a problem with faith. I never thought I had a problem putting my Heavenly Father first, or seeing Him in my life. But then I had all kinds of opportunities to be surprised or to be wrong – to be really wrong and to learn to cleave to Him and feel okay when I was re-directed, or to feel okay that I didn’t know 100 percent. About anything. I didn’t know what I was going to be, where I was going to be, what I needed to do next – with my major, with my friendships, with my time. And you know what? I still don’t.
But when I put Heavenly Father first, truly put Him first, those question marks became okay. And not only were they humbling and okay, they became happy and freeing, because He changed my perspective in a way that only a loving Father in Heaven can. I saw with gratitude the love in our choices – the trust we have been given in our agency. And I also saw how absolutely futile and ridiculous it was of me to try to hold onto my plans and persist in them when I have an all-knowing, deeply-loving Heavenly Father who can see the whole picture and re-guide my hand when needs be, while I am obsessing over what is probably only a stroke of the painting.
Let’s talk about faith for a second. I’ve thought so much about this, and prayed so much about this, and I think I’m finally ready to write about it. WE’LL SEE WHO’S LAUGHING WHEN I NEVER PUBLISH THIS POST AND IT SITS IN MY DRAFTS UNTIL THE END OF TIME BECAUSE I AM TERRIBLE AT EXPRESSING MYSELF WHEN I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING.
With faith, I’ve found that I’m a lot more likely to put my head down, plow forward blindly, and stick to the plans I make – to at least follow them through – than I am to submit myself to the Lord’s will, and to be willing to change my mind before seeing if my plan works out. And it’s not that my plans are bad or unrighteous. I had kind of a life-changer moment in church the other day, when someone shared the thought, “Satan gets us to do good, so that we don’t do what is necessary.” How true is that, though? It’s so easy to just get caught up in the things you’ve envisioned yourself doing, the party plans you thought were best, to the point that you become completely unwilling to see new doors opening if and when they do. I’ll tell you from personal experience. IT’S REAL EASY TO GET CAUGHT UP.
Bear with me, but I picture our earthly life as a great hall (not like the one in Harry Potter, cause that’s for eating and sorting and Yule balls), full of doors. And I picture our Heavenly Father being the one who holds each door’s key. And each person’s hall is so very different. Throughout our lives, we are in and out of a hundred and one doors. Some of these doors lead us through to higher levels – greater halls with fewer doors and better clarity – and some of them lead to darkened rooms or dead ends that send us back out into the hall, scanning for a new door, with nothing more to show for our time there than confusion, or sometimes even shame for having hit a dead end.
And today, I am thinking about all the times in my life I’ve wondered why. Why that door? Why that semester of absolute misery, why that person who let me down, why that class that made me feel like an idiot? And maybe sometimes, you are thinking these things too. Why don’t I know my career path? Why aren’t I dating anyone? Why hasn’t ___ worked out? Why did I feel so right about that choice, that person, that major, why did I feel inspired to choose that if it didn’t end the way I thought?
Well, the thing is. I don’t always know why. But I know there is someone who does. And He holds the keys. And that was a big thing for me to realize this year, in getting to know Him a little better. It was empowering. Beyond what people may say or think about my choices, about the way I stick with or don’t stick with my major, my school, my job, my whatever, etc., I have a knowledge that as long as I am exercising my faith by stepping through the doors that open, even if they open into the unknown, or they surprise me by being the door next to the one I was pounding on, or counting on – the person who matters most, who knows me best, thinks highly of me and is proud of me. He shows his love by opening the doors, sometimes the exact ones I want, and sometimes doors I was never expecting. And I show my love by saying, okay. I show Him my faith by trusting His plan for me and giving my whole self to those experiences. By squaring my shoulders and walking through the doors that open, even if they are doors that close.
That’s my testimony for you, dear friends. It might be easier, in the eyes of the world, or maybe in the critical, crippling view we sometimes have of ourselves, to stand in the hall, looking at all the doors and never quite walking through any of them, so that we never choose a dead-end or a door that closes. It might be more comfortable to wait outside the door we’ve chosen, the door we’ve planned, waiting for it to open to us. And maybe it will, if He wills it. But the bravest thing of all is the faith we show by being open to every door He shows us – by exercising our agency and choosing to trust that He knows what is best for us, that He holds a purpose in that room for us, even if it unknown or unclear today, or maybe forever. We show Him our faith when we see those different doors as they open. We show him our faith when, even after we let ourselves slip quietly from the room, having found no door to a greater hall – or perhaps having had the door slammed in our face or on our fingers even as we took the chance – we know that we don’t really walk away with nothing.
We walk away from these rooms and these events with the things we personally need. If we can exercise the faith and the courage to walk through doors to the unknown, He will make great things known to us. Our strengths, our weaknesses, our limits, our hearts, and Himself. That’s the beauty of a loving Heavenly Father. He will never give us something that isn’t for our ultimate benefit. He wants us to be happy, happier than we can imagine. He knows our hearts. And if that’s true, He also knows what and when and how and who should break them, to give us the experience and growth we need. He knows what will bring greatest happiness in the end, the skills we need to gain before He can open those greater doors. And He is so willing to give to us, if we are willing to do what is necessary and walk through the doors that open, and go with all our hearts, even if they are doors that close.
Let’s bring it home with a scripture that really sums it up better than I EVER could. D&C 122:7.
Seeya AROUND sometime, GUYS. Bye.