It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve laughed until I’ve cried and cried until I’ve laughed. It’s been wrenchingly emotional and highly stressful.
But as my good husband has recently reminded me, that’s just how I operate. I always have a million irons that I’ve happily thrown into the fire, and some nights (normally Thursdays) it comes out in break-down form.
What I’ve learned all these years of being an over-involved-over-acheiver, is that well, I’m still learning. A LOT.
Luckily, I have the best network of people surrounding me and cheering me on, including God. This week, as my stress level hit critical mass, I decided to seek refuge in the temple. I had lots of questions, and I just knew God would answer all of them. Why? Because I desperately needed answer. I had tried everything on my own, and now was begging for help from on high.
But that’s not how it works. At least it wasn’t for me this week. Instead of having a steady stream of blue-print like instructions from the Lord outlining my path, I received something else entirely.
A crash course on personal revelation.
Instead of learning how to manage everything on my mile-long to-do lost, the stillest of voices taught me four things infinitely more valuable about getting answers from on high.
- Don’t confuse inspiration with desperation. As I sat in the temple, I had my questions in my mind. And that was my first problem. That was the only thing in my mind. I was so preoccupied, I couldn’t listen to what was being taught in the temple or by the spirit. Instead, I just assumed every disjointed thought that popped into my head was from the Lord. Well, it wasn’t. It was my own logical mind grasping at anything that I could take hold of, wrap up, and put a bow called “ANSWER” on top of. I was so desperate for an answer I wasn’t even listening for one; I was too busy trying to create one. If I want God to speak to me, I have to shut my stupid mouth (or in this case, brain) and listen.
- Be still and know that God is God. Once I learned that my “answers” weren’t actually answers, rather just my own thoughts, I tried to silence my fears and listen. And I listened. And listened. There were no bright lights. No heavenly choirs of angels, no, not even a still small voice telling me what to do. There was just silence. I felt content. It was weird. I was listening, wasn’t I? Why weren’t the answers flooding to me? I didn’t know. But they weren’t. So I left the temple, feeling much more calm than before. But I still didn’t have any direction. I didn’t have a plan. I had all the same worries, stress and concern. But I decided to trust that if God needed me to know something specific, he would. Otherwise, I would keep going forward. I try to live a good life. I try to follow Christ. And I decided to trust that that was good enough for God, and therefore good enough for me.
- God will teach us what he needs before he teaches us what we need. Spoiler alert, I got my answers. But I’ll get to that in a minute. What I ultimately learned is that sometimes, God has to teach us a lesson as a prerequisite to what we desire. In this case, it was how to receive personal revelation more effectively. Once I learned that, he was more than willing to give me another answer – this time, the one I desperately wanted.
- People answer prayers. Which brings me to my last lesson learned this week. I had already decided to just go forward, hoping that living life in a Christlike way would be enough. God was kind and put people into my path that gave me instant validation, wiping away my feelings of self-doubt. But the kicker came when I attended Power to Become, a networking conference at BYU-Idaho about becoming better disciple leaders of Jesus Christ. One speaker, a lawyer from New York, shared some of her personal experiences as she advanced in her career. It was as though God had given her the transcript of my prayers as she prepared for her presentation. I didn’t expect to receive such a direct answer to a prayer I assumed God wasn’t ready to answer. My husband and I looked at each other with our mouths hanging open. God had answered my prayer, as he so often does, through another person.
Revelation is deeply personal. And if you struggle with it, don’t despair. It’s a skill we spend our whole lives cultivating. And, in the meantime, God has given us apostles and prophets both past and present to help us find our way. Turn to the scriptures, both modern and ancient to learn how God speaks to you.
I know he will.