By Chelsea B.
A few months ago I was up against what I thought was the biggest decision in my life, probably because it was the most independent decision I had ever made. I was about to graduate from college, and my life would be “segmented” no more; I could shape “grown-up life” as I wanted. I really wanted to feel inspired with all the answers concerning all things future. But the impressions I did receive merely assured me that good things were coming. I felt that God wanted me to change my plans, which had been to go home and save money. Did I mention this was about a week before graduation? There I was foreseeing all the problems: no money; no job; no place to live. And I had a decision to make: do I trust God to be in control of my life, to make it what I want it to be and better?
I said a prayer and started to make plans. It wasn’t easy to tell my old boss I wouldn’t be returning to work, but I did. It made no sense when I explained to others what I was doing, but I knew God saw more than I did. I made tentative living arrangements and tentative everything. I was excited for the opportunity to be courageous.
During this time, I was attracted to the story of Joseph in the Bible, who, I’m sure, didn’t anticipate in his “life plans” that he’d be sold into slavery because God had a special work for him to do. But I also imagine that he, like other great men, when he came to the end of his life, wouldn’t have been satisfied with himself if he had only accomplished his own expectations while living. I don’t think that ambition is bad, but I do think that neglecting to enlist the help of God while making life plans can lead to dissatisfaction. I imagine that great men stand in awe of what the Lord unexpectedly did through them.
Guidance did come with perfect timing, so responding to what I felt was God’s request required faith. At the time I had been trying to deepen my testimony of the Book of Mormon by acting on the principles found in its pages; my most recent goal was to act when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. It was during a religious seminar at my university that I realized great things happen in the lives of individuals because people choose to respond to God’s will.
Ezra Taft Benson, former president of the LDS Church, once said, “Men and women who turn their lives to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.” I loved this quote the moment I first heard it, and experience has made it a part of who I am.
There is a condition here: God will make a lot of our lives—once we’ve turned them to Him. I do not believe that God’s work will ever be thwarted, but whether we are part of that work depends on our choices. Jeffery R. Holland, a religious leader in the LDS Church, once said, concerning God’s intervention in our lives, “‘We can have what we want or something better.’ I think that’s the way God sees it; the only time you wouldn’t get what you want is if He had something better and, as a good parent, would overrule for your good.” That was what I had to trust. I received several blessings that assured me that God cared about me, and that He was going to work a miracle if I let Him.
It turned out that I chose a life that God had tailor-made for me, but without telling me. I gained confidence in my ability to choose what is right, and now have strengthened faith that God takes care of His children. I’m growing in ways I hadn’t anticipated. But even if I couldn’t see all this growth now, I know that my God would still be in control. If we are motivated by righteousness, he directs our paths. We are alive so that we can change and develop, and that is His motivation as He shapes our lives. He desires our progression, and sometimes life’s ambiguity has a ways of accelerating it. We can thrive while struggling if we trust that He is in control.